This week Shady and I celebrated our wedding anniversary! What a wonderful opportunity to stop and reflect on all the ways in which God has truly blessed me and moulded my character through this most precious and treasured relationship. I know that it’s only been four years, and in many ways we are still “children” when it comes to marriage expertise. But I would love if I could share some of the lessons God has been teaching me about the marriage relationship.
- Being a humble listener: I’ve discovered that I’m a prideful listener. It was my mother who gently pointed out to me that often times when I listen, it is as though I am standing ready to find fault in the other person’s opinion and defend my own. Just yesterday Shady offered a suggestion regarding an area I could make a slight change. Rather than absorb the suggestion with humility, I immediately became defensive. It was later that I realized he was right, and the only thing that prevented me from agreeing at that moment was my pride. Humble listening allows us to learn from the other’s knowledge and wisdom, take correction, and sharpen each other’s characters.
- Make an effort to make conversation: That’s it? That’s the suggestion? I know, it’s very simple, but often times very difficult to apply. Take for example the end of the day. After making dinner, cleaning up, feeding Amanda, cleaning up, giving her a bath, giving her the bottle, putting her to sleep…all I want to do is lie on the couch and enjoy not speaking. But the truth is, that may be the only time that we’ve had alone all day. It’s important for me to make the effort to ask about his day, talk about the things that are going on with him, and share the things that I am thinking and feeling as well. Silence is easier. And of course necessary at times. But if I’m lazy in my conversations, then I could find that days go by where I haven’t made an effort to connect.
- Don’t just talk about me: I could go on about me for days (Perhaps you can relate). What I think. How I feel. What I want. What I need. What I like. What I hate. Me me me. The marriage relationship demands that I step out of just talking about me, and focus on him. How does he feel, what does he need, what are his concerns? If we’re both concerned with the other person, then both of us will be taken care of!
- Don’t do things for recognition: It’s happened several times in our relationship, and each time the result is the same. If I do something for the sole purpose of getting appreciation and thanks, and he doesn’t even notice, I’ll get upset. Fine, I’ll get mad. Like if I clean the whole house just so that he says “wow, you work so hard….in fact I’ve never seen anyone who cleans a house like you,” chances are he may not respond that way, may not give me the appreciation in the way that I want…and I’ll be disappointed. I know it’s difficult, but I need to learn to do things for the sake of blessing him and making him happy, and not just for the thanks and praise I’ll get in return.
- Surround yourself with godly marriages: Find couples who are older than you, who demonstrate godly principles in their marriage. Spend time with them, ask their advice, learn from their example. We recently had an opportunity to spend a Saturday afternoon with one of the older couples at our church. They blessed us by asking how we were doing in our marriage, how our walk with the Lord was, and encouraged us with their godly council. Rather than only filling your time with friends who are your own age, consider investing in these kind of relationships that can really prove to be a source of encouragement and growth.
- Bless your children: I can’t remember who it was that told me this, but I once heard that one of the greatest gifts I can give to Amanda is to love her father. The tendency is to make our children the first and greatest priority in our lives…andfor our husbands to take a distant second. And society may even applaud that as “sacrificial love” and claim that’s the heart of a mother. But that’s backwards. For a wife, the most important human relationship ought to be with her husband, and for the husband the same should be said for his wife. When this relationship is in its proper place, then our children will be loved, cared for, and treasured as they ought to.
So much more has been learned…praying and reading the word together, making God the centre, being sacrificial and forgiving in the midst of an argument….Is one blog really enough? Ultimately, I am left thinking, how can my marriage be a growing testimony to the powerful truth of the Gospel?
Again, I know I’m not an expert. In fact if you want expert advice on marriage, turn to God’s word. What a treasure of wisdom on the marriage relationship!
So Happy Anniversary to me…and happy Friday to all of us!