* My first draft I was writing (for over an hour) was lost when firefox crashed. Uggghh. So naturally, a second attempt at the same topic brought about some different thoughts.*
Today we celebrate that we have been married for six years. I’ve learned a lot between 19 and 25, but not the things that I was told I’d learn. Well meaning, or just cynical, I was told that as a teenager, I couldn’t possibly know who I was and that over time I would learn about myself. And if I didn’t know myself, I couldn’t possibly know who I was marrying. I understand the logic and the concern. But they were wrong. If you ever think that you’ve figured out all there is to know about yourself and/or your spouse, you’ll get bored. A successful marriage doesn’t rely on knowing each other or yourself inside and out, it thrives on two peoples’ commitment and determination to love one another for the rest of their lives.
Thankfully, ‘love’ doesn’t just mean passion or the warm and fuzzy feeling, or even that struck stupid feeling. As the Bible outlines, ‘love’ encompasses so much more than that. Loving someone isn’t something you have no control over. Some days, it’s effortless, other days you have to work at it. Love is verbal, it’s emotional, it’s physical. It’s in our actions, choices, sacrifices. There are a lot of great books that explain different aspects of how to love someone well (Jon liked The Five Love Languages and Love Life For Every Married Couple), but the point is that love and a successful marriage are not based on luck or age or experience or a healthy introspection. I think it’s that attitude that crumbles so many unions. That, and the selfish notion that marriage is about your own happiness and living in a constant state of that early on infatuation period. No wonder our divorce rate is so high.
But back to happier musings. The things I have learned since 19 are more about my husband than me. And I think that’s how it should be, if your focus and attention is on the right person- your spouse rather than yourself. Six years still sounds like a really small number to me. But in our six years together we have crammed in an awful lot, including many extreme highs and lows. When we were dating, I knew enough about Jon’s character to want to marry him. Despite the many issues I had back then from failed relationships on several different levels, I’m so thankful that some part of my sense remained intact so that I recognized how wonderful he was and how lucky I was.
Through early marriage and having kids, I’ve learned what a hard worker he is, the kind of devoted, intentional father he is, and what he’s capable of. I knew he was the most intelligent person I’d ever met, but I’ve since learned how brilliant he is in creativity, too. I knew he was good, noble, ethical. But I’ve since learned the depths of them, and how hard he strives to be these things. I knew he was modest, but I’ve since learned how humble he really is, given that most of the time he doesn’t even recognize his own humility. The thing I’ve loved learning the most is the kind of Godly man he is. I knew his potential when we first started dating, but over the course of our relationship, he has changed. In everything he does, but especially His walk with Christ, he inspires me.
I’ve learned how to encourage, support, listen and comfort. I’m still learning patience and how to communicate so that he hears what I mean and even more importantly, so that he remembers. These are works in progress. There are many more things I have yet to uncover and learn. But we work because the things I have learned make me appreciate him more and more. He’s not perfect. There are plenty of things he does that drive me crazy, but these are opportunities for one or both of us to grow in character, for us to change.
The cool thing is that because of the way our early years were, we dealt with a lot of the hard, defining things upfront. Now we’re in a more fun stage. Our youngest will be in school full day in the fall. It’s going to change things again. But things are already drastically different now that a lot of the burdens have been lifted.
It’s weird because we are comfortable with one another. There is trust and ease between us, the security that comes with time. But we had to delay much early on, because of our lifestyle. After years of dates via letters, text messages, phone calls, emails and quick kisses in passing, we are learning how to date. We are finally getting the chance to do more normal things and see each other regularly. Because these normal things are new to us, it makes me nervous, anxious, sometimes. For example, a couple of weeks ago we went on a double date for what I think was the first time, apart from going out with siblings, which is just different. We had a great time, but we were both nervous in the beginning; this was new, uncharted territory.
I think that’s the key: to find things that keeps the unknown in your relationship, the butterflies in your stomach. All of the things that come with time in a relationship are wonderful. The ways that the dynamic changes between husband and wife is a beautiful thing. But you don’t have let go of the earlier parts, the excitement, the mystery, in exchange for it. Don’t get lazy; don’t take each other for granted. Flirt, court, want what you have. Keep seeking opportunities to grow and change and learn together. That’s what I’ve learned this year. I hope it’s something I never forget.
On a seperate note, it turns out the anniversary gift for 6 years is salt and pepper shakers. We never got them because most are surprisingly ugly and/or expensive, so we've just done without. But this year we splurged and got a nice set. It makes sense to me a sentimental level, spices of life and all that, haha. It's amazing how simple things make such an impact. After 6 years without, I doubt anyone will take as much joy in their shakers as we do! :P
Happy Memorial Day weekend!