On my seventh anniversary, and first year blogging, I wrote about how I threatened my dear husband with mozzarella (yes, that's still embarrassing and no, I still don't remember how to spell mozzarella) and how God was graciously at work in my "rock tumbler" marriage.
On the occasion of my eighth anniversary, I wrote about subtle ways I am learning to bless my husband (and yes, I am still learning those very same things).
And now, just after my ninth anniversary, I'm pondering the ways God has grown us in the last year. Here are a few:
1. The small decisions.
We've grown in the little things maybe more than anything else.
In a kind response instead of anger.
In a respectful listening to one's opinion rather than taking immediate offense.
In a patient manner of seeing a conversation through rather than frustration that communication is hard.
In a simple laying out of my feelings rather than an accusal-laced pitching.
(Do you get the idea that communication is a challenge for us?)
These little decisions slowly form the character of our relationship. (So hint: if you want your marriage to change, think small first).
2. Living in the light.
Especially a blessing to me this year has been the sharing of my life, and especially my marriage, with the sweet sisters in Christ God has given me.
There are things that can crush your spirit in marrige:
I am alone and we're doing this all wrong.
What if it wasn't God's plan for us to be together?
It would be easier to be alone.
We're going to turn out just like them . . .
To keep these thoughts from taking root and bearing fruit, we need the ministry of our family in Christ, the ministry of sisters and brothers who love both of us and care for our marriage.
The ministry of "Yes, that's normal. I've been there."
The ministry of having faith for me that God is working and we will survive.
The ministry of rehearsing the truth out loud (some that I already know but need to hear again).
The ministry of seeing me as I am and yet still being my friend.
The ministry of praying me through hard seasons.
"Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." (James 5:16 ESV)
I love how Paul didn't see the church body as an institution where we keep everything formal and business-like. Sometimes our church clothes trick us into doing that, but we have to learn to "share our own selves" with each other.
"So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us." (1Thessalonians 2:8 ESV)
It takes courage to share what's going on (I wrote more about the challenge of "being real" here). Yes, you might get rejected and someone might look down on you (someone's rejection says more about their understanding of God's grace than about you), OR . . . you might be accepted. You might even set someone else free to confess the very same thing. You might find glorious freedom in God's grace and forgiveness!
3. Remembering your first husband.
If you're married, I hope your earthly husband meets some of your needs (physical, sexual, financial, emotional, relational), but I'm pretty sure he doesn't meet all of them all the time.
I read "The Five Love Languages" before we were married and knew exactly how I needed to be loved. But the reality is, my husband is not always fluent in those languages. He is amazing and meets many of my needs so well, but God did not design him or purpose for him to meet every one.
A wise friend reminded me recently that Jesus is my first husband. And in the end, when we're focused on how amazing He is, everything else dims in comparison.
"For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called." (Isaiah 54:5 ESV)
When the "God of the whole earth" is mine, my husbands failures stop being magnified by my overwhelming needs. I can love him out of the abundance of Christ (and in Him I am full).
4. Being marriage-focused over kid-focused.
The other night at dinner, as my kids displayed various antics (we basically live in a musical) and a shocking inability to sit in a chair, I commented to my husband, "I feel like we live in a circus."
He replied, "Yup, all that's missing is . . . "
"Obedient children?" interrupted my squirming child.
It's so easy to get caught up in the co-ringleading of our (self-created) circus that we forget that we're not just partners, but friends and lovers.
I picked up the book "Trophy Child: Saving Parents from Performance, Preparing Children for Something Greater Than Themselves" by Ted Cunningham and went straight to the last chapter on marriage (I've since started reading from the beginning like a normal person, and it's great!). He shared something that I've been repeating to anyone who will listen since I read it:
"There are four spiritual journeys in the home. Your own personal journey as a parent is your first priority. You must be connected to the Source of life in order to give to the other spiritual journeys in the home. The second spiritual journey is that of your spouse. Your goal is to serve your spouse without plugging into him or her as the source of life and without taking responsibility for his or her journey. Your spouse is 100 percent responsible for his or her own spiritual journey. Together you tend to the third spiritual journey in your home, your marriage journey, by enjoying a lifetime together. Then your own spiritual journey and your marriage journey paint a picture of the gospel of Jesus for your children and their spiritual journey.
Prioritize these journeys. If you start by tending to your child's journey first, you will create a kid-centered home that erodes every other journey in the house.
Your children have a front-row seat to your marriage. The two greatest gifts we can give our children are a mom and dad who enjoy life together, and the hope of a great marriage of their own."
Doesn't that just sum it up so well?
This anniversary, in an attempt to celebrate our marriage in front of our kids, I made a little book explaining why I love being married to their dad (an idea from the above book). When I saw their little faces light up each time we read it, I realized how much they delight in our love as husband and wife.
|one thing I love about my husband (from the book I made and the girls colored)|
|The last page reads: "I wanted you to know these things about your Daddy so that one day, God can help you marry someone you will love being married to just as much as I love being married to your dad."|
If you and your husband want to create something similar, I created a printable "Why I love being married to mommy/daddy" book for you to download!*
You can get your "Why Mommy loves being married to Daddy" book HERE
You can get your "Why Daddy loves being married to Mommy" book HERE
I suggest printing at least the cover on cardstock on 8.5 x 11" paper. Then, fold in half and insert folded pages (cardstock or regular paper) to make the book's pages. Then staple at the binding, and you've got your book! If you're not confident in drawing (even stick people?), then just make a simple list!
P.S. Check out my favorite marriage posts from the past:
That time before my seventh anniversary when I threatened my dear husband with mozzarella
Books that shape me: Marriage
Subtle ways to bless your husband
*I'm so happy for you to enjoy my coloring pages and printables for your personal (not commercial) use! All artwork and photos are copyright Marydean Draws. If you share this, you're awesome (!), and as a courtesy, please link back to this post and not the PDF file. Thank you!!
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