About a week before Bill and I got married, red bugs ate me up. I’d never had them before and had no idea what the big, itchy bumps were, so I showed them to my mom. As soon as she saw them, she told me to paint every swollen, red and white whelp with clear nail polish.
Then, I spent the rest of the week bathing in Clorox water to get them dried up quickly. AND there was lots and lots of cocoa butter to prevent scarring. I was getting married at the end of the week AND going on a cruise for my honeymoon, for heaven’s sake!
That was 14 years ago this week, and our kids still ask to hear that story and see the pictures of our wedding day; some of which show barely pink dots still visible around my ankles.
Realizing our wedding anniversary was coming this week made me think back to that happy day, but it also made me consider every day since – approximately 5,110 of them.
What do I have to show for all this time? What have I learned? How have I grown and changed and matured? Have I picked up any wisdom along the way?
I took a few days to journal about it and also “interviewed” Bill to see what he wanted to share. The first time I had a chance to ask him, he was watching Game 4 of the NBA Finals, so I waited for commercials and halftime break.
You would think I’d have learned by now not to try to have important conversations during sporting events. I’m a little hard-headed, though.
Turns out, we had to talk another time. 🙂
ANYway, here are some of the things 14 years of marriage has taught us:
Bill said: Marriage is about give and take. You won’t always get your way. Sometimes you go to a place you wouldn’t go to or watch something on TV you may not want to watch because you know it’s something the other person likes. Hopefully the other person will do the same for you.
I said: Love is an action, not a feeling. The warm, fuzzy, lying-on-a-bed-of-roses mindset changes. You may not be “in love” with your husband every day, but every day you have to choose to love him, and you show you’ve made that choice by the things you do.
Bill said: A person’s financial status is important. I didn’t think about that much when we were dating, but I know how important it is now – to know how much debt a person has or what their spending habits are like.
(Can you tell the man has heard too much Dave Ramsey)?
I said: It’s ok to argue, to have differences of opinion. It’s actually helpful. You discover more about your spouse and yourself as you work through conflict together. Arguing doesn’t always mean there is a problem with your marriage.
Bill said: I didn’t really know who you were until we got married and lived together. Then, I found out little things like you squeeze toothpaste from the bottom, and I don’t. Or we want thermostat at different temperatures. We don’t wash and fold clothes the same either. If I wasn’t careful, those little things could get to be big problems. I tried to change some of the ways I did things if it made sense to me to do that. Sometimes, you compromise.
I said: Find out what’s important to your husband about how you keep house and care for the kids, especially if you’re a stay-at-home-mom or the one in change of the household stuff. Don’t kill yourself doing all.the.things. (I heard this from Lysa TerKeurst and Proverbs 31 Ministries). Years ago, I asked Bill, “when you come home every day, what’s important for you? Do you want to come home to a clean house? Dinner on the table? Calm and quiet kids? Do you need some downtime when you first get here?” He said he wanted dinner, so that’s what I focus on. Yes, I keep the house as tidy as possible and do laundry and make sure the kids aren’t running naked through the backyard, but the man says he wants dinner ready when he gets home, so that is what he gets.
We agreed that it’s helpful to get to know and (hopefully) get along with your spouse’s family. Bill said, “Most likely, you’ll end up being like your family, especially your mom, and I’ll end up being like my family, especially my dad, so getting to know each other’s family gives insight into who you married.”
We also talked about having children; that brings big changes in your marriage. I asked Bill why he thought that was. He told me it’s because you have to share your wife’s attention after you have a baby. There are other people to think about after that.
Now, I don’t mean to condense 14 years of marriage into 1,000 words or less because it isn’t that simple. There have been fairy-tale days (when we gazed lovingly into each other’s eyes over a romantic, candlelit dinner), and there have been horror movie days (when he walked in the house after work and I was blubbering and handed him a crying baby and went in the bedroom and shut the door).
You get it, right? It’s just life – married, with kids, life.
You appreciate the wonderful seasons because you’ve been through challenging seasons, but you’re wiser for it, and your relationship is much stronger.
I’d love to hear some wisdom you’ve gained from your marriage. Please share how long you’ve been married and what you’ve learned so far.