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I was approached recently by a lovely woman from my church community and asked if I would be willing to say a few words at her daughter’s wedding shower. I answered yes immediately (forgetting obviously my discomfort speaking in front of people). My impulse to say yes came from a deep seeded passion for all that I believe a marriage can be. Ok, and maybe a skosh from feeling flattered she thought I may have a relevant offering to her soon-to-be wed daughter.

Entering into marriage is not a decision to ever be taken lightly. A decision that seems to more recently be made largely based on a feeling with the realities of that commitment getting set on the back burner as the “bridge we’ll cross when we get to it.” So let’s start there. Love is a CHOICE. It is a conscious and daily effort. Love is an action that has days that can look more like dinner preparing and toilet scrubbing than sunset walks on the beach. Each stage and phase of love within that marriage relationship are all part of the grand narrative, the story of your lives.

I clambered aboard the roller coaster we call marriage on May 29, 2010 to a man I respected enough to follow and trusted enough to walk alongside me in this life. So in love were we that on the day of our “I do’s” I nearly vibrated of the stage with giddy anticipation of our great adventure. Because an adventure is exactly what it has been. In my brief tenure in this role called wife, I have learned some things through the story of us that I would want to share with any one of you.

1. PRAY FOR THAT MAN

Ladies, I’m not talking about selfish prayers either. Oh you know what I am talking about! Lord help him to buy me flowers on the way home from work, notice my hair, appreciate ROMCOM the way I do. No, I am talking about on your knees prayer for that man’s heart to be soft to what God has in store for him. I am talking about praying for the gifts of wisdom and discernment so when it comes time for the (many and inevitable) challenges that will face your family, he can lead with confidence and you can follow in assurance. Pray over it all, big to small, but cover him in it as a daily exercise of your love for him.

2. DON’T LOOSE SIGHT OF YOURSELF

I walked into my marriage without a strong example of what a wife or mother looked like. I entered into my marriage painfully aware that I did not really understand what this new role would entail. However, I did have some pretty clear notions of what type of woman I wanted to be as I donned these new hats in all these new roles (thank you North American cinema). As a result, I floundered. Ok, nearly drowned. . .like, I mean I took in a LOT of water. I gave myself over to all the insecurities and uncertainty. Because I forgot about me in all of the “us” and completely lost sight of Him. So anchor yourself in the only identity that matters, who you are in your relationship with Jesus. Anything and everything else will find its place as you begin to understand your priorities. I am not suggesting the path will come without its bumps or full-on road blocks. I am suggesting that with a firm foundation you will have all you need to weather any storm.

3. GO ON DATES. . .WITH YOUR GIRLFRIENDS

Try as we might, we are never going to get our men to fully “get it.” I am ever so slowly catching up to this reality. You see, this happens because your man is never going to be a woman. Are you feeling angry and somehow simultaneously weepy once a month and expecting your husband to get that? Are you really into your new lipstick shade or considering adjusting your hair color and thinking he is going to eagerly engage in the conversation? He’s not and that is OK. That is just one small aspect of the beauty of the female relationship. We have a respect and appreciation for the value and significance in that role of woman, wife and mother that men (to no fault of their own) will never have. There is so much beauty and strength and wisdom in this tribe of women we get to be a part of. Celebrate that with DATES!

4. Don’t Fall Victim to the Comparison Trap

The coined phrase, “Comparison is the thief of all joy” was written from a place of wisdom. It is all too easy to get caught up in it. We live in a society inundated with all things social media, bombarding us with images and volume on what our marriage and homes “should” look like or “could” look like and it can weave its agenda into our minds and turn the whispers of insecurity into screams. No person or relationship is perfect and when relational frustrations turn into comparative vent sessions you truly are the only one being robbed. (Disclaimer**I am not suggesting that abusive relationships be lumped into a negative comparison. There is zero room for abuse of any kind. Please, if you are someone reading this who is struggling through that, reach out to a trusted anyone for the help you need to navigate that course with support) Remember what brought the two of you together and what makes the “something special” between the two of you. He may not do some of (or any of) what your friends’ husbands do, but you aren’t married to those men. Keep the lines of communication open and the passive aggression in check. Don’t be robbed of the joy right there for you to jump into because of someone elses Instagram feed.

5. Don’t Shy Away from Hard Work

Love is a choice, an action. Love is a privilege that takes daily discipline to keep functioning. How is that for romance! The reality is that love isn’t always easy. In fact, love can sometimes feel very hard. When two make the choice to join together as one it becomes less and less about “me” and more and more about “we.” It has to be. There is no room for selfishness in a marriage. The image of 50/50 is also a delusion. All in. When it comes to the choice to marry, you need to go ALL IN. Some days this will feel like a vacation. Love has this amazing way of treating us to the highest of highs and educating us through some lowly lows. This love, this true love, this unselfish surrender to the most beautiful gift of love love, is work. And friend, it is the very best work you will ever do. Because a marriage cultivated, tended and cared for will thrive in ways that will make every hiccup to road closure look like the best adventure of your life. I promise.

So whether you are someone on their way up the aisle or sitting in the pew, be encouraged by your journey because it is an adventure like no other!

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

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Amy Bruinsma

Hello! My name is Amy and I am The Optimistic Mama! I am a stay at home mom married to the love of my life, doing the best I know how to be to our three little people. My hope is to grow them into difference makers, each their own beacon of light. I live in rural Southern Ontario where I enjoy (extremely) early mornings with my wee ones leading to full coffee mugs and beautiful sunrises, walks amongst the trees, small hands in mine, adventures in stick and pebble collection and anything in between. The intention behind The Optimistic Mama is to be voice of encouragement in a perpetually exhausting season of life. My hope to all who read my words is a simple one; be encouraged! http://www.theoptimisticmama.com/

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