10 Things I learned in 15 years of Marriage: A Candid Version
The number 15 had me inspired. I had to write about it!
I thought, “Why NOT?!? 15 years of marriage surely gives me the right to say SOME things about marriage.”
(granted it’s not 20, 30 or 40 years at which I would respectful sit at the feet of these women and hang on their every word … always be a learner.)
On my Anniversary to the man I adore today … because I LOVE marriage … I fight for every marriage I know to make it … REALLY both Yuri and I do and it’s why he has given permission in my life to be honest and vulnerable, to say the things people don’t want to say or expose, because we are sold daily images … ideals of the perfect marriage … the knight in shining armor husband … oh crunch, seriously people give me a break! (I’m feeling the need for a Kit-KAt bar right about now! … excuse my humor 😉 )
Here is the deal if you are married (or you one day will be) it’s highly likely, (yes, take a deep breath right about now), that you married or will marry someone who is NOT perfect … gasp!!!!! Ohhhh and here is the real cliff hanger … it’s highly likely YOU are NOT perfect either!
* Double Gasp *
Coming from the girl who thought she was right more than she was wrong for the first 3 years of her marriage, it was a rude awaking. 😉
So I broke down 10 things I learned over the last 15 years and tried to keep it simple in pure celebration that an ex-meth addict and kid from Maui who started selling marijuana at 8 years old (who met at Bible College no less), have some how made it this far. Unbelievable. Grateful.
So I’m keeping this all straight to the point but know it’s with lots of love!
(First three are about sex, here is your mental prep … it’s gonna be ok 😉 ) It’s all very honest starting with the fact that I learned most of these things the hard way, but no one talked to me about them, why not break some silence for some one who might need the encouragement because fighting for your marriage is worth it!
Here we go …
1.) Don’t drill your man about your body. When you are having a melt down about your self-image it’s really about you … believe me your man knows it too … it’s a set up! Ultimately if you are not happy with you and he opens his mouth, it’s never enough, all answers are heard wrong and he is going down, he is actually probably scared, his face isn’t that he is lying … it’s the face of pure fear. God will always be your source and place of true identity, even thou your spouse is your best friend take these fears and insecurities to the Lord first, His words of love and acceptance will be the only words to sooth your soul and help you heal from wrong thinking about yourself.
2.) A healthy sex life is huge. It’s not a bargaining chip. It’s not something he gets if he is a good boy. It’s not something he is denied if he is a bad boy. It’s a need for connection and intimacy … the truth is on the other side of this is all that open heart communication you really want. Be romantic don’t expect romance. EXPECTATION is a killer of true intimacy. I spent years putting all the pressure on Yuri to be a certain way … I was being a getter not a giver. Give me romance and then … you get it. But then I learned to embrace that wild little goofy boy that lives inside every man and I tried (with several times of failure on the way) to accept that love he was giving me, that exposure of who he really is that only I get to see. I decided it was precious and worthy of the same pursuit I expected of him … when I got this, like really got this … I ended up getting what I really wanted a man that desired me and respected me. Heck, if you are married you should have a killer sex life! Simply: connection keeps couples connected.
3.) Men actually just really want to see their wives naked. I’ve been twice my current weight and i’ve been fit … it didn’t make a difference to my husband that wanted to be with me and love his wife. How I saw myself messed with that but not his need to enjoy his wife. Your husband will only see or focus on what you make him focus on. He is not looking and focusing on the dimple on your left bum cheek like you are, so don’t feel the need to point it all out to him and make him stare at it … learn from me … this doesn’t go well. When you rock what yo mama gave you and you are ok with you … there is nothing quite as beautiful! Weight will never be your worth or define your beauty. Society is broken and none of us women make it through the media entourage of images we are feed daily unscathed but make a choice not to bring that brokeness into the marriage bed. Martial intimacy is about knowing and being known … don’t let insecurities keep you from letting your spouse know you. This was huge for me, I let it steal from me for way too long, so if I can give you this advice gift early on then you can rock one of the great gifts of marriage which is a rockin’ healthy sex life!
