10 Lessons in 10 Years
Today, Joel and I will celebrate 10 years of being married. This is no small feat for us because what nobody can stress enough as you enter into holy matrimony is that being married, or rather staying married, is freaking hard! Joel and I have fought for these 10 years together. We have had some high highs, and low lows and by the grace of God, we’re still standing as a cord of three stands. Marriage is something I’ve become rather passionate about. It isn’t championed like it used to be. It is discarded all too often. So without further adieu, here is my list of 10 lessons learned in my first 10 years of marriage.
1. Spend time with your spouse. This one seems like a no brainer, in those early days of bliss, all we wanted to do was spend time together. But when jobs and kids were added to the equation, we suddenly realized that we didn’t date one another like we used to. And so after neglecting this area for too long, we finally took up all of the gracious people offering to watch our wee ones and began dating again. This one is easy to let slip past you but don’t, it’s important (and fun)!
2. Speak words of encouragement to/about your spouse. I’m the first to admit this is not my strong suit. I’ll talk positively about Joel to others but to him, I’m not the best about bringing in great words of encouragement. However I notice the difference in the things we’re going through when I do and so I continue to work on improving on this one.
3. Have sex (ONLY with your spouse). I can remember a dear older and wiser friend telling me the importance of this as I was up to my eyeballs in breastfeeding and dirty diapers-the days when the last thing I wanted was someone else touching me – but her words have proven true. It is important in your marriage. Don’t get too busy for intimacy or it’ll be a regret in the long run. (*ahem, plus, it’s fun too)
4. Share the responsibilities of your finances. As a former military wife, I know all too well there are times when this isn’t possible, but at least keeping the other person aware of where you stand financially is important. I get that one person might naturally gravitate towards this but both parties should be aware of how finances are handled. If for no other reason than if something should happen to your spouse, you don’t want to be sifting through boxes of papers trying to make sense of bills.
5. Laugh together. Joel and my sense of humor has carried us through some rough and tumble times. Laugh in the good and, if you’re like me, in the painfully inappropriate times too. I’m a firm believer that if you lose your sense of humor, hope won’t be far behind.
6. Be honest. About everything. Even if you know it’ll suck. The truth always comes out sooner or later.
7. Don’t be afraid to fight. Now, I get that not everyone likes to fight, but sometimes it’s necessary. Because here is the thing, marriage, your marriage, is worth fighting for. It’s worth putting it all on the line. It’s worth having uncomfortable conversations. If you don’t fight for it and occasionally in it, you may find there is no longer anything left to fight for. Please ‘o please, be willing to fight for your marriage.
8. Surround yourself with friends that value marriage and like your spouse. Because if your closest confidants think your spouse is a tool or that marriage is a waste, when you come to confide in them during the hard times, they’ll be the first one to tell you how green the grass is on the other side. Choose friends that will remind you of the good in your spouse and the importance of marriage – because sometimes, it takes a village and you want that village to be on the side of your marriage.
9. Love fiercely and put your marriage before your kids. I know this isn’t always a popular way of thinking but the best gift you can give your kids really is a family that is healthy and intact. There are all sorts of studies as to the effects of divorce on kids – I’ll let you look those up for yourself, but the bottom line is love your spouse fiercely, and yes, that sometimes means putting your spouse before your child.
10. Walk humbly in your marriage. You can’t always both be right. You can’t always both have the best way to approach a challenge. You can’t always both lead. Walk humbly when needed.
I know not everyone feels the same about marriage, which is why this is my personal account of 10 things I’ve learned in 10 years. I am by no means great at following these steps but I’m aware that I need to; so that when things get messy, I have something to go back to and re-evaluate my part of the mess.
Joel, thanks for sticking through these first 10 years – my ‘o my what adventures we’ve had and struggles we’ve fought through. Never would I have guessed that 10 years together could be this beautifully difficult. Marriage is hard but it is ‘o so worth it. Thanks for putting a priority on loving God, fighting for our marriage, and celebrating the joys. SHMILY.