This weekend my husband and I will be celebrating our 7 year wedding anniversary.
It seems like it was just yesterday and yet, at the same time, it also seems like a whole lifetime ago.
In the last 7 years we have grown and overcome more than I could ever type in one blog post. Babies, School, Job changes. Simply put, we like to keep things interesting.
There was a point in time in our marriage, back at a little past the 2 year mark, that I would have told you we would never have seen this day. 2 years into our marriage I was still caught up in my idea of what I thought a marriage should look like, instead of seeing my marriage for what it really was. 5 years ago my marriage was falling apart and the word “Divorce” was used. We were selfish and not connected, both caught up in our unrealistic expectations of the ways we thought our relationship should be.
Thankfully, we were surrounded by strong Godly men and women who spoke truth over us and to us. We started marriage counseling, and together over the course of a year we worked and we fought for our marriage. We fought for what our marriage really was, not what we wanted it to be…but the dirty, ugly and flawed parts of ourselves. And over that year I saw my marriage for what it really was. Perfectly Imperfect.
In the last 7 years I have learned a lot about my marriage and about myself.
Here are 7 Things I Have Learned In 7 Years Of Marriage….
1) Great Expectations Lead To Great Disappointment – Early in my marriage I had lots of expectations for both my marriage and my husband. The thing was, I didn’t really ever communicate them appropriately. When we talked of marriage and what we wanted our relationship to look like we had lots of desires for our marriage. And over time those desires, became unrealistic expectations. And the more each of us failed to meet the others expectations, the more disappointed we became with each other and the further disconnected from each other we became. Marriage isn’t what the movies and books tell you it is…there is no fairy tale and holding your marriage to an unrealistic standard will only end in disappointment.
2) Never Stop Dating – Adding kids and jobs and schedules to the mix can really kill the romance…trust me, I know. But you should never, ever stop dating your spouse. It may not mean getting out to dinner and a movie each week, but creating at home dates are something we have become quite good at over the years. We do make it a point to get out together at least once a month. It is always hard seeing as we don’t have family close by, but it is so worth it to hunt down that babysitter and take some time away just the two of us to spend time and reconnect together.
3) The 3 Most Important Words You Can Say To Your Spouse Are Not I Love You – While saying “I love you” is important in any marriage, possibly the 3 most important things you can ever say to your spouse are “I Am Sorry” and “I Forgive You”. We are human, we are selfish by nature. Even with the best intentions we are going to hurt our spouse at some point in our marriage. Being the bigger person to admit your mistakes and apologize is so important. And then, even further from that being able to forgive your spouse, and actually forgiving. Not just the words, but the actual action of forgiveness. Depending on the occurrence, this can be difficult. Once you chose to forgive your spouse, you need to shelve the issue. And once it is shelved it is never brought up again. You don’t use it against your spouse later down the road. It is forgiven and it is done.
4) Marriage Needs Community – Surrounding yourself with other strong marriages is so important when building community. Seek out other couples who desire to grow in their own marriages. Invest and spend time with them. Seek out marriage mentors that can speak wisdom over you and your spouse. A couple that has been married longer and has more life experience can bring such an awesome new perspective to your relationship. Always remember that the community you build is to strengthen and grow your marriage, not a place to vent and tear your spouse down.
5) Separate Interests Are A Good Thing – Early in my marriage I thought we had to spend every waking moment together. We each worked and spent the days apart so naturally when we were home in the evenings and on weekends, we needed to be together in my mind. If my husband ever brought up guys nights or time away my feelings were immediately hurt and I took it as a personal insult that I wasn’t good enough to spend time with. The fact of the matter was, I was smothering him. And he was smothering me, and I didn’t even realize. Having hobbies and interests together is awesome but it is so important to have hobbies outside of your marriage. When we take the time to refill our personal needs we have more to give to one another.
6) Comparison Really Is The Thief Of Joy – It is said time and time again, but comparison truly is the thief of joy. Comparing your spouse to Jane’s husband who just sent her to a spa day while watching the kids and cleaning the house and doing the grocery shopping for the week is going to get you nowhere. None of us know what goes on behind closed doors. “Why can’t you be more like this person”, and “why don’t you ever do anything like that for me” are some of the most hurtful things you can ever say in your marriage. The grass isn’t always greener, and you are married to YOUR spouse for a reason. They are your person. Not Jane’s husband.
7) Present And Proximity Are Two Different Things – So you have secured the baby-sitter and you are on your date night. You are at dinner and you are both on your phone scrolling away. There is a very big difference in presence and proximity. I could spend every day of my life at the zoo and I will never be a Kola Bear. It just isn’t going to happen. And you can spend every single night on a date night with your spouse, but if you aren’t going to make it a point to really engage and connect with them, then your marriage will suffer. It’s just a fact. Put the phones away or any other distraction. Take the time to really be present with your spouse. Not just sitting on the couch but talking and connecting and sharing.
Our marriage has come a long way in the last 7 years. I am so thankful for those years that we struggled. While in the midst of it, it was painful and hard. But now, 5 years later I know how to fight for my marriage. We still mess up and disappoint one another and we are still selfish beings, but now we are better equipped to handle those moments and really keep our communication open and our marriage our priority. 7 years with my husband and I wouldn’t change a thing because it has gotten us to a place I am really proud of.