Friday, July 13, 2018


The more I talk to and observe married couples and families, the more convinced I am that the enemy is running rampant, doing whatever he can to destroy those relationships through financial disagreements, medical diagnoses, lack of community, or insert issue here. And I am having none of it. It makes me downright angry. My husband, J, and I have had so many conversations about marriage over the last 10 years. We don't consider ourselves marriage experts by any stretch of the imagination but we have been happily married for 10.5 years and have been through the valley this year and come out closer than ever, so we feel that it gives us a tiny bit of experience and a small right to talk about it. 

We've been told by many people in our lives that we are not the norm - our relationship is different than a good majority of the population. In the last 10 years, I remember one fight. In our first year of marriage. That's not to say that there haven't been disagreements but I couldn't tell you what any of those were about because they blow over quickly and are forgotten. 

In our first year of marriage, we got into it about something. What, I don't even remember. It was the first time we had a real taste of how we both handled conflict. I'm fight. He's flight. He would rather remove himself from the situation so he doesn't spew things out of his mouth in anger that he can't take back and I would rather hash it out right then and there and get it over with. So during this particular event, he left. He got in his truck and he left. And I was left fuming. I sat, fidgeting. I paced the floor. I don't remember if I tried calling him or texting him while he was gone but that's beside the point. I made the decision (without thinking of the repercussions) to not be home when he came back. If he could leave, I could too. That will teach him, I thought. Oh, sweet, innocent, stupid 20 year old me.  I called a friend who still lived on campus (because I was a baby when I got married and was still in college) and picked her up for some coffee. We headed to Starbucks and hung out for a while. Something kept telling me that leaving was probably not the best solution (that Holy Spirit can really question your decisions) and I finally decided we needed to go. 

That's when God's holy sense of humor comes into play. I can look back and laugh now but at the moment, I remember wanting to punch something. We got in my car and...nothing. It wouldn't turn over. My battery was dead. Right there in the Starbucks parking lot. We didn't have emojis back then but I would definitely use the one with hand over the face to describe that moment. Naturally, I had to call my husband to come rescue us. I don't remember if my friend got another ride back or if she rode with us. My husband got there, put his battery in my car I think to get it started and then took it out and put it back in his. We drove to the nearest auto shop to get a new battery. I can't even recall how things were solved but I know apologies were most likely made and a discussion was surely had about how we handle those situations differently and what we needed from each other during those times. He needs to be left alone (good, just don't ever leave again) and I need the opportunity to talk about it. So the compromise is we talk about it after he's had some time to cool off and can hold a conversation calmly. The good news is we haven't had to employ those except for a handful of times in the last 10 years. 

He asked me last night if I could give only one piece of advice for having a healthy marriage/relationship, what would it be? 
JUST ONE? Dear people, if you know me at all, you know that I am a lover of words and I will use many of them to explain just about anything so no, my sweets, I cannot give just one piece of advice. I can maybe narrow it down to my top 5. These are not heavily researched or surveyed. These are my own, our own - what's worked for us. This is what helps us be able to wake up and smile in the morning ten years later because we get to do this life together. This is what helps us disagree whole-heartedly with others who have been married longer who say marriage ruined their life. This is what helps us say with absolutely certainty "until death do us part." 

1. Jesus - I know that's so cliche. But I would be remiss not to give Him credit for this marriage and this life. As we have grown closer to the Lord, we have grown closer to each other. You can't have one growing closer and one stepping away because inevitably, you as a couple will grow apart. As scripture says that "the two shall become one," we operate together as a team in that oneness. We very specifically asked for the verses in Ephesians to be read aloud at our wedding. The bible has some very specific things to say about how wives and husbands are to love each other. Now there are certainly men who take the submission scripture to hold over their wives' heads demanding respect and obedience. That is not what this scripture tells us. It tell us that husbands are to love their wives JUST AS Christ loved the church. That means you need to be a spiritual leader, husbands. You lead your wife as Christ leads you. You do not go rogue and try to lead on your own. That will spell disaster and no, you will not earn the respect you need from your wife. Wives, it can be difficult to submit, especially if you have an issue with control. All humans, no matter who you are, want their own way. It's just how we are. We are naturally selfish beings. But when you can put aside what you want and follow your husband knowing that he will have to give an account for where he leads your family, things will work out. If he makes a decision without consulting you, I understand that can be upsetting. But if his decision doesn't cause financial suffering or isn't going to make much difference in the grand scheme of things in the next few months, kindly get over it. In any case - Christ first, always. 

