My husband and I are coming up on our 5 year anniversary in December, 2019. As I was considering what I’ve learned in the past 5 years the following lessons came to mind. No matter what stage or season you’re in I think you’ll find them all practical and relevant. Marriage is the most rewarding, challenging and heartbreaking experience I’ve ever encountered. That being said, I’m grateful to the Lord for the opportunity to learn, grow and become ONE with another individual.
1. Don’t underestimate the power of a genuine, “I’m sorry”.
When you get married you quickly realize that although you and your spouse are very compatible you also have many differences. These poignant differences can and will cause inevitable conflict throughout your marriage. The key is in your response. When heated arguments do arise because of the simple fact that we are human, “I’m sorry” can go a long way.
When you’re in a heated conversation you may say things that you don’t mean. Emotions aren’t rational and can be unpredictable. When you have time to cool down and reflect it’s in your best interest to say “sorry” regardless if you were right or wrong. This means reducing the amount of time you and your best friend are apart. I’ve learned that it’s better to be livingly wrong than dead right.
It’s better to be livingly wrong than dead right
2. God ordained marriage
“And the man said: this is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of man she was taken. For this reason, a man will leave his father and his mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
In the past 5 years I’ve found that marriage is not something I can do in my own strength. Believe me I’ve tried. Being married is the most difficult thing I’ve had the privilege to be apart of in my entire human life.
After the honeymoon phase has passed (roughly around the 1 – 2 year mark) you find yourself transitioning into a new season where attractiveness and compatibility aren’t strong enough factors to keep you together. You become intimately familiar with the saying, “when the going gets tough, the tough gets going”.
However, when our marriage is grounded in faith and rooted in the eternal union God intended there is reassurance that supersedes our ever changing emotions.
Marriage is a picture of Christ and the church. Paul declares in Ephesians 5:32, “This mystery is profound but (marriage) it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one”.
3. Couples therapy is powerful!
I used to think that counseling was for the weak. If you were going to counseling it meant there was something wrong with your marriage. I suppose there is some truth to that because it was about 8 months ago during a significant low point in our marriage that finally compelled me to seek outside help. However, I’m so glad we did and honestly, looking back, I wish we would’ve started going sooner.
As, I mentioned in point one, you are entirely different people and coming together as one flesh is not an easy task. Thankfully, there are outside resources for you to get help! Therapy being one of them. My husband and I have found our counselors office to be a safe place to work out our differences.
It’s also important to note what therapy is NOT. It is not a place for name calling, blaming and pointing fingers but an opportunity to be vulnerable, honest and open. Not only with your feelings but that of your partners. It’s a time to lean in and seek to understand the core motives and vulnerable insecurities of your spouse so you know can learn how to love deeply and unconditionally.
Therapy is a safe space to lean in and understand your spouses deep fears and insecurities
4. Your spouse won’t fill your cup
For those who are married this won’t be a surprise to you but for those who are dating or in the honeymoon stage it may be come as a shock. But, the truth is your partner will NOT fill your cup.I used to think that once I was married I would be complete and we’d live happily ever after.
I remember seeing other couples bicker and think WE were different, my husband could never hurt my feelings because he was perfect and had the best intentions at all times. Yes, it is true that my husband does love me and does have the best intentions for our marriage. However, we are still human and inevitably offend each other.
I also had this fantasy that we would like to do all of the same things and spend all of our time together (outside of work… secretly I even wanted to work together). My husband is more of a homebody and is most happy staying home watching movies While I get excited thinking about the prospect of finding our next adventure. Now, don’t get me wrong I enjoy just relaxing and watching romcom’s as much as the next gal. But, I’d prefer to be more “productive” with my time and read than watch movies.
At any rate, this became a place of contention in our marriage. My husband grew bitter toward me as he went along with all the activities I wanted to do. I was clueless! I just thought we enjoyed the same things. The elephant in the room needed to be addressed. Ladies, it’s typically easier for us to share our emotions than our husbands so be patient and kind. Men have doubts and fears of being rejected just as much as we do. Needless to say, I was devastated the night my husband shared with me the bitterness that had been building up inside. He shared how he felt that he was losing his own identity by attempting to conform to mine. Of course that wasn’t what I wanted.
We decided to make a list of things that brought us genuine joy and happiness and encourage one another to find time to engage in those activities. I don’t claim to be a marriage therapist or an expert on relationships. But, I’am learning that part of becoming ONE means respecting the unique differences of your spouse and celebrating and embracing those differences that make you, YOU.
5. Being friends with your spouse is key to a long-lasting and healthy marriage
While writing this article I asked my husband what one lesson he learned over the last five years of marriage. He said, “being friends matters”. I smiled in response. So simple yet so powerful. Our most important relationships can suffer in the midst of the hectic schedule of life.
Three years ago after graduating from university we moved from Colorado to Anaheim, CA to attend a post grad bible college program. Our entire schedule was planned ahead of time. From preaching the gospel on college campuses to classes on the experience of Christ to practical services like meal prep and bathroom cleaning we were non-stop.
On top of that we lived in a house with 10 other brothers in Christ. Although, we had our own room, it wasn’t exactly private. Thankfully, the program advisers afforded a weekly date night that allowed us to take the night off from the usual schedule to connect with one another. What a salvation! One night to just enjoy each other’s company. Sometimes we’d go get boba or go out to dinner or make dinner at home while everyone was away. What we did was as important as just being together. Fast forward almost four years later and we are still having weekly date nights.
In the past five years, my husband and I have moved 9 times, lived in 8 different cities, and 3 states. I remember a time when we just finished the bible program and neither of us had a job and we were living at my parents trying to figure out the next best move. Throughout all the moves regardless of the situation we’ve learned to lean on each other and support one another. We’ve learned to be friends.
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