Thursday, February 23, 2012

Working Together

Teachers of Good things is a series of interviews we will be conducting on Tuesdays and Thursdays here at Ruby in the Rough. It is our goal with these interviews to follow the instructions found in Titus 2:3-5 for the "older women" to teach the younger women good things such as: loving their husbands, keeping their home, and conducting themselves with all purity both before and after marriage.  

Today it is a pleasure to have Amy Cahill joining us for Teachers of Good Things. Amy is married to Brian Cahill, and together they have four children: Lance, Ivy, Flora and Baby E (due to arrive in early April). You can read more about the Cahill family at their family blog, The Cahills.

 As a single woman, before a serious relationship, what were some practical things you did to focus more on the Lord and less on guys and romance?

My Dad sat me down at 7 years old and told me about this great new idea he had heard called "courtship" and how I would be doing that instead of dating (though I had no clue what either were at the time). Since then the idea that I would grow up to be married and a mom was always there as my future. While I didn't pursue boys and relationships, most things I did were centered around the idea that they would prepare me for that end. We had a very open family and my sisters and Dad and I would sit around from time to time, discussing different young men, good and bad points, and what we would like in a future mate. Dad was preparing us to be discerning of character.

As a teen some friends challenged my idea of marriage as an ideal and it prompted me into an in depth Biblical study. Even service I did "for the Lord" was centered on children, because not only did I enjoy it, but I knew this was good preparation for motherhood. I guess, I tried to do more in the way of preparing than pursuing to help keep me from dreaming of particular guys. My Dad also played an active role in being our "boy friend" - going on little dates here and there, getting us chocolate on Valentines. ect.

There was a point in my early 20's that as a challenge for a friend who had trouble with an addiction, a number of us gave up things important to us for a month and I choose marriage - thinking, studying or talking about it. Crazy enough, that's when God brought my husband into my life.

 What steps did you take after you met your future spouse (during dating/courtship/engagement) to keep your focus on the LORD first?

During this time I think it's important to learn how to focus on the Lord together. This will be something you will do forever after you are married so if the relationship is distracting, it's not necessarily a sign to pull apart for individual focus on God, but a time to work through the new dimension of a one flesh relationship with God. You obviously won't be together all day every day so it's a good way to slowly integrate this new change and learn how to handle it. We memorized 1 John during our courtship and would quote it to each other when we got together on weekends. We would pray together over the phone as we talked each evening and share insights we may have gained from our Bible readings during the day. It was also a time of searching out each other's beliefs and learning to go to scripture together to come up with answers and solutions to everything situations from wedding themes to birth control, to courtship guidelines.

 How do you think a single woman should pursue/prepare for marriage?

Do your school - get out of high school at least, finish early if you like. Go to college as God leads - I did at 21 because I didn't want my lack of education to be a hindrance if my husband wanted to go on the mission field (some mission boards require the wife to have some higher education).

Know how to care for a household, your own is a good place to start - I'm sure your mom wouldn't mind a little help :-) Find opportunities to work with children. Learn to share a room and get along with your siblings - they are your "boot camp" for marriage - learning how to yield rights, fight and make up, serve someone, love when they act unlovable.

Take some opportunity to do single service for the Lord - for example, I helped in Sunday school, lead a children's choir, worked a summer camp, taught in a homeschool co-op my younger siblings attended, taught piano, gave horseback riding lessons, went on a mission trip, led a Bible study of teenage girls (that was my dad's idea :-)

Practice discerning God's will in little things, even if you mess up sometimes and you won't be hit cold when you have to decide on something for the rest of your life. Discipline yourself now, it will pay off later. Get up early and have that quiet time every day - you won't always be able to do that when married but you'll benefit from that time spent when you have the chance. Exercise - same reason. And for finding that guy, under your parent's guidance, get out and do things, meet people, talk and mix (I'm meaning less when you're 14 and more when you're of courtship age). Learn many things, be interesting, have a life! Guys are attracted to girls that are full of life.

In what area were you the least [and/or most] prepared to be a wife?

I wish I'd been a little more knowledgeable on my own body - after two kids I read this book: "Taking charge of your fertility" this talks about your cycle and things female. I would read this under guidance from your mom due to much of the subject matter but some of the info would have been nice to know and practice before being concerned about getting pregnant. You could read this during courtship depending on how long you have - I only knew Brian 3 months before we married so I didn't have time to find out or implement some of this. Frankly, it was an embarrassing subject for me, as was most of "becoming a woman" so I didn't talk with my mom much. This left us as a couple scrambling to figure out how to not have a "honeymoon baby" and choosing maybe not the best way because I hadn't paid much attention to how my body worked.