2. Expectations - We have seen this so many times. Unmet expectations are the number one cause for disappointment and discontentment in my opinion. I'm pretty sure I made it somewhat clear to J that I was not going to be his mother. If I didn't want to cook and he wanted to eat, he could cook it himself. He has two hands and can do his own laundry. I'm not the best housewife so if it's dirty to you, clean it. That sounds harsh just typing it but it's the basic truth. The thing is, my husband has the mindset that if he doesn't feel like doing it, he's not going to expect me to do it either. Praise the Jesus for that. Let me say that louder for the men in the back -  IF YOU DON'T WANT TO DO IT, DON'T EXPECT YOUR WIFE TO DO IT! Now the same holds true for women. If you don't want to do it, don't expect your man to either. Case in point: he doesn't like doing laundry and if he doesn't feel like doing his own laundry, he is not going to expect me to do his laundry either. And yes, the man does his own laundry. Praise the detergent gods! I've done it on occasion just to show I love him but he's steadily done his own for 10.5 years. All the praise hands!

The other area I see this issue is in the area of physical expectations. News flash: the man or woman you married will most likely not look the same in ten or twenty years and if they do, they might need to share their secret with the rest of the world. Guys, when your wife has children, things migrate and shift and move. It is not fair but it is life. Her body will not look the same as it did on your wedding night. Get over it. She grew humans inside of her! What have you done? Burped the alphabet? I'm sure there are many of you that have since stuffed some of your six-pack into a cooler so calm yourselves. The only expectations I tried to go into marriage with was that he would love me fiercely and would fight for us if need be. Those expectations have been met every day for 10.5 years. 

3. Humility - Selfishness has no room in a marriage (or any relationship for that matter). It will eat away at that relationship from the inside out and leave devastation in its wake. I've heard it said that marriage should be 50/50 or a give and take. Um, no. I rebuke that philosophy. Marriage is 100/ each giving your all. And it's a give/give. My husband and I are constantly thinking of what will make the other one happy and how we can show love. I'll be honest...he's so much better at that than I am. With this humility comes a removing of the thought process that your way is the way it should be. This humility means that you discuss major decisions together taking each other's thoughts and feelings into consideration and reaching a decision together. Sometimes compromise is needed, friends. 

For a good portion of our marriage, he has been the stay at home parent while I worked. I never ONCE put myself above him just because I made the money. He was keeping our offspring alive so, hello. We both mutually understood the importance of what the other one did and neither job was worth more than the other. I never made him feel less than because he wasn't working outside the home (at least not that I'm aware of). 

Also...people...APOLOGIZE. Listen, you will not spontaneously combust if the words, "I'm sorry. I was wrong," come out of your blessed mouth. I promise. Sometimes my hubby teases me because I apologize for everything and then he says something about my multitudinous apologies and I apologize for apologizing, so there's that. But if you are wrong, admit it. And sometimes, we have to apologize first. It won't kill you. 

4. Communication - This is so key to a happy marriage. You have to talk. And I don't mean, "Hey how was your day?" I mean real talk. Not yelling. Not talking AT each other. But truly talking (and listening - shut your mouth and open your ears, friends). J and I regularly discuss our desires, hopes for the future, shortcomings, dreams, etc. We know we aren't perfect and we discuss ways to be better. Sometimes those conversations are hard. You have to share hard truths but they are worth it. Guys, your wife is not "one of the guys" and you can't talk to her like one. We don't operate like a guy nor do we think like one. What takes a guy 5 minutes to get over might take us 5 days (or weeks). Be patient with us. Ladies, guys operate out of a brain full of compartments and nothing is connected to the other. For us, the burned dinner is attached to the car problems which is attached to the fact we were late to work and the dog threw up. To our husbands, we are crying over burnt dinner and are certifiably crazy. Just order a pizza! Geez! 

