Thursday, August 6, 2015

10 Things I've Learned in Ten Years of Marriage

Ten years ago today we walked down the church aisle and in front of our family and friends and before God we promised to love, honor and cherish each other for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.  It was the best day of our lives (having babies is wonderful, don't get me wrong, but they don't throw you a party for that quite like we had on our wedding day).  We had stars in our eyes.
Photo Credit: Amanda Currie, Picture This Photography

We had a very traditional wedding with white candles and fresh flowers and many handmade items.  We (my mom and I) made the ceremony programs, the place cards, the aisle runner, we got fresh hydrangeas from my grandma's garden, we even made our own guest favors.  I'll be honest here, I felt that wedding favors were kind of a waste of money, but I also felt obligated to give something.  We decided to give each guest a velum envelope, decorated and wrapped in ribbon, with wild flower seeds inside.  It said, "Love Grows".  It was maybe a little cheesy, but sufficient.
Photo Credit: Amanda Currie, Picture This Photography

Over the course of ten years a lot has changed and a lot has stayed the same.  We've laughed and cried, we've worried and prayed, we've fallen and gotten up and we have learned so much!  I'd like to share with you 10 (or so) of the things I've learned in our ten years of marriage:

1.) Leave & Cleave
"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh."  Genesis 2:24 
With Mike's current job and our new home being 100 miles away from both our families, it made leaving our parents and cleaving to each other a lesson we learned through necessity, but I'm so glad we did.  The dynamic of both relationship changed.  The primary relationship in both our lives was no longer with our parents but with each other; a bond that grows stronger every day.  Looking back its wonderful to think about how our relationships with our parents changed from parent-child relationships to respectful adult relationships.

2.) Love & Respect
As wedding gifts we received a few books on love and marriage, Love and Respect by Emerson Eggeriches being one of them.  {link: Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs}  The title really says it all; the key to a good marriage is for the wife to feel loved and for the husband to feel respected.  Here are a few ideas of how you could show love and give respect.

Respect your Husband By:
  • TELLING HIM.  "I really respect you for _______."  It can seriously be that simple.  BUILD HIM UP; tell him what you like about him or how good he is at his job.  Build him up to others and very importantly build him up to your children.
  • If you have a single family income (and even if you don't) show him respect by being responsible with the income he earns for your family.
  • Stand behind his authority with the kids.
Love your Wife By:
  • TELLING HER.  Say it often.  Make it a routine and make it random.
  • Hug her, kiss her, hold her hand, put your arm around her.
  • Stand up for her - don't trash talk her in front of the guys.
  • Speak her Love Language (see lesson #3).

3.) Speak Their Love Language
~ Words of Affirmation ~ Acts of Service ~ Receiving Gifts ~ Quality Time ~ Physical Touch ~
Do you know your loved one's "Love Language"?  I thought I did; it turns out I didn't!

Several years ago I read the book {link: The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate } and took the test at the end, then I 'tested' my hubby. (I very much recommend 'testing' each other.) I was surprised to find out his love language and more surprised to find out that he already knew mine.

My love language is quality time (I thought his was too).  All this time we had spent together doing stuff, going places, hanging out I thought was for US, but as it turns out he was doing it mostly for ME, letting me tag along for my sake; because he knew how much I loved it, to make me feel loved (see lesson #2).  Then it was time for me to kick it into gear and speak his love language.

Learning to speak someone's love language has application to all relationships, more than just marriage.

4.) Choose Your Battles
Yes, its true; not everything is worth fighting over.  Every morning my husband pulls out a kitchen chair, sits down and ties his shoes before he goes to work.  And every morning he gets up, grabs his lunch and heads off to work without pushing that chair back in.  We have a very small cozy house and a chair in the middle of the kitchen is in the way (to say the least).  I could let him know, I could remind him and nag him (and yes I've tried), but at the end beginning of the day I can push that kitchen chair back in myself and smile because he went to work - so we could have kitchen chairs. :)

5.) Be Kind
Why is it that we are the hardest on the ones we are the closest to?  Why do we carelessly speak our minds to our spouses, say hurtful things that we would never say to a friend or stranger?  Probably because we know they'll still love us anyway, but that DOES NOT make it okay.  Once you say it you can't take it back.  Show your spouse the love and respect they deserve and choose your words (and your tone) wisely.

