. Ecclesiastes 4:12
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
On August 9th, my husband and I will be celebrating fifteen years of marriage. It's a milestone we've been looking forward to for some time. Unfortunately, no trips to Europe or Hawaii are planned, but we are excited to be here on the edge of fifteen years. Fifteen years of ups. Fifteen years of downs. Fifteen years of being there for one another and of being best friends.
I wish I had all kinds of wisdom to share about marriage and what it takes to make a good one. In some ways, I feel that my husband and I have been blessed with a good marriage that has not taken too much effort on our part. But I suppose if I think about it, there are some truths I've learned along the way, so indulge me while I share the lessons I've learned about marriage over this past decade and a half.
Number one, don't go to bed angry. The other night I did. What's more my husband did. When we woke up, we were still cranky towards one another. So much so that my husband was ready to leave the house for work at 6:30 that morning. Work on a Saturday? Yea, he was that mad. So we sat down and talked and talked about what went wrong and what we were upset about.
Talking things out was something my own parents weren't good about. I think in some ways, things just built up and were never discussed. That's something my husband and I have determined not to do - to keep silent when we're upset, to let the resentment build up. That's never a good idea. Over the years we've worked hard to communicate even about the hard things. It's not always easy to be honest, but I've found that when I share my side and let my husband share his, I come away with a little better understanding of where he's coming from and vice versa.
Number two, practice a little humility. A little humility, like admitting when you're wrong and even conceding when you're mostly in the right, is a good thing. The Bible says that the meek will inherit the earth and that when we humble ourselves God will lift us up. Sometimes it's more important to win the moment than to win the argument. What I mean by that is this. Winning the argument might make you feel better but it doesn't necessarily make your marriage a happy one. That's because, in a marriage, it's not so much about being right as it is about loving someone completely, with utter abandonment. Not so much thinking about yourself, but putting the other person's thoughts, feelings and ideas above your own.
Number three, always avoid the always and nevers of life. As in, "You never help around the house, or, "You always take the kids' side when we argue." My husband is the one who pointed out my tendency to use always and nevers early on in our marriage. It might be true that your spouse sometimes neglects to help with household responsibilities or sometimes seems to take the kids' side over yours, but is it really true that it is always the case? Using always and never statements just sets everybody up for failure. No one wins in always and never situations. So don't go there. Just don't.
Number four, make time for each other. In our marriage, I am often guilty of wanting to do my own thing rather than spend time with my husband. It is hard for me to set things aside to invest in our relationship. What's more, I tend to put the kids first before our marriage and that is backwards thinking. After all, if it weren't for this most important relationship in our house, the kids wouldn't even exist. So it only makes sense that we nurture and cherish our relationship first. It's kind of like how on an airplane they tell you, in case of an emergency, to secure your own oxygen mask first and then take care of your little ones. Nurturing the relationship and bond you have with your spouse can only serve to make you better parents. Our kids love that we love each other. They'd never admit it. They even act like our hugging and kissing grosses them out. But underneath it all, I'm pretty sure they are secure in the knowledge that their parents genuinely like each other and are still going strong after fifteen years.
Last but not least, a cord of three strands is not quickly broken. The verse I shared above was one of the scripture verses read at our wedding. I loved it then and still do. In fact the other day , I found a wall hanging with this very verse printed on it. It now hangs in our bedroom, and every morning I wake up to the reminder that this marriage isn't just about us. My husband and I aren't on this journey alone. God is part of it. He always has been and he always will be. The day we said our marriage vows, he was right there with us saying yes in the promises we made to each other. There's a lot of comfort in that knowledge, the knowledge that even when it seems things are unraveling a bit, God is there to keep our bond strong. So when all else fails, and I find that I'm breaking each of my own bits of wisdom as written above, there is something to be said about that third strand - a God who keeps our love alive and well. Not just now, but always.
Happy Anniversary to my best friend. I'm looking forward to many more years of an abundant and thriving marriage. Love to you always. Me.