Friday, June 29, 2012

Lessons From the First Ten Years of Marriage

I married the love of my life ten years ago yesterday.  It was a hot, humid, wonderful Friday evening.  I remember walking down the aisle on my father's arm and looking straight ahead at this beautiful man standing at the front of the church waiting there for me.  Waiting to pledge his life to me.  I remember standing there, my hands shaking in his, a combination of nervousness at the gigantic step I was taking and excitement that I was finally marrying the man I have loved most of my life.  I thought I knew what I was getting into on that hot day while standing in that hot church.   I thought I knew what love was ten years ago.  I had a thing or two to learn about what love and marriage truly is.

Love is Patient.  I thought that things would be easy once we said our vows.  I was marrying the man I love, a man that I grew up with, so of course we would get along all the time.  Wew!  How wrong I was.  While Hubby may be all that, he is also his own person.  Who has his own mind that doesn't think the same way mine does.  I used to get so mad at him when he wouldn't do things my way.  I had very little patience for him doing things his way and would tell him so--both big and small.  From how he changed diapers to the way he loaded the dishwasher to the way he put his dirty socks in the hamper (or more likely on the floor), I tried to teach Hubby the correct way, i.e. MY way, to do things.  It took me a few years to learn to let it go, that just because it's not my way doesn't mean it's wrong.  Hubby would probably tell you I still have a ways to go, but I'd like to think that I have grown substantially in the area of patience.

Love is Kind.  It's not always easy being kind.  Sometimes I am in a bad mood and it is all too easy to snap at the one I love the most--Hubby.  Sometimes Hubby does something that is mean and it is hard to be nice back.  But I have gotten so much better at this.  To show kindness even when I am cranky.  To show kindness even when it is not deserved.  And I can't tell you how many times Hubby has shown me undeserved kindness in return.

Love does not Envy.  So I entered my marriage not knowing very much about cooking.  Hubby entered marriage being a fabulous cook.  The first few years I really struggled with feeling inferior to him because his cooking was so much better than mine.  I found myself apologizing almost every time I cooked because I knew that my food was lacking when put next to his.  I really struggled with envy.  Over the years I have grown in both my cooking ability and in my confidence.  I have also accepted that there are some things that Hubby will always just be better at--cooking, computers, social situations.  Being envious of his ability to walk into a room and talk to anyone is not helpful.  I am thankful that he is strong in these areas because they balance our marriage.

Love does not Boast.  I used to spend a lot of time comparing myself to others--how I kept house, how I parented, how I educated my kids.  Hubby would gently correct me and tell me to stop comparing.  To just live my life as God has called me and to let others do the same.  I didn't necessarily always boast about my successes, sometimes I was positively green with envy (today I am extremely envious of my friend's pool--it's 95+ degrees outside), but no matter how I tried to compare myself, Hubby would bring me back to the fact that it was wrong.

Love does not Dishonor Others.  I grew up in a family that practiced negative humor and sarcasm.  We still do to some degree.  Hubby grew up in a home where that was just not done.  I would say things about Hubby in public that I thought were funny but Hubby did not.  He told me I was dishonoring him and to please stop.  It took a lot of tongue biting at first.  Rarely I still fall back into old habits, but for the most part I have learned to only speak honoring words.

Love is not Self-Seeking.  I think the first and hardest won lesson in my marriage was to be selfless.  It is not easy to die to self.  To give up what I want to do for the sake of others.  There are a lot of days where I really don't want to do laundry, the dishes, cook dinner, etc.  I would much rather curl up with a good book or do something by myself.  But selfishness has no place in a good marriage.  Life is not all about me.  It is about giving myself to my family.

Love is not easily Angered.  A few years ago we went through a rough patch where I was very angry at Hubby over anything and everything.  It threatened to destroy our marriage.  Instead of throwing all the blame on Hubby as my flesh begged me to do, I bought a book called The Surrendered Wife: A Practical Guide to Finding Intimacy, Passion and Peace With Your Man by Laura Doyle.  What an eye-opening book!  Having a good marriage was not dependent on Hubby changing, it was dependent on ME changing!  Yes, Hubby was doing some things that needed to change, but I needed to start by showing respect to him and doing the right thing, which would then turn Hubby's heart toward me.  It took about a month of my following the book's suggestions for things to turn around dramatically.  We went from being in the pit to having a marriage that was stronger than ever.  My anger and pulling away were causing Hubby to want to stay away from me, which made me angrier in one vicious, marriage-destroying cycle.  I broke the cycle eighteen months ago and thank God every day for freeing me from my anger and restoring my relationship with Hubby.

Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs.  There is nothing worse than having your sins held against you and brought up time after time.  Thankfully I have a poor memory and this is rarely a problem for me.  More of a problem was my inability to say I'm sorry when I did something wrong.  Thanks to The Surrendered Wife, I learned to apologize whenever I was in the wrong.  It was incredibly hard at first.  I would do something wrong and then sit and stew, knowing I was in the wrong but really not wanting to apologize at all.  I had to work myself up to go to Hubby and ask for forgiveness.  Hubby has always been incredibly forgiving and never brings up my failures again.  He has shown me complete forgiveness many times.

Love always Protects.  There have been quite a few times where I have made Hubby check out the source of some noise we heard.  One night we were sound asleep when the radio in the living room suddenly turned on full blast.  There was Hubby, in his underwear, holding a hockey stick, creeping down the stairs in pursuit of an intruder.  I still laugh all these years later thinking about the sight he must have made when he turned the corner and startled our cat who was sitting on the couch right next to the remote control for our entertainment unit.  I always feel the safest when in Hubby's arms (or hiding behind him as he confronts the source of the bumps in the night).

Love always Trusts.  When I first quit my job to stay home with my kids, it was extremely difficult for me to trust Hubby to take care of me.  He used to talk about finding a new job and I remember being almost paralyzed with fear every single time it came up--afraid that we wouldn't have any money, that we'd lose our house, that my kids would go hungry.  I had no clue how difficult it would be for me to learn to trust Hubby for my security, but I did.  I had to first trust God to take care of me which freed me to trust Hubby to take care of me.

 Love always Hopes and Perseveres.  Sometimes life can feel hopeless.  If there is something you are struggling with for years, praying about for years, and you never see any change, it's tempting to give up hope.  Back during that bad period in my marriage where I was very angry, I was tempted to believe that nothing would ever change, my prayers would never be answered.  I was standing on the edge, my bags literally half packed, ready to give up, and God pulled me back. He slapped me upside the head and shouted at me, "What are you doing?!?!?!"  He gave me a verse that promised if I persevered, he would return me to my former glory--he would restore my marriage to it's former glory.  I am so glad that I listened and didn't give up on my marriage, that I continued to hold out hope that things would get better.  God rewarded both Hubby's and my perseverance with a relationship that is even better than before--He kept his promise.  That time was horrible and I never want to go through it again, but we wouldn't be where we are now had we not tested the bonds of our relationship and found them strong enough.

I had no clue ten years ago what life had in store for me.  Some times were hard, some were easy, some brought me to my knees.  We've had beautiful moments--the birth of our three children, sitting on the beach watching a sunset.  We've had scary moments--a high risk pregnancy followed by an extended NICU stay for David, Hubby getting meningitis and cellulitis, putting an offer on our first and second houses.  We've had sad moments--the death of my grandpa and Hubby's two grandmas.  We've had happy moments--vacations, family outings, water fights, dinner around the table.

It's been a wild ride, but I can now say with confidence that I love Marcus because I truly know from experience what it means to love him with my whole heart.

No comments:

Post a Comment