Don't forget that often times it's not what you say but how you say it.

6.) Don't Keep Score
Back in our first year or two of marriage we had a debate going about something (so significant I can't remember what).  At the end of it Mike was proven to be right.  Then in a joking manor he wrote it on the calendar, "MIKE WAS RIGHT".  It was probably funny to him for the first 30 seconds, then we both realized that now he had it entirely wrong.  Bummer.  From that point we decided that we wouldn't keep score.  We wouldn't keep score of who was right or wrong, or who had the most recent 'big' purchase, or who had changed the most diapers or anything else.

We still have disagreements and debates but no one's keeping track.  Keeping score and comparing only leads to discontentment.

7.) Keep it Intimate
Intimacy is something that evolves and grows and becomes more complex and more wonderful over time.  It is so much more than private moments in the bedroom, it's sharing your hopes and dreams, your concerns and ideas, your joys and sorrows with each other.  Intimacy feels like two hearts beating as one; two lives so intertwined you can't tell one from the other; two people so in tune with one another that they can convey thoughts and feelings without speaking.  Strive for intimacy.

8.) Make Time For Each Other
A wise mentoring neighbor recently pointed out to us that so many people put so much time and energy into their children and their children's activities that they don't have much left to invest in their marriage.  By the time their children are grown and leave for collage/jobs/marriage they are left living with someone they barely know.  (I don't want that to be us!)

You could don't have to plan an extravagant weekend away or fancy night on the town.  Make time for each other right where you are, right now.  Spend time weeding the garden together, take a bike ride together, prepare a meal together, enjoy an Amaretto Sour together or watch a movie together.  We find it easier to spend time together after the kids are in bed.  In the summer time it's not uncommon for Mike to go start a campfire while I'm putting the last kid in bed.

9.) It's The Little Things
It's the...
   ...inside jokes.
   ...wink from across the room.
   ...sound of children laughing.
   ...whisper in your ear.
   ...long ride home with sleeping kids.
   ...last bite of chocolate cake.
   ...fresh made coffee.
   ...first kicks of your unborn child.
   ...surprise bouquet of flowers.
   ...lunch in the field.
   ...rocking your newborn baby.

It's the... little things.  It's the little things that make life grand.  Choose to find joy in the every day happenings of life.

10.) There's an Answer Book
Very few times in your life will you randomly open the Bible to the exact spot you didn't know you were looking for (when you do it will send chills down your spine).  But, if you search, read, pray and study your Bible, you'll find that all the answers are in there.  Use it for your manual on how to live life; how to grow a marriage, how to bring up a child, how to handle money, how to love the unloveable and how to find hope and healing.

11.) (bonus lesson) It's Worth It
"Therefor, what God has joined together, let man not separate." Mark 10:9

Marriage is not always an easy thing, and our marriage certainly isn't perfect.  You have to choose unity; you have to fight for it, for each other.  "I'm not telling you it's going to be EASY, I'm telling you it's going to be WORTH IT." Judy Garland

So here we are ten years and three kids later realizing how much our love has grown.  (Maybe it wasn't so cheesy after all)  Beginning like tiny a wild flower seed that was blowing in the breeze, then landed in the dirt, put down roots, and started to grow.  It starts as a tiny fragile plant that needs sunshine and rain and develops into a hearty stalk that eventually turns into a beautiful blossom and ultimately bears seed.  Love really does grow.

Thank you to so many couples in our life; our parents and relatives, our friends and church family; you have taught us so much about what it means to grow a marriage.

How is your marriage growing?  What have you learned?  PLEASE leave a comment telling how long you've been married and what lesson you've learned through it.

My love for you will surpass the count of time.

No comments:

Post a Comment