Today Josh and I have been married 15 years. It sounds so weird to say because 15 years seems like forever-but it doesn’t feel like forever-which is probably a good thing.
These years have been full of a gamut of emotions: highs, lows and everything in between. I’m by no means an expert (Josh can be the first to confirm that) but I wanted to share some things we’ve learned along the way.
1. Luv is a Verb (DC talk fans-anyone?!)
We (and I really mean me) can get easily confused with that four letter word.
About 7 years ago I took a women’s study on marriage and was given this definition that I wished I had known right from “I do.”
Love is: giving of myself to meet another’s needs, whether they deserve it or not, expecting nothing in return. Its so easy to withhold love when I’m not feeling loved. But if I selflessly give love, the reward is much greater for me-and him.
2. Don’t step on his air supply
Each of us receive and perceive love differently. My love language is quality time and Josh’s is physical touch. No, not just sex! He loves holding hands, having his back rubbed, hugs, and whatever else! It is funny that we ended up together because I’m not going to lie, I like my personal space. So I’ve had to learn to be intentional in showing him love in this way, which fills up his oxygen tank. When his tank is full-he can breathe easy. Same for me-when he fills up my tank by spending quality time with me, I breathe easy and have energy to face the day.
When we both get busy, overwhelmed with life or even outright refuse, its like stepping on the air hose and cutting off oxygen. Check out The Five Love Languages book to find out your love language.
3. Expect Change
When we got married I remember being told, “Don’t try to change him, just accept and love who he is.”
I fell for that until we had kids, got out of the Army, moved, changed jobs, lost a job, and started a business. A few little changes occurred, and we weathered the changes together. I remember a few sit down conversations that had to be brutally honest. “You’re different, you’re changing, keep me in the loop, help me understand your thought process” kinda convos.
We never let each other shut down or back out. We were going to change together because “leave no man behind.”
Seriously. We’re in a season of life that depends on texts, quick phone calls and literally scheduling a time to sit and talk over everything that’s going on. If we don’t, things start falling apart.
Have you had that conversation that quickly turned into something else and later realized it was all due to lack of understanding? You hear the tone, or a word that instantly throws you off and take off with it into full blown rant, looking up at some point to see a wide eyed, confused look on his face.
Just me? I have to remind myself to listen. When I hear something that makes me want to snarl, I breathe, then ask, “This is what I heard, is that what you meant?” Or “You said”x” and that made me feel “y” whether that was your intention or not, please realize how that sounded.” Many, many arguments have been quelled with logical thinking.. I just have to use it!
6. Ask for help
There’s no shame in asking for help and I can say from experience an outsider listening to both spouses and giving advice is so beneficial. When you’re in the thick of it and you can’t hash it out no matter how many times you’ve talked, a trusted third party can see the bigger picture and point out the probably obvious issue that those involved were too hurt to see.
7. Give and Take: Marriage is not 50/50. Its 100/100. Each person has to bring their whole being and sometimes give over and above because your spouse needs you, be it illness, a busy job season, or whatever else. Sometimes one of us is taking more than giving. And that has to be okay!
8. Be his biggest fan: I’ve tried my best to speak well of him to our children, friends,and family. I’ve tried my best to support his every endeavor. When he comes home after a long, draining day, its my job to breathe encouragement, build him up, and spur him on for the next day. I want him to know I will always be in his corner, in the highs and lows, through thick and thin. He will always have a soft place to fall at the end of the day.
9. Remember the beginning: Tough times will come and there will be days when you will look at the person laying next to you and think-how did we get here? Through all the changes in life, its good to remember where you started. I’ll never forget seeing this spiky blonde haired boy at his locker before my science class. Seeing him at youth group every week. Spending countless hours talking on the phone. Him riding his bike to my house after school and on weekends. I don’t have many memories of my teenage years that don’t involve Josh because we spent so much of it “going out” and being best friends. When I remember the good times, my heart softens. I know, we are just two humans with good intentions who fail from time to time.
10. Count your Blessings: It’s so easy to look at what you don’t have instead of focusing on what you do. Josh and I have faced loss after loss recently and when we turn our focus on the fact that we have a truck even if it has no window, we have a van, even if it has no a/c, we have a home even if its not big and fancy, 4 healthy kids, and most of all we have each other. At the end of the day, its easy to get defeated, and fall into bed exhausted, unable to even speak. But when he puts his arm around me-I know its all gonna be okay.
To my husband: Thank you for putting up with me all these years and I am grateful for each and every year-including the crazy journey we’ve been on. Thank you for being a dreamer and adventurer. Thank you for pushing me out of my comfort zone, but also allowing me to be the homebody that I am. I love you. (More!)