*Last year on my wedding anniversary, I wrote a blog entitled “7 Things I’ve learned in 7 years of marriage.” This is the exact same blog but updated to include an extra point (to make it 8 points of course) and a slightly different title ;)*
Tomorrow, my husband and I will celebrate eight years of marriage. The fact that we are now over the 5-year threshold and closer to 10 years of marriage blows my mind. We had a whirlwind of a dating relationship and even engagement, with everything happening so fast. But hey, when you know, you know! Side note: If you have ever wondered whether or not a wedding can be planned in 3 short months with you both in separate states, I am here to say confidently that it can be done. Anyways, I am by no means a marriage expert, clearly, but there are some valuable nuggets I have learned over the past 8 years that I want to share, in no specific order:
- In the book Dragons and Dirt by Dalene Reyburn, she has a whole chapter devoted to marriage. I love how she starts off the chapter… “Life is hard because of dragons and dirt. Maybe that’s why marriage is hard. Because when two people become one? You’ve got to beat off your own dragons and another’s. You’ve got two people’s dirt under one roof. But this collision of lives is also what makes marriage such a brilliant idea. Because you’ve got someone to help you face the dragons. Someone to shine a light on your heart and offer goodness and grace of their own.” Aside from being a mama, being a wife is one of the hardest things I have ever had to grow in to. Wait, did I really just admit that; why, yes I did! You have these two people who bring their own set of “rules,” you place them under the same roof and expect the two to live harmoniously until the end of time, at least that’s what the movies depict. For my husband and I, we had never lived in the same city until we lived in the same house and shared the same bed. Talk about a major shock! We each brought our own set of “rules” into the marriage. For example, I believed shoes belonged in the closet (duh) and my husband thought they belonged, oh just wherever they landed (WRONG). We can laugh about it now, but while the first year of marriage was nothing short of playing “house” we definitely experienced our growing pains heading into our second year of marriage. Marriage is like a magnifying glass that closely examines all the pieces that make up who you are. It’s shedding your old skin and putting on new so to speak, that doesn’t just belong to you alone anymore, but is shared by another. There is a lot of stretching and shaping that takes place. Kind of like a new baseball glove. When you first get it, it’s all stiff and hard to close that’s why you have to condition it, bend it, shape it, in order for it to eventually fit like a “glove” on your hand. In order for a marriage to work, it involves so much bending towards each other; giving to the other. Thinking about their wants, needs, hopes, fears and placing them above our own. If both people are bending towards the other, it makes for a beautiful marriage.
- Marriages need other marriages. I could leave it at this because it’s fairly self-explanatory but I will divulge a little here. I can’t stress enough how important it is to surround yourself with other healthy marriages; couples who value the same things and will help hold the two of you accountable. You need other couples who wont look out for just the good of your husband or yourself, but who want what’s best for the two of you as a couple. We have some dear friends whom we have long admired their marriage. They have been married for a few years longer than us and have been parents longer. They are so passionate about each other and their family, that it is truly an inspiration to watch them. I know for a fact that if my husband and I were ever going through something, they would be the first couple we would turn to for advice.
- Make intentional time for one another. We haven’t always done this, but now that we are parents and trying to juggle a marriage, kids, and ministry this is a must! Recently, we’ve started setting aside two nights a week for intentional time with one another. For us, it’s Tuesday and Thursday nights. One of those nights, we will watch a show or movie together after the kids have gone to bed and the other night is our reading night. We are currently watching Parenthood on Netflix and reading John Gottman’s book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. I realize two nights a week might not be doable for every marriage, but look at your calendar and see what works for you; and make sure that whatever you do its intentional. Nick and I have so enjoyed our intentional time together, it has been like a breath of fresh air to our marriage.
- “If we give our kids nothing but a happy marriage, we’ve given them the greatest gift.” –Dalene Reyburn. When my husband and I first started dating and we realized that things were starting to turn more serious, we both agreed that we wanted our relationship and future marriage to exist for more than just our happiness. We wanted it to exist for those around us and for the world we live in. Is our marriage perfect, goodness no, because we are two broken people learning how to love each other the way God has called us to love. However, when a marriage exists for something more than just each other, it’s a powerful tool especially in the lives of your children and future generations. We want our marriage to be one that bolsters that of our children’s.
