Well, well, well...it's here! Today is our 5th wedding anniversary! *Cue ALL THE HORNS!* Yes, yes, I know plenty of people who have celebrated their 20th, 30th, even 50th wedding anniversaries (some this year alone!), so looking at us with our little baby 5th year...seems laughable. BUT, I come from the mentality that ANY anniversary should be celebrated! It's your marriage for goodness sakes- make a big deal about every single year you made it! Your 1st through your 80th (should you make it that long!) Marriage is definitely something to be cherished and celebrated every new year you add on!
For us, 5's a biggie. I think traditionally it goes 1, 5, 10, 15, 25, 50, 60 right? I may be completely wrong on that one. But I do know that each of those "milestones" comes with a traditional present idea you are to give alongside! Which I think is so neat! Like, for your first wedding anniversary, you're supposed to gift each other with something "paper". For your 5th, something "wood" (excited about that!!!), your 10th- tin/aluminum, your 15th- crystal, your 25th- silver, your 50th- gold, and your 60th- diamond. 60 years to get to a diamond? Hmmmm.....
I can't wait to give each other our gifts and spend the day together. This post, of course was written last week in preparation for our big day (helllllo time off!) so as you are reading this, we will be having the time of our lives at the happiest place on earth- Disneyland! Woop woop! We seriously couldn't think of a better idea than spend the day being kids, riding fun rides (looking forward to the new Cars Land!) and EATING! Agggggg!
So, in celebration of this awesome next milestone in our marriage, I wanted to share a little bit of what I've learned along the way. Somethings were pretty "duh" and picked up on right away, and some things we had to learn the very hard way. Hehe. I know a few friends who just recently got married this year (congrats again!) and we actually have a wedding to go to tomorrow, so it seems like a timely thing to do right now!
Here are 5 things I've learned in the last 5 years of marriage...
So, we learned pretty painfully and quickly that, if He is NOT what your marriage revolves around- if He is NOT the center, the most important thing to your marriage and to you personally...it WILL crumble to nothingness. Through this, He'll bring you to a place where you realize you need to start over again and He'll give you the tools for the right way. But, it's not without pain and heartache. You need to remember not to do it again.
Think of it this way: You two build a house together...but it was built on shaky ground. Despite knowing this, you spend a lot of hard time and a lot of money building it anyway. Years sometimes! Decades! You pour your blood, sweat and tears into building this "dream house". Then inevitably, that shaky ground, that horrible foundation causes your house to shift, break, become damaged, and eventually fall to the ground.
Then there's Jesus. Although He warned you ahead of time. Although He told you to build it on His foundation. And although YOU chose otherwise, chose your way, He helps you pick up the pieces and helps you clean up. Yes, He graciously and mercifully allowed you to go ahead and go through with your way so that you would really see what He meant. Then, He gently and lovingly reminds you of what you already knew- that this house really DID need to be built upon His foundation. It's sturdy. It's perfect. It's exactly what your little house needs.
Your marriage, like this dream house, needs His foundation from the very beginning. Do not choose otherwise, believe me. If you're a newlywed or about to get married- make this change now, while it's a lot easier. Don't go through the devastation of a crumbled marriage to see how badly you two really needed Him from the start.
Ways to make Him number 1 in your marriage?
- Pray together (all the time)!
- Read the Bible together and discuss what it is you read!
- Do daily devotions on your own time and together as a couple!
- Get connected in a home bible study group with other Christians (even better- married couples, and better yet- people your age)!
- Find a church that just edifies, challenges, and convicts (in a good way) the heck out of you both and attend regularly, together!
- Talk about Jesus all the time. Talk about Him openly. Talk about what He's done in your life, how He's impacted you.
- Ask for prayer when you're struggling on something and allow your spouse to pray for you.
- Confess to one another.
- Forgive one another just as God forgave you.
"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, Just as Christ in God forgave you." -Ephesians 4:32
"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." -Romans 5:8
10. Love each other BIBLICALLY every single day. What does that mean? It means this: Love is not a feeling. You don't just "feel" in love with someone and then "feel" out of love with them the next day. Love is an action. Love takes work. Love is something you choose to do, each minute of each day. So, how do we practice love to our spouse? Simple (but definitely easier said than done) and is found in the well known 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 verses:
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."
Read: These are the exact ways we can demonstrate biblical love to our spouse. Concrete, black and white, actions we can take daily. We are to be patient, kind, not envying, not boastful, not proud, not dishonoring our spouse, not selfish, NOT EASILY ANGERED, not keeping records of what they did wrong to us in the past, not delighting in any evil, always rejoicing in the truth, protecting one another, hoping, and persevering.
"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." -Matthew 6:33
"Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins." -1 Peter 4:8
We actually learned this truth at one of our pre-marital classes and I just believe in it, whole-heartedly. Now, this does NOT mean we are to make our spouses more of a priority than Jesus and our walk with Him. This will only confuse things and make your spouse your idol- which is no place for any of us to be anyway! That being said- AFTER JESUS, make your spouse your number 1!
