Brance and I are getting ready to celebrate 10 years of marriage in December. A decade. Where does time go? I remember dating and engagement and our wedding like they were yesterday! And yet, a lot has happened since those days.
Here are 10 things I have learned from 10 years of marriage. They have transformed ours; I believe they can do the same for you.
1. For better or worse, you will become more like the person you marry over time. There is no avoiding it, when you spend THAT much time with another person.
For me, this has been a HUGE blessing. I have found that many of my husband’s great qualities have “rubbed off” on me. Things like perseverance, carefulness, and lack of worry. There are many others too.
And out of love for my spouse, I desire to be someone he would be proud to become more like.
Note to those dating: If you aren’t comfortable becoming more like a person you are dating, it’s time to reconsider. If they have a horrible temper, make fun of you or others, or have some other major character defect, you are better off saying goodbye.
2. Attitude is everything in marriage. You get to decide how amazing you marriage is going to be (in most marriages).
If you are thankful and positive and hopeful about your marriage and your spouse, then likely you will feel great about them both.
BUT if you are negative and constantly comparing your marriage and spouse to others, then likely you will feel terrible about them both.
You really, truly get to decide how great your marriage is. And thankfulness and positivity are critical.
3. Friendship in marriage is key. This may seem like a given, especially when you are dating and your every thought involves the other person. But life can quickly become very full in marriage, especially with the addition of kids. And over time it is easy to develop separate interests – eventually leading to parallel lives.
Keeping things lighthearted and fun as friends makes marriage more enjoyable. And helps you grow even closer. We read together, share things that interest us, dream and plan together, and generally just hang out. Here quantity is ever bit as important as quality.
4. Forgiveness keeps a marriage from falling apart. Spouses are two imperfect people who will act less than perfectly in marriage. Being willing to genuinely, humbly ask for forgiveness and to extend it, as well, is SO important. It’s the glue that will keep a marriage together.
Bitterness. Unforgiveness. Scorn. These are things that marriage can’t stand under. Longterm, they can actually be predictors of a marriage’s doom. We saw this with some friends of ours who are no longer married. It was very sad. Weed them out, always.
5. Marriage provides an opportunity to grow in character like no other relationship. Who we really are deep down eventually bubbles to the top, the good and the ugly. There is no hiding it.
Instead of despairing, or embracing the ickier parts of ourself (“that’s just me” attitude) in our marriage relationship, we can begin to grow in these areas instead. If we find gossip or impatience or selfishness bubbles to the top, we can be thankful for an opportunity to turn from these things. To learn new ways of behaving.
6. Sex with one person is not in the least boring and gets more amazing over time. In a promiscuous society, marital sex may seem like a snooze. We have found it to be anything but!
There is something so beautiful, so amazing about this aspect of love in the haven of marriage. Committed love provides the safety and security necessary for sex to become the BEST it can be. Seriously. All it requires is two people willing to selflessly give and receive, with a great sense of humor along the way.
A little note: If you are having trouble in this area of your marriage, with frequency/desire or “performance”, you may benefit from supplementing with zinc or consuming more zinc-rich foods. This has made a big difference for us.
7. Love means believing the best about your spouse and always giving them the benefit of the doubt. Our human inclination is to assume worse motives of others and best motives of ourselves. This is a weight that can crush a marriage.
It is especially important to extend this kind of grace, of believing the best of your spouse, in a disagreement – in the heat of the moment. It is amazing how quickly a potentially explosive marital moment can be disarmed when we put this into practice. It is worth every bit of the humility it requires. Our marriages are worth this.
8. Serving totally transforms marriage – serving our spouse, serving others, and serving God. This, maybe more than anything else, has drawn Brance and I closer together. Serving others together is something that we have done since our dating days. And it has been a huge source of joy for the two of us.
As Christians, serving God has been foundational in our marriage. It informs our decisions and has kept us grounded and together as we navigate married and family life.
Looking for ways to love Brance by serving him in our marriage has been hugely rewarding. And he has said the same has been true for him. And the amazing thing is this: the more you pour out, the more you tend to receive. It’s a beautiful spiritual truth.
The biblical proverb – “Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered” – rings beautifully clear and true in marriage.
9. Good things require effort. Marriage is no exception. A good marriage requires work.
I had a bit of a skate-through-life mentality during high school. College was a much needed wake-up call for me. I learned that living a meaningful, successful life requires that I put in the effort.
The same has been true in marriage. Just getting by will doom marriage to mediocrity at best. If we want an amazing, love-filled marriage, we have to be willing to put in the time and energy to foster that kind of marriage. But I know from experience, it is completely worth every ounce of effort.
10. Time flies, and so does marriage. I don’t want to take a moment of my marriage for granted. One day too soon, one of us will be taken from the other in death. I tear up even thinking about that. This thought totally puts any small marital inconvenience or annoyance into perspective. It reminds me to embrace every moment of my marriage and to enjoy the beautiful gift it truly is.
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