What almost 15 years of the married life have taught me
It seemed so far away: getting married, having family, reaching the “teen” years of time together.
Then…poof! It’s there!! I thought people were making up the “time goes fast….” statement.
That’s how life works. That’s how time runs. That’s how marriage goes———-quickly.
Beautifully and challengingly.
When my husband and I got married almost 15 years ago I’d say we were the cliché couple. We were young and in love. We felt we were “meant to be” and thus, what was meant to be would happen in our lives.
Then we got married. And had kids. And work. And extended family. And responsibility.
And then I realized, it’s really a lot! Life entails a lot of adventures and pathways that we often never saw the path of which led to them. But when we get there, we explored them anyway. Those paths taught us a lot about marriage.
In our years of marriage, we experienced far greater things than we ever thought possible and far more challenges than we ever dreamt we’d face. The first times of homes, children, cars and independence have fueled our fun. The burdens of sickness, miscarriage, stressors, and finances have seemingly tried to bury our hopes.
But the times of mutual determination and real-life love with my husband created a foundation of which we could stand on through them all. In that journey, I have learned these 5 key concepts of marriage.
It is as good to have things in common as it is to be different
I love that we both enjoy motorcycles and sunsets. They give us things to do together that fuel our interests and create enjoyment for us to share. We both find joy in helping kids, thus we foster. We love animals, thus we have pets. We both love food, thus I get chocolate… okay, maybe that is more about me. But see, we need that too. That is what makes us unique. It creates a growth we both experience as we learn of and through one another. More than that, being different allows us to explore our own self-worth in the relationship without reliance on the other. Besides, I know myself so well I might be bored with another just like me.
2. Marriage is not easy…. but neither is anything else
The honeymoon stage (and experience) of marriage is great. It is romantic and lustful and joyful. And then reality hits. Eventually, the bills come in unpaid and late, the baby spits-up right on my one “work” shirt when I’m already running late, and my husband forgets to stop by the medicine shop on the way home before he crashed to sleep on the recliner! It’s tough. But I guess tough is the story of life. And aren’t we as humans built to endure challenges better together? I guess without my partner in crime, the bills would still be there but I’d have no one to sit in pity with me. My love for children would still be there but I’d have no one to hand her over to to clean as I leave. And the recliner would be hard and still from a lack of usage and no soft sounds of snores would loom in the air around it. Silence can be way-too-loud, especially if it’s the only sound.
3. Love is an action
When my husband and I dated he would always open the door for me. It would be the car or the store or the house…it didn’t matter, he opened it for me to enter. I remember the day I told him to just stop doing that. I told him I knew he would quit that mannerism once we got married so he could just quit now. That is one of the first times I really chose to notice his action of love. What he did was he listened to me, acknowledge my voice, and opened the door anyway. 15 plus years later, he still does the same. He says it is a manner he learned growing up and an honor to give particularly me as well as people in his life. It is how he shows love.
And I love it!
4. Understanding communication (all types) is key
I grew up seeing a lot of broken homes and marriages. Statistics said we would never have much chance of a “successful marriage.” (What creates that anyway?! ) I remember the fear of my perceived inevitable “d” word lingering in my mind. Communication understanding saved us. What I mean by this is not simple communication. It is the effort of understanding. It is when my husband would be insightful to my nonverbal communication (90% of our communication) and engaged in my verbal words. It is me seeking verbal communication from him and clarifying my perspective of his limited words. It is us mutually battling the miscommunication between us and seeking the truth behind the interpretation. That is what opens doors for us to share abundant grace, forgiveness, emotions, and joy. I’ve discovered marriage is a pursuit of fully understanding the other.
Or at least me understanding him….
5. Investing in your marriage builds a life profit.
Life is very distracting, busy, deceiving of priorities. We go through cycles of investment in our marriage. For a while my husband and I will have access to a daycare provider that is able to equip us with weekly date nights. Then we will go months with 24/7 supervision of wild, stressful, thankfully loved children without breaks. We will have periods of time were our time is invested in everything but our marriage and then we reach the points of exhaustion and decide the pendulum of Godly led-love needs pulled back towards the center. And as much as we fight to keep the balance, it can seem like the many sources of life are stronger.
But as time ages, so do we. So do our children. So do our lives. And, though our nest is still full, retirement plan still in process, and our calendars are still penciled filled, we also know someday they will not be.
We pray that when the lesser days left of our lives and marriage come,
we will have grown together,
with each other, to ways that better ourselves and others,
and to create a deeper hope of love in life then we could ever put words to!
-Here’s to my spouse of almost 15 married, years-young!
Amber Jewell is a social worker, foster/adoptive parent, author, advocate, and believer of better! Follow her now at www.amberjewell.org.