Today Matt and I are celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary! And by celebrating, I mean we are eating leftovers and watching the National Championship game tonight;) Real life y’all, real life. Seriously though, I had my wisdom out (all four!) this past Friday, so we couldn’t do anything this past weekend for obvious reasons, but we do have a sitter this coming Saturday night, so we will have a little belated celebration. In all honesty though, I am perfectly content with our cozy plans for the night. That’s how you know it’s true love…when you don’t need all the glitz and glam to mark a occassion.
In light of celebrating eight years with my honey, eight things I have learned along the way….
1. Marriage.takes.work. A lot of it. Very early on I thought this was a total cliche…something people just said. Let me tell you…there is nothing truer. In fact, now I firmly believe that if you aren’t working at your marriage, you’re slowing killing it. I don’t think neither Matt nor I believed this for the first few years. Maybe not even until we had a kid. Now that we have to put so much time, effort and energy in to raising a child, our marriage doesn’t naturally receive the attention like it used to. We have to consciously give it attention. The outcome is definitely worth the effort though.
2. You are going to annoy the heck out of each other. The things that were once endearing, are going to become like nails on a chalkboard. They will do things that drive you batty. Guess what though? You are equally as annoying in some way or another. No one is perfect and to some extent, we’re all challenging to live with. Learn to accept it and move on. When it gets to where you are constantly focused on the imperfections, remind yourself that they were perfect in your eyes at some point. You don’t focus on the negative things during the early part of dating…you only see the good things. So remember, if you leave your spouse because they are no longer perfect, the next person, although seemingly perfect during that googly-eyed dating phase, will reveal their imperfections a few years down the road as well. If you keep letting imperfections rule your thoughts, you’ll never be happy. Learn to accept, just as you have been accepted.
3. If you think the grass is greener on the other side, it’s only that way because they water it more. Instead of hopping the fence to greener pastures, maybe just water your own pasture a little more.
4. Marriage has no room for pride. This is hands down the hardest concept for us to grasp. Pride gets in our way more than anything else and most of the fights we’ve had have stemmed from one of us (usually both) being prideful. A lot can be said for being vulnerable and saying sorry. Chances are that it will completely change the mood and the other person will in turn apologize. The bottom line is that someone has to go first, so just be that person and quit agonizing over it.
5. If “Marriage” was a job listed in the classifieds it wouldn’t require any skills upon hire. This is because you learn on the job. It’s the most on-the-job-training you’ll ever get. The best thing you can do is go in eager and ready to learn. When things get tough, that means it’s time to learn some new skills. Just think of your current job – when a new challenge presents itself you don’t just clock out and say “yeah, that’s too hard.” No, you’d figure out what you need to do to accomplish this new task. Marriage should be the same.
6. Criticism and requests for change are not the same thing. Learn how to differentiate between the two, and more importantly, learn how to express the two. You can get way more for your buck if you learn how to ask for things in a positive and encouraging way. Criticism just leads to hurt feelings, anger and resentment. They probably teach this in business school. Learn how to ask for what you want in a way that makes the other person want to give it to you.
7. If you feel the need to start a sentence with “I don’t mean to be rude/offensive/disrespectful…” you are going to come across as being exactly that, so maybe just don’t say it. Same goes for, “I’m not sure that I should say this, but….” Close your mouth. Take a step away from the situation and think it through. I have learned the hard way (as both a deliverer and receiver) that words can cut like a knife. They don’t just go away either, and they can be remembered for a long time. Choose your words carefully.
8. You need God in the center. Period. I don’t know how people make it work without God. I can tell you right now, Matt and I would not have. There were too many outs. If we didn’t have our values, morals and faith, we would have walked out when things got tough. Taken the easy road. Whenever we’ve hit a rough patch though, we’ve always had God in our corner, talking to us quietly, whispering in our ears and reminding us what is right, helping us see past the anger and frustration, and remember the love and commitment, and most importantly, the promise we made. Also, remember that no problem is too big for God to fix.
I love you Matt! So happy to do this life with you…