We were married three years ago today.
It’s a nice number, if a little awkward. I no longer feel like a newlywed, and yet to be the one giving marriage advice seems a bit presumptuous.
I look back at our first anniversary and am reminded that I will forever be growing up. We’ve lived at four addresses now, and I’m still learning that home is so much more complex than any structure with siding and a fenced-in backyard. I’m still discovering what it means to be my husband’s advocate. I’d like to think I’m less offendable and more flexible than I was before wifehood, but the original lessons will ever be in process, unfolding and stretching into new forms.
This year, we’ve given each other permission to be stressed. We’ve been mad at and on behalf of the other. We’ve been on very different planes of joy, trying to authentically reconcile what we feel with what is true. Sometimes the loving is hard.
But sometimes, friends, loving comes easy. You cheer because this year you’ve genuinely enjoyed each other, made unexpected friends, and actually liked your jobs (which is no small thing). And you celebrate by taking vacation seriously and eating at good restaurants and watching 20-minute episodes of network comedies just for the shared laughter before bedtime.
I anticipate every year of marriage will take a slightly different shape, but here are three reminders for myself as we enter the fourth:
Remember to say, “I’m in a bad mood right now, but not because of you.” Your husband is wearing himself out trying to determine what he did to make you so irritable. Diffuse the fruitless arguments, and let him off the hook. But only say it if you’re being honest.
Give your desires a voice. Your longings – to write, to rest, to have fun, to learn something new – are worth putting on the table. Those casual, recurring conversations about France may actually turn into you planning a trip. Your desires may be more parallel than you think.
Trust what Jesus says about abiding in Him. Willing yourself to be patient, kind or attentive? It sometimes works. For about ten minutes. Then you’ll be frustrated that you fail all the time and wonder why isn’t he trying to be patient, kind or attentive to ME? Put all of your cards in your relationship with Christ in order to love well. Experience deep joy as you become more acquainted with God, and watch two glorious things happen. One: you won’t rely on Thomas to give you that joy, so you won’t be as inclined to keep score of all the ways he cannot complete you. Two: deep roots nurtured in right soil results in good, organic fruit. Patience, kindness, attentiveness (and the like) are not elusive little buggers to pin down, but rather the natural overflow of grace you receive from God as a generous gift. Don’t try to turn it into a formula. Invest in Jesus. Your marriage will be fine.
I’ll love you always, Thom.