Why is this important? Because, life is busy. People are needy. Jobs are demanding. And (if you have any) children are...CHILDREN! If we are not careful, all of life's components will try their very hardest to get in the way of our marriage and in most instances, succeed. Satan wants nothing more than to drive a tiny wedge in between a husband and wife and allow it to grow and grow...and grow. He wants nothing more than for life to create such a vast space between spouses, that they become strangers. So he'll throw in innocent things like beautiful children or best friends or job promotions hoping that we'll see these things as more important than our spouse.
My husband and I are constantly going back and reprioritizing our life's responsibilities. It's inevitable- over time, even unknowing to us both, life has a way of slowly shifting things so our priorities are messed up. All of a sudden, we realize it's been weeks since we went on a date, days since we prayed together, days since we had an actual conversation, etc. We find ourselves doing this reprioritization every 3 or 4 months. It's so weird! But it's very important.
Practical ways to make your marriage your first priority?
- Don't become a work-a-holic! Don't spend more time working than with your spouse! Don't get into a situation where you need to work 80 hour weeks just to survive! Yes, everyone needs to work. Jobs are important. And sometimes projects come up that require a little extra effort. Not talking about that. It's when you find yourself working 10+ hours a day and/or coming home to work more...that something is off.
- When you come home, be home. Leave work at work.
- If you're a stay at home wife/mom, make your home a sanctuary for your marriage. Make it a place your husband looks forward to coming home to.
- Don't put family members first! Family should never, ever, take first priority. Not even your sweet little ones! Marriage. Is. Always. First. Plus, wouldn't it benefit your kids that much more, if they saw mom and dad just loving each other so much and loving all the time they spent together? Establish a biblical view of marriage in your little one's eyes from the get-go, by showing them how important husbands and wives are to each other. (Do not read: Neglect your children or family. Seriously.)
- Don't put friends ahead of your spouse. NEVER EVER TALK BADLY ABOUT YOUR SPOUSE TO FRIENDS. (Assuming he is not putting himself, you or your children in some kind of danger/harm.)
- Ask each other how each other feels about things before we do them. No, you're not "getting their permission", you're showing them their feelings matter to you. So, ask your wife if she minds if you join that softball team- explain to her that it means you'll be gone 6 extra hours a week. Ask your husband if he minds if you spend the weekend at your parent's house- explain to him that they are struggling with x,y,z and could really use your help. Allow your spouse to voice their feelings and concerns, and be prepared to not do it should they say, "please, don't".
"Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." -Genesis 2:24
"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word." -Ephesians 5: 25-26
"However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." -Ephesians 5:33
Please on top of errand-doing, DATE EACH OTHER. Date your spouse! It DOES NOT stop once you're married and definitely doesn't stop once you have children. Remember how hard you tried to show your beloved how much you cared, when you were dating? Remember the things you did to show them? Continue that into marriage! Continue it even more! Show them even more! Just because you "hook, lined, and caught em" doesn't mean you don't need to continue to make an effort. In fact, now that they are your significant other, your other half, the one you are one with, the one Jesus has bound you to in sweet marriage, you should be showing them even more how much you care. Because you do care.
This goes with the above #2 point. Don't let other things get in the way of you showing your spouse how much they mean to you. Of course, emergencies WILL happen, families WILL need you off and on, jobs WILL get busy here and there, children WILL be demanding all the time...but set proper biblical boundaries right here, right now- that will continue to put your marriage first and allow you two to date each other.
Ways to date your spouse:
- Bring them home flowers often.
- Make them their favorite meal/dessert often!
- If you are a stay at home wife/mother- make your home your marital sanctuary.
- Find a family member who will babysit once a week or once every two weeks.
- Pack a picnic frequently.
- Exercise together! Go hiking together!
- Go on nightly walks together. Its snuggly weather, so bundle up, get some hot cocoa and walk around your neighborhood. Take advantage of this time to just talk and enjoy one another.
- Leave each other love notes on Post-Its around the house, often.
- Drive to their work and have lunch with them!
- Set aside time where it's just the two of you- NO PHONES.
- Have a technology-free day/night.
- Have an "unplugged" weekend away from your phone, computer, whatever.
- Tell them how much you love them, appreciate them...all the time.
"Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” -Genesis 2:18
I've known a few people who wouldn't talk about everything (especially about finances) and saw the devastation that caused to their marriage, their faith, and them as a whole. Talk to your spouse! They're your best friend- who else will you talk to?? That being said, allow your spouse to come and talk to you! Do not be a place of ridicule and harsh criticism! Make yourself a place they feel comfortable and safe to come to. If you are not this place, they will go elsewhere. No bueno.
And on the topic of money really quickly- please please DO NOT hide your expenses from each other. Have a joint account and share the financial responsibilities. Sure, one can be "in charge" of making sure the bills get paid on time. But don't have a "his" and "hers" account. This only creates suspicions and room for distrust. Again, I've known people who would go shopping, spend hundreds of dollars, and then throw the receipt away so their husband couldn't see how much they spent at said store. The result- dishonesty. If you have to hide that expense, if you couldn't ask your spouse if it was ok from the get-go, you probably shouldn't have purchased it. The end. (Of course, presents and surprises for your spouse, not included)
Here's the catch- remember to speak graciously with one another. Always. We find ourselves almost talking without thinking, everyday. This is both a good thing and bad. What this does is allow those nasty, "shouldn't have been said" words to flow like a river. Then we end up getting angry with each other, having a fight, and having to confess and reconcile afterwards. By the way- ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS RECONCILE WITH ONE ANOTHER.
"Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger." -Ephesian 4:26
Please communicate with your spouse...about everything. BUT make sure your words are gracious, filled with love, showing compassion, and encouraging your spouse to become more and more Christ-like.
Things to make sure you're openly communicating about:
- Expectations of each other.
- Money! Every single aspect of it. Don't hide anything. Don't buy things without first discussing it with each other (presents for each other, of course, omitted)
- Struggles! (Great opportunity to pray for one another)
- Mundane things.
- What happened during your day.
- Dreams and aspirations.
- Hurts. Whether that be, a hurt done by someone else, or a hurt your spouse caused. Be open, but be kind in discussing.
Things not to talk about:
- Vent sessions.
"Do all things without grumbling or complaining." -Philippians 2:14
"A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back." -Proverbs 29:11
"Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." -Colossians 4:6
"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." -Ephesians 4:29
Maybe the biggest lesson I had to learn, other than number 1, was this. Girl...let your husband be the man. Now assuming he's a bible believing, Christ loving, Gospel practicing man- let him be the man and I promise you, you won't regret it.
No more of this "I'm a woman (hear me roar) and I need to show that I don't need any man to take care of me" crapola. We're women, we're supposed to be taken care of. For, the bible says, we are the weaker vessel.
"Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered." -1 Peter 3:7
Now hear me out. I am NOT saying that we should faint at the sight of our shadow, but I am saying that biblically, we are the weaker vessel when it comes to our husbands. He is the head of the household. I need to deal with that, and so do you. He needs to be main decision maker (while listening to your feelings and thoughts), the provider (of course if you both decide it's beneficial for you to work- work. For scripture says, "She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands." -Proverbs 31:13), the protector, the authority, the dang head of the house. But pay attention to the first part of that 1 Peter verse: "live with your wives in a UNDERSTANDING way, showing HONOR to the woman..." Husband are not to treat us like children or like dirt. They are to be understanding and honoring towards us. Wives- give them the chance to do so.
I was all too ready to grab the reigns from my husband's hands and take over. Again and again. If he even slipped up the tiniest bit, "OH WELL. YOU MESSED UP. I'LL DO IT." This was so, SO unhealthy. Allow and encourage him to take the reigns and allow him to learn how to biblically love you and be the man.
For us wives? We are to submit to our husbands. Gasp! The "s" word! Yep, submit. Submit to your husbands. Again, assuming he's a bible believing, Christ loving, Gospel practicing man- he will do this rightly and in a way that edifies you as a wife and makes you want to submit! And in turn, by you doing your biblical role of submission, you will encourage and point him to becoming more biblically manly and authoritative! Weird how that works, huh?
This has been a marriage changer and sadly, a lesson I'm only just beginning to really grasp, learn, and put into practice the last year or two. Yeah...it took me three long (hard) years to learn this (the hard way). BUT the Lord is so good and gracious, and is helping me every single day. I know I'll fail over and over, but thank the Lord that He's given me a man who will forgive me and help me back on track!
Oh and by the way, it's never too late! Even if you've been married for eons...start putting this into practice now!
Ways to allow your husband to be the husband:
- Ask him daily what you can do for him.
- Ask him daily how you can pray for him.
- If you're a stay at home wife/mom, fulfill your responsibilities at home. This means, don't spend all day on Pinterest if there's laundry that needs to be done. Don't lay on the couch all afternoon or go on coffee dates with your girlfriends if the house is a mess and dinner needs to be made.
- Ask him for his opinion!
- Ask him for advice.
- Ask him to pray for you.
- Have him pray for you/the family out loud.
- Encourage him to start a family bible study with just the two of you and/or your children (should you have some)
- Allow him to be the main decision maker.
- If he tells you "no" on something, respect that.
- In fact, respect him in all areas anyways.
- Never ever EVER talk bad about him to anyone. Ever. (Assuming he is not putting himself, you or your children in some kind of danger/harm.)
- Praise him for things he's done.
- Give him 10 kwazillion chances to be the authority figure, even when he messes up.
- Realize you are not a know-it-all and need him and Christ just as much as he needs you and Christ.
"The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life." -Proverbs 31:11-12
"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." -Ephesians 5:22-33
" But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God." -1 Corinthians 11:3
"Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord." -Colossians 3:18
"An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones." -Proverbs 12:14
Phew! Hehe. Now please note- I am not saying I (or we) are experts in these departments. In fact, I'm preaching to myself here! Although they are lessons I've learned, they are still lessons I'm practicing every single day. Some days I fail, some days he does...but we forgive each other and move on.
So with all that being said, happy anniversary to my main man, Mr. Main! I love you more and more each day and cannot wait to be old farts together.