Unlike birthdays, anniversaries don’t come around every year without some effort on our part. I mean you just have to survive for 365 days to celebrate your next birthday! Marriage, on the other hand requires hard, intentional work from two people if you want to celebrate another year. An anniversary is a perfect time to reflect on the past year or years and remember the lessons learned and celebrate the victories won.
This year Adam and I celebrated 16 years of marriage. Sixteen years. That seems like a long time to me because we were only 16 when we met. We’ve basically grown up together.
I don’t know where you are. Maybe 16 years sounds like a lot or maybe you have that grin on your face that says, “You just wait! Sixteen years ain’t nothing!”
Either way, I think you’ll find something of interest in today’s post.
Adam and I both composed these words, and they’re for husbands and wives. We hope that whether you’ve been married 6 months or 60 years, one of these truths will resonate in your heart and spur you on to continue the work of maintaining a strong marriage.
- Love is a choice (Adam)
Love is something you choose to do each day.
Yes, natural attraction draws us together in the beginning and can remain an active ingredient through-out the marriage. Ask our kids, I am highly attracted to Julie, but there has to be something deeper than just good looks and a tingly feeling that keeps us together. If not, the honest truth is those feelings can be felt for someone else.
Husbands, we have to choose to reserve our eyes and feelings for our wife alone and be committed to her, no matter what.
2. Communicate Effectively (Julie)
Have you ever racked up the word count with your spouse but not really communicated anything? Similar to reading a book while thinking about what to fix for dinner, our eyes are seeing the words but not soaking them in.
Communication can be the same way. It doesn’t just happen. It’s a learned skill. One necessary to any lasting relationship. With some trial and error flavored with extra tablespoons of grace, effective communication is possible. However, it doesn’t just happen while we watch T.V. and check Facebook. It must be intentional.
Part of communication is understanding how the other person receives. If you had a friend that was deaf, would you speak to him in words? If you did, you would soon notice he isn’t understanding you clearly. So when you notice this, do you shout louder, hoping that will help? NO! You would learn sign language, right?
The same applies in marriage.
If something isn’t working, don’t just shout louder, seek to understand what is going on and how you can bridge the gap to help your spouse understand you.
Two factors that shut me down faster than anything else are being tired and hungry. For Adam, it’s when he first walks in the door. He needs time to unwind a bit before being bombarded with questions and problems.
So for me to hear Adam well, it’s best if I’m fed and rested. I mean, we all get tired at the end of the day, but if we need to seriously discuss something, say money or schedules, let’s do it after dinner, but before 10p.m.
And I’ve learned for Adam to hear me well, I need to make sure he’s ready to hear my story. If I dump the heavy load of my day at him right after work, he’ll either completely ignore me or ask me to stop talking. I could take offense at both of those if I didn’t understand he’s not trying to be mean, he literally cannot take in my words right now.
The first year of our marriage Adam was exhausted at the end of the day. After a morning of college and an afternoon on the job-site, I hadn’t seen him all day and wanted to use the last few minutes before I fell asleep in pillow talk. Problem was, I’d talk 10 words and Adam was sawing logs. I was hurt! To me that said he didn’t care. Because if he did, he could will himself to stay awake.
Finally, after communicating about this issue before 10:30 p.m., I understood that him falling asleep had nothing to do with not caring or loving me and all to do with the fact that he was tired!
So we resolved not to talk about heavy subjects, especially anything requiring a decision after 10:00 p.m. It will be there tomorrow.
3. Seek to understand your wife (By Adam)
Men, if we can put half the effort into learning our wives that we exert into hunting and other hobbies, our marriages would thank us more than a 10 point deer mounted above the fire place. Put up a figurative trail camera and get to know her.
What makes her tick? What is she passionate about? What hurts her? What makes her cry? Laugh? Just like tracking a deer in the woods, we must understand our wives.
Sometimes this means things get messy. Julie and I had been married less than 6 months. It had been a long day and we were just getting around to cooking dinner at 9:30 p.m. The hamburgers were smelling great. I went over to check and see how much longer they had. The outside was turning a nice black charred color, but when Julie sliced into it, the middle was still hot red. What?! So we left the patties on the griddle a little longer hoping that would help. About five minutes later we checked them again. Still red. Julie, by this time, tired and hungry (see #2) was done. She picked up that patty and chucked it over my head and against the wall, then burst into tears!
Yep, this completely caught me off guard! But looking back, that was a crash course on getting to know my new bride.
So what did learn that incident teach me? Passionate people break things. To which I concluded, Julie is one passionate woman. I can either duck and run when the patty hits the wall or stoop and help her clean it up without saying a word and we’ll talk about it later when things calm down.
Men, we are called by God to understand our wives. They are a gift from Him. One day, we will give them back to their Creator and give an account for the shape they are in.
Well, that’s all the space we have for today. Next week, I’ll post the last 3 Truths that will Transform your marriage.
Has this been encouraging? Please, share it with someone else. Also, share your thoughts or questions in the comments space below.