Some lesson’s I’ve learnt along the way
Today, 16 years ago I said “I Do” to the man of my dreams. Brad and I were so young; I was a 21 year old girl, madly in love with her prince. It was us against the world and nothing could get in our way. I was oblivious to the challenges we would face but I also could not have foreseen what a wonderful adventure and life lay before me. There have been highs and lows but marriage has been a gift to me. Through the good and the bad times we’ve learnt some lessons.
Here are some of those:
1. All You need is love (da da da da daaaaa)
Sounds simple right? We start off with all the right feelings, similar interests, 8 hours of sleep every night, youthfulness and the excitement of new love. Over time that changes and suddenly you have to develop practical ways to communicate your love to each other. And an unconditional love at that! Not I love you IF, or BECAUSE. But, I LOVE YOU! period! When you know you are loved you are secure in your relationship.
We all have a need for love, acceptance and pleasure and it’s good to know and communicate those needs. There are several practical ways to demonstrate love. Here are some of my favourites.
- Compliment your spouse; sprinkle sincere and genuine compliments into your daily conversations.
- Be Considerate; open the door, phone when you will be late, don’t leave crumbs on the bed (I’m still working on that one)
- Show concern; especially on tough days and in stressful situations.
- Give; Gifts are always a treat to receive but this goes beyond that. Run your partner a bath. Make them a cup of tea. Give plenty of hugs and kisses.
2. Laugh often
Make each other laugh – and often. Laughter reduces pain, increases performance, connects people emotionally and improves the flow of oxygen to the heart and brain. Laughter, it’s said, is the best medicine.
Now, it might not be the best medicine for everything but it sure makes you feel better. Share moments of joy and find reasons to laugh.
Over the last 16 years and especially when we were dealing with infertility I am so grateful that Brad kept us laughing with all his silly jokes. If you can’t tell a joke, buy a book of jokes or just make them up…. Knock knock..?
3. Be a Team
“Love is a partnership of two unique people who bring out the very best in each other, and who know that even though they are wonderful as individuals, they are even better together” – Barbara Cage
- Work together! Allow your team mate to challenge you to be better. Bring perspective.
- Give each other space to grow and change and celebrate each other often. Allow your partner to bring their gifting and creativity to the table.
- Make important decisions tougher. Consult each other before making mayor decisions. It brings so much peace and security to a relationship. Both partners need to feel that they are an equal member of the process and that their input matters. Together you can be a powerful force.
- Give your best to this team, not the leftovers after you have given your best to the rest of the world.
- Always be honest, don’t lie to each other and don’t keep secrets.
- Good team players encourage each other. Don’t be his/her biggest critic.
- Never talk badly about your spouse to others.
- Forgive quickly.
4. Communicate expectations
You enter marriage with all kinds of expectations. Some verbalised, but most of them not. Your own experiences, culture and upbringing helped create those expectations. But then a day comes where your expectations are not met. Suddenly something as small as who should be cooking become a big issue in your marriage. We need to communicate so that we can better understand and feel comfortable in certain roles in our marriage. Unrealistic expectations lead to disappointment.
5. It’s okay to ask for help
If you are struggling with something in your marriage, asking an outsider, friend or counselor for advice is the best thing you can do. In every day life we all benefit from good advice and often an outsiders perspective is all you need to work through an issue. It can be friends, a professional or your leaders. Getting perspective can also make your good times even better. So seek wisdom from people around you.
6. Make love, not war
Building a satisfying sexual relationship in a marriage is more than technique and positions. It is about learning the right attitudes to keep love alive in the relationship.
Anger, resentment, disappointments, pregnancy, giving birth, breastfeeding, weight gain and other emotions can affect your sheet-time in a big way, so keep communicating your needs to each other. Love, commitment and communication will lead to a fulfilling sex life. It takes more than good sex to build a strong marriage, but it plays a vital role in building a strong marriage.
7. Have a goal/project
Have a goal or a project for you as a couple. Brad and I call these our faith projects. It’s usually something big that require a lot of faith and commitment. It gets you excited about something. You know those date nights where you promise not to talk about work or kids??? Well, talk about your project. Plan a new experience together. Learn a language together. Plan an oversees trip.
8. There is no escape clause
When we got married we vowed to be committed to each other. You have to make a choice to live up to the promise you made to each other. When things get tough and when you don’t “feel” like loving the person, don’t give up! Go back to your vows. Consider what you promised each other and make a daily vow to keep the promises you made on your wedding day. Marriage is about both partners giving everything they’ve got.
Choose to believe that God has an extraordinary plan for your marriage. The most effective way to ensure your marriage is for keeps is to make God the centre.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future”