Today is our 18th wedding anniversary. Eighteen years! I’m not sure how this has happened.
I’m going to be honest: There have been times over the past eighteen years when I didn’t think we would make it. Have you ever felt that way in your own marriage?
However, we are making it! It’s not always easy though – it takes daily sacrifices to make a marriage work. (And sometimes I just don’t want to sacrifice. You know what I mean?)
But here are six things I’ve learned over the past 18 years of marriage.
- Sometimes you have to keep your mouth shut. Is this as difficult for you as it is for me? Goodness. Sometimes I just want to say one more thing. For some reason, I really want to have the last word. Anybody else? But life goes a lot more smoothly when I keep that snide or hurtful comment to myself. If there is an issue that needs to be addressed, I am learning to find a less stressful time to bring it up. The middle of an argument is not the time to attack Peter about something that’s bugging me.
- There will be seasons when you just have to push through, believing that you will make it to the other side. No one ever told me that marriage would be hard. Or maybe somebody did tell me but I didn’t listen. You know, because I was so in love and everything. But I’m telling you now – marriage will be hard. Like, “I wanna leave this man and run home to my mama” hard. Peter and I have definitely had seasons where we just had to push through. When our oldest daughter was two, we struggled a lot. Parenting was hard, we both worked outside the home and had busy schedules, and it wasn’t easy for us to connect. Our date nights became more like business meetings where we looked at schedules and finances instead of gazing into each other’s eyes and daring to dream together. But it was just a season. We went to a couple of marriage retreats (which opened our eyes a lot) but mostly we just pushed through, believing that God had put us together. And we came out on the other side much stronger than before. Before you start thinking, “Well, we have lots of those seasons in our marriage…” Let me assure you that we do too. It’s natural to cycle through good and bad times. But I want to encourage you to keep pushing through to the other side, believing that God has great plans for your marriage and your family.
- It’s important to honor your spouse in front of your kids. I admit it – I am the worst at this! I try to lift Peter up in front of our children, especially when he isn’t around. I want them to know that their daddy is strong and smart and helpful and loving. But I don’t always do a very good job at this. It’s definitely something I’m working on though because his eyes light up every time I speak honor and respect over him in front of our kids.
- My husband cannot read my mind so I need to let him know my needs and expectations. I don’t know why I think Peter can get inside my head and understand what I’m thinking. He is a “tell it like it is” kind of guy while I’m the complete opposite. I want him to voluntarily help me at bedtime because he knows how exhausting it is to put the kids to bed every night. And on those nights when he doesn’t help, instead of just asking for a little assistance, I get really irritated at him. I need to do a better job of stating what I need. Because invariably, if he is able, he is more than willing to partner with me.
- Most of the disappointment and irritation in marriage occurs when I’m thinking about myself instead of sacrificing my own desires. I once heard someone say that marriage is a 50/50 partnership. I couldn’t disagree more. Marriage is actually a 100/100 partnership – both spouses have to sacrifice things on a daily basis in order to make a marriage (and a family) work. It isn’t always easy to give up something that I want to do so that my husband or my kids can do what they need to do. But when Peter and I are conscious of each other’s needs and desires, it’s easier to sacrifice our own plans in order to make our family run more smoothly.
- Love is a verb, not a feeling. Sometimes I just don’t feel “love” for Peter. I know you understand this, right? I love him but when we are in the middle of a disagreement, I don’t necessarily feel that love. Here’s the deal, though. Our culture has based marriage and relationships on that heart-fluttering obsessive feeling of love and when you stop feeling it, culture says you are obligated to get out of that marriage or relationship. This just isn’t true. No one can make your heart go pitter-patter every single day for a lifetime. It’s just not possible. Life and kids and jobs and broken washing machines and diagnoses – they all get in the way. But when we understand that love is a verb, those hard times are a lot easier to stomach.
Peter and I have been through a lot over the past 18 years but there isn’t much I would change. I have loved doing life with him and I’m looking forward to what the next 18 years will bring.
Tell me one thing you’ve learned through your marriage. I would love to hear from you!