June 17 is the day we celebrate being in holy matrimony with one another. It seems crazy, how on earth have we been married for 10 yrs? I have literally spent 1/2 my life with him (dating since I was 16). I have been thinking a lot about what these 10 yrs have shown me about marriage and have been talking with the Lord about what it means in regards to the design He created for man and woman to have with one another. Here are the top 10 things that I have learned, yes my friends, painfully at times, but things that I know are vital to holy matrimony.
1. Triune Marriage
-there should never be anyone else in your marriage, no girlfriends, friends, parents, support group member. E.V.E.R. The only other entity that has the authority to be there is the Lord. When we started our journey as newlyweds, neither of us pursued a relationship with God. We didn’t submit to His list of “to dos” and we sure as heck didn’t invite Him into our marriage. Our first year of marriage was a rollercoaster. We barely made it out with scars, heated tempers, both vying for the #1 spot left our home in the battle of of wills. When we both found the Lord, realized that He had to be the firm foundation we based our marriage on, things began to chang. Tempers found a way to cool, selfless love was practiced, being on a team became our goal. We learned in the really difficult times that we had a gracious father that wanted us to succeed, to have the marriage He envisioned for us. To this day, we hands down give the success of our marriage to God, knowing that without Him we would still be two very stubborn, selfish and untamable people, quite potentially not together. Our marriage includes: God and the two of us=triune marriage
2. Power of Prayer
-every seen your spouse struggle? Struggle with work, personal matter, sin, clarity, etc? I am shocked if you say no. I use to step back and just give him space when he was struggling, thinking that was the solution. It wasn’t until I learned and truly understood how I have the unique power to intercede (pray) for my spouse, that I changed my reaction to his stress. Richard’s salvation came after months and months of going into my prayer area in our home daily, sometimes every chance I could sneak away. I prayed for him when it seemed it would never happen, when he would reject the newfound hope I had found in Christ, when we would have a disagreement, when he was laying next to me with little desire to have a higher authority in his life. Many tears were shed over that man. Today when I see him struggle, he becomes my priority. I carry him on my heart, I plead with the Lord to intervene. But one thing I have learned is I need to tell him when I am doing, I don’t think all the time, but yes, there are times he needs to know his spouse sees him and cares. I will text him or let him know I didn’t forget to pray for that situation he asked me to stand with him in prayer over. My challenge to you: Pray everyday for your spouse. Find a time that you know you can devote to remembering to pray, something that you do everyday (when you shower, brush your teeth, during naptime, at the end of the day)
-buckle down, I am going to get real with you as I get over myself…
Intimacy is so insanely critical to a healthy marriage. I was raised in a very strict Christian background, intimacy was not talked about and I am quite certain if they could have removed Song of Songs from every church bible they would have. I was taught all the negatives of intimacy (fornication, prostition, polygamy in the bible) but was never taught about the good Intimacy. The very thing that hello, God designed our bodies and minds to experience. We started our family very soon after our marriage. Looking back I see why God performed a miracle and gave us Cayden, making room for his sisters throughout the years. But it was rough stuff. There was no God honoring intimacy that took place before Cayden came. We were two sinners, allowing past and current sin in our lives. Then you bring on a baby that makes intimacy an even bigger challenge and you have a recipe for disaster. I will never forget after baby #3 one of the mentors I have been blessed with told me after I experienced frustration in myself and lacking any drive, how important it was to remember that what brought on baby #3, was and still is what needed to be active in our marriage regardless how I felt. My husband needed to know that he still mattered after a baby. Did it mean there were days I had to get over myself and put my husband before me, yes. I truly believe the first place the enemy attacks marriage begins in the bedroom. If he can divide man and woman and break their holy union then he can derail what God intended to be a beautiful gift. I also learned from another woman I dearly love and trust how important it is to instigate intimacy. That my husband needs to know I desire him as much as he desires me. So I make sure that I do exactly that and well as someone recently said after seeing my growing belly, “yup, you guys are doing well” (wink) it has impacted our marriage in the most wonderful way. Have we had dry seasons, hard seasons, absolutely, but we found ways, fought to stay united as one. One last piece, to my sister who is feeling flushed in the face with frustration over this, please know it took me years to figure out what God honoring intimacy was, my part in the equation. Some of you might say, “well he never asks anymore”. My husband came to me one time during a dry season and said “there are only so many times I can be rejected by you” goodness I wanted to crawl in a hole and retreat, but he was right. I had to get over myself and let him know I needed him and not wait around for him to do all the work. I will say that when I asked Holy Spirit (again the importance of prayer) into this area of being a wife, something dramatically changed. My heart, my vision, my perception of my part in intimacy aligned with the Lords.
4. Be careful what you say
-you know those nasty fights, snide comments, the item thrown at your spouse (yeah those), the angry text, the silent treatment…yeah…they suck. They take the ground out from under you and in return leave you with a looming need of validation. So what happens?!? So many times we run to our girlfriends, moms, or anyone we know who is willing to hear about our difficult spouse. Do you realize how damaging that is? When you go and share current issues, ones that have no resolve and are laced with one sided stuff, we give over authority to someone else to be in our marriage. We can never take back our words, we can paint an unfair picture of our spouse and then all of a sudden those people we let in see our spouse differently. My job is to honor my husband, not bring him down. I have learned this the hard way, I ran to my girlfriends over each squabble and time I felt hurt. It back fired. I actively make the choice to bite my tongue and never squander Richard’s reputation over a personal matter that no one could ever fully understand unless they were personally standing next to me. Besides, going back to #1and #2, I can run straight to God in prayer over the matter and it never fails, He changes me somehow in a situation I only saw Richards faults.
