I would not be the woman I am today without my husband. My kids would not be the joyful, loving, wonderful children they are without their father. While I know many fabulous single parents, parenting as a team sure is advantageous!
Today is my husband’s birthday, and I thought it fitting to dedicate a post primarily to marriage. We have learned firsthand how our relationship directly affects the tone of our household, and the development of our children’s characters. Marriage has always been important to us, but once we found out we were about to become parents, it was as if someone turned on a big, giant searchlight and pointed it directly at our relationship. For that, we are thankful.
We are approaching our 10 year anniversary in a few months. In the last 10 years, we have grown by leaps and bounds, allowing God to bring to light issues in our hearts that we have pushed aside, but cannot hide from any longer. We’ve dealt with our past, with our differing opinions, and have ultimately learned that we cannot live or breathe without being in alignment with our King. BWe’ve had some bumpy times, some really bumpy times, and some times when we skipped the bumps all together only to end up falling into a deep ditch, looking upwards for help. But God is good, and what He has joined, no man has been able to separate. We believe with our whole heart that we were made for one another, our hearts uniquely knit together to complement each other’s the day we became one. This is what we desire our kids to see and to seek out in their own spouse one day.
I sat down with my two oldest boys a few days back to make cards for daddy. I asked them a few questions about why they love their daddy, etc. They said the most wonderful things like “he prays with me,” “he is patient with me,” “he always plays games with us.” But my favorite q & a was this: what does daddy do best? My oldest looked up from coloring and cocked his head, squinting. “He does a lot of great things, but he loves you the best.” Wow!
Despite his quiet, reserved personality, my children can see my husband’s love for me. Not because he showers me with gifts and flowers, or slow dances with me in the kitchen while I make dinner. We are not that couple (though in the past I had wished we were). We can tell our children things until we’re blue in the face. It’s what they see that will stick with them forever. I am grateful that they see a man who loves his wife and is devoted to his family. He is an active participant in their young lives, and is teaching them through his day to day activity through his speech, his gentleness, his work ethic, and his genuine care for my feelings and our family.
We were blessed and honored to have the most wonderful pre-marital counselors. They taught us invaluable lessons that we go back to time and time again. Here are a few important ones (in my own words):
1. You are no longer individuals, you are a team. One person’s actions will
determine the consequences for both.
2. You married a sinner. Don’t be shocked when you see the other person’s imperfection. Rather, stand on the truth, love as God loves us, and forgive over and over again.
3. God can redeem anything if we have a humble, willing heart. Marriage can expose some ugly things in us, but when they’re exposed, we have a choice to make: we can run and hide, or be courageous and work towards change.
4. Ask for wisdom and understanding. Husbands, work to know your wives in understanding ways. Wives, learn how to wisely speak to your husband without being a nag.
5. Finally, see each other how God sees each person. He sees the end result, the finished product. He doesn’t keep a record of wrongs. Forgive and move on, hand in hand, looking up for His help.
If I could sum up what I’ve learned from my husband (both directly and indirectly) in the almost 10 years of marriage with 4 small kids, it would be I Corinthians 13: 4-7.
Love is Patient: wait for God to finish the good work started in your spouse. No amount of complaining, nagging, or your might will ever do what God can. Always be quick listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger in your heart.
Love is Kind: Not just when it is easy. Not just when it feels good. Always.
It Does Not Envy: God placed you intentionally in the marriage designed for you. If that means it doesn’t look the same as someone else’s, that’s o.k. We must trust that God has given our hearts exactly what the need.
It Does Not Boast: Our marriages were designed to give the glory to God, not ourselves.
It is Not Proud: The moment we think our marriage is “good enough,” is the moment we are the weakest. Never give up seeking the Lord together, communicating, and having fun…it is a priceless investment.
It Does Not Dishonor Others: Our union should be pure, always bringing honor to the ones we know and love. Our decisions should be made in such a way that would ultimately honor God, and bring honor to our families.
It is Not Self-Seeking: we can use each other for our own personal gain so much easier than any other relationship because of the depths of knowledge we have of each other. Rather than gaining that way, we gain everything we were meant to gain by being selfless.
It is Not Easily Angered: Which means we need to take a few deep breaths, bite our tongues, and cry in our pillows sometimes until we get to a place where we can calmly talk to each other. We need to understand that our methods of getting to calm look different and take different amounts of time…wait for the right moment when conflict can be dealt with without the flares of anger!
It Keeps No Records of Wrongs: No matter how many times you have been hurt, ignored, taken advantage of. No matter how frequently one struggles with the same problem. No matter how many times you struggle with the same problem. When they present you with a heart of repentance, present a heart of forgiveness…and then pray for amnesia.
Love does Not Delight in Evil, but Rejoices with the Truth: become fascinated with the superior pleasures that are only found in knowing and loving Jesus. We could spend our whole lives together find pleasure and delight in things of this world, having things “in common” but not gaining any depth. Spend time pursuing things that will bring depth and life to your relationship.
It Always Protects: no matter how embarrassing the situation, Always Trusts: no matter how wounded we may have been in the past, Always Hopes: even when we’re in the ditch with no feasible way out, Always Perseveres: no matter how hard.
I rejoice today because I celebrate the birth of my other half, the one that my heart was designed for, the only one that could take me through the journey to learn all of these lessons. I am thankful that we have a lifetime together to continue to sharpen each other, as iron sharpens iron. While our love for each other is not perfect, our eyes are on the prize. And with each passing season, we have been able to look back at God’s faithfulness.
We want to train our children to look for the one whom their hearts were designed for. We want them to be covered in a love that is patient and kind, selfless and forgiving. We want to treasure the loves of their lives like we treasure each other. Most of all, we want them to realize that we are committed to walking out life’s entire journey together side by side, under the leadership of our King. We’ve learned time and time again what Ecclesiastes 4:12 so clearly states: “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”