This is a different type of Valentines Day post. Part of me wanted to talk about Date Night or something fun like that, but after a year like we’ve had, this one felt more important. In May, O and I will celebrate 8 years of marriage. This year held cross country move, listing our home, a pregnancy and loss and transition to a job where he is only home for about 6 hours of sleep and then gone again. Needless to say, guarding our marriage was the theme of this year. We learned little things that creep in pretending to be unassuming or “normal,” but wind up being anything but. I’m so thankful to be celebrating this day because we’re all for intentionality. I pray if you’re in a season where things seem hard that these tips are a blessing to you as they were to us!
Assumption. Things grow in the dark. It’s just fact. At times when I feel wronged or misunderstood, I can take the stance and believe the lie that O has “done it on purpose.” If I feel offended, instead of saying “I was offended by,” which is what I should say, I say or think, “that was offensive.” Just because I’m offended or hurt by something does not mean it was an intentional or even conscious act done to me. The Word says love is not irritable or resentful and that love believes all things. The Amplified version says, “It is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]…believes all things[looking for the best in each one].” I have to confess and ask forgiveness when I’m not believing the best in him and instead am being easily offended. Often times, when I say something as simple as, “it hurt my feelings when you said ____, can you help me understand what you meant?” Ask the questions, seek to understand and move forward. Assumption never ends well.
Peace keeping> peace making. My sisters and I are about to start studying James so I listened to Jen Wilkin’s podcast series on the study last month. She breaks down James 3:18 in a way I’ve never considered before. The verse says, “a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” Multiple times in the Bible we’re told to be peacemakers. I’ve always looked at this as peace keeping, but Jen points out how specific that “make” there is. Often, I’m tempted to keep peace. Instead of having a hard conversation or pointing out the thing, I stay silent. Bitterness and resentment and frustration can grow in that silence over a long period of time rather than allowing peace to reign by doing the hard work. Having that hard conversation, even over a string of days, as soon as a problem creeps up has made all the difference in the overall peace in our marriage this year.
Seelfishness. Serve, serve, serve serve serve. It can’t be said enough. I can’t remember where I first heard it said but it couldn’t be more true: Marriage isn’t 50/50. Marriage is 100/100. In different seasons, the pull of weight within the home or hands-on parenting with the kids might look more like 20/80 or 40/60, but in the marriage itself, we both need to be giving our best at all times. This past year, my priorities became out of whack. Work snuck up there and at times I was giving far too much of my efforts and energy to other things. When that happens, marriage suffers. In this season of life, O and I are spending less time together than ever. while we may see each other for 2 or 3 hours a day, we are still showing up and serving one another to the best of our ability every day. The temptation is to want to be served, but when that feeling shows up, it means it’s time to serve more. Whenever I have that mindset, great things grow.
Social Media struggle. O doesn’t really use social media. He follows me, his siblings and mine, some Transformers accounts and a couple friends on Instagram. He checks it about once a month and posts to it maybe once a year. He is not an ‘Instagram Husband.’ For this I am grateful! But there are many opportunities for struggle on social media. If you follow someone who always shares photos/stories of her husband and it stirs up jealousy, envy, discontentment or murmuring, consider unfollowing that person. If you can’t observe someone’s like, even a good friend, without thinking, “He always cooks for her! I wish my husband would cook! He cleans the house, why doesn’t my husband clean? He learned photography just to take pictures of her, why can’t my husband do that?” then it’s not a safe place to be.
Another social media area to consider is respecting your husband on the app even if he doesn’t use it. If you think he might not be comfortable with you posting or sharing something, check. If you’re going to talk about him, ask first. I learned this the hard way in year 1- just because I’m an open book doesn’t always mean my husband wants to be. It’s worth taking the ten seconds to confirm something is okay to discuss or share to remain a safe place for your spouse.
Ignoring the change. In Tim Keller’s book ‘Meaning of Marriage,’ he says
“When I married my wife, I had hardly a smidgen of sense for what I was getting into with her. How could I know how much she would change over 25 years? How could I know how much I would change? My wife has lived with at least five different men since we were wed – and each of the five has been me.”
This couldn’t be more true. I said ‘I Do’ at 21 years old. My love languages, preferences, desires and tendencies have changed drastically in that time and so have O’s. For a long time I went on without feeling my “love language” delivered on before realizing I hadn’t expressed that the way I felt most loved had changed. He was still doing everything right, but I was no longer that same person. Speak up! Your spouse wants to know how to best love, befriend and care for you. Sometimes that just takes a check-in. Our weekly meetings (weekly schedule meeting on Mondays, Bible Study together on Wednesdays) help keep us up to date and don’t allow for change to go unnoticed.