Marriage is fun.
Who knew?! There are horror stories about the first few years of marriage, but 742 days after saying “I do”, our adventure continues. My husband leads with humility. He’s often the guy helping people move, doing dishes after a dinner party, or doing what needs to be done. Humility makes marriage fun. We say “I was wrong. I am sorry.” We laugh at our mistakes. When one of us is having a hard week, the other makes dinner and turns on Duck Dynasty. We kiss. Lots. Because marriage is fun, we’re willing to work hard on our own issues instead of projecting them on each other. When we are frustrated, humility helps us avoid a screaming match. Toothpaste caps, clothes on the floor, and toilet paper over or under does not kill a marriage. Selfishness does.
Listening is an art. We intentionally lean into the relationships of our friends and mentors with incredible marriages. We don’t give our opinions about marriage to them, we observe; we ask questions; we listen; we learn. I hope to spend my life mastering how to listen. With my husband, this means I can’t interrupt, which is hard for females. Or maybe its just hard for me. Questions come out of my mouth before the finished thought has left my husband’s amazing lips. “Babe,” he says, “I was just going to answer that.” Doggonit, I think, I didn’t mean to say that out loud! The pace of our life is fast. We’re learning the pace of our connection in marriage must be vastly slower for real intimacy to occur. Listen well.
Honor is the Foundation.
One of our marriage mentors is our Pastors, Philip and Holly. Philip has a life changing line, “At the heart of every marriage problem is an honor problem.” My husband’s ability to honor the woman God created and purposed me to be, has released me to flourish, to lead, to love without reservation. I am the person I am because he honors me. My ability to respect and honor Cody has a critical impact on him. As a married couple, we have the loudest voice in each other’s lives. We want to give voice to honor. Honor leads to compassion, empathy and action. Honor diffuses situations, creates safety, builds trust, and invites intimacy. What I’ve learned through relationships even outside of marriage, is that honor is not about what another person deserves. Honor is about my personal character. Like my husband, I want to give honor at all times, especially when it is undeserved.
Communication is key.
During our first six months of marriage, I learned not to disconnect. I had an unresolved area of my past hindering me from connection. I would shut down, my throat would close and I couldn’t speak or share my feelings. I got some help, realized the issue and worked through it with Cody. He was gracious, kind and loving. He would coach me through those moments, instead of yelling, disconnecting or wondering what in God’s name was wrong with me, he created a safe place for me to grow in sharing and working through whatever was on my heart. We’ve learned together that communication is key. We work hard to share our feelings, needs, desires, dreams, pain so that we remain richly connected to each other. Our faith and trust in the grace we have in Jesus helps us process our humanity in each season of our life together. Some months, the demands of life, ministry, crisis, leadership and more are greater than we know how to carry. Here is where our tone and attitude matters most. Irresponsible communication is devastating; however, complete honesty with each other, even if it takes us a few days, even when it hurts, unites us. When we are most vulnerable in a safe relationship, we experience intimacy. We’re discovering intimacy – knowing and being known – is a powerful tool in building our marriage.
Marriage has a profound ability to help us realize our potential, to shine a light on the areas of our lives where we are selfish, lazy and prideful. We’re not experts on marriage and I hope we never think we are. Like some of our heroes, we want to remain in love for the rest of our lives. We are choosing to do this moment by moment, day by day because our smallest interactions shape the whole of our marriage. Listen well. Honor always. Be truthful… and have fun!