Today my wife and I celebrated our 11-Year Wedding Anniversary. I am so blessed and grateful for the love that we've been able to share thus far, but in an effort to make the next 11 years of our marriage even more harmonious and enjoyable than the first 11, I figured it would be wise to reflect upon the primary lessons I've learned about marriage during the time we have spent together so far as husband and wife.
1. Selfishness Separates
The times when I have felt most disconnected from my wife is when I have been thinking and acting selfishly. It's very hard to be connected to someone you're not thinking about. In other words, whenever selfishness is present, intimacy is absent.
2. Finances Frustrate
Marriage and money "issues" go hand in hand. It's not a matter of "if" money will become an issue, it's a matter of how big of an issue will we allow it to become? Matthew 6:25-34 has become particularly helpful with this. Here are the Cliff's Notes: "Do not worry."
3. Patience Prevails
So many arguments, disagreements, and frustrations can be avoided by exercising patience in the midst of tension and uncertainty. Patient, thought through responses trump impulsive, knee jerk reactions. Always.
4. Purpose Points
In the times when I am confused about the trajectory that our marriage is on, it is the purpose of marriage that always points me back in the right direction. The purpose of our love for each other is to become a visible representation of God's love for the world.
5. Experiences Enhance
Very few things have strengthened our marriage like our intentional effort to create new memories through fresh and unique shared experiences. The quickest way for your marriage to feel old is to eliminate trying things that are new!
6. Occupations Occupy
Our responsibility to work our jobs can very easily begin to take precedence over our responsibility to love each other. If we are not intentional about disconnecting ourselves from our work, our work will disconnect us from our marriage.
7. Surprises Satisfy
Surprise gifts. Surprise dates. Surprise plans. Surprise cards. A well thought out surprise can showcase the intentionality, ingenuity, and interest you have for your marriage in a way that the same ol' executed routine, many times, just can't do.
8. Actions Accentuate
Being that I'm a guy who talks for a living, my wife is not impressed by the words I use to express my love. She doesn't want to hear me love her, she wants to see me love her. She doesn't care about what I say , she cares about what I show !
9. Laughter Lifts
If I want to gauge how healthy my marriage is, all I have to do is pay attention to how often we are laughing together. No laughter. No love. If laughter is not lifting your marriage up, it is very likely that taking yourself too seriously is bringing your marriage down.
10. Community Contributes
Our marriage was not meant to be lived out in isolation. Having a community of people around us who can share in the ups and downs of our marital journey is a necessity. I strongly believe that our ability to "go the distance" in our marriage has much to do with being surrounded by a community of people committed to seeing us "go the distance" in our marriage!
11. Humility Honors
One of the greatest ways I can show honor to my wife is to admit when I've messed up, made a mistake, and missed the mark as a husband. Nothing else reveals a lack of honor for my wife than a habitual display of my pride.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the things I've learned, but I am confident that as I take the lessons above to heart, our marriage will continue to grow stronger as the years go by!
Please let me know in the comments below what marital lessons you have learned. I sure could use the help!