Todayis our 12th wedding anniversary. Time passes too quickly! When I got married I was young, sure I knew what was going on and what was to come. Marriage was a wake up, to say the least. There are no premarital classes, books, how tos, or lectures that can fully prepare you for the everyday selfless decisions that sharing your life with a spouse brings. But with the hard comes joy, growth, and lessons learned.
I like to think I've grown a little in 12 years and as I reflect here's a brief list of things I've learned.
Communication never stops being important. No matter how well you know each other or think you know what the other one will say, nothing beats actually talking. If something is bothering you, let it out (this is one I'm still working on). Take time each day to chat, even about mundane things. With kids this becomes more difficult but make a point of connecting in conversation everyday. While I make dinner Tommy will tell me something he learned from a podcast or the news. I'll share something from my day with him. Before bed every night I ask Tommy if there's anything he needs me to do the next day. He asks me if there are things I need help with. Communication doesn't have to be a huge, formal affair. It's simply connecting.
Don't refuse to try something new. Part of marriage is discovering how you are similar and how you are different. When we got married camping was not part of my vocabulary. But Tommy really loved being in the outdoors and all that camping offers. When our oldest was 9 months we went tent camping...and decided to hold off a few years. Last summer we went twice and had a great time. We have both made compromises and communicated (!!) what we like and don’t like about certain activities. We’ve recently discovered Pickle Ball which we can both play and enjoy - Tommy for the ping pong aspect, me the tennis aspect.
Your marriage doesn’t have to look like your parents marriage. I naively assumed after we got married that what my dad did Tommy would naturally do. Take out the trash each night, keep up with bills, clear the dinner table. He assumed I would sweep the floor daily, dust everytime I walked by something, fix three meals a day. We grew up in different homes so - even though we were raised with similar values - the working out of everything looked different. We have come to a place where there isn’t ‘his jobs vs her jobs’. If something needs to be done, whoever is able to will do it. Tommy does keep track of our finances but he keeps me in the loop of how much things cost, etc. I usually make dinner but he’ll pitch in with the clean up. Yesterday he vacuumed the upstairs. Marriage is about working together to glorify God. And that working together looks different for different couples.
There has to be a leader in the family. Tommy is the leader of our house in terms of spiritual guidance, big decisions, etc. but he talks with me about the decisions he’s making, his reasoning for them, and he makes sure I’m comfortable with it. I respect him and I know he would never make decisions without first praying. I have always felt able to take concerns I have to him and he will hear me out. He respects my opinion and knows I see things in a different light that maybe he didn’t consider. When we talk about things like child discipline, moving, how we school our kids, budgeting, etc., we both have a voice in the discussion, we both have the responsibility to pray, and I choose to submit to and trust his end decision for our family.
God is good. It doesn’t take marriage to figure this one out but I’ve definitely seen God’s work on display in the last 12 years. From Tommy finishing grad school debt free to providing financially when things were tight, keeping us safe in a car accident to giving us four children - one we’ll meet in heaven. God is always good and He doesn’t hesitate to show us His love in amazing ways.
I’ve learned more than these five things but we’ll stop for now. Happy anniversary, Tommy! Love and appreciate you more each day and so thankful God brought us together all those years ago.
Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash