This week James and I are celebrating 8 years of marriage. Marriage is a beautiful thing. Even through the difficult seasons, God’s glory still shines. Spoiler Alert: I am not a perfect wife. I know, I know, hard to believe 😉 I have failed a lot as a wife, but I also have succeeded. I find it to be very important to work hard at being a wife, not just to be present. While I still have a lot more to learn, I thought I would share some of the things I have learned the past 8 years.
- It is not and will not ever be my job to “fix” James. I fell in love with James for who he is. It is my job as his wife to build him up and encourage him (and he has the same job as a husband). If there is something in our marriage that I want to change, I have to look at what I can do to change. If James and I are only focused on changing each other then we totally miss it. If we are focused on what we can change in ourselves, then we nail it.
- Always say sorry, even if you don’t understand. I have learned that if I feel like I haven’t done anything wrong, the fact that James’ feelings were hurt matters more. It is much easier to say sorry then it is to keep fighting.
- Always forgive. Jesus instructs us to always forgive, even if we don’t want to. I learned to say that I forgive, even if my heart isn’t there yet, because saying it will help my heart get there. To be married a lifetime means you need to forgive a lifetime. I know how I feel when James forgives me. I feel loved and the guilt is lifted. So, I need to always do the same. This has also helped create an atmosphere of safety. We know we can approach one another with anything because forgiveness will always be offered. And, I am talking true forgiveness. Where it is never brought up or held against one another.
- Have a couple who has been married longer than you as mentors. We have gone through seasons where we needed other couples to talk to. We needed a safe- judgement free conversation with people who knew us deeply. We have friendships with older couples who pray over our marriage every time we get together. Knowing there are people who love you and are rooting for you makes you feel supported and not alone.
- Priorities! Ladies- this is so important. So often we can get wrapped up in taking care of our kids that we neglect other areas. Life can be very crazy and busy. But I always try to have a balance to my time with James, my kids, family, and friends. Since I am a stay at home mom, I am beyond blessed to have all the time with my kids. James, who works out of the home right now has to be deliberate with his time with the kids. Also, I am a very social person. I need time away with my friends and have that piece to my life. We have a lot of people over for dinner but I also leave the house. I will go out for a late night coffee or will plan to do something fun with just the girls. This is very important to me and James, who is not as social, is totally fine with it. He will use that time and spend it with the kids. I make sure that if there has been a lot on the calendar with my friends, then to take it easy and spend time with James, and visa versa.
- Always communicate in a way that your partner will hear you. Naturally, I am a talker and James is a listener. So, when I have frustrations, I want to talk things through, a lot. James, who is more of a listener, can often times feel like I am berating him by how much I want to talk. That is not my intentions at all and if I didn’t change the way I communicated then I was never going to be heard. There are times where I do need to talk and explain my feelings, but there is also a time to just state it simply, accept the apology, and move on.
- Show Thankfulness, even for the little things. I always say thank you, even if it’s for things that James should be doing. I want him to know that I appreciate him. James’ love language is quality time but after that ,it’s words of affirmation. He wants to know that I am appreciating all his hard work. (I mean, who doesnt!?) I never really noticed this until one day I thanked James for taking something out to the trash can and my friend mentioned it. She mentioned how she notices that I thank James for the little things. After thinking about it, I realized how much that means to James to know that I see his efforts and I am thankful for them. Especially, when he kills the spiders for me, can I get an amen?! 😉
- Dream and Pray-together. This one I saved for last because I find it the most important. Life can get really crazy and busy. We always pray with our kids before they go to bed, so on the nights where it’s really busy, we pray together as a family. On the nights where we have extra time, James and I will sit and talk about life and pray together, after we prayed with the kids. Of course we have nights where it doesn’t happen, but there is always an effort to try and make it happen. We also dream together. We will share our most wildest BIG life dreams. We talk about them and about what it would look like, together. Then, it’s really cool to walk through those dreams together. For years, James and I always talked about how great it would be to have a home and open our home to those in need. We felt very strongly about having others live with us. God took us through a journey where for a period of time we lived with my in-laws. Through that, God showed us what it is like to be in the receiving end. What it’s like to live in someone else’s house and all the emotions that go into that. (side note: my in laws are amazing. True story.) Later, we ended up moving across the country into a 6 bedroom home that was filled with 8-10 foster kids that all needed a home. It is something that is still apart of our life. We prayed specifically for a house in Ohio that could live that dream out. God brought us a perfect 5 bedroom home and since we have lived in Ohio, we have had people in our spare bedrooms, except for a short time period in between people moving in and out. It is something that James and I still talk about and pray about and it has been awesome to do that together. And this is just one example! Praying and Dreaming together creates safety and security, and brings our hearts closer- in Christ and in each other.
Even though this post is about what I have learned in marriage and how I try to be a good wife, James also finds it important to work at being a great husband. We find it important to put effort into each other and we are a team, do life together, and it is what works for us.
To all my married/long term relationship readers- what is the one lesson you have learned during your relationship?