What I learned from marriage
42 years ago I said “I do”. I was only married for part of my life because Jim joined the great cloud of witnesses after we hit #30. But even though I have been “single” for the last 12 years I do not feel “single”. I still feel my sweet Jim’s presence in so many ways. I would also say that marriage has been the most impactful thing in my life as it has shaped who I am more than any other thing. To mark this anniversary I listed only 42 things I learned because I was married.
1.Pictures are nice to have but make sure people are in them. Outtakes and silly are the best!
2. Everything is better with tea and scones
3. To laugh often should be part of the vows made to each other.
4. You can solve most of the world’s problems on a road trip.
5. Being a parent is much harder than being a cool aunt or fun uncle.
6. The wrinkles will come no matter what you do but they carry the wisdom of experience. Growing up is done before marriage and growing old is what you do together after “I do”.
7. Life is like a scary movie with lots of unexpected things coming at you but that is when you hold on tight to each other and grab the popcorn.
8. Only when our eyes are fixed on the same direction and purpose – Jesus – letting Him fill us, lead us and love us that we love each other in the most profound ways.
9. The day you will love your mate the least is over; that happened on the wedding day.
10. Your favorite person is also perfectly imperfect. Some days that shows up more than others providing an invitation to walk more deeply into the vows you have made and love them on a deeper level.
11. Not going to bed angry is a game changer. No matter what touch each other when you go to sleep. It says I am here and I love you no matter what. Always kiss goodnight. Goodbye. Hello.
12. When you hug, be the last to let go!
13. Most things are a choice – love, joy, happiness – there is no end to these things if we choose them. The rest we can’t do anything about anyway.
14. Most of your fights are living proof of your immaturity. The sooner you grow up, the happier you’ll be. Additionally, many fights really are not worth the fight
15. Being right will eventually lose its appeal – Admit your shortcomings. They’re obvious anyway.
16. Being happily married is not the same as living happily ever after
17. If the grass is greener it is because someone is caring for it or it is artificial turf! Care for your relationship and make it a priority.
18. Being married is supposed to be the seen example of the community shared by the Triune Godhead.
19. Stupid and boring are bad words. So are all the superlatives including always, never, every.
20. Being married is an opportunity to witness the life of another and tell them they matter because you will always notice them.
21. Spouses come before kids. They stay longer than kids if they come first. The best way to love your kids is to love your spouse.
22. There are secrets that no one but your partner will ever know – There are plenty of things I wish I could forget but that I will go to my grave with because as a spouse you witness it all and learn to be a good secret keeper. But also never keep secrets from each other.
23. We have a special power to protect our spouse but also to make them look good – even better than they can look on their own.
24. Forgiveness is key. Being willing to apologize and do it FIRST is no small thing.
25. Arguments must always have the goal of being a win/win scenario.
26. Speak with more kindness and grace to your spouse than you do to anyone else in the world.
27. Create safe and spouse-only spaces and times.
28. Most ultimatums are unhealthy as they challenge the loyalty of the other.
29. Changing your spouse does NOT work – changing yourself may make all the difference! The corollary is that choosing the right person is not as important as being the right/ best person.
30. When you fight, make sure you are in arms distance of each other (and are touching). If that doesn’t work, wear a clown nose. It is hard to stay mad under these circumstances.
31. Build friendships with other couples. Also, learn to love the friends of your spouse.
32. Complaining & Grumbling only makes the journey longer. Choose to be grateful for what you have.
33. Pray. Pray. Pray.
34. Play. Play. Play.
35. Learn to be concerned together about the same things God is concerned about – which is His glory and His children becoming more like Jesus. Psalm 34:3.
36. Set goals together (short & long term) and then work on making them realities. Evaluate and adjust often.
37. Try new things. Keep it fresh.
38. Outdo each other in serving each other.
39. Yield. Compromise and put your spouse first.
40. Love unconditionally. If you love someone you will be loyal no matter what the cost. You will always believe in them, always expect the best of them and always stand your ground in defending them.
41. Bless one another. Speak truth over each other.
42. Grow in faith together.