Today is my 7th year anniversary with my husband, Tony. In some ways, that seems like forever. It’s hard to remember what life was like without my husband. Part of that could be that I’ve been with him since I was just barely 16 years old. My entire adult life has been spent in love with one man- my husband, the father of my kids, my best friend. To me, that’s true blessing. That’s what happiness and real love is made of- commitment, friendship, forgiveness, and a little (sometimes a lot) of hard work and growth.
It hasn’t been an easy seven years. We’ve had our fights and disagreements. We’ve gone through a week or two of not really enjoying one another’s company. We take out our frustrations on each other sometimes. But honestly, for the most part, we have really just been happy. We laugh a lot. No one can make me laugh like Tony can. We dream together. We grow together. We bring out the best in each other. I’m sure I have a lot more to learn about what makes a marriage happy and successful, but here are a few things I’ve learned in my seven years of being a Mrs.
1. Always seek Jesus, both individually and as a couple. Now, my husband and I have fallen short in this area. We’ve gone through times when we were both doing great spiritually and times when we have not, and we can tell the difference in our marriage. But even when we’ve fallen short, Jesus has met us where we were and kept us afloat. He reminded us of our convictions, our faith, and His power to heal and change us and our marriage into something better. So that said, Jesus is the source and foundation for everything else in this list.
2. Don’t expect your spouse to always be ‘the person you fell in love with’. People change. You change. Don’t think your spouse won’t change. I can’t ever fully know my husband because he is constantly changing, constantly growing, constantly becoming and being made by God into something new. It is part of my job as his wife (and vice versa) to wake up in the morning and pursue an ongoing relationship with him, to search out and learn who he is today and who he is becoming.
3. Be willing to accept constructive criticism from your spouse. I’ve found it’s really easy for me to see my husband’s faults, but when he sees one of mine, I get pretty defensive. I’m not saying anyone should take verbal abuse or constant nit-picking criticism. However, when your spouse comes to you with a concern about your behavior, listen and work on it. After all, isn’t that what you want from them?
4. Communicate. No, really. Don’t let kids or jobs or projects or school or church or friendships or whatever it may be get in the way of the communication your marriage needs to thrive. Even when the other person doesn’t want to communicate, keep at it. Talk to them about your day. Ask specific questions about theirs. Be interested in who they are and what they want. Even when it comes to silly stuff. For instance, I know way too much about super heroes and Star Trek. Every time we see a super hero movie, I get the break down of what that character is like in the comics versus the movie and whether or not the movie portrayed the character and story accurately. I’ve watched (and surprisingly enjoyed) every Star Trek series except the original series from start to finish. And guess what? I’m still alive. It didn’t hurt me to choose to enjoy something simply because my husband enjoys it. Not only that, but tell your spouse about the changes and growth you are experiencing. Let them in on your desires, your dreams, your struggles, your pain. Seek to know them, but also seek to be known by them.
5. Be involved in a community of people that will speak into your marriage when invited to and when you would rather not hear about it. This one is hard. It’s hard to allow other people to see your marriage when it’s not doing so great. It’s hard to admit in front of other people that part of it is your fault. It’s hard to ask for help. It’s hard to listen when someone brings something negative to your attention about your own marriage. It’s hard, but it’s essential for a healthy marriage. Like it or not, you don’t always know you the best. Things in a marriage can go downhill slowly over many years without either husband or wife really knowing what is wrong or even being aware that there’s a problem. Having a community of people that can put their finger on the problem and then support you in your attempt to make things right can dig out the weeds in your marriage before the garden is gone.
I’ve learned much more than these five, but I think these are the most important ones. Thank you, Tony (my own personal super hero) for being the best husband a girl could ask for. Thank you for growing with me, for showing me patience and grace, for being willing to lead me when I am content with ‘less than’, and for being my best friend. I’m looking forward to many more years of being with you. This heart is yours, now and always.