Tomorrow is my husband and I's 10 year anniversary. We are by no means marriage experts, but we have learned a great deal during our 10 years together. Marriage is work, no matter how well you get along, or how similar you are, but God honors our commitment and blesses our life together.
After my grandfather's funeral this July, I witnessed first-hand what a real marriage is. My grandpa and grandma were married for 68 years. They went through raising 6 kids, struggling with alcohol and smoking, health issues including heart problems and cancer, but stood by and took care of each other right up until my grandfather's last day. My 88 year old grandmother, who walks now with a walker, drove her husband to the emergency room and walked down the long hospital corridors to find doctors and nurses to help. That folks, is marriage. That folks, is love and commitment.
So here's what I have to offer. My top 10 things I've learned in my 10 years of marriage.
1. Your husband is in charge. This, by far, is the hardest lesson I have learned. But I've realized that God's way is always best, and this is how He wants it. Ephesians 5:22-23 says, "For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of His body, the church." If you have studied the Bible much, you know how much Christ loves His bride: the church. His people. He is preparing a feast for us in paradise right now. He has such love for us. To submit to your husband does not mean you give up your own mind and opinions; it means you allow your husband to love you and provide for you, like Jesus does for us, His bride. If only I would have learned this sooner...
2. Submit to one another. The husband's are not free and clear on this subject of submission, so don't worry. Ephesians 5:21 tells both husband and wife to, "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." Submit, in this case, means to put the needs of the other ahead of your own needs. Easier said than done, I know. However, we are to do it anyway, out of our love for Christ. And one thing I do know is that God blesses obedience. "Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess" (Deuteronomy 5:33, NIV). My advice? Just try it and see if you don't reap blessings!
3. You can't control your man. It is because of the fall of man, long ago in the Garden of Eden that we even think we can control our husbands. Blame it on Eve! God told her, "And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you," (Genesis 3:16). My husband is extra stubborn, and trust me, I have tried many things to get my way. Not one of them has worked. This is still a daily thing for me. I have to let go of control, every single day.
4. Laughing is really important. Laughing together is the way to stay sane. We laugh at everything. Each other. Our kids. Ourselves. Etc. Some of my most treasured memories are the times we have just laughed so hard together that tears streamed down our cheeks. To quote Ken Davis, a Christian comedian, "Lighten up and laugh!"
5. Adventures make you stronger. We were privileged during our second year of marriage to move away to Washington, D.C. together. We knew no one but each other, and our families were all really far away. This strengthened our marriage because we had to rely on each other. We got to grow together on this adventure before we returned to his hometown to start a family. It was a precious time, and though I did not want to do it at first, I am so glad that we did. We were both scared and nervous, but we found that we could handle a lot together.
6. Try, as much as you can, to manage expectations. I have always had high expectations for others and myself, but this ties into the whole controlling your husband thing. I have learned a lot about my hubby over the years. One learning experience came early on, when we were dating. It was Valentine's Day, and I expected an extravagant date. I mean, come on, it was the holiday of love! But my guy is not into doing what culture says he should. So, of course, he planned nothing. If I would have set my expectations appropriately, in light of knowing the other person, I would not have been so disappointed. It's ok to have expectations of your spouse, but they have to be in accordance with who they are as a person.
7. Kids may change things for you, but not necessarily for him. Let me explain what I'm getting at here. As a mom, your job becomes your kids. I just told my husband last night, as I was worrying over my son's first grade teacher, that the kids are my job. I worry and analyze and think about my children all the time. This is just like he is always farming: Perusing equipment, checking the weather and the markets, worrying about the crops. Same thing. While guys are able to compartmentalize their jobs, it is harder for women to block out thoughts of their kids. We are just wired that way. This is something to be aware of and to work on together. Your man still needs you in ways that only you can fulfill. He is a priority.
8. Compromise, Compromise, Compromise. I hate that word! I think that most humans do as well. To compromise means you give up what you really want in order to please another person. Sometimes you get to meet them half way, but other times you just have to do it their way. I hate it, but that is life! It's so hard because we love Self. But marriage takes Self and throws it out the window. There is now just Us.
9. Be on each other's team. This becomes so important when kids enter the picture. You know how they are because you did it too! Mom says "no" so go ask Dad! You must be united before your children. But also, you must cheer each other on. The enemy wants to break up your marriage because he knows it is so important. That's why God modeled it after His own commitment and covenant with us. Be for your husband. "Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you" (2 Cor. 13:11).
10. Give each other the benefit of the doubt. This is huge. Don't assume the worst about the other. Consider all of their intentions to be good and for you. Be prepared to give each other grace over and over again. Let the little things go. We are to forgive just as we have been forgiven by God.
There's my list! There is so much more, but you'll just have to wait for my next anniversary. Just kidding! But really, I hope this list helps you and inspires you to love each other better. I know it warmed my heart to just think about all these years and what we have learned together. I will continue to work on my marriage, following the example of my grandparents. We have at least 58 years to go!
Hi, I'm Kristen! Just a girl who loves all things Jesus, family, music and food!
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