Today I am celebrating seven years of marriage with the most awesome guy I know. Seven years that have flown by. Seven years that have felt like a lifetime.
I remember the years before Nate. I would attend weddings and, although I’ve always loved romance and weddings and the idea of fairy tales, I would always have a little pit in my stomach thinking “How can they KNOW?” Marriage was something I longed for but it terrified me at the same time. I didn’t have many examples of healthy marriages in my life and I let myself get tangled up in some pretty negative relationships with guys, thinking that, if I could wear the right mask, the guy I was throwing myself at would like me back or my boyfriend would start treating me better. By God’s grace I got through that season of life without doing anything I regretted too badly and the scars on my heart weren’t irreparably deep.
Then Nate came along.
This man had a lot to deal with. He fought for me – a terrified girl with a wounded heart who avoided conflict like the plague and trusted no one. He fought for me and, unlike the knights in fairy tales, didn’t slay my dragons for me but, instead, stood beside me as we slayed them together. He chose me and patiently waited for me to choose him back.
My wedding day wasn’t the best day of my life. People can disappoint you even on your wedding day. My wedding day was filled with enough frustration that I asked Nate if we could leave our reception nearly an hour before we were expected to. It took me a long time to be at peace with the disappointment of the day.
Even so, there are some things I will never forget about my wedding day. I’ll never forget the first look between Nate and me. This man whom I had never see cry broke into tears of joy seeing me. This man who knew my heart deeply just hugged me while I cried as well, not tears of joy, but tears of frustration. I’ll never forget walking down the aisle and looking into Nate’s eyes. As I walked, I thought back to all those weddings where I was asking “How can they KNOW?” and my heart smiled because I KNEW! I’ll never forget our first dance, smiling up at my husband, thrilled that I now got to spend the rest of my life with this amazing man.
Seven years later and this man is still fighting by my side. It’s not easy and we’re had our fair share of dragons to slay. We’ve learned so much along the way and will continue fighting side by side for as long as the Lord gives us breath.
Lessons Learned After Seven Years of Marriage
Be One Another’s Best Friend
I know this one is debated over and over but I will always and forever say that Nate is my best friend. Nate is the person I tell everything to. Nate is the person I love doing things with the most. Of course, we both have friends that aren’t one another but our deepest friendships are with one another. I would say that our friendship, in some ways, is more important than our romantic love. In the times of hardship I don’t need my lover, I need my best friend. (Also I hate the word lover. So there’s that)
After having kids, we’ve learned that friendship is even more valuable. Our friendship with one another comes before our kids. We do things without them and always will. We adore our boys but adore one another more. Parenting is tough if you’re not friends with the other parent!
I know, I know, communication in marriage is SO cliche! You guys, the reason it’s cliche is because it is absolutely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, important! The times when Nate and I have had the biggest conflict with one another (I don’t call them fights because those have a connotation of anger for me) are the times we aren’t communicating properly. The majority of the time, once we are able to understand the point of the other person, the conflict is resolved.
Learning how the other person communicates is also very key. I am a verbal (or written) processor so I talk and talk as I’m trying to work through something. Nate, on the other hand, is an internal processor and it takes him a LONG time before he’s able to talk about things. We’ve both had to give up some of our natural inclinations in order to communicate well. I have to stop talking sometimes and give space before having a discussion while Nate has had to learn how to think on his feet a little better. It’s always a balancing act but understanding one another’s communication styles has been key.
We’ve also learned the importance of communicating before conflicts arise. We are constantly discussing future plans, hopes and dreams, things we see needing changed in our relationship, parenting issues… The list goes on and on and on. Communication is in the forefront of our minds all the time and, since we’re one another’s best friends, it’s something we enjoy doing!
Be Full of Grace
I have news for you… No one is perfect. Are you shocked? 😉 In all seriousness, each of us is married to a sinner. You are married to a sinner. Your spouse is married to a sinner. Grace upon grace upon grace needs to be poured out on your spouse. Don’t assume the worst in the person you married and offer forgiveness where it’s needed. Don’t hold grudges and be quick to acknowledge your fault in a situation.
Christ is our example of loving sinners and being the embodiment of Grace and, since we are supposed to be like him, we should be Grace as well.
Have Fun Together
Shouldn’t marriage be fun? Don’t you want to enjoy spending time with the person you’re married to? I know I sure do! Nate and I strive to have fun with one another as much as possible. It could be as simple as an inside joke we bring up every so often or it could be as big as intentionally taking time to leave our kids behind (with a responsible adult, obviously) and explore new cities or countries. Figure out what you and your spouse both think is fun and build that into your lives!
Do Things Separately
Make time to be away from one another. For a long time I thought this was counter intuitive and Nate and I pretty much spent all the time we weren’t working together. Within the past two years, we realized that it actually was because of an unhealthy work/life/school balance we were forced to have while Nate was in seminary that we felt that way and it actually was a good thing to do things apart. We now do our best to get out with friends or do our own hobbies at home without feeling bad that we’re not spending time together. This allows us to be more intentional when we’re together. It also allows us to pursue the parts of ourselves that the other person doesn’t share. Nate’s really into woodworking right now and I don’t care much about it. He gets to work in his workshop while I’m in the house blogging or sewing or whatever else I want and I’m getting a nice, new table that we’d never be able to afford out of the deal. It’s a win-win. 😉
Be Verbal About the Positive
It’s super easy to forget to share the positives with our spouse. I’m not much of a words of affirmations person but God has a sense of humor and I married a man who’s primary love language is words of affirmations. I have learned how important it is to be verbal about the positive in our lives. He needs to hear when he’s appreciated, that I find him attractive, truths the Lord shares with me, and so much more. As I’ve learned to share these things with him, I’ve also learned how important it is for ME to hear these things too, even though it’s my second to last most valued love language. (Gifts is my last, if you were wondering)
Have a Servant’s Heart
We are all called to have servant’s hearts for one another and a marriage is no different. How many disagreements could be alleviated if both members of the couple were looking out for the needs of the other person. When there are dishes in the sink, do them, even if you also cooked the meal. When the kiddos need ANOTHER cup of water when they’re supposed to be sleeping, get it for them instead of waiting for your spouse to do it. If you’re doing, doing, doing for your spouse and he is doing, doing, doing for you, your lives are going to be wonderful together.
What’s tip would you add to these?
Which of these tips do you need to begin implementing in your marriage?
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