Posted on

Marriage Advice I Wish I Had 10 years ago

Do we have a perfect marriage? No! So why take marriage advice from an imperfect marriage? We’ve learned a lot about marriage and life over these ten years.

And imperfect is the only kind there is, full of flaws and failures, love and laughter, but with two people determined to keep their promises.

(this site uses Affiliate links-purchases support our ministry through a small referral fee that never affects your cost.)

Last November, we celebrated our 10th Anniversary! We’re not quite the wide-eyed dreamers we were when we said, “I do,” but we made it.

And I’ve gained some wisdom I wish I’d learned much sooner.

The song that was playing in the background the day my husband proposed in April, 2006 (see our amazing romantic proposal video below!) was “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts. Our lives took convoluted paths to get to each other, but we were so grateful to have found someone to call home. As a military couple, home for us isn’t a place so much as it is our family.

Our wedding centered around the idea that two roads were becoming one journey; a wedding was just a day, but a marriage was a lifetime of love, joy, laughter, patience, forgiveness.

We both knew marriage would be challenging, but didn’t know how broken the road would be AFTER we said “I do.”

Bless the Broken road was our song, we didn't know it would be part of marriage too. Click To Tweet

We dove in believing marriage would be romantic bliss. One long date, right?

Finally, we’d be together after living in different states or on different continents, but that wasn’t going to be the case.

Weeks after our honeymoon, he left for various trainings. Hundreds of miles from family or friends, I lived alone in the townhouse that was supposed to be our first home.

The following six years, we faced a series of separations, some lasting weeks or months, with two more year-long deployments. We struggled through frightening and tearful good-byes, anticipating joyful reunions, and starting over and over again.

Marriage advice from an imperfect marriage? Imperfect, full of flaws and failures, but with two people determined to keep their promises.

Building your marriage is hard when you’re never together long enough to get past the honeymoon of welcome home or the rose-colored glasses of almost good-bye.

During his fourth deployment, he faced some of the darkest situations of his military career. And when he came home, the war did, too.

*Military Spouse marriage advice -Below is hands down one of the best military spouse bible studies!  This changed my heart tremendously!

While grappling with the compounded effects of his four tours in Iraq, we transferred to a new duty station with new challenges. He is stateside, but works more than ever. And I’ve had health issue after health issue.

Marriage often took a backseat to just hanging on for dear life.

But the first piece of marriage advice I wish I had really known is that marriage isn’t the grand romance we envision the day we marry. It’s the romance of surviving life together and learning to cling to each other through it.

In 10 years, marriage often took a backseat to just hanging on for dear life. #ArmyWifeLife Click To Tweet

Marriage advice from an imperfect marriage? Maybe that's really the only kind there is. Imperfect, full of flaws and failures, but with two people determined to keep their promises.

The first thing I had to learn was that getting married wasn’t a solution to a problem. Expecting him to fill the broken places in my life was unfair to him. It left us both feeling discouraged and empty. It was never his job.

Lamentations 3:24 ESV “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

The only person who can fill my empty God-shaped-spaces is God. He is my portion. My hope and faith has to be in Him not my husband or I end up having unreasonable expectations.

My husband might be my hero, but he can't be my savior. Jesus has to be 1st focus of my heart. Click To Tweet

My husband is just the captain of our team. We have to remember to be a team before we can do anything else.

Which means treating each other with respect and kindness no matter what is going on. Life often can feel like an emergency, but not much of it really is so important that I don’t have time to take a deep breath and respond with love.

Truly learning to hope in the Lord allows me to see my husband’s humanity in a new light. I’m able to offer grace in a way I never could before because I see him just trying to do life.

The Holy Spirit intercedes in my heart daily and reminds me that kindness builds up my husband during difficult times.

Proverbs 15:1 ESV  A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

I am still learning this lesson. Every. Day.

But my choice is to respond to life, stress, and even a harsh response with softness and the peace of Christ.

Time after time, I’ve seen how gentleness can affect even the most difficult situation.

The next piece of marriage advice I wish I had learned sooner is so simple to say, but so much harder to do.

Most arguments can be solved in two words, not a thousand perfect ones.

I’m sorry, not “I’m sorry, but . . .”

Dropping the but is really difficult for my flesh because I want to explain away my bad behavior. I want to put the blame on someone else, or point that nasty wagging finger right at him, but the truth is . . .

I can only control one thing in the entire universe: me.



Most arguments can be solved in two words, not a thousand perfect ones. I'm sorry. Click To Tweet

I have learned to take responsibility for my side and that’s it. Leave it right there.

Nothing anyone does justifies acting poorly. It sometimes explains my failures, but never excuses.

More often than not, he responds by softening and apologizing because I didn’t demand it or accuse him.

