Marriage is hard.
We all think we have a great idea of what it is--until we are a few years in and we are threatening divorce, having knock down drag out fights and acting more like room mates than love birds.
Wait--maybe that's just me? I'm guessing there are a few (thousand) couples that have had it rough at times as well.
I was just kid when I got married--just 21. No career path. Just figuring out my identity. Stubborn. Independent. Pretty much like any 21 year old out there. Looking back on it, definitely not ready for marriage, but I was in looooooove and had to get married. HAD to. Like I said, stubborn.
But we did it. And we're doing it.
Oh and did I mention we are 99 % opposite from each other in every area? Yeah, that's made it pretty tough.
So, we've had our fair share of battles, lows, rough patches, storms and what have you.
It took me 6 years to get here, but for once in my marriage I feel like I have it all figured out and we are perfect.
HA! Yeah right.
But really, after 6 years, I feel like I know where I am headed in life, I know more of who I am as a person and much more willing to be less independent and work more like a team. No not perfection, but these things have made it much easier to be in a relationship with my husband. THIS, in my opinion is the sweet spot people should wait to get to before they say their vows. Hindsight is 20/20 right?
I wanted to make a change in our marriage this year. With all of the ordinary and some not so ordinary stresses and strains on our relationship, I could see that we were headed for yuckyville if we didn't make an effort to put US first, which to be honest I was not very good at.
We recentely celebrated our 6 year anniversary and with that date, came a new beginning for me and for us. Because I decided to be more present, conscious and aware of my marriage and it's needs.
These are three ways I've been trying to rebuild our marriage into what I know it is capable of being:
-Find something to celebrate everyday.
Coincidentally, right around this time of our 6 year checkpoint I heard something at our church (Go figure---God talk into my life, no way. :) ) that really took hold of me and I fixated on it and I made it my marriage mantra. Find something to celebrate in him everyday. Is it that he actually put the dishes in the dishwasher? Left only one pair of underwear on the floor today instead of his whole outfit? Rubbed your back? Bought your favorite snack at the store? Made your baby laugh? No matter how big or small--make an effort to find something to celebrate in that man (or woman!)
The first time I practiced this celebration we were in the middle of a fight. I was struggling and my mind was telling me to do what I normally do--pursue and
-Renew your vows.
Now I'm not talking on the beach front in front of friends and family kind of renewal, don't worry. But really, do any of us really remember our vows? I surely do not.
Again, as we reached the 6 year point, I sat down and I wrote Curtis a letter including in it a list of vows or promises that were customized to us--that I knew he would find special and heartfelt. For example, I vow to try my hardest not to be late as I know it is me that makes us late many times. Or, I vow to have a more positive outlook, as often times I can be quite the negative Nancy, and no one wants to live with a negative Nancy. The rest, we'll, they're between us. But there's a whole lot of them and they fit with our marriage---unlike the ones I can hardly remember! These promises are seeing the struggles we have had in our marriage and say, "hey struggle, you better watch yo back!"
Making new promises to my husband has renewed me and fueled me to be a better wife.
-Let your labor be in the Lord.
Because at the end of it all--ya know--life; it's just you and Jesus and that is the relationship we must work on most of all.
"Therefore, my dear brothers and sister, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."
1 Cor. 15:58
Because marriage is work. Amen? Hard work to be honest. And if I give that work to God and let him move in my marriage, then my labor...my pain...my tears...my struggles...my strife...my broken heart at times...my work will not be in vain. It is not overlooked. It is not forgotten.
This verse gives me peace. To me it says, as long as I am focused on Jesus and loving like him, I will reap the benefits--no matter if my marriage is a success or not. No matter if Curt is meeting my needs or not. No matter if I am happy or not. It's ALL only about Jesus, and with that focus, I win.
Your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
It's not perfect--it will never be and so I no longer strive for that. But I do feel like these few things are new tools in my invisible tool belt that will help me along on the ride and equip me with some extra love, grace and happiness to in turn help my husband love better as well.
(Disclaimer: I am no marriage expert and will never claim to be. This is simply what has helped me in my marriage and I feel certainly couldn't hurt if others took it into account!)