So... ten years ago, my husband and I got married.
Not gonna lie, I feel a little old. Somehow this marker was reserved in my head for a crowd older than I thought I was. Definitely 30's. (Wait...)
The cousins who were the ring bearers and flower girl? High school and college. College.
My baby brother, then twelve, who wouldn't usher because, in his words, "I don't want girls holding my arm!"... He's apparently gotten over that phobia, we watched him marry a fantastic girl a couple of weeks ago. (Ryan and Amanda- sorry for the repeat here, there's a lot coming that was in your card.) (Also? I just considered the fact that when they celebrate 10 years, we'll be ready to celebrate 20. Because math. And I'm good at math. But still, framing it that way freaks me out.)
A lot happens in 10 years.
There's a lot of learning and growing.
I've been thinking about this, specifically, for about a month now... we are really, really happily married. It's good. Really good. Marriage? Well designed by a master Designer for our good and His glory and I couldn't possibly be more grateful. (Well, actually, I've said that before. And I was wrong. And I'm sure I'll be even more grateful, I don't know... tomorrow. But today, I'm as grateful as I can imagine for this amazing gift.) Also, as Andrew and I grow together toward holiness, we've learned a few things. And I need to write at least a few of them down so I don't forget and maybe, just maybe, to remind and encourage you.
Really quickly, here's why I'm not writing this.
I'm not writing it because we're perfect.
I'm not a perfect wife. Not by a long shot. He's not a perfect husband (though, in all honesty, I think he's a lot better at being married than I am... Most of the stuff I've learned, I've learned largely because he does it pretty well.)
We still have our stuff. We fight. We have communication differences that have been issues for ten years. (Actually, we probably have some dating back a lot longer than that. Maybe 17 or 18 years? That's how long ago we met. And when I developed a crush on him. But that's a whole other story.) Sometimes it comes down to the simple and obvious: I am a woman. He is a man. Language differences make us crazy now and again.
We don't have it figured out. (Which is why marriage is supposed to last more than ten years.)
But God is good and his grace is more than plenty for all our stuff.
So here's some stuff that I've learned in ten years of loving and living with this man.
We have to be friends.
We were friends for a loooong time before we got married. We're good at it. But it's not something that happens on its own. The first couple of years, it was simple enough. We had school and work and stuff, but a lot of time was basically our own. We played. We talked. We worked together at things. We served together. We did all the friend things we'd already been doing for years. It was fun. And we got used to living together while still doing the friend thing, and life got hectic and being friends took a little more intention. Then kids came. Finding the time to connect and play (and prioritizing that over sleep sometimes) takes a little more effort now.
But it's so, so worth it.
(Post-bedtime is currently our favorite- sometimes we talk watch a movie or just sit and read our separate things together or play a game of Dominion or Sequence.)
I have to work on me.
If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.
A healthy marriage is ideally made of a pair of healthy people.
It's really easy to go all martyr these days... My job is kind of round-the-clock and based on other people's needs. But when I just "selflessly" chug through, getting stuff done and people fed and bottoms wiped and laundry and All The Things... I do a pretty crappy job. (Honestly, this is something Andrew's probably been encouraging forever, but I'm only learning in the last year that he's right. That EVERYBODY'S right on this point: self care is not optional.)
It's easy to scroll facebook during a nap and call it a break. But I've learned it's not actually that restorative.
It takes a little bit more to discern what is actually a useful rest. For me, "useful" is writing, reading, running, talking with friends. Sometimes (um, last weekend), it's scrapping all of those things in favor of sleep. Despite everything in me yelling that I needed to go out and be alone or, at the least, check some stuff off of my list. Not sleep through my only window of "me time."
Anyway, my point... it takes effort and intention to figure out what is restorative and how to make it happen. And if I don't do that, my kids get dregs and my husband gets nothing. Well, he doesn't get nothing, he gets yelled at. Poor guy.
And it's not just me. Andrew needs time to process and be, too. And I'm not as good at encouraging and enabling this as I want to be, not as good as he is, but that's something I'm working toward.
Respect is a big deal.
We were fortunate to have been a part of a great small group from the start of our marriage, and one of the early studies was Emmerson Eggerichs's Love and Respect. It's not a secret that love is essential to marriage and that it must be unconditional. But in my early-20's head, respect was definitely on a lower tier in some hierarchy of needs. And totally NOT unconditional.
Glad to have learned otherwise, and early. It's not a small thing. I'm not always good at being respectful (especially when we're having *ahem* a "discussion") but I've gotten much faster at apologizing for being (or sounding) disrespectful!
It's still hard to find things that are specifically respectful. It's easier to figure out what comes off as disrespectful. But I'm learning.
We have to be generous.
This covers... kind of everything. I stumbled across a blog a few years ago that's all about this, and I've been kicking it around since.
When I'm generous in
- loving and blessing my husband
- forgiving him
- giving him the benefit of the doubt (when I could otherwise assign him poor motives for something)
So there we have it.
Looking over the list, it feels like it should be longer and, I don't know... more earth-shattering. If I'd read this blog post 10 years ago (which I wouldn't have, because blogging wasn't really a thing then), Little Me would have nodded along. Yep. That's true. Check. Sounds good, I agree. But somehow actually implementing that list of things that I am sure I never would have especially disagreed with has taken ten years (and counting.)
I'm hoping in another 10 years, my list of things that work for us will be a touch longer and I'll be a little better at the things on it. For now, I'm glad to have gotten it down in words. It'd be a shame to forget.