*This post is my experience and mine alone. While I believe that it can help many, I don’t think that this applies to abusive situations. I also recognize that it is a lot harder to “do marriage” if both spouses aren’t interested in working together. I do realize that I am extremely blessed. I do not intend to sound judgmental or like if you just did the things that we do, things would be better. I recognize that all situations are different and therefore, I cannot speak to each individual situation. Please see my heart in this.
Bernd and I celebrated our 13th Anniversary in June of this year. Yep, 13 years…I can’t believe how fast the time has flown, while at the same time feeling like FOREVER at other times. I am 34 years old and have been married most of my adult life. I thought I was so grown up when I got married at almost 21 years old, now I see I was pretty immature and probably still am in many ways.
That being said, I’m not going to lie. This year hasn’t been the easiest year for our marriage. Bernd has been extremely busy with work and taking a course on the side as well. I have gone from one extreme attitude to the other. In earlier years, I did a lot of nagging. This year, I went from feeling really sad to deciding I didn’t care. In fact, there have been times I wished I could just do my own thing when my husband wanted to spend time with me. The truth is, not caring is a bad place to be in. (Just to clarify, I have had moments I did care) It says that I am feeling offended and upset and that I feel as if the whole thing is my husband’s fault. Well, it’s not just his fault, it’s been mine too.
So what has kept us together and (mostly) happy?
I think it has a lot to do with the following:
1. We made a commitment the day that we got married that we were committed to staying married until death parted us.
Mark 10:9 (NIV) Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.
For us, having made this commitment means that we don’t entertain the thought that there is an option for us to not to work things out. We recognize that we both need to work at this marriage and recognize the priority in it.
2. We do take the time to do things like I talked about in this post priority.
For me, this means that we kept doing those things even when we weren’t really “feeling” it. I’ll be honest, there have been many times that I haven’t felt the “love” this past year.
3. We choose to love one another as Christ loved us.
1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 (NIV) 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.
So for me, this means that even when I am feeling very unloved, I choose to love anyway. This means that I let go of offenses and don’t keep a record of them. It means that I am kind even when Bernd isn’t. Am I perfect at this? No, not anywhere close. Just last week, I was “flitting” around the kitchen in the morning, getting breakfast ready for the kids. Bernd was also in the kitchen getting his breakfast ready. He snapped at me because I was everywhere and he didn’t feel as if he had enough room. I promptly snapped right back. Clearly, I didn’t get it right that time. Obviously, this is another moment where we both had to forgive, forget, and move on.
4. Being faithful to each other even things aren’t great. When we got married we promised to love and honor through good times and bad.
Over the last year, I made the choice to stop reading Christian novels that include romance. I began to recognize that this made me dissatisfied with my husband (even though he’s a great guy) and it was a form of unfaithfulness on my part. It has been a greatly rewarding year for me because I have chosen to let the books go. I have seen myself grow immensely because of this.
5. Recognizing that I cannot change my husband and that it is a form of control to try to do so.
This goes back to 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. (listed above) Jesus doesn’t love us only when we perform exactly as he wishes we would. He loves us in spite of ourselves, at all times. For myself, this means that I must lay down the things that I wish my husband would do and accept him as he is, faults and all. For far too many years, I subconsciously thought that when he got more spiritual and was what I thought a better leader should look like, then I would love him more. I don’t think I ever really thought this consciously but one day as I was puttering around my kitchen, (see a pattern-I am the kitchen a lot!) I broke down and cried out to God. I told God I was letting him go and I was going to try to love him like Jesus would love him, regardless of whether or not he ever changed to be the way I wanted him to. It was startling to me to realize that I had been holding out and hoping he would change to what I thought he should be. I recognize that this is an almost daily process and one I certainly haven’t mastered, but I recognize that there is such freedom in letting go, even though it is extremely scary.
Things are getting better at our house, a lot better. I am working on changing my attitude, my husband has greatly cut back his work hours. We are both learning to trust in God more to help work in us. It is a process, but in all honesty, it is so worth the trials and the hard times because it brings us closer to each other and God.
Years ago, I heard that “marriage is one of the hardest things you will ever do in life, but it’s also one of the most rewarding.” For me, there is much truth in that.
So, today, I pray that this post is an encouragement to never give up. To keep loving and keep cherishing your marriage relationship.
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