1. I didn’t marry myself…for a reason!
I think I’m right. A lot of the time. I’m convinced my way is the right way or at least the better way. Makes for a fun roommate, right? Not so much. I’m still very much a work in progress in this area, but it’s a good reminder that I married a completely different person from me and I love that! I love what makes Brad unique, what makes him different from me. I think we ladies tend to have a tougher time with this as we are often ‘fixers’, and add to that the firstborn syndrome, and my poor spouse gets told the ‘better’ way to do something a lot. I know our marriage would be a lot more joyful if I would step back and just appreciate the things that he does better than me and admire the way he’s created differently.
2. We fail. And that’s ok.
As I mentioned in #1, I’m still a work in progress, as is Brad. So we mess up a lot. We hurt the other. We do something the other has asked us not to and often this leads to anger and hurt feelings. But thank God, we both believe in a God who is transforming both of us and not our spouse’s ability to change themselves and be a good husband or wife. Because let’s face it, we just can’t. Marriage has taught me how weak I am, how deeply ingrained bad patterns are, and how desperately I am in need of God’s transformation of my heart – then my actions will follow. We have chosen and covenanted before God to make this journey together. So we are committed not only to each other, but we are committed to honor the covenant we made before our God. What a relief that God is far more committed to me than me Him!
3. Friends are important.
Brad and I were friends long before we started dating. I love that I got to know him as a friend and appreciate his ability to be a good friend long before romance entered the picture. For both of us, friendships have always been really important. Why would that change when we got married? Our hope is that our marriage helps us to be better friends to others, but more often than not, I’ve received the gift of having good friends. My close friends encourage me to love my husband well and support our marriage. I’m thankful.
4. Serving together keeps us grounded.
Single or married, we believe as Christians that loving God means loving and serving people, so this one is not really a marriage truth so much as a life truth, but it certainly remains true in marriage. One of the best ways to stop being so self-focused (insecurities, focus on my problems, pride, self-absorption), is to focus on others and their needs. Some of our greatest joys and experiences that have brought us closer as a couple have been found serving others.
5. Two opposite perspectives can both be right.
I mentioned in #1 that I have a problem thinking that I’m always right. Well sometimes, I actually am right, but that doesn’t always mean that Brad is wrong. Often we just have two different perspectives on something or different values. It could be that what I said was factually true, but the way in which I said it or my timing was hurtful and therefore hard to be received. It’s hard to keep an open mind and a willingness to see things from the other’s perspective, but when one of us is willing (he’s much better about this than I am!), our conflicts are resolved much faster.
6. Get over it.
This is a hard one, but we waste a lot of time holding grudges. This goes back to #2 that we both knew we were marrying imperfect people and agreed to forgive them and love them as they are. But sometimes putting this into practice is so hard! The times that I can focus on how much I have been forgiven instead of how right I am or how he wronged me, I am able to forgive and move on. Usually if one of us will be quick to make a move to apologize, the conflict can be resolved quickly; problems arise and time is wasted when we’re both self-focused and unwilling to forgive.
7. Quality time is a must.
We’re busy people. Probably too busy at times, but we’ve both seen the value of just stopping to refuel and enjoy one another. This doesn’t always mean it’s just the two of us, but just something that allows us to refuel with each other and have fun strengthens our connection.
8. Cut the other person some slack.
This is something I’m learning (or needing to learn!) lately. Brad is in a really busy season of full-time work and full-time school plus various other commitments. Often he doesn’t get a lot of sleep. We’ve bickered a lot about his being crabby or speaking harshly to me. Instead of just cutting him some slack and realizing he’s just exhausted, I often snap back and escalate the conflict. I’m sure there will be other seasons that he gets to cut me some slack, but for now, I’ve found that when we can each show the other a little grace, our marriage is much happier.
9. Give a little. We argue differently.
This lesson was learned the hard way. We process conflict very differently. Brad wants to immediately push in to resolve it. It’s not that I don’t want the same things, but if it’s a more intense conflict, I can get overwhelmed and need a little space to cool off before I can dive in. We’ve learned (for the most part) to meet in the middle. Brad can give me a little space, but I need to regroup fairly quickly with him. This seems to work well for us and not exacerbate the other.
10. Keep growing!
I think this one is really important. Both of us are commited to remaining works in progress, not digging our heals in in a particular area and refusing to change. Part of the fun of the journey is watching each other grow and take on new challenges. Not because he married me, but because of his faith in Christ, I know Brad, like me, is committed to a lifetime of transformation – becoming a more loving, gentle, kind, compassionate person – like Christ. Marriage is a great tool to help in this process!
What about you? What lessons have you learned about marriage or relationships?