- Be your spouse’s biggest cheerleader. Ladies, this one is specifically for you. On my way home today the song Cheerleader by Felix Jaehn (yea, I don’t know who that is either) came on and it caught my attention. Here are some of the lyrics… “When I need motivation, My one solution is my queen, Cause she stays strong, Yeah, Yeah, She is always in my corner…Oh, I think that I’ve found myself a cheerleader, She is always right there when I need her, Oh I think that I’ve found myself a cheerleader, She is always right there when I need her.” And it goes on and on. I may have taken the song out of context but as cheesy as it is, there is some truth to it. You know what will give a man an extra pep in his step? It’s to know that his woman is proud of him, that she is in his corner and cheering him on. It’s so important for us as wives to take an interest in our husband’s work and passions. He could climb the corporate ladder, when a Nobel peace prize, or help send someone to the moon, but nothing will matter as much to him as knowing that his wife is proud of him. And let me tell you ladies, if you aren’t being your husband’s biggest cheerleader, then he will be tempted by someone else who is willing to be.
- Find a hobby to do together. For us, it’s working out. Maybe for you it’s going to concerts, the movies, dancing, etc. Whatever it is, find time for it and make it a priority. For us right now, working out together looks more like me watching the kids while my husband works out and vice versa with the occasional tag team workout while the kids play outside. Find a hobby together, make time for it, and have FUN!
- When I was still single, I read the book “Sex God” by Rob Bell. I highly recommend this book especially for singles, guy or girl. A quote from it has always stuck with me, “When a woman is loved well, she opens up like a flower.” The other night, my husband and I went out with another couple who happen to be some of our best friends. The question was asked, “how has your spouse changed you?” Immediately, that quote came to mind. I feel like there is the me before meeting my husband and then there is the me after. Not that the me before was bad but I feel like the me after is who I was always meant to be. My husband from the very beginning, even when we were dating, loved me in a way that I was truly able to experience and come into the person God had designed me to be. He has pushed me, sometimes maybe not so gently, to dream and pursue my passions. He has seen things in me long before I have and spoken them over me, some of which I am only recently beginning to see and live into. He has truly loved me well and because of that I have “opened up like a flower.” Maybe this is more a charge for single girls, don’t settle or waste your time on anyone who doesn’t love you well, come alongside you and encourage you to pursue your dreams and passions. Don’t settle for a man who doesn’t love you in a way that allows you to BLOOM (my word, forever.) into all the ways you were created for.
- Your marriage needs a purpose. A shared dream between you and your spouse; something you are both passionate about that isn’t just a hobby or pastime, but a pursuit of meaning in your marriage relationship as well as in the lives of those around you and beyond. John Gottman calls this “shared meaning.” In fact, he believes that shared meaning is an essential element in a lasting marriage. He goes on to explain that “shared meaning in a healthy relationship involves building a life together that is full of meaning and prioritizing time and resources. It encompasses their legacy — the stories they tell, beliefs and the culture they create to form a shared meaning system.” For my husband and I, we love bringing people together. We didn’t realize this was a passion or shared purpose of ours until a couple of years ago. When we lived in Ohio, we would have people over all the time to watch football, to cook out, to celebrate holidays, etc. And sure we had a good time together, but we truly did life with all of these people. After we moved, we were sad to hear that a lot of that stopped. I am in no way “tooting my own horn” but it dawned on us, that we played a vital part in bringing those people together on a regular basis. For my husband and I, this gives us life and brings energy to our marriage. We love connecting people who otherwise would possibly have never connected. We love to see the life that it brings others when living in shared community. Which let’s be honest, it’s funny to hear that coming from an introvert, but it’s true.
And that my friends, is probably my longest blog to date. Who knew I’ve gained so much wisdom in eight short years (just kidding). Happy Anniversary Babe!