Understand that we think and operate differently. Care about each other's opinions. Find ways to foster and cultivate each other's passions and dreams. Be an encourager and your spouse's biggest cheerleader. Learn how to communicate. You cannot attack each other verbally. And for the love, please do not argue/fight in front of your kids. That is more damaging than you might believe. Men, are you treating your wife and speaking to her the way you want your son to treat his wife or the way you want your daughter's future husband to treat her? Women, same question goes for you. Are you uplifting your husband the way you want your son's wife to? I have to ask myself if my son married someone like me, would I be okay with that. Some days that answer is YES! And other days that answer looks more like hiding in a closet crying convinced you're screwing up your child(ren) for life. It happens. But you are the first example of what a godly marriage should be and you set up what your children should expect out of marriage - and it shouldn't be bickering, name calling, constant irritation, or silence. 

5. Unity - This is a huge one. J and I are a team. We are not bad cop, good cop. Many times we are both bad cop. Or sarcastic cop. That one's fun. We display a unified front in front of the man child. He is none the wiser if one of us disagrees with how the other handled a situation. We talk about it behind closed doors so that our sweet cherub of a child has no idea that his father did not appreciate my hulk smash moment over making said child put his blessed clothes away. And most of the time all it takes to signal to the other one that we are not in agreement is a calm, "Honey." That's it. There's a certain, "Calm down you crazy lunatic" attached to the word "honey" when uttered a certain way in the midst of  a parental Armageddon moment.  We are not going to agree on every single solitary thing. That is okay. You have permission to disagree. You do not have permission to turn that disagreement into a shouting match in front of your kids (see above section on communication). 

Defend each other. Nothing is more detrimental to a woman's inner security than a man who will not defend her in front of others - namely, other family members. And ladies, defend your man (this obviously does not apply to abusive/unfaithful situations - there is no defense there). I have been in so many situations with other women where I've listened to them complain and grumble about their husbands. I've never fallen into that. I've also made sure to maintain his dignity even in his absence. This is so important. 

A few other thoughts: thank each other for what you contribute to the marriage and home. Thank whoever brings home the dough and pays the bills for working hard to keep you financially secure. Thank whoever keeps tiny humans alive during the day for doing the hard work of raising children all day every day without end. Thank each other when things are done around the house. Thanks for cleaning the house, honey. Thanks for taking out the garbage, dear. Thanks for cooking a delicious meal or taking us out for one. Gratitude and appreciation go a long way too. Learn each other's love language and then speak it. I'm still working on this one. Husbands, hold your wives when they cry and simply tell them you love them and everything will be okay. We don't always need you to fix everything and sometimes things can't be fixed. Wives, acknowledge your husband. They want to know that they have what it takes. Show them that they do (that tidbit brought you by my other half). Laugh. Don't take yourself so seriously. I think half of the issues we have could dissolve with a good dose of laughter. It is the antidote for so many things. Be silly together. Bring on the laughter.


I make no guarantee that following these tips will mean you have a kick-butt marriage and are happy happy joy joy 100% of the time. Duh. We're human. There is no such thing as a perfect marriage because we are all flawed human beings. Can I get an AMEN? But, these are five categories that we make work for us. If both individuals in a marriage can work on being humble, Jesus-loving people who communicate effectively, let go of expectations, and maintain a unified front, then that marriage (I believe) can thrive. Now, if only one individual in the marriage is willing to put in the work, then all you can do is pray and keep the hope that eventually the Lord will open his/her heart and redeem all those broken pieces. 

I could write so much more and I know all relationships are different and you may have a whole arsenal of things that have worked for you, many that you may have learned the hard way. Anyhow, thanks for reading my two-cents. I hope ten years from now, you can still kiss in front of the kids and make them say, "Ewww." That is #relationshipgoals.

Much love.

Almost two years later and he still makes the same face!

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