Marriage advice from an imperfect marriage? Imperfect, full of flaws and failures, but with two people determined to keep their promises.

Which leads to my next piece of marriage advice…

Listen.

We all want to be understood and respected. Taking the time to listen does both.

God has been working on me in this area for a long time. I can demonstrate my husband is a priority in my life by focusing on him when he speaks. When I listen, I can hear his heart, share his joys and challenges.

I earn his respect because he knows I respect him.

Sometimes, I have to fight my selfishness when his desire to share with me interrupts my reading, television show, or just my busyness.

Again, God has challenged me to choose what to give my best attention to. Very rarely do I really need to ask him to pause and tell me later. Most of the time, I really can drop everything and listen.

Quick take away: Put your faith in the Lord, Respond kindly, Take responsibility for your side, and really Listen.

And this advice holds true no matter how long you’ve been married.

Save

Save

Posted on

Beautifully Taken for Granted: Building Trust in Marriage

Who WANTS to be taken for granted? You’d probably have thought there was something wrong with me if you had walked into my kitchen two years ago late at night after a long day and found me giggling.

I was giggling to myself over a sink full of dirty dishes because after 9 years of marriage, countless hours of diligent sacrifice, my husband finally, beautifully, had taken me for granted.

I worked really hard to be taken for granted.

(this site uses Affiliate links-purchases support our ministry through a small referral fee that never affects your cost.)

That sounds really crazy, I know, but the reality is I never saw trust in marriage the way I do now. Let me tell you how being taken for granted was actually a sign of growth in our marriage.

I began working on our marriage a few years ago when I stopped nagging him to pick up his dirty underwear, and instead started praying over it. His empty toothpaste tube left on the vanity gets silently replaced. His lunch is quietly waiting each morning.

Our marriage was in a rough place after his last deployment. Out of the six years we had known each other, he had spent three of those deployed. The trials of war were a heavy burden that I didn’t know how to carry with him, and he didn’t know how to let me.

We tried to pick up and move forward, as if skipping over the missed year, but we had changed. I had spent a year just being a mom, and he felt like an outsider to our little all girls’ club. We didn’t really know how to overcome the abyss between us.

We had forgotten how to reach across the abyss. We needed to build trust.

Let me tell you, pretending the rift wasn’t there, wasn’t pretty. We were almost on the brink of disaster when Jesus began to intervene.

I wanted God to change my husband, who had returned from war angry and different. While, I prayed and prayed that he would change, I got angrier and more bitter when he didn’t. I sat all self-righteous on my pious side of the room, waiting for him to change before I would.

But God began a quiet work in my heart.

He answered my prayers for change by changing me. I began to see love, not as an emotion, but an active choice. I could decide to love him everyday.

Praying for my husband to change meant that God was working to change me first.

However, my husband didn’t trust that love. He wouldn’t ask me to do his laundry. He wouldn’t ask for help with even the littlest things, and seemed perturbed when I would offer, like depending on me was weakness.

Mostly, he didn’t see us as a team. He was running his own life and I was a corollary player.

To change his perception, I had to learn to be trustworthy, be willing to serve, be gentle instead of nagging, instead of shouting louder, get quiet. I had to serve him without complaining, joyfully. I had to ask him everyday – what can I do for you? And then do what he asked, even if I didn’t want to.



So, when he dragged himself to bed after an 18 hour day, leaving his cold, stale coffee in his thermos, his dirty lunchbox full of trash, and a pot simmering on the stove for me to watch, a midnight load of laundry to do, I almost got frustrated. Hey, I’m tired too!

but then I heard, God’s quiet voice, ‘what a beautiful blessing.’

I went to bed last night giggling to myself because after years of marriage, long months of hard work, my husband takes me for granted. I have worked really hard to be beautifully, taken for granted.

A blessing? beautiful? to be taken for granted?

Did I hear that right, Lord? YES! Yes, the fiercely independent husband who wouldn’t ask for help, didn’t want to need me, now relies on my help, and beautifully takes for granted that I’ll be there and do things for him.

Wow. I almost missed the sweetness of that moment. It had taken years of work to reach that point. And I am thankful God reminded me to see being relied upon as a blessing.

Our marriage that almost ended in bitterness and anger, is stronger than ever, full of laughter again.

Psalm 85:10 ESV  Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.

Finding this verse from Psalms almost brought me to tears. Never could I have imagined my marriage in it, but the words leapt from the Bible into my heart.

I learned what steadfast love and faithfulness meant through seeking God’s righteousness, and peace began to reign in our household.

I never thought I would celebrate being beautifully taken for granted, yet on our 9th anniversary, the words, “I love you” were more poignant than ever, hearing him say, “I know” meant even more.