I'm not here to raise our marriage on a pedestal and proclaim how perfectly we are doing it, but you know what, I love my husband, and next year we are celebrating ten years. It's something to appreciate, at least in our books.
1:: The grass is greener where you water it.
It's true. In marriage. In friendship. In your job. Sometimes we end up with a spouse who has so many more flaws than we ever thought could be possible (note: I'm not talking about abuse.) Everyone has flaws though. We believe the lie Satan feeds us that if our relationship isn't giving us all the feels, and our spouse isn't giving any more, then we're done. Bye Felicia. That's not a good adage to live by though. When the going gets tough, the tough don't just leave. Be committed to investing in your relationship, even when it's not fun and the flaws are really annoying.
2:: Add a little humor in!!
Actually, make that a lot. It's literally medicinal. We've found that life starts sucking when we start taking things a little too seriously. Suddenly that missed bill due to the hub's forgetfulness is cause for my whole day being ruined because now there's a late fee and we hadn't planned on spending that and ugh. Who wants that ruined day though? I mean.. not me.
3:: Marriage was made to draw us towards something Greater.
God knew what he was doing when he made marriage. Believe it. He really did. It's not about what we want and being happy. If we live for that we get sucked so dry. Unconditional love and true joy don't come from seeking but giving. The motivation and why behind it is huge, but we can't do it on our own. We need a supernatural power only God can give. If you're in it to be happy, you might want to think twice about that because no one is perfect, and a lifetime with one person is enough to drive anyone crazy on their own. Satan and the world lie- love and happiness are not what are going to fill your heart up.
4:: Love never gives up.
Have you ever had a friend who kept cheering you on, even when you blew it? That's one of my favorite things about marriage. Josh keeps cheering me on. He might not always agree with me, but oh does that guy sure love me. He'd give his lung in a heartbeat.
5:: Your spouse is your best friend
There's nothing wrong with having a bff. Girl talk and guy talk can't be replicated with a spouse, but sometimes I have to be careful just how much I am doing that. When I treat Josh like a best friend, our marriage thrives because I am treating him as something valuable, rather than a pesky annoyance I have to share living space with (and some days, I have to work on that too! Oops.) There's something about sharing your deepest secrets and hopes and dreams with someone. Something about having someone to come home to.
6:: We trust each other and verbalize needs
I know this is a tricky one because affairs happen, but I promise you this- if you breathe words of life into your spouse and speak affirming words, there is a much greater chance they will live up to that. We're honest with each other. We could both go through each other's phones or email or Facebook at any point (although, we don't really feel the need to.) But, that's not what we choose to focus on. I play up Josh's strengths and thank him for being faithful to me. Part of what helps is verbalizing what we need. Ever been able to read minds? Me either. Don't wait for your spouse to figure out what is bothering you. Just say it. I know the idea is nice that they will know what you need, but no one is a mind reader. A simple, "You know what, I really love flowers! Could you bring some on your way home from work" does the trick rather than guilt tripping. "Why don't you ever bring me flowers?! Don't you love me?!" Or even an appreciative statement. "It really means a lot when you give me a backrub. Thank you!"
7:: We make time for each other
Date nights and time to talk aren't just going to throw themselves on your schedule! I think being busy and having kids can become one of the greatest handicaps to a relationship. They are just such good excuses, aren't they?! We appreciate each other's needs for connecting (Mine is talking. His is physical touch.) and make time for it. A few years back, we weren't so great at this, but found that starting with a small goal, like ten minutes to talk, and making rules about it not being any heavy stuff (make a separate time for that!) helped a lot. There is truth too to absence making the heart grow fonder but you have to want it too! It doesn't just magically happen. Let your face light up when your spouse comes back even just from an errand. Like, look them in the eye and talk to them ;-)
8:: We complement each other
I don't just mean we go together well cause we sure do! But, we try and complement each other when we notice work put in. It's a lot of work to be an adult and adding in kids makes it even harder! I get the idea that you should just do what you need to do, but that also makes burnout. Complements rock their world and aren't hard to do. They just take a little forethought and planning (add in a reminder to your phone calendar if you don't remember well!) For us it looks like a simple thank you for doing the dishes or leaving a post-it note on the bathroom mirror with a specific thing we appreciate. A little text goes a long ways too. I chuckle at the things we say with kids around, because, well, we're married and we can, so why not enjoy it!
9:: We still date each other!
With little kids in the house, it might just be sharing some tea before bed or watching a movie at home, but the date nights out are good too. Make them happen because they sure add a lot to a relationship! It's good to get away too. One of my favorite weekends away ever was going to the Art of Marriage and the Weekend to Remember. SO much laughter and relationship wisdom.
10:: We're working on being better forgivers than fighters
Did you know they are actually prescribing forgiveness therapy?? Seriously! It turns out that holding a grudge adds a host of health problems. Life is never going to be fair. And, love is a lot better when I'm not focused on what Josh should or should not be doing; when I'm not looking at how I feel he slighted me. It's often I have to remind myself of what matters more- being joyful or being right.