I can remember it like it was yesterday. It was one of the most defining moments of my life. All the people that I cared for showed up (minus a few that hadn’t been born yet). My best friend stood beside me. My hands were sweaty and my knees were weak. There was a harpist playing a beautiful melody as couples walked down the aisle dressed to the nines. And then the moment happened…the automated bells tolled and the doors swung open. There she was, my love, my dream girl, my to wife to be! I have never seen a prettier sight. I was 23 and she was 22 (that seems awful young to me now). We were two kids in love with a lot of dreams. I am usually not too nervous in front of groups of people, but I was really nervous that day. I answered the preacher and looked into her eyes and meant every word I said. That was an amazing day that I will never forget.
From that day to this day seems like the blink of an eye. I have a belief that the more you are enjoying your life the faster it goes. We are 10 years into this journey together. I pray we have at least 40-50 more together. Life has gone by at the speed of light and every year it gets better and every year it moves faster. I wanted to take just a minute to reflect and share some lessons I have learned in the last 10 years with my amazing wife, Charyl.
It gets better and things change. Our first year of marriage was not horrible but it was an adjustment. Every year we know each other better and love each other more. Don’t give up. Maybe you are in year 1 or 2 and you feel like you have been tricked. Stick with it. As you grow together you begin to grow together. The more life change you experience together the more you learn to trust one another.
Here are just a few of the changes that we have been through in 10 years:
We have lived in 7 different houses.
We have had 4 children.
I added between 20 – 35 extra pounds.
Charyl got more attractive (if that was even possible).
Together we have had 8 different jobs or career changes.
Our income has gone up. Our expenses have gone up.
We have had 2 dogs.
We have had 7 different cars.
We bought and sold a house.
I have infinitely more gray hairs than I had when we got married.
We have made more new friends than we can count.
I have been to 7 different countries.
Charyl started a very unexpected business that has become a career and ministry (Premier).
I have been a youth pastor, middle school pastor, young families and college pastor, senior pastor, and am currently the discipleship pastor.
Charyl went from RN to Jewelry lady.
We became special needs advocates (particularly for families who have a member with down syndrome)
Jesus has been with us every step of the way. He has never left us. He has never forgotten about us.
He has been most near when things have been most difficult.
Happy Wife, Happy Life (Or if you are a woman: Happy Man, Happy Land) – Maybe you have heard this statement, “If momma aint happy then nobody’s happy.” When Charyl and I got married my mother gave me some advice that I almost blew off at the time. She said, “Rick, your job is to help Charyl not be stressed.” In the last 10 years I found this to be a peach on the tree of wisdom. I heard Tony Evans say that if you want to know where you are spiritually as a husband, then look at your wife. She is a reflection of you. I have found when I have not been the husband I need to be it affects Charyl. When I do not love, serve, and make time to meet her emotional needs then it affects everything else in our home. She is the heart of our home. Husbands would do well to give great attention to the heart. This is an area I hope I am growing in.
Marriage Is Not 50/50 Or Even 100/100 – I believe the best marriages give all they can don’t expect anything in return. The best ratio would be 100/0 or 100/not my responsibility. As long as you are expecting something in return you will struggle. Appreciate what your spouse does. Don’t act like what you are doing is harder or more important than what your spouse does. Never belittle them. Your job is to build them up and not tear them down.
Time Is Short So Don’t Waste It. The first ten years have blazed by. Life has only picked up speed. Take time each day to hug your spouse, kiss your spouse, pray with your spouse, and talk to them. Go Home! Work is hard and long. If you don’t go home then you will grow distant from your spouse. Date your spouse. Try to make a time weekly or at least a couple of times a month where you just focus on one another. Family time with the kids is vital but it is even more vital that you connect with one another in a setting where you can really talk with no stress and no distractions.
Little Things Will Kill Your Marriage Or Make It Stronger – Most fights are over little things. He didn’t put is clothes in the hamper. She didn’t remember to get what you asked her to get at the store. Instead of flying off the handle, build a bridge and get over it. They are not perfect and neither are you. Growing your love for one another is also built on little things. Pick up flowers for no reason. Hold hands with one another. Leave notes for one another. Look for little things to appreciate in one another. When you see something, say something. Never let a complement go unsaid. Words have the power of life and death…particularly in a marriage.
Marriages Are Not One Size Fits All – There are so many marriage books out there but your marriage is not like any of them. Principles can help but your marriage is like you…it’s unique. A system that worked for your parents may not, probably will not, work for you. Make your own normal.
Your Children Will Bring You Together Or Push You Apart…You Choose Which. Children are one of life’s greatest blessings. They can bring so much joy to your life and your marriage. If you make your children the most important thing in your life then your marriage will suffer…it may even die. I have witnessed too many couples that had children and forgot about each other. The best thing you can do for your children is having healthy marriage. Do not let your children drive a wedge between you and your spouse.
Marriage Means There Is Someone With You At The Hospital. When you are a teenager, love and marriage is all about emotion and romance. Most of the romance revolves around attraction and the hope of a great sex life. This is all well and good but as your grow older you realize that there is nothing better than living with your best friend and knowing they will be there for you for better or worse, through thick and thin. Romance turns to something more beautiful called commitment.
Find Something You Like To Do Together. We watch “Chopped” together. This is a cooking show that is on Netflix. My wife and I don’t watch much TV. We really don’t have time. But there is a brief moment at the end of most weekdays between about 8:30-9:30 that the kids are asleep and we still have enough energy to talk. We talk for a few minutes and then we watched Chopped. We don’t say much. We might hold hands but it is the simple act of being in the presence of one another. Enjoy each other’s company.
Without Jesus We Would Not Make It – Pray for each other. Worship together. Make church attendance a non-negotiable of your home. Have family worship time at the dinner table at least a few times a week. There is NOTHING more important in your marriage than keeping Jesus as the foundation. There are not many things that make us more like Christ than the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit through marriage.