Friday, May 10, 2013

Three Years

My husband Stephen and I just celebrated our three-year anniversary. People we know feel all sorts of things about this; “Is that all?”or “Already?!” or “Talk to us when you get to three decades” are all commonly said. And in some respects, these things are totally true.

But in several respects, we are a lot further along than what three years looks like on the face. We, like most newlyweds, have dealt with many unexpected struggles. I won’t be diving into those struggles today. Many, thankfully, we were ready for because we have kept prayer and communication lines open. Other struggles were learn-as-you-go.

This post will share some of the basic things we have learned in three years of marriage. Some are truly universal. Some are not. Some prove that we are laps behind where other people are (“They had to learn that? C’mon, that’s too basic….”) Gratefully, we are at least here, in the race.

It made the most sense to me to share these things not as advice for the world, but advice for myself in the world. Since my job as spouse is to get my husband to heaven, consider this my to-remember list for the next year.


You are not twins. And that is good. Great, in fact. You do not like all the same foods, or have the same habits. If your husband does not fall head over heels for your lasagna with kale, that is not a sign that your marriage in trouble. It is a sign that you don’t adore yourself to the point of marrying a clone, and that your husband feels safe and open enough with you to share the truth. Again, this is great. Focus on the uniqueness that is your husband. Share your own uniqueness with him, like your creativity in how you will find other ways to sneak feed him kale. And, embrace the differences as a way you can tag-team the things you will encounter as a couple, each one sharing his or her own strengths as applicable.

You are not date night people. You have heard from lots of women who swear by a date night, that this has worked wonders in their own marriage. Good for them. This is just not realistic for us, at least not right now. One night a week that you keep for dates, carved in stone, does not give the same authenticity off which you and Stephen thrive. Some of the best dates we have had can’t be called “dates,” because they offered spontaneous opportunity to focus on the other. Accept that your version of date night might be 15 minutes on a Wednesday morning, where no one has yet brushed their teeth.  

You have to commit. Cell phones, TV’s, computers—basically anything with a screen—can be a demand for your time, and pretty soon, your heart. And those are just the things we pay for. Look at all the other demands the world puts on us that we aren’t asking for. There will never be a work-family-obligation perfect storm. You are called to commit in the chaos.

You are not enemies. Disagreements are normal, not an invitation to debate. Debates have winners, and they have losers. And when one of you loses, you both lose. Marriage means you are on the same team. Be forgiving. Be reconciliatory. Complement each other, don’t compete with one another. Get over problems with open communication and as few tears as possible. Why? Because a new issue-demanding-tissues will probably be around the corner. Do not plant your flag on a big hunk of cheese, because you will soon find that after awhile your feet are oozing into a festering puddle of what once resembled something worthwhile.

You are not what the world tells you. Good wives are not perfect domestics, ball-busting career women, catty gossips, sex kittens or totally indifferent. If you see wives like this, don’t fall for their easy step-by-step how-to-be-a-modern-wife routine. They are thinking only of themselves, and you have done enough of that for a lifetime. For the most part, you are doing ok, good even. In many respects, step up. Put on your big girl high heels and be the wife your husband deserves. Be helpful. Be patient. Be affectionate. Be respectful. Be kind. And, be OK with being wrong.

You are not behind. You are not raising any kids yet, like you thought you would be. This is not a failure. Many people will tell you that you have all the time in the world. Try not to be offended. Other people will notice the lack of brood in toe and ask what the holdup is. Try not to get upset. Find the lovely middle ground that is your very blessed life right now, and settle in to accepting—and embracing—that God wants you where He has you.  

You are not alone. Do not become like the couples you know who drain you with their selfishness. They do no lift up their spouse, and instead of bragging about all of their spouse’s wonderful qualities, they grumble about (perceived) faults. They take from one another, complain, and look to us to take sides. In a way, they are travelling in this world not as part of a couple, but very much alone. This is more than exhausting. This is poisonous. This type of attitude only focuses on you, and not on your sacrifice and commitment for your husband. You and Stephen have found over and over when you focus first on God, then on your spouse, it leaves very little time for focusing on yourself—and that is when you both are happiest. Do not let others come between you and your spouse. Protect and honor your marriage vows.

You must have faith. Seek Him first, and believe He has a much greater plan in mind for you and Stephen than you could have ever imagined yourself. If you seek His will, He will work it in your life. This means that the peaks are a peek at heaven, and the valleys are when you are closest to our Lord. Trust.

And now to you. Anything I should remember over the next year?


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