10 Years; Same Woman… How did we make it and how are we still in love?
October 18, 2013 marks the 10 Year Wedding Anniversary for Katie & I. I know we don’t look old enough to be married that long but its true! ha! As I write this I’m taking a moment to think about the day she walked down that aisle and we both said “I Do”. I love to allow the emotions and passions of that day wash over me again and again. The feelings were strong and the emotions were high on that wedding day, but that was 10 years ago… So how did we make it 10 years? Why are we still together and why do we still love each other? Why haven’t we gone done the apathetic path that can be so common for many couples? I wish I could say it’s been easy or that I have an easy answer for successful marriage. But anyone trying to make it successfully to “till death do us part” knows or will have to learn that anything worth having is going to take work; but it is worth it!
Here are 10 choices that we found have helped us along the way:
- I chose to Lead
• As a loving and supportive husband I thought my goal was to simply serve the needs/wants/desires of my wife. I would constantly be asking for her opinion or preference. In many ways that was good and was helpful but after a little while in the marriage I found out that wife didn’t just want me tip-toeing around her preferences but she wanted me to lead… or as she put it “Make a decisions!!” Learning to lead my wife and kids has been more work than I thought. Not because they are difficult to lead but simply because leadership isn’t easy.
• I’ve realized after many years that my number one goal in my marriage is not to make Katie happy. My primary goal is to love her like crazy and help her become everything that God designed her to be. Sometimes leading her in that direction is easy and fun and sometimes there is resistance and pain, but as a husband I have a responsibility and a privilege to foster health over happiness. The truth is that ultimately when we pursue healthy we will be the happiest.
- We choose Truth over Comfort
• It can be a common theme in marriages for the guy to simply attempt to “go along to get along”. But for us we chose that we would rather deal with the issues and have the tough conversations than just pretend like “everything is ok”.
• As much as I love sex, I chose not to ignore needed conversations just so I wouldn’t ruin my “chances” for that evening. It made for some lonely nights but it’s been a crucial part of our not perfect but healthy marriage.Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.
• “In your anger do not sin” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. – Ephesians 4:25-27 25
- We choose to keep the main thing the main thing
• My wife doesn’t complete me. Well isn’t that a horrible thing to write on my 10 year anniversary! ha! But the truth is that often times we have unhealthy and unrealistic expectations that our spouse is going to be the one to make us happy and fulfill all our needs. But the truth is that only Jesus can do that. I am a better husband and father when I develop a stronger relationship with my heavenly father. All of my relationships flow from that relationship.
• But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – Matthew 6:33
• And ever since we said I do, we have made God and His purpose the priority in our lives. We build our entire life and family around his purpose.
• Vision is one of the keys to a healthy longterm marriage. A big house and a few nice cars doesn’t work. The vision has to be built on something deeper and higher than just piling up “things”. Otherwise if/when difficult times come and all of the stuff gets taken away, your marriage better have a more solid foundation.
- We choose to guard our marriage against the small things
• We are aware that affairs do not happen overnight but they happen little by little as we allow the thoughts that should be directed towards our spouse to be redirected towards someone else. Initially it seems harmless but eventually those misplaced thoughts will produce attraction.
• Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom. – Song of Songs 2:15
• Simple choices like neither one of us riding in a car by ourself with someone of the opposite sex and as a pastor I don’t counsel a female without someone else a part of that conversation. While we both have great friends that we work with and do life with that are the opposite sex, my relationship with my wife is the primary female relationship.
• Note: If you have a best friend that isn’t your spouse and they are the opposite sex, that is a problem.
- Choose to value and love each other correctly
• A while back we read the 5 Love Languages book. (which I highly recommend) This book shows how each of us gives and receives love uniquely. Often we want to love our spouse the way we receive love rather than finding out what they need and loving them that way.
• I so wish I could say that I’ve done great at this point, but I really have a long ways to go. But we are aware and continue to have the conversations that will help each of us better understand how to love each other.
• One of the biggest keys is that I need to focus on loving Katie the way she needs even before she loves me the way I want to be loved. Try and avoid the stand-off in marriage and be the first to make the move toward loving the other.
