In just 5 short days, the hubby and I will be celebrating EIGHT YEARS of marriage.
8 years is a lot of time to pack in a whole lot of LIFE. And with life, comes the lessons.
Last year I shared, 7 Things I Have Learned In 7 Years Of Marriage and I still stand fully behind each of those 7 lessons. Some are easier to follow than others, but they are so important to remember and put into practice each day.
This last year however, I unlocked another key, and possibly the most important one yet.
The #1 Thing I’ve Learned From 8 Years Of Marriage, and it is….
You can change your marriage if you change yourself.
Now, before you think I have lost my mind, give me a chance to explain. This in no way means that you have to change who you are as a person, or your clothes or your hair.
No the real key to any successful marriage is Selflessness.
The truth is, we are all selfish people. We like what we like, we want what we want and sometimes we don’t accept ways that are different from our own. And all of that can be true even in a marriage. Sometimes, even more so in a marriage.
As the years pass and you become closer with your spouse, it’s easy to fall into a “routine” or to neglect your significant other. Sometimes you may feel like you are owed certain things. Weather it be chores, or anniversary presents, or control over the remote on a Monday night to determine if it’s Football or The Bachelor that will be gracing the presence of your home for the evening.
Even with the best of intentions, we can still be selfish in our marriage. And it was just this last year, that I really grasped that if I wanted my marriage to change, then I had to. Or really, my mind set had to.
If you have followed my family in recent years, you would know that my husband graduated from PA school this past summer. For two and a half years I watched him sacrifice and bust his tail to be a full time student, to be a full time RN and of course, a full time husband and father. And while I made some sacrifices (or really what I thought were sacrifices at the time) it was my husband that made the most. He sacrificed getting to really be involved with school and his classmates because he had to work. He had to sacrifice school plays and sporting events because he had to study for an exam. He had to sacrifice hobbies and interests and “me time” because any time that he had left after work and school he poured back into his family.
And of course silly me, when that diploma hit his hand I thought our world was forever changed. We did the hard stuff and now onto the fancy new job, with the nice fancy new income and everything was going to be sunshine and rainbows.
And then it didn’t go according to my plan.
The sunshine didn’t come. With the new fancy job came new fancy responsibilities. And long hours. And a beeper. Did you even know those were still a thing? Because I sure didn’t, but turns out they are. And for a girl who wanted one so depsertaly in Jr High, I found myself wanting to run it over with my minivan and throwing the pieces in the trash.
For several weeks of our new transition into our new normal I became bitter. And my already selfish nature took things to a whole new level. I felt I was owed the sunshine and rainbows because I (and really only I) had told myself that I would get them. And as I watched my husband come home from a 24 hour shift at the hospital all I saw was red. I became cold and short and in turn, my marriage was cold and short. My husband would apologize constantly for being gone so much and tell me how much he hated it and I in turn hated it more.
It took several weeks (perhaps longer if we are being honest) of me being angry before I started to talk things over and pray over the situation, to pray over my marriage. And as I did, I was reminded that if I wanted my marriage to change, I had to.
So I decided that for one day I was going to only say positive things about my husband’s job and just try and start somewhere with some baby steps and see where that led.
And on that day, I didn’t see red when my husband came in the door at 9:30pm. After all the kids were in bed, and the dishes were done, and the house was quiet. I sat with my husband at the table and I talked with him, and for the first time I saw something new. I saw his eyes light up when he spoke about his crazy day. As he told me how that reheated spaghetti was the first meal he had eaten all day. I watched him share stories from his day, which sounded to me like something out of a movie and my absolute worst nightmare, but he said it all with a giant smile plastered across his face and with such joy in his words. And that’s when it truly clicked for me. At my kitchen table, on a random week night, at 10 o’clock. My husband was living out his dream. The dream he worked his tail off to achieve and for the first time in our 8 years of marriage my husband was doing what he loved. What he felt called to do for so many years, was now his reality. And he was loving every minute of it.
With the exception of watching me hurt. My selfishness was actually stealing his joy and it was then and there at the kitchen table that I decided I had to change. I was the one hurting our marriage, not his job. And the second I acknowledged that and allowed my mind set to shift, was the second our marriage shifted back into gear.
When I take my selfishness out of the equation, I am able to see so clearly that my husband is doing exactly what God has called him to do. His job my be crazy but he loves every second of it. And he touches so many lives while doing it. He is actually in the business of saving lives and that is SO much bigger him and me and even our marriage.
While we are selfish by nature, it honestly has no place in a marriage and we have to choose our partner every day over ourselves. When we want out marriage to change, we have to put in the work and change too. Change our mind set. Change the way we do certain things, how we communicate, how we show affection, etc.
Selflessness is the #1 key to a successful marriage.
And when we can recognize that and put that into practice, then we can get a glimpse of those rainbows and sunshine.
What is the #1 thing you have learned about marriage and how do you seek to work on your relationship with your spouse?