Today we are celebrating three years of marriage.
I don't believe in putting up a facade of perfection for other people to see. This blog is a place for the raw, real life, messy stuff. A place where the door is always open and you are always welcome, even with your muddy boots on. So, I'm going to be real with you.
Marriage is hard.
It is the hardest thing I've ever done in my 22 years of life.
But, apart from my salvation, it is also the very best thing that's ever happened to me.
I've never known another person that can drive me up the wall with just one sentence. And I've never known another person that can fill my heart to bursting with just the smell of his shirts as I fold laundry.
I used to think I was a pretty unselfish person. I was so patient. So kind. So gentle. I may have a little red in my hair, but I certainly didn't have a temper. Nothing really ever got my goat.
Then I married a man.
Suddenly, everything I had patted myself on the back for was stripped away, is still being stripped away, and the ugly in my heart is exposed.
Marriage is a refining fire. It tests you. It strengthens you. It purifies you, even in places you don't think need to be purified.
The longer you go, the deeper you get, the more beautiful it becomes.
And that's what I've found from only three short years. Three years of bliss and crazy and struggle and true, grace-filled love.
I can't even imagine what a lifetime of marriage has to offer.
All that being said, I wanted to share with you three things that I have learned from our three years of marriage. I don't pretend to be any kind of marriage expert, or a professional counselor. I'm not perfect. My marriage isn't perfect. We're still figuring it out, like most people. What I want to do is encourage you, friend, and maybe give you a few little things to help you in your own marriage journey.
So, here they are.
1. Give More Grace
We were created to be completely satisfied and fulfilled in a deep, meaningful relationship. However, that relationship is not with your spouse; it needs to be with God. You spouse is not perfect, and the same goes for you. It is absolutely impossible for you to fill each other up the way God does. If you set such high expectations, you will be disappointed. Seek fulfillment in Christ first, and consider the satisfaction and joy you find in your marriage as an added bonus. When your spouse lets you down, or irritates you, or doesn't read your mind (yes, it happens), offer them the same grace that you have been given through the cross. You didn't deserve it, but Christ gave it to you anyway. Your spouse doesn't deserve it, but give it to them anyway. Grace changes everything.
2. Be Patient
Every marriage has its problems. Every husband and wife have their flaws. Sometimes people are stubborn. Sometimes wounds need to heal. Don't expect to change someone or fix something overnight. In fact, don't even try to accomplish that. Marriage is a life long journey for a reason. It's so easy to start nit-picking at our spouse and let everything they do "wrong" drown out everything they do right. Too quickly it becomes much easier to complain than to compliment. Not too long ago, I was talking with my mom about a struggle I was facing along these lines. This is what she said to me: "God knows exactly what work needs to be done in your husband's heart. That work may not get done in your timing, but it will get done, and it will be to God's glory. He will bring his good work to completion." Not only is this true for your spouse, it is also true for you. God is working in your marriage. That work may not look like you think it should, but rest assured, it is part of his perfect plan.
3. Laugh Often
Several weeks ago I tried an experiment. Life had been getting a little too serious for my liking (you know, adulting can be hard), so I decided that for one week I would make a conscious effort to smile and laugh more around my husband. You would not believe the results. I was happier. My husband was happier. Shoot, even our dog was happier! We reconnected and enjoyed each others' company more than we had in quite a while. We were both less stressed, more relaxed, and could hardly wait to see each other at the end of the day. Friend, if you're feeling like you're not connecting with your spouse, or you're not experiencing much joy in your relationship, I challenge you to try the same experiment that I did. It may feel a little awkward at first, but just trust me. Laughter is good for you, and it's good for your marriage.
Please know that I am rooting for you, friend, wherever you are in life and in your marriage. You are not in this alone. I am not in this alone. We have our spouses, we have each other, and we have a good, gracious God. I hope you are encouraged in that today.