Marriage is not always what it seems to be. Looking back over the last 8+ years of my marriage, my husband and I have had our ups and our downs. No one ever tells you the first year of marriage is going to be the hardest. You hear about all the wedded bliss, but no one is there to tell you how hard the adjustments are in the first year of being married, even if you have known each other for quite some time. Or maybe we just choose not to listen to the negativity from others tellings us about their first year of marriage because we are so caught up in the bliss ourselves?
My husband and I have moved out of the country twice in the last three years of our marriage. Both times, it was like restarting our marriage from the very beginning. We had to learn how to live together in new environments, in different cultures and in different living situations. It was hard, and it was a struggle.
While marriage is always hard, here are some things I hope to pass on to you to help if you are new to marriage, having a rough patch or even seriously struggling right now. Even if your marriage is good right now, these are always some good reminders as well!
Love is a decision, not a feeling. Marriage is covenant, not a contract. Love and marriage are about caring for the other person more than you care about yourself. No relationship will ever be perfect. I have to constantly remind myself of this fact. I have to work on my marriage. I have to work to love my husband after we have a huge argument. I have to remember that I am not only committed to this marriage because I signed a legal document, but I stood before all of my family and friends, and most importantly God, to say that I would forever work to love my husband. Somedays it takes more work; some days the decision is harder than others, but the choice is mine and mine alone.
Apologizing is hard. Actually, it’s not even the apology that is hard, but admitting that I am wrong! Ugh! I hate being wrong! But who likes to waste their time arguing instead of just apologizing for whatever happened in the first place. It is so much better to just admit when I am wrong, rather than letting a small argument become a huge rift in our marriage.
Communication in marriage is also often difficult. We all know men and women communicate differently. Listening is often the hardest part of communication. When I listen to my husband, I am better able to understand what he wants, and I am better able to understand what the real issue is as opposed than the one I conjured up in my head.
Marriage is not always comfortable. Marriage stretches and grows you. It causes you to make tough decisions. It pushes you to have hard conversations. It helps you break down walls and barriers you thought you never could. But who says these are bad things?
Let’s switch gears to something more upbeat! Laugh. Even when I am mad, my husband can always make me laugh. Usually, we end up laughing at our struggles-financial, stupid decisions, poor parenting decisions, getting lost, you name it, and we have probably laughed about it. Laughing is such an important part of marriage. Laughter is good for your health. It relaxes your entire body. It relieves stress, and it even boosts your immune system. Who better to laugh with (or at) than your spouse?