Matt and I will be celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary tomorrow and time has flown by.
As our anniversary approached, I began making a list of the things I've learned and hope to stick by through the rest of our lives together. Making a list is a good challenge. Some of these are from personal experiences through our marriage, some of them are from hearing other's stories and experiences. It's a good reminder of how far we've come, how proud we should be of our marriage, how strong of a bind that has been spun.
My heart is full. And as I write this, I tear up because we have had some really rough times. I'm not afraid to be real with you. Because no matter how pretty photos placed on Instagram are, the happiest comments to follow, it doesn't even begin to capture the whole reality of marriage or the true beauty of loving and giving through the difficult times, the restless nights, the most challenging seasons. And that is part of the beauty. Your marriage, is your marriage. God is in it, He is for you, forever with you. What God has joined together, let no man tear a part; not even yourself.
Let's start with number one...
1. Cling to God. Through the breezy times, through the roughest. Cling to the Lords truth. Dive into scripture. Satan is at work, always. Do not be fooled by the lies he tells you that will pull you away from your spouse or from God. Be filled with the Lord's goodness and his wisdom through prayer and time with Him. I know that my strength comes from the Lord. There have been times where we just needed to be pulled through a mess, a challenge, a financial burden. Ask the Lord for help. What we cannot carry, the Lord will.
2. Pray for your spouse. This year I have discovered more the power of prayer. I've seen the fruit of believing and by the consistency of it, I've seen change in my spouse. I've been in complete awe of the fact we can even communicate to such a Mighty God. Recognize your spouses needs, what they need protection from. Start praying, because God is Hope. God is a faithful God, always, forever.
3. Make time for one another. We are so caught up in our individual lives with work, children, projects, house work, etc, etc. Making time for each other once a week to get out of the house alone, can open up conversations you may not have had if you stayed home and pooped out on the couch. (Yes, I said pooped, because thats usually how I feel after a busy day. Pooped.)
4. Accept each other. Matt and I married young. We were different people with different dreams and different views and beliefs when we married. I think one of the most loving things we can do for our spouse is accept the changes that come over time in them and love them unconditionally. We may not like all the changes, we may be hesitant about the changes, we may dwell on how things used to be. Well, get off your high-horse, because you've also changed ( tough-love folks) and you're both going to continue to change. Change is inevitable. You need to wrap your spouse up with Christ-like love. The important thing is that you do not let go of our spouse just because your expectations weren't met. God has something better for you than your expectations. The love He has for you... you cannot even imagine the things He's prepared for you. Trust in Him. Trust your spouse through Him.
5. Motivate each other. Push your spouse. Challenge them to work hard with constant encouragement (no nagging allowed) and communicate how much you love that they have dreams and aspirations. It's one thing to have friends and family encourage them, but to have their partner in crime to back them up, well that's pretty great.
6. The little things matter. Pursue each other, even though you're married. Do you know your spouse's love language? Sometimes we think we do, or we assume what they like. I had some of Matt's wrong after being married for several years. Oops! It's never too late to start giving your spouse what they need by understanding what their love language is. Check out the love language test online (it's free, ya'll.) Turns out we both love acts of service...so there ain't no sittin' on our booties as much. ;)
7. Reassurance. Sometimes your spouse needs reassurance of your love for them. Maybe you've had a rough season, and maybe they're having a hard time bouncing back even when the page has turned. Communicate with them. Don't believe lies from the past. (Remember, cling to God, cling to His truth!).
8. Accept hardships. There's no giving up. Not even after nights of silence. Nights of argument, after argument. Your hardships are a part of the journey. Your steadfast love and perseverance is part of giving your Christ-like love. What you begin, you finish. Finish in strength, finish in honor and undeniable love for each other.
Now, there are exceptions. I am not talking about accepting abuse of any kind. There is definitely a line and cruelties that are not acceptable. There are options that open up your opportunity to seek help, shelter, and a new beginning. Sometimes your team mate doesn't want to reconcile or they leave. Sometimes, for whatever reason, things just don't work out. You tried really hard, but you're moving or have moved beyond that hard time. Believe me, we've experienced seasons in time of heart ache. I thank God for His goodness, I thank God that we saw beyond our own needs and worked together. It takes time, it takes patience. But it's worth it. That hard season is worth it. Believe it. These stories break my heart. God is still faithful. May God bless you with abundance and peaceful understanding.
9. Happiness is a vapor. It easily comes, it easily goes. Sometimes we have to sacrifice our personal happiness for the sake of saving our marriage. Sometimes all we can do is get down on our knees and pray out of despair and lost hope. Your lack of happiness and acceptance of it is worth something, it is worth a lot. Have joy in the Lord, have joy in the purpose He has placed in your life. True happiness will come again. It will blossom and you will look back in complete awe of the God you serve and how He carried you through. Remember, there's a season for everything.
10. You & your spouse are a team. Do not forget it. In everything, in everyday, your partner needs help. Your spouse needs a hand with cleaning up the house, helping with dinner, washing the car, paying bills. Do these things together and work along side each other. Watch the magical transformation of your relationship strengthen before your eyes.
11. Do not mistaken your spouses relationship with the Lord for your own. Though in marriage we have become one, we are also individuals. We have a responsibility to pursue Christ on our own and make time for Him. He is jealous for your love and affection. He wants to spend time with you. I very easily rely on Matt for a lot of things and I began to realize this was one of them. This past year, God showed me His fervent love for my attention. Sometimes I think an intervention disrupts our expectations, even when we don't see it coming, so that the Lord can be glorified. Be strong in the Lord for your spouse when they need your support. Be there, readily with the Lord's wisdom and Love to help them through.
12. Communication. This is a pretty big one and it intertwines in every part of your relationship with your spouse. You cannot read each other's minds. Sometimes you can get an idea of what your spouse is thinking if you've been with them long enough, but sometimes in the moment of frustration and chaos of the day, you need to communicate and say it. Say it with grace and with gentleness.
13. Reach out for wisdom. Chances are, those who have been married longer than you, may have some things they have learned through their marriage. If you're having a hard time, don't be ashamed to reach out for wisdom from someone you trust. Ask for prayer. There is no shame in asking when your marriage is in a rough season. As believers, we need community and Godly wisdom. We need them to lift us up in prayer during trials and time of need.
14. Try new things together. I'm not a big golf fan. But my husband is. Sometimes the matter of being there, just hanging out in the beautiful weather in the golf cart with Him is enough. Be available. Go places together. Get off the couch. Or don't, and watch something with them you don't like, but your spouse does. Do something your spouse loves, that you don't necessarily like doing or aren't good at. You're a team, you're companions.
15. Get naked. Yeah, I said it. I did. We're adults here, right? As much as some of us may tend to separate this one from the rest of our relationship, it is a very important one. Intimacy can be challenging in a busy day, week, month. But we have to make time for it. Think of it this way. You have chosen your one. You have chosen each other. God created this beautiful thing! Why are you passing it up? There is no one else that can give it to them. There's no one else that should give that to your spouse. Don't hold back. Don't hesitate. Take every chance you can. Yeah, sometimes it won't work out, and that's okay. But as for those other opportunities, take it and run with it...naked. Run with it when you're in that crap season. Run with it when "you're too tired". Run with it when you're the happiest.
RUN. WITH. IT.
I hope this post was encouraging to you married folk. I hope that it got your mind moving. I hope it reminded you. I hope it prepared you. I hope it gave you hope. That is what I strive to do here on TBN. Always.
With much Love,