10 Things I Have Learned in 10 Years of Marriage10 years is a long time, but I would hardly call us veterans in marriage. It really doesn't feel that long ago. But here we are. Surely there is some wisdom that I have stumbled upon the past decade.
1. Marriage can be hard, but I make it harder.
When things are a bit rocky often it is because we are getting in our own way. We put up roadblocks, and our communication begins to suffer. Learning which battles are worth fighting, or better yet discussing has taken some time. Remaining charitable in my tone and approach can go a long way.
|I was trying to put his ring on the wrong hand.|
2. Laugh together.
I love nothing more than a good laugh. Maybe it's the serotonin. Over the years I have told Chris that I'm the funny one and he's the pretty one. But he makes me laugh all the time. He's got it all looks and a sense of humor. Of the two of us I'm definitely louder including my laugh. So when I am able to get Chris really laughing, not just chuckle my heart swells. I'm not sure if he has an opinion about laughter how it strengthens our relationship, but I think it does. About a month ago, Amelia was able to make Chris laugh unexpectedly. The kids and Chris were playfully giving each other lip (no disrespect, all in good fun). She had her hip cocked, shaking her head saying "I'm not going to call you Dad anymore." I asked her what is she going to call him. Without skipping a beat, she put her hand on her hip and said, "Mr. Pig". She was so serious, and we thought we were going to get lots of "uh, uh" so Chris and I started rolling. I don't think any of the kids could pin point what was so funny, but they saw the joy that came from us and most definitely him (because he's not as loud as me). The room felt so full of love in that moment. It is a moment I will cherish.
Pray for your spouse. This vocation. This sacrament. It is not about you. It is about getting each other to Heaven. So pray and pray often.
4. God's plan is better than our plan
Whenever we get in the way of God, things become drastically more difficult. I will add that even God's plan isn't always a cake walk because we have our cross to bear, but it is a different kind of struggle and far fewer graces when we try to make things happen according to our plan. I tell this story often. You've probably heard it. The first time Chris put in a flight packet I was devastated that it didn't go our way. I'm sure I cried for a few days. Flying has been the goal our entire relationship. Leading up to the board it seemed like it was going to happen. Then it didn't. I wasn't angry with God, but disappointed. Fast forward to now and in retrospect now is much better timing. The aircraft Chris would have chosen has been retired. He could have been out of a job. And there is an incredible homeschooling community here. I am learning so much from them. If he would have been selected the first time I wouldn't have looked for them. My kids would have been younger, and I wouldn't have felt the need to look. Chris and I are so grateful that God forced us to wait. I'm even grateful for the pain. I think I'm more humble because of it.
5. You must serve and expect nothing in return
Chris is so good at this, guys! He really knows how to serve his family without complaint. To the point that I will become annoyed when certain things he usually takes care of are unfinished. I have had to talk my self down a few times over the trash which is just silly. But doing it myself, or just simply asking for his help works much better. Nothing is 50/50. It can't be. So don't even try to keep score. Unconditional love is just that. We do things out of love, not for the "I owe ya one." Ask for help if you want it, and give help if it is asked of you. Be charitable.
6. Be Submissive
Of course I don't mean that he owns me or I must hang on his every word, but I am starting to learn when I need to be more docile and let Chris lead. God speaks to us through our husbands. We have to be quiet so we can hear it. For the most part, Chris is pretty laid back about most anything I do or don't do. The kids are a different story :). So when he has a concern, or wants things to head in a different direction I shouldn't brush him off and do what I want to do. I do so much dictating and decision making with the kids that it sometimes bleeds into our marriage. I have to be mindful of that. He is the head of this house, and sometime his word has to be the final word because it's His word.
7. Find the joy in the mundane
I am still learning this. I'm not very good at finding the joy; I usually just hide from adulting or wallowing in my own shortcomings. It is a major flaw of mine. The day to day work and the monotony can be so painful to overcome and complete. I know that stems from my personality type, but I'm also not very good at the day to day work that must be done. Chris has very little to say about the quality of my work, but he does notice the effort. Fulfilling the mundane with great love is notice by God, my children, and my husband, and hopefully will help get us all to Heaven.
8. Know your weaknesses
We all have them. Our husbands too. It's okay. Do not exploit each other's weaknesses. Accept them and be a team. Keep your expectations reasonable. I'm not naturally organized and tidy even though I desperately wish I was. And any skills I had before kids is almost gone. Chris doesn't hold that against me. He accepts my efforts, and I try to do the same for him. Taking the time to strengthen my weaknesses is necessary too.
9. Work to your strengths
Determine what you are good at and use it to strengthen your marriage. Figure out what your husband's strengths are and foster them. Encourage him. We all have God given talents and we should be using them. Our domestic monastery is a great place to start. I am on a quest in discovering my (and other's) talents, but that will be another post. But I think we should be actively using our strengths, talents, and gifts to support our marriage.
10. Know your needs
Here's an example. I'm an extrovert, and Chris is an introvert. Those qualities alone make our needs different from one another. Over the past few years I done my best to learn his limits. He needs time alone to recharge. I have to give him that space, and not let my feelings hurt that he needs to take that time. He knows that I need to be around people. The kids help, but at a certain point I need my social interaction to come from another adult. He will let me make small talk in the fellowship hall after church, or he will attend a social occasion without grumbling. I've also tried to become creative to meet my social need by using social media. It isn't the same as sitting in a room with someone, but Periscope is pretty close ;).
I'm no expert, and our marriage isn't perfect, but I think it's good. Chris may not agree with this list. I will soon find out since he's proof reading this post for me. The last 10 years have been wonderful.