8 years ago today – June 6 – marks a pivotal change in my life.
It’s the day I first kissed Jonathan. And it’s the day we committed to be faithful to each other until death.
Just writing out that last sentence is scary to me. Not because I don’t love my husband, but because – good gracious – that’s a really huge commitment.
There are a lot of things I’ve learned during these 8 years of saying “I do” to this man o’ mine. Some things are relatively small, such as our different approaches to waking up (he’s awake faster than I am) and our relationship to food (not his love language like it tends to be mine). And other lessons are bigger. Lessons that apply to any marriage because they’re the foundation of good relationships.
Here are four lessons I’ve learned through 8 years of saying “I do.”
approach each year as a new chapter.
Sample conversation that has happened multiple times:
“How many years have you been married?”
“Oh wow! You guys are just babies! Wait til you’ve been married 30 (or any number higher than 8) years!”
I used to feel exceptionally intimidated when couples would tell me how long they had been married and their marital experience exceeded mine. But this year above any other has proved that every year is a new chapter in our lives. Some of the chapters are so different from the last ones that they almost seem like a new story altogether. But every chapter is ours. No one else had the same eighth year of marriage that we had. No other couple talked through our issues, laughed at our crazy jokes, cried in our struggles, or prayed for our uncertainties like we did. It’s our story. Unique to our marriage. And I wouldn’t trade it with anyone.
Talking may seem like an obvious lesson. One you need to learn long before you get married. And you’re right – it is.
But I think you need to re-learn it after you get married.
And after you have your first child.
And then your second and third.
Aaaaand we’ll probably need to re-learn it after our fourth.
Basically, talking is a lesson you need to re-learn every day, through every issue and each new season of life. And when I say talking, I mean communicating effectively with your spouse – not just you as an individual expressing your thoughts and opinions on a certain subject. Effective communication is no joke. It takes a lot of time, patience, love, and persistence. Basically, it would do each of us a whole lotta good to sit down and read through 1 Corinthians 13 before working through an issue. Communication ought to be patient, kind, not irritable, resentful, or insisting on our own way.
Ouch. I’m hurting after only listing out 5 of the love attributes.
Don’t wait for the perfect time to talk because it will never come. This is especially true as you add more little humans into your family. I used to want to wait to talk through problems and misunderstandings until our kids were asleep. Then life got busier and we didn’t always have as much of that “alone time” as we used to have.
I’ve learned I’m learning to talk through things even when I don’t feel like it. It pains me to even type that out because I hate hate hate talking through things sometimes. Okay fine – most times. But Jonathan is so good at not letting us leave a conversation still at odds with one another. It’s one of those things that really makes me uncomfortable and I kinda hate it during the moment, but for which I’m incredibly grateful. Because if I were the one in charge, we’d have a lot of unresolved issues. No bueno.
remember that marriage takes work.
Ugh, I know. It sounds so unromantic, doesn’t it?
But it’s true. Good marriages don’t just happen; they take a lot of work. (See my previous point on communication for further proof.) One could even say they take a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. And though hopefully the blood part is just in theory, the sweat and tears certainly are not. My Dad has often reminded my siblings and I that there’s no such thing as “coasting” in marriage. You’re either daily working to better your marriage or it’s getting worse. This brings me to my final lesson.
don’t underestimate your need for God’s grace.
This lesson is last because it’s the one I most want you to remember. I began this post by honestly telling you what an overwhelming thought it is to be faithful to one person until death. That’s the great thing about God’s grace. It doesn’t leave us overwhelmed by our own problems, but by God’s incredible grace and goodness. He says that His grace is sufficient for us. And His strength is made perfect in our weakness.
I daily feel my need for God’s grace – some days more deeply and painfully than others. During the past month of uncertainty, Jonathan and I felt a desperate need for grace in our marriage. We were floundering to find a new normal with my need for bedrest, 3 kids to care for, medical decisions to make, and financial pressures increasing. Plus it seemed to come at the most terrible timing possible being less than 3 weeks before Jonathan’s assignments were due for his PhD classes.
That’s a lot of pressure. And it directly impacted our marriage.
We prayed for and with each other.
We continued talking – although our conversations took a drastically serious nature 99% of the time.
We gave grace to each other when we got angry and frustrated.
And we kept loving each other in little things. There were no date nights or incredible acts of romance. There was a whole lot of daily life instead. But we snuck in some sweet texts to each other during those days. We put on our favorite song one night, sat on the couch (I was there anyway!), hugged each other, and just cried. We let each other hurt and comforted through it as best we could.
We were desperate for God’s grace – and He supplied it.
I have found that I’m in the most trouble when I forget my need for grace. When I think “I’ve got this whole marriage thing pretty much figured out!” is right about the time I start trying to coast in marriage.
We need God’s grace to view each year as a new chapter.
To communicate effectively, lovingly, and persistently.
To put the hard work into our marriage that it needs and deserves.
We need God’s grace even to remember our need for His grace.
And you know what the great thing is? He promises to give it.
Do you feel desperate for God’s grace in your marriage today? I hope so. Come to Christ with your need for grace and trust Him to provide all that you need.
Happy 8 years of saying “I do” to my sweetheart.
There’s nobody else I’d rather be with on this journey of life.
one of the ways we seek to build our marriage is by reading great books on the subject.
click here or below for 9 books we have and recommend on marriage…