4.) Don’t shoot your cheerleader. Once you get married you get ONE most important fan, your spouse. You will have really encouraging people in your life there to push you to be your best but they can never take the place of the one meant to be your main cheerleader. Your words matter. Don’t use them to tear down the very one you need to build you up and hold you up when you are down. You are going to get your feelings hurt, you are going to get angry, you are not going to agree on everything; resist the temptation to accuse, judge or tear down your spouse like a woman that attacks the very one she needs with words coming out her mouth like ammo from two automatic weapons under her arms fueled by her own fears and need to control. Acknowledge God, invite Him into way you communicate, feel what you need to feel, heck cry, yell, drop a “S” bomb if you have too telling God how much you think it sucks in a private moment with God, then come back to the situation in a more dignified mutually honoring way. If you are a person who internalizes their emotions, it’s important that you don’t stuff and get into the habit of being a marriage martyr, your feelings are valid and you may need to express those feelings to God so you don’t withdrawal from your spouse, letting the silence be what you actually wound your mate with. Let your cheerleader know you value them, you need them, that their support helps you be better, ask them what they need in a cheerleader as well. Words matter. Use them wisely.
5.) You know that scripture about, “not letting the sun go down on your anger, don’t let the devil have a foot hold”, ya THAT one. My personal opinion after traumatizing my husband with my good “Christian” intentions the first two years of marriage is that this can be one of the most misunderstood or taught marriage principles that leave couples feeling like failures at 2am in the morning, exhausted as all get out, trying to resolve issues that would be better talked through by two rested individuals that had time to reflect and get perspective. The sun going down on your anger is about you dealing with your own anger, not keeping inventory of your spouses or your analysis of how well you felt like they dealt with it. It takes 5 minutes with your eyes closed to give God your anger and get the devil off your foot, if you will, to let go until a more beneficial time when you both have fresh perspective.“Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” (Ephesians 4:26–27)
6.) It’s ok to be different. Not to agree on everything. Your spouses ‘different’ isn’t against you and it also doesn’t need to be conformed to the way you see things. It’s not right vs. wrong it’s asset vs. asset. You see your spouse opens up opportunities for you to see the world differently, to experience new perspectives. I remember when I stopped trying to convert my husband to the way I saw life, the way I experienced God, the way I internalized emotion and I actually asked him why he saw things the way he saw them and then actually honored the way he saw it … craziness happened, he wanted to honor my differences.
7.) Don’t hold grudges. Make fun of your marriage blunders, laugh about ways you blew it. Just laugh a lot, look for ways to be playful and fun with your spouse. Life will present lots of obstacles and a couple who can laugh together in a midst of those storms becomes stronger because of the storm. Don’t loose site of developing the friendship side of marriage … don’t let the obligations of life cause you to stop being a good friend.
8.) Don’t listen to your spouses fears … speak to their faith. I actually learned this from my man. It’s normal to get insecure and question yourself, but when you begin to hear your spouse operating from a place of fear in their life, don’t negotiate with their fears call out their faith and greatness. For example … I hear your fear saying this, but I know this to be true about you, this is who you really are, be that person. I’m not going to argue lies with you, I promise to always tell you the truth. These can be hard conversations … give your spouse permission to remind you who you really are … always be reminding them too!
9.) Love “the crap” that’s yours. Can I say that, well I already did. You have areas you could be better, your spouse does too. I recently was talking to my husband that he better not die on me because I really don’t want to ever have to deal with someone else’s crap, their hang ups etc. I know your crap, I chose you with it, I choose you with it daily … it’s my crap because I love you and your mine. Does it irritate me sometimes, hello yes, but it’s mine. Like wise my “stuff” is my husbands, every year, all the time God is giving us revelation, we grow, we change, we let go of old crap but we also know we will never be perfect. We’ve decided to let go of the expectation that we will ever be free from refining in some area of our lives. It’s about perspective and it’s about accepting the person you love today on their way to tomorrow.
10.) No matter what … keep dating. We change as individuals, I am not longer married to the man I was at the alter. Don’t get me wrong their are elements of his personality that are the same but he will never be the 26 year old Yuri again. His interests have changed over the years so have his relationships, his work making him who he is today. It’s been in our dates and intentional time together that we are in pursuit of the person that each of us is in the state of becoming. We are always learning new things about each other and uncovering new memories we haven’t shared with each other yet. Our dates are some what comical sometimes … we like to get a booth in the corner of a restaurant hovering over our table-side guacamole he will show me videos of Jiu Jitsu moves and UFC fighters he likes and I will show him silly and funny pictures and videos that make me laugh that have very little relevance except that I just love funny things and find great joy discovering humor or inspiration in unexpected places. We both enjoy watching the human spirit be resilient and that is were we find our common ground.
That’s all really. I said just 10.