- Choose to Admit when you are wrong & forgive when you are right
• Both of us are very strong-willed and both of us think we’re always right! Ha! So we’ve both had to learn to value each others opinions and preferences. And when we make a mistake or mess up we need to learn to quickly apologize and ask for forgiveness.
• Note to Men: Being the leader of your home doesn’t mean your always right. Be man enough and humble enough to admit when your wrong and move your family forward.
• Learn to forgive quickly. Like 1 Corinthians 13 directs us, lets keep NO RECORD of wrongs.
- Choose to Believe the Best
• Whatever you think about your husband or wife is the way you will feel towards them. And how you feel towards them will determine whether or not you take actions that help or hinder the relationship.
• There have been many times over the 10 years that I have assumed that Katie intentions were negative. And when I did that sets off a chain reaction that spirals more distance and negativity. But then I end up recognizing what I’m doing and force myself to remember that I know the heart of my wife and that she loves me and that while I may not see or feel what I want right now that she has the best in her heart towards me. If you force yourself to think that way, I guarantee it will improve your marriage.
• If something is frustrating you, ask questions first, don’t accuse. Most of the time frustrations are a lack of accurate information.
(Read: Philippians 4:8)
- Choose to fight the slow slip to friendship
• Marriage usually starts off red-hot! Lots of passion and lots of sex, but as time goes on and kids are added to the mix the marriage can slip into roommate and “good friends” that live together status.
• No one ever plans to get there, and most people who get there say something like, “We just fell out of love” or “We just don’t love each other anymore”.
Note: Please remember you are not alone, this is common for every couple who has been married longer than a year o two to begin to slip into a complacent approach to the marriage.
• Katie and I have had a couple of those seasons throughout the 10 years. Seasons where we just go through the motions and exist. When I’m in those moments I can see how easy it is for a couple to stay on that track and never return. But when you find yourself there, stir up enough passion inside of you to say to yourself and your spouse, “I don’t know how we got here to this place of just going through the motions, but I’m not ok with it and we will not settle for this”.
• No matter where your marriage is at you can stir passion back up again. Refuse to settle for anything less than a passionate marriage. It may mean reading a new book, changing your thoughts toward your wife or husband or getting concealing but it’s possible and it’s worth it!
- Choose to delete DIVORCE from your conversations
• I’m not sure who we got this from but I know our parents feel the same way. The use of the word or mentioning of the word in any conversation or argument is completely off-limits. We refuse to use it as a manipulative “wild-card” in a fight to try to tip the scales our direction.
• Too many people are throwing in the town on great marriages just because a difficult time or season comes. If you want a great marriage you have to fight for it! Nobody wins in divorce.
- Choose to keep getting better
• Let’s not have a “take or leave it” kind of attitude. Often we approach our relationships with this kind of mindset that says, “You need to love me just the way I am”. Well, yes I’m going to love you the way you are, but if you are going to build a healthy growing relationship it will require you to change and improve.
If you choose to not improve yourself you are choosing to destroy your marriage.
• I learned a few years into our marriage that great marriages don’t happen by accident. It takes both sides of the marriage to be intentionally working and growing together. I challenge you to just think of one thing that would make yourself better or your marriage stronger and begin changing that today. You’ll be amazed at the big difference small changes can make.
A final note to my wife:
Wow, Katie can you believe this?! 10 years! We made it, its been the greatest and craziest years of growing and I cannot wait to take on the next 10 years together! Thank you so much for helping me learn to relax, trust God and enjoy life. You have taught and continue to teach me how to sip my latter instead of slamming it! 🙂 What a fun calling and adventure that God has us on. So excited to be able to continue to encourage and the build the Church with you!
I do have a question for you… How is that you are 10 years older but look so much fresher and more stunning than the day we got married? For real, you are the most beautiful women in every way! Thank you for letting me love you and do life with you! Thanks for challenging me and always pushing me to be better and to trust God more. Also thanks for letting me challenge you, although those moments are few and far between 😉
This dance we find ourselves in has taken a few spins and dips along the way, but there is no one I’d rather be hand in hand with than you! You make me better! I love you with my life, Happy 10 years babe!!
Your incredibly handsome husband,