-my life is governed by a hierarchy. God first, husband second, children third, everything else after. So many times I have read or hear about first hand this struggle in marriage: husband vs. kids. I have even heard other husbands admit that they know they come after the kids in their wife’s hierarchy. I know marriages struggling right now, some in the current child rearing phase and some empty nesters that are just co-existing. One thing Richard and I established early on after being saved was that the kids would have to come after one another. It has not been easy to always have this mentality, but it is something we don’t want to see 18 yrs down the road when our last is moving out, leaving us with a feeling of not knowing one another. Our kids have learned mom and dad time is critical, they see us have a date each morning as we stand in the kitchen during breakfast, to not interrupt our time or every evening knowing they have to be in bed at 8 pm because it is mommy and daddy time. I will never forget during one of my pregnancies when I was having issues, Richard telling me, “I will always choose you first if it comes to your safety over the baby”…”I can’t have another you, you are it”. It stung when he said it, but after I thought about it, I totally understood what he was saying. Your spouse must come before your kids. Your kids need to see a solid healthy relationship.
-please, thank you, and I am sorry. Those phrases we can choke over at times or worse not feel the need to say. My husband is super good at saying these, me…not so much. I usually slink away in shame when I know I am wrong. I can get so consumed with survival that when he helps me out, my mentality can be “well, yeah you better, you wanted a big family too”. I can undo all that he has done to ensure I am home raising my kids by not honoring him as the other vital person in the equation. Did he make the bed? Thank you. Did he not read your mind about putting his underwear in the hamper and not 1 ft from the hamper? Please, can you pick up… Did you snap in a moment of weakness and say something you regretted? I am sorry
-why did you say yes? Why was he the one to make you say “I am yours forever”? My guess you had a friendship before marriage. He was the first one to hear your exciting news, the one you shared your hurts, the one you entrusted your vulnerability too, he was who you wanted to run to at the end of the day. Is he still all that? There was a time I put a friendship before my husband, I allowed this person to define me and not my husband. It caused some big issues. When my husband removed the blinders, I saw I put someone before him. I am now so careful with that. I make sure he is my best friend. I lay it all out there for him. You know what? It has provided so much freedom for me. He can speak truth in hard situations, he knows how to approach me when things are crazy because he knows exactly what I am going through since I told him, he can in return pray and encourage me in ways a girlfriend can’t because he sees and hears ALL the nitty gritty. Vice a versa for him too. I know at the end of each day I am his person and he knows he is mine, you can’ trade that comfort for anything.
-you know when they get that crazy idea or new passion they want to pursue? Or have that hobby that brings them so much life? If they come to you, excited about something, how you respond matters. I remember hearing a woman speak on marriage and she said, you need to make sure you are your husband’s #1 cheerleader, because if you aren’t, someone else can sneak into that role. There have been more times then 1 that the last thing I want to hear about his how to tan a hide or skin a bird. But those wise words spoken by a happily married woman have stuck with me. I want to be his person. I need him to be mine. Relationship, successful ones are balanced. They are 50/50. I listen to him about what type of bugs to eat away flesh on a skull and he gets to hear about the newest trend in long distance running or the baby’s nursery decor.
when we married, I didn’t realize how bad the battle I entered into would be, the battle I am talking about is: who would be Richard’s #1 woman. I will never forget getting chewed on for Richard waking up and changing a poopy diaper. How dare I let him to that? I was then informed that it wasn’t a man’s job to do that, his job was to work and mine was to run the house and do all the child rearing on my own. Being a young impressionable wife and mother, I almost caved. Thankfully I trusted my instinct. I looked at my husband who wanted to be hands on and I let him and yes at times asked him to. To this day, that man is so involved in the daily activities and needs a large family has that I am thankful I encouraged him to be more. My kids and I have benefited from this. There are going to be times you are told to do things a certain way, cook a meal, fold a shirt or something that comes from the woman who raised him. Ladies remember he picked you and trusted you to care for him, he also chose to leave his mother and father and be in union with you. The more you learn about him on your own and don’t rely on the old ways, the more you become unique and valuable to him
-in my broken example of marriage that was modeled to me by the dissolution of my parents marriage I became very jaded on marriage. Marriage to me was something that when the going got hard I had it in my head that it was time to bail. Why? Because it happened before my eyes, leaving 3 girls to be left with a hole in their hearts unable to fully trust another man. My poor husband inherited a broken wife, he had to unjustly earn his place into an area I refused to surrender. In Large part to him, I learned to trust again. But it again came down to a choice, daily, at times minute by minute. I had to wake each morning and say “I choose you”. I choose you in: in the bad days, in the good times, in the sleepless nights, in the life long sickness of a child, in career ups and downs, over my friends, over the kids, over family, in the times you desperately need to be one with me and I don’t feel I have anymore to give in the day, when I make dinner, when I need affirmation, when I plan my daily duties…each day I am tasked with one single choice, who will I choose?
10 yrs have come and gone, I can’t believe that God was so gracious to give me the desires of my heart and created such a wonderful partner to do life with! Happy Anniversary my love, blessed to be your wife! Now on to eternity