When Jeremy and I first got married I remember hearing the doubts from people that we were never going to make it. Some were bold enough to say we wouldn’t even last a year. I remember telling Jeremy how hurt I was. Why, if these people loved us, wanted us to be happy, why were they betting the odds against us?
I was quite the handful.
As I look back I can understand the hesitance. I was unruly, undisciplined, stubborn and headstrong. I had an anger that matched my fathers, the impatience of a 2-year-old, and the strong unbending will of my mother. Coupled with a heck of a lot of baggage, I was quite the handful. But, I never understood their bet on a failed marriage.
As year one came and went, Jeremy and I became even more inseparable. Were there still doubts? Probably. After all, after 11 years there was doubt that my marriage would survive some crippling decisions. And yet, today, at 14 years, we are stronger and more in love than ever before.
How do people, as young as we were (I was 19 when we got married) survive the societal pains that can ruin a marriage?
When you get married it isn’t about you. Or your partner. It’s about the both of you. You made the commitment to become one. You should never be pitted against each other – unless you’re playing NBA 2K18 because then I’ll show you no mercy. It should always be you and your spouse against whatever is trying to cause a division. Be resilient in your quest to love each other. It has always been Jeremy and I against the world.
Learn to keep learning.
We all evolve as we grow older. I know I’m not the same person I was when I was 19. Learning about your spouse continuously ensures you not only flatter them with gifts they enjoy but also make them feel incredibly loved. Maintenance on your marriage needs to be daily and you can’t maintain unless you keep learning.
Be each other’s biggest encouragement. There are a lot of things I don’t find interesting that Jeremy does. *cough* his RCs *cough* But, that doesn’t stop me from listening to how he’s fixing a car up. Or the fact that he placed 4th in a comp of over 100 drivers. I learn some of the things he does so I can engage with him and let him know that I’m willing to do it for him.
Keep it spiced.
And no, I’m not only talking about sex. Have fun with each other. Put in the time to be a couple. A few years back we were almost stagnant. Being together as a couple for over 15 years we were comfortable. Too comfortable. We began to explore things we enjoyed together. We’ve made some incredible memories.
The love between a husband and wife
does not include any other love but theirs.
When we had doubters my main goal was to prove them wrong. There was no way in hell my marriage was going to fail because you bet against us. I was wrong. It shouldn’t have been to spite them. It should have been my marriage was not going to fail because we loved and committed to each other. With that said, don’t listen to what is going on around you. Pay attention to what is in your hearts. The love between a husband and wife does not include any other love but theirs. No one outside of your relationship should be able to get a say on how you love.
We already knew that men and women think differently. But, we also communicate differently too. What a wife perceives as totally understandable is usually not understandable to her husband. And vice versa. Always be open with each other – especially when there is a misunderstanding. And be patient with each other when figuring things out.
Listen to Aretha, will ya? I have seen relationships damaged because of the way a spouse or spouses degrade and belittle each other. Jeremy and I made it our mission when we were first married we were never ever ever going to belittle the other. When one person feels like the other is, we immediately communicate our feelings. The goal as husband and wife is to build each other up, not tear each other down. The Five Love Languages is a must read book for any married couple.
Build each other up, not tear each other down
Sometimes this is hard to have. Especially if you had a past that had people breaking your trust. Or when your partner does something to lose it. But, keep in mind trust can in fact be earned again. It can be built. The commitment has to be there from the both of you.
What’s love got to do with it? Everything. Tina didn’t know what she was talked about when she rocked to that song. I will not tell you it’s the most important thing in marriage. But, it darn well is high on that list. Love binds us together in unity. (Colossians 3:14). Love is about humility, compassion, patience, truthfulness, hopefulness, selflessness. A marriage without these isn’t much of a marriage.
There is always sacrifice, on both parts. If only one is sacrificing something is wrong. Marriage is about give and take. It’s about being unselfish. One of my favorite quotes is from Fredrik Nael, “It takes both sides to build a bridge.” Two years ago when we hit a rough patch, we both became too stubborn to listen or give to the other. Once we decided to rebuild the damaged bridge together our marriage once again flourished.
It takes both sides to build a bridge.
Forgiveness for your spouse. And forgiveness for yourself. Being sorry for things said and done wrong is important. But, forgiveness is more about letting go of what was, learning from it, and moving on. Anger in a marriage is poison. It may be a slow death but I swear to you it is death. Be kind to yourselves, talk things through and forgive each other.
I said love isn’t the most important because it is my utmost belief that without God in my life or Jeremy’s our relationship wouldn’t have lasted past the first year as predicted. God has redeemed the both of us. He has provided each of us the partner that loves them and best compliments who they are. When we rooted ourselves to God instead of each other we found that we grew together and we were blessed together. Our marriage has never been more stable until we said, “Lord, here we are.”
I want a marriage that has the agility to move here and there when the winds try to push us to and fro. When the earth requires us to climb or jump I want my marriage to be able to withstand the pressure. Will all of this work for you? Honestly, I don’t know. But, it sure as hell has worked for me. And after 14 years, I wouldn’t choose another way. xoxo