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!
It was almost the end of my day. Bedtime was upon us.
I had already tucked my little pookie into his crib with his favorite cuddly, gray blanket. His big brother was safely in bed as well, though probably reading a book. But he was tucked in, none the less.
I was onto the last one: my daughter. I had read to her, prayed with her, and sang her favorite song-of-the-moment. I was home free. I crossed to the other side of her bed to turn off her lamp and was about to make my getaway. "Click," went the lamp. Yes!
"Mom!" she exclaimed. "Can you please get used to the light with me...while holding my hand!"
Now, getting used to the light with her is something I have done in the past. It takes a while for your eyes to adjust to the new darkness. But she knew I would just keep walking and casually wait with her by the door. No, this time, she wouldn't let me escape! I had to wait, while holding her hand, to insure that I could stay in her room as long as possible, thus delaying the inevitable bedtime.
I sighed and said to my daughter, "Sometimes you are just sooooo much!"
That's just a nice way of saying, "You are getting on my very last nerve!" ...But I didn't want to hurt her feelings!
Unless terribly prideful, most people are aware of their annoying quirks and habits. Everyone's got them. There are some people that I could not live with, or even be around for a long period of time without wanting to pull out my hair. I'm sure people think the same thing about me. I mean, hey, my own husband once said to me in the car, while I was in the middle of a story, that "That sounds like something I just don't need to hear." P.S. - We laugh about this now, but he will never live that moment down!
How is it that God does not get tired of us? We are way less intelligent than Him. He has a grasp on the whole science of the universe that I can't even begin to understand. I was using toy balls to explain the latest solar eclipse to my kids!
He also knows the future. So how is He able to always be with us without getting bored? It's like watching a movie you've seen 100 times. You don't need to watch the ending because you already know what's going to happen.
But He is always with us. He even likes us. All the time. Even when we're annoying. He has no last nerve.
"For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs" (Zephaniah 3:17).
It's amazing to know that this is true. What patience and love our Father has for us!
And in Psalm 139, we get an even more intimate look at how our Father knows us and loves us. Read it all if you need a reminder of how much the Creator loves you. In verse 5, "You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head."
And this one, this one really gets to me because it is beyond my brain to understand it. "How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!" (verse 17).
When I stop and think about this kind of love, patience, and devotion, it refreshes my spirit. This God who loves me this much, who has shown me infinite patience, daily empowers me to also show love and patience when I call on His name.
And this might savior, living in me, will not disappoint. My only response can be, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!" (Psalm 139:6).
Lord, thank you for the patience you show me, even when I'm annoying and make the same mistakes over and over again. Please help me to show that same love and patience to my children, even when they are just soooo much. Amen.
"I need a snack!"
"What are we having for supper?"
These are daily, hourly, even minute by minute questions that parents are asked all the time, especially during the summer months. In my household it is my job to feed the little people I created. But those little questions still have the ability to make me cringe. I mean, didn't I just feed them?
It's easy enough to get out a box of Cheese Its or a bag of grapes and say, "here you go!" But it's mealtime that really stresses me out. Like I said in a previous blog, I like to cook usually, but kids have a way of adding chaos and stress at precisely the time I'm trying to settle in and make my gourmet meal!
Like the time my youngest broke a brand new bottle of maple syrup on the floor as I was literally taking supper out of the oven. That was really fun.
I know I take for granted how easy I really have it. I have never been without food. I have never had to wonder how I would feed me kids. There has always been something, even if I didn't know quite what to make with it. So for that, I am grateful.
It's hard to make creative meals that are healthy. I mean, sometimes I just heat up a frozen pizza. And to be honest, the healthy meals are always the hardest to get my kids to eat. And if the people don't eat the meal you made, I sometimes wonder, what's the point?
Guess what I realized? Jesus had people to feed too. In John chapter 6, we read about the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5000 men (plus the women and children).
A crowd had followed Jesus because they were hungry for His teachings. They thirsted for the truth, and Jesus had it. They saw that He healed the sick, and they wanted more.
I love this next part. It's so Jesus, asking a question when He already knew the answer.
"Turning to Philip, He asked, 'Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?' He was testing Philip, for He already knew what He was going to do (John 6:5-6).
Philip and the other disciples were clueless. They had no idea how they could get that kind of money.
Andrew was the only one that had an idea. He found a boy that had a little lunch, packed by his caring mother. (For a blog on this topic, click here.) It was with this one willing boy that Jesus was able to perform another miracle and feed the multitudes. Everyone had as much as they wanted. Jesus had supplied their immediate need.
Isn't this our jobs as mothers? We have to feed our kids because it is our job to provide for their needs. According to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (think Psychology 101), food is one of the most basic needs. And those most basic needs must be met before more advanced needs can be met, like achieving one's full potential. And what mother does not want her kids to reach their full potential?
Jesus met the people's most basic need because He knew that they needed to be fed in more ways than one. Just like our kids. Jesus wanted to pour His truth into the people in that crowd, but they would not have been able to hear Him if their stomachs were growling too loudly.
This is how it is with our children. We have so much we want to pour into them, to teach them, that I think we forget how important it is to meet all of their needs. Because without those most basic needs being met, they can't learn and grow.
We have such a big job, parents. Everything we do for our kids has value. Even if it is just simply getting the snack crackers out for the 10th time that day.
Hi, I'm Kristen! Just a girl who loves all things Jesus, family, music and food!
For previous posts, click here.