Five years ago, my husband and I said, “I do,” to each other in front of friends and family. Those years of matrimony have been full of joy, heartache, laughter, tears, sickness, health, surprises, and adventures: all of which we said we promised to remain faithfully devoted to one another through. On that beautiful June day, we had no idea what was in store for the new life we were beginning as one. We just knew that we wanted to do life together.
In honor of our five years of wedded bliss, we’d like to each share five lessons we’ve learned during this time. Our marriage is far from perfect. We both make mistakes frequently. On our wedding day, our friend, Bliss (how appropriate, right?), stole a moment with us while we were eating and said something both of us took to heart and hold as some of our most treasured marriage advice. “There’s already something wrong with this marriage: the two of you. You both are imperfect creatures who make lots of mistakes. If you let Christ be the center of your relationship, though, your marriage is going to be wonderful.” I think I’ll be sweet and hush while I let my hubby share first….
His Five Things:
My Wife is Second
On the day we were married, one of my college roomies came over to my bride and me and pulled us all close in together. He looked me in the eye and said that my wife was second and that it was crucial I know this as the spiritual head of our new family. No matter how much I loved her, this is Christ was the one I need to place first. He reminded me that unless I do that, my marriage would not succeed. If I hoped to have a successful marriage and lead my family in a biblical way, I needed to place Christ first, and my wife second.
It’s something that may sound hard to believe and practice, but in the times where I truly place God as my number one priority, our marriage has been much stronger than when my wife is placed first. Make it a practice in your marriage to do this. How? Read the Bible individually each day, then go through a passage with your spouse nightly. Pray for your spouse every day. When you are together, pray with them in the morning or evening. Join and get involved in church. When you lead the way and truly place Christ first, your relationship with your wife will be all the better for it.
Forgive and Forget
I am really good at forgiving but awful at forgetting. Does that seem contradictory? Well it is. When my wife has hurt me in some way that is memorable, I keep it locked up to throw back at her when we are in the heat of an argument. It’s called getting the last word and it’s not cool. To do that, is damaging to my wife and our relationship. Why bring up something that happened months or even years ago that the relationship has moved past? Instead, I need to accept my wife’s apology when she offers it and forgive her. After all, the stuff I bring up is typically petty. It’s not even a big deal, but I keep it in there and prime it up for when she messes up. The problem isn’t her when I forgive but don’t forget- it’s me! I have to truly forgive AND forget. There is no greater reminder of this than of the forgiveness I have received from Christ. If I am to truly lead my family, I need to practice the same forgiveness as Christ, who has forgiven and forgotten our transgressions as far as the East is from the West.
Make Decisions Together
When you are married, you and your spouse are one. That means you need to function as one. Easier said than done. When I went back to grad school, I just didn’t go full speed ahead without talking to my wife about it first. We talked, debated and decided. It was a huge commitment to go back to school. (When I finish grad school my wife deserves to receive a degree too for all that she’s handled during my tenure in grad school). Grad school is something that has kept me at a distance at times, working like mad to meet a deadline. I also encourage you to remember that not all decisions in your marriage are going to weigh this heavy. Making decisions together about what you are going to do the next coming weekend is just as important. Seem petty? It’s not. It’s better to talk about it rationally before someone goes ahead without the other to book the whole weekend, while failing to consider what the other spouse wants to do or feels like doing. There will be times where comprise comes into play, and not everything will be a “Yeah, that sounds great kind of decision day.” The key is to be considerate. The only exception to this rule is surprising the other spouse with some sort weekend getaway or surprise visit from friends. (Try not to be like me on this one: Most of the time I can’t contain my excitement about the surprise and end up spilling the beans!)
Be the Man She Married
My wife and I dated for almost 3 years before we were married and we got to know each other very well during that time. She knew what I liked to do in my free time, my quarks (that’s one of them- I call quirks “quarks”), what freaked me out, my affinity for caffeine and how I behaved. If you get married and suddenly reveal habits and moods that your spouse has never seen that can be a problem. Especially in how you fight and mood swings. When you date, you are on your best behavior, so if in a fight you suddenly lose your temper easier than when you were dating that can surprise your spouse. If not addressed, it can get out of hand and suddenly your spouse may find themselves married to someone they did not expect to behave that way. Same goes for pursuing your spouse. When you were dating, were you extra sweet all the time and went out of your way to provide surprises along the way? One time when we were dating, my wife was facing a time of the year that is hard for her, so I asked her to keep her car unlocked and I put a gift inside with a note. I did things like that often, and when we were married, I carried that on, and it’s something that we both made a habit of doing. The main point is: be the man she fell in love with! Not the man who changed and let his guard down because he’s got the girl now. It will only make your marriage stronger, and drive other people crazy!
Learn and Act On Her Love Language
My wife’s love language is acts of service and physical touch. That means doing the dishes and playing with her gorgeous hair goes a lot further than bring her flowers and chocolate when I’m in the dog house (or on a non-dog house day). The best way to show I am sorry, to reaffirm our relationship, to make her feel better and just to be a sweet husband is to do those things. After a fight, my wife feels better if I just grab her hand while we sit and watch TV or lay in bed. This speaks so much more to her than any other thing I could try to do. It shows her that everything is OK, that her husband is here and that her David is with her.
AND ONE TO GROW ON:
Don’t Get Out of the Car
Have you ever been in a car trying to find somewhere and the driver and passenger can’t agree on how to get to their destination? Have you ever seen anyone ever get out of the car and storm off in the middle of traffic? Probably not. Marriage is like a car ride. You are on the road of life and you don’t always know where the destination is. Or, one spouse think it’s to the left, the other to the right. You will argue, you’ll have your nights where you can’t believe the other spouse just did what they did or you’ve been the one who messed it up big time. But don’t ever get out of the car. Please. Figure out where you are going as a couple, what that destination is, work towards it and keep dreaming together. After all, don’t the best travel stories include some sort of conflict and adventure?