10 Things I’ve Learned in 10 Years of Marriage
10 Years of Marriage.
Growing up, I considered 20, 30, 40+ years of marriage as milestones. With the divorce rate steadily rising, I now consider 10 years of marriage a major milestone and am so thankful that a full third of my life had been spent on the arm of my handsome husband.
Our marriage is not perfect and there have been times where we flat out didn’t like each other. We have yelled and screamed in anger and frustration and walked out of the house to put physical distance between ourselves. But through the years and through the hardships we have learned more about each other and about ourselves. We have learned what we appreciate about each other. We have learned our love languages, our languages of forgiveness, and how we process disagreements. Spoiler: none of the above are the same, usually the opposites of each other. Marriage takes work but it is a truly worthy work.
When we first got engaged and married, Matt was my best friend. I thought we knew each other extremely well and were well prepared for marriage. But nothing teaches you more about marriage than living in an actual marriage!
While all of the above things remain true (and are even more true now than they were in 2008), here are 10 things I have learned in 10 years of marriage:
- It isn’t about you. You are two parts to one whole. You can no longer look to your personal best interests because what hurts your spouse hurts your marriage and hurts you. There is no score card, there are no his/her chore rules. As two parts to one whole when you see a need you should fulfill it to the best of your ability. When your eyes see a piece of trash your hand does not linger in picking it up, wondering if it is truly its job. Your eyes and hand are two parts of your whole body and they work together to properly function. So also should the husband and wife work together in marriage.
- There is a difference between a bad habit and an annoying habit. When you live with someone you discover just how particular you can be. Pet peeves you never knew you had rear their ugly heads and threaten household civil war. But I have learned that just because something is annoying to me does not mean that it is bad or wrong or worth arguing about. When it comes down to it, I would rather put up with Matt’s narrative noises and loud exhaling than live with anyone else without those habits.
- Finances are the fastest way to start and end a fight. To start a fight- greed looks out for one’s own interests and has no place in the marriage relationship. To end a fight- we all like presents, right? But this doesn’t always help in the grand scheme of things- especially if the fight is about overspending.
- Biblical submission is not a weakness. In today’s world, people hear the word submission and cringe. Everyone wants to be their own boss or be on a level playing field. But this is not the Biblical standard. God designed marriage and He commands wives to submit to their husbands (Eph. 5:22-24). We are weakest when we are disobeying God. When we obey Him then His power and strength carry us. So submission and obedience to our husbands and God is not a weakness, but a great strength.
- It’s quicker and more peaceable to just put away the shoes than to accuse and argue. When I was growing up I hated learning about diligence because I liked to do the bare minimum. I remember hearing “do what needs to be done” and rolling my eyes. But what would the world be like if we all saw something that needed doing and just did it? This is the very core of loving others. We serve others in every day ways without looking to our own desires or conveniences.
- Learn correct cooking portions. You may like leftovers, but you don’t need a full casserole for just two people. No one likes the same leftovers for two weeks.
- You are both human with emotions and bad days. Give grace. And give grace again. The practice of giving the benefit of the doubt has led to a renewed mindset for me. How I think about people affects how I treat them. When I am giving my husband the benefit of the doubt than I can continue to respond patiently and lovingly and diffuse tension more rapidly. I can not control another person’s mood, but I can control how I respond to those moods.
- He SHOULD be my best friend. I’ve seen a lot of females agreeing that their significant other is not and should not their best friend because what happens when the relationship/marriage dissolves? Why are you going into marriage with that mindset? If you plan for it to fail then how could it ever succeed? To me, marriage is forever and so would only want to spend forever with my closest confidant. When something exciting happens he is the first person I want to tell. When I am hurt or sad he is the person I want to comfort me. He makes me laugh like no one else, literally- we discovered a whole new laugh I didn’t even know I was capable of. Sometimes we don’t like each other, but in those times it is our foundation of friendship that causes us to work through it. Loving feelings come and go, but true love is not a feeling but a choice.
- Sometimes you’re both right and sometimes you’re both wrong. When you get into a fight you’re not always thinking rationally or fairly. You hold fast to your opinion at all costs. Sometimes you both are stating truths, but you believe your truth is greater and so his truth doesn’t matter. But realizing that you can both be right/wrong at the same time even when you’re disagreeing levels the playing field. Having a mutual respect for each other softens the blows of a fight to more of a disagreement.
- Keep in step with the Spirit and you will also keep in step with your spouse. We are not called to bring glory to our spouses. We are called to bring glory to God. When He is diet in your life, then His goodness and truth filter down into every other aspect of your life. When you are in step with the Spirit then His fruit allows you to treat your spouse in a godly manner. You can do all things through His strength, even keep no record of wrongs or not living in envy.
Ten years later looks nothing like I expected it to when we first got married. We never expected to be a military family. We never expected to have three boys. As homebodies, we never expected to move all around the country. But each step of the way we have gained valuable lessons that have shaped who we are and has proved to us over and over whose we are. God has greatly blessed us and His plan is far greater than ours.
As we move forward together, I pray that we always turn to Christ first, each other second, and everyone else after.