On November 14, 2009 I married my dear husband, Justin. We are approaching our 9th anniversary. I love him more now than I loved him then. Our marriage has evolved from a romanticized idea of marriage to a real day to day show love marriage. We, like so many others, had very different ideas about marriage, and what we thought it would be like. Let me tell you, it’s not all sunshine and roses. Our marriage can be the hardest part of my day. Our marriage can also be the best part of my day. Fortunately, the good days far outnumber the bad. However, I can definitely say that without Jesus, we would not be married today. We spend a lot of time praying for each other, our family, and our relationship. It’s not perfect, but it’s beautiful, and filled with love. We work hard at our marriage. We love each other on the tough days by keeping these thoughts in mind.
1. You’re an imperfect person, married to an imperfect person.
We’ve done counseling in a particularly rough season. I honestly don’t remember too much from those early years counseling sessions, but I do remember one bit of advice and come back to it often. We were sitting in a CCs Coffee House meeting with our pastor. His bit of advice for the day was this, “Y’all need to remember you’re an imperfect person, married to an imperfect person.” These are words to live by people! It hit me like a ton of bricks! I expect perfection from Justin every day, but I can’t return those expectations to him. We will never meet the standards we have set for each other in our heads. Throw those expectations out the window on the way to your wedding reception. They are NEVER going to happen. Everyone has their drama, their personality traits, and issues. Love your spouse because of these things.
2. Your spouse cannot read your mind.
If you don’t tell your partner you had a rough day, there’s no way they’re going to know it. Many of our little fights start with “I’m already in a bad mood.” We both bring our stressful jobs home with us. We both get upset about our girls and their behavior sometimes. We both fail to communicate that we’re already on edge and need a little break. In the words of my six year old, “I’ve been using my strong voice too much.” If I don’t tell Justin what’s going on and why I need to go to the gym by myself for an hour, then he will assume I was just too lazy to go to the gym when I had the chance. He might even assume that he is the problem, when he definitely is not.
3. Learn your spouse’s habits.
I am not a morning person. I don’t talk in the morning. I don’t want to discuss the budget, the schedule, or any other thing within an hour of waking up. Justin, on the other hand, wakes up at 4:00 a.m. because he feels like it. He will sit on the couch and read, make my coffee, and even clean all before I roll over after an hour of hitting the snooze button. By the time I wake up at 5:30, he’s ready to conquer a to do list and plan the next month’s budget. I just want a quiet shower and all the coffee. Over the years, Justin has learned that it isn’t about him when I don’t reply to him in the morning. I’m not mad at him, I’m not upset with the topic, I’m just still half asleep. He has learned that he can talk to me in the evenings, and I’m far more receptive.
4. It’s not all about you.
In the days before children, Justin would come home, tell me hi, and go in the “man room” for the rest of the night. This was not a daily habit, but it did happen about once a week. I would get so mad! I wasn’t about to go in the man room and discuss this with him, but I was hurt that he didn’t want to hang out with me. Finally, after bringing the matter up with him, I understood why he would do this. His job at the time was making him miserable. He had so much anxiety about it, he just closed himself off. He needed time to decompress and relax. Once I understood what was happening, I was able to give him the space he needed, without getting my feelings hurt. I was making Justin’s season of anxiety, and struggling about me, when I actually had very little to do with the problem. I was, however, making the problem worse instead of better.
5. Take time to visit each other.
Some days, I don’t want to hang out with Justin. Other days, I can’t get enough of him. One thing that greatly increases my want for him is spending time with him. Even if it’s an hour sitting on the couch without screens, it goes a long way in me wanting to communicate with him. I’ve found when we get in a busy season, we get snappy and cranky with each other. This is where we schedule some time for each other. After a little purposeful time together, we feel so much calmer and connected. Dating your spouse is a thing for a reason. It’s so important to have fun, visit, and just spend time with your partner. Make it a priority, even if it’s an hour on the couch after the kids go to bed.