Having worked with my dad gave me a great groundwork for being a wife. I learned how to do things out of my comfort zone, patiently wait on him when he had to do something too skilled for me to help, and learn the joy of companionship. When married, I had the opportunity to join Brian on some of his jobs. I won't lie, sometimes it was boring and I didn't always want to go to the work of learning to help, but it gave me a taste of what his work was like, made me a better conversation partner in the evenings and I understood why a "quick project" could suddenly take hours. This kept me from nagging at him for being home late, or being upset when things didn't go according to plans. Plus it gives him a chance to brag on his wife to the guys at work - something a man likes to do. His work is not the "other woman" in his life, taking him away from me, it's something we can do from a team perspective. Oh, and on the education point, I edited a lot of his technical papers for his Master's degree - again, not the most exciting task, but I got to be a partner instead of a bystander.

 What does being a helpmate look like in your marriage?

Doing my part to help him fulfill his calling as a man. If we are called to have children, I bear them and take care of them. If we are called to minister in a big city to a bunch of rich business men and technical minded people (Brian's co-workers), I will have to keep a house that will lend itself to hosting them - not the farm I always dreamed of living on. If he likes the house neat when he comes home, then I endeavor to make it that way before he arrives. If he likes a hot breakfast, then I get up early with him and make one. If he wants to keep in shape, I go jogging with him and fix him healthy meals. If he wants to save up for a house, then I live in an apartment and watch our spending. For intimacy, I follow my Grandma's advice and "never say no." If he wants a companion, I'm there to join in whatever he is doing. I add my own creativity to life, making it fun for both of us. It sounds like I might lose myself, but "whowever loses his life will find it" and I feel so fulfilled in fulfilling him.

What was the biggest surprise to you after marriage?

One was realizing just what love was. I think from books, or movies or even friends I had an expectation that I would just be swooning over my husband and when I didn't act that way it bothered me. I finally realized that I would react to love, much in the way I reacted to the rest of life - with more of an even keel and level head. I have a friend who was always over the top excited to see anyone, gave big hugs and squealed - this is who she was, a gushy, emotional kind of person and when she married that's how she acted over her husband. I was never that way and to expect myself to act different was to set up for guilt and failure. Do I feel fun tingles? Yes, but my reaction is in character, and I don't exactly faint :-)

 What is one thing about men you learned after marriage?

That they have a very big ego that needs to be fed often by the person that means the most to them. I really have to watch what I say, because some things I've said in fun have totally deflated my man. He can thrive or fail on my opinion of him and one little compliment can go a long way. Don't like a certain shirt? Don't say so outright, just tell him his muscles look bigger in another shirt and he'll be sure to wear it more often.

Edited to Add: Brian and Amy had an unusual and very sweet courtship story. If you are interested in reading it, it can be found on their wedding website. Here is Brian's side of the story, Amy's side of the story, and the engagement

3 comments:

  1. Just a quick thought/suggestion. Amy mentioned the book, "Taking Charge of Your Fertility." The same author has a book for single girls called, "Cycle Savvy." I might recommend that the single girls read that one, as it still covers basically the same subjects, and teaches you to know your body, without discussing things that are not appropriate for a single girl trying to keep her mind on the Lord instead of on marriage... :-) (http://www.amazon.com/Cycle-Savvy-Smart-Teens-Mysteries/dp/0060829648/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1330010419&sr=8-1) But yes, I do agree with her that I wish I'd known more about how my body works before marriage, as that definitely would have saved me a lot of grief and frustration afterward.

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  2. Thanks for the book recommendation, Melody! I have to second (or third, I guess :-)) the recommendation for a girl to learn how her body works before marriage. I made it a topic of study a year or two before I started courting. While I wish I'd done so years earlier for my own sanity, it was a big load off both Richard and I to not have anything to worry about in that department after marriage. It's nice to know there is an informative book for single girls out there. :-)

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  3. Nice to know about the book - thanks Melody. What the author has to say is good, but yes, the "adult" book has a bit too much for those not married. I'll have to keep the other one in mind.

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