By the grace of God, my wife and I just reached seven years of marriage together. It has been a mind blowing experience. A roller coaster with plenty of twists, turns, and bumps. But through those years I have gained some knowledge, and inspired by my wife I decided I would like to share some things with you. So here are seven things I learned from my first seven years of marriage
1. I didn’t know what I was getting into
Its easy to think about marriage when you are dating, but the level of commitment, trust, and communication is a lot deeper when you get married. When you are dating you can always withdraw or go back to the safety of your own home if your not shacking up. Even still there’s the option of taking a break, or breaking up. With marriage you don’t really have that option. You have to learn how to problem solve. You have to learn how to work things out. At the same time there are so many awesome moments when you share the deep desires of your heart with the person you love, and because of your commitment together, sometimes its easier to say things because you are not as fearful and because you have built a strong level of trust.
2. Good Marriages take work
To survive a marriage you need to put in some work. to have a good marriage it takes even more work. There is a lot of sacrificing, a lot of communication required. There’s times where you need to get advice from older healthier couples. My wife and I have read a couple books, but bought even more and have been to seminars, or conferences to learn how to have a healthier marriage. There are times when we went to counseling to help us through difficult parts. I thank God for our counselor. He has been a blessing. Yet despite all of the learning, there is the implementing of what you are reading and that’s the hardest part. A big part of marriage is learning how to rid yourself of all the bad habits you had when you were single.
3. There are seasons in marriage
Anyone who’s been married long enough will tell you that marriages go through seasons. Some honey moon periods last from a couple of hours to a couple of years. But the honeymoon will end, as life hits you with its twists and turns. The high of dating and being infatuated ends and then you have to learn how to do life together. This is where the friendship aspect of marriage comes in. You have to be romantic, but you also have to know how to be friends, how to talk to one other, to be kind with one another. Communication is so key, we must continually probe and stay interested in our spouses. There’s times when we have to deal with turmoil and loss which often leads to wintery seasons. The wintery seasons can make or break your marriage. They actually teach you how to problem solve, and if you can do that and communicate in a healthy way it will definitely strengthen your marriage. Not all seasons are created equally. Some seasons last longer than others, but you can work your way out of some of them if you abide by godly principles.
4. Keep boundaries with your family
One of the biggest things about marriage is that you are now starting your own family unit which now takes priority. As a married couple you have to decide how you are going to deal with uncomfortable family dynamics. Family is always family, but as a unit you must communicate that your spouse is important to you and is now your priority. Depending on your family this can become tricky, but one tip that my wife and I learned from a counselor was this. Do not share all of your marital drama with your parents b/c it will inadvertently affect how they treat your spouse. Parents are for the most part biased, and you don’t want to give any ammunition to look at your spouse in a negative light. This is not to say you cannot share anything, but to realize sharing marital problems is adding another party to the mix that can often stir things up more. This is why its better to find outside counsel if possible.
5. Laughter makes the heart grow fonder
Try to have fun. Whether its date night, watching funny programs, tickling each other or cracking jokes, laughter makes things so much easier. I can tell you there are times when it felt like things were falling apart, how much easier it is when you just take a step back and laugh. I have heard plenty of stories where huge arguments started over the most simple things. You have to learn how to laugh at yourself. Flirt with each other. Be around funny people. Watch a funny movie. One thing I love about my wife is her bad sense of humor. She tells jokes that no one else will laugh at but herself; its cute. Though we have different tastes in comedy, just seeing her laugh makes the air lighter.
6. Sex/Intimacy covers a multitude of sins
I know that this may seem a little crude, but sex is a good thing. Men often but not always crave sex more than their female counterparts. For a man regular sex keeps his appetite from raging and can keep him from roaming for greener pastures. I couldn’t believe stories of men going for months up to a year without having sex. That is torture and a recipe for unfaithfulness. There are times when my wife and I have been at odds, but often times being intimate physically released some of the tensions so we could move forward. When I speak of intimacy, that is that time when you gaze in to your spouses eyes, when you brush her hair with your hand, a gentle caress and just talk. You talk about dreams, goals, sometimes worries and fears. What separates this from regular conversation is the closeness and attentiveness both physically, mentally and emotionally. Women desire intimacy like men desire sex. Its a constant drive that needs to be fulfilled.
7. Prayer and Scripture are vital and work
I prayed before I met my wife, I prayed before I married her, I still continue to pray with her and for her. It is the lifeblood of our relationship. I believe God was active in our relationship, and I believe that he has a bigger purpose than us just living together and having a family. We pray in times of good and bad. Prayer is the act of us directly inviting God into our relationship. We ask him to break off the stubbornness of our partner during times when it seems like they are deaf. I pray that God would soften my heart when at times I get callous. For a Christian prayer and study of God’s word are instrumental to the process of sanctification( growing to become more like Christ) How can we become more like Christ if we don’t pray or know his Word. Prayer and study hasn’t always been easy. There have been times where I or my wife have been too mad to pray together, so one of us stayed silent or just refused. However I have noticed the more frequent we pray both individually and collectively the more attentive and focused we are.
There are so many things that I could add, but out of the respect for seven I will limit it to these. Maybe I will do a part two for Valentine’s day. But to close this blog out I want to close with some descriptions of marriage from some of our closest married friends, but I will lead with my wife who inspired this section.
“ Your spouse is not responsible for your happiness” ( That was real good babe, you put me to shame. )
This next poem is one I wrote and dedicated to my wife.
We have reached a week, a cycle of seven
Many have slipped on their steps to heaven
But onwards we march, though the climbs steep
through the rocks and the crags, near the serpents that creep
We run through the dark with our torch in hand
Through the muddy waters, and through the quick sand
like a marathon runner except joined by the side
we race against foes that spurn and they pry
they bend and they blast, to undo and unfast
A couple shots we have taken, a few arrows have pierced
the war on our bonds, has at times waged fierce
A cycle of seven, we have made it thus far
a journey to heaven, through the clouds to the stars
In your eyes I see sparks
In your arms I feel warm
That gives us strength as we rise
when we are blind in the storm
when we dance in the sun
let our love be the beat
let us spin and lets twirl
through the cold and the heat
A cycle of seven, with more yet to come
Our God calls us onward, so onward lets run
To my beautiful wife on our anniversary. I love you more with every inch and mile we step together.