I am so thankful for my man! Yesterday was our anniversary. We’ve been married 13 years. I’ve actually known Skip for 20 years. We were high school sweethearts. Wow, how the time has flown. Looking back, it seems as if Skip has always been a part of my life.
I’ve been reflecting about our marriage this past week. All we’ve been though. The mountains and valleys we’ve experienced so far. The lessons we’ve learned along the way. Marriage hasn’t been an easy road. It’s been a very difficult journey at times. It has required hard work. There was a time in the first few years of our marriage that I thought we weren’t going to make it. But by God’s amazing mercy and grace we did.
Today I’d like to share a few things that the Lord has been teaching me in these 13 years of marriage.
I realize I’ve still got a long way to go with figuring out the whole marriage thing. This advice column is born out of continual face plants, back flips, mess-ups, and failures. I certainly don’t claim to have it altogether in the marriage department. If I have anything together, it’s only because God is holding it together. But…again by God’s grace, Skip and I do have a wonderful marriage. I am more in love with him today than I have ever been. There’s not another man on this planet that I would rather be hitched to. So for what it’s worth, here are some things I’ve gleaned these past 13 years.
#1: True love isn’t at all like Hollywood claims it to be.
Hollywood has it all wrong. That “in love” feeling we feel when we first fall in love isn’t “true love.” That feeling is wonderful, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t last.
But if you stick it out, a far greater and deeper love can develop that goes way beyond that “in love” feeling. True love is real, raw, authentic, and unconditional.
At our core, we all want to be loved and accepted for who we really are. We are not real when we start dating. We put up walls and wear masks. We put our best foot forward. We look and act our best. We even smell our best. But after being married a while, we begin to see each other’s true colors. We see the best along with the worst.
We are afraid to let our guard down. Afraid that if our spouses know the real us—our weaknesses, warts, scars, hang ups and habits–they will bail.
We all have weaknesses and insecurities. At the core of who we are, we are all hoping someone will love us–the real us–the good, the bad, and the ugly. We hope that they will love us and accept us for who we really are.
And there is something so beautiful about knowing someone on that deep soul level. Knowing both their strengths and weaknesses, and choosing to love them any way.
I know Skip and I are in this marriage for better and for worse. We’ve been through the fire and come out on the other side. He’s seen me at my worst and I’ve seen him at his worst, and because of God’s grace, we’ve hung in there with each other. We’ve chosen forgiveness. And today we are stronger because of it.
It’s like having an arsenal of weapons at your disposal. You could knock your spouse down to his knees. You have all the dirt on him. You have access to those weapons and could easily destroy him, but you choose not to pick them up and use them. Why? Because of love–true love.
#2: Celebrate your spouse’s strengths.
I have learned how important it is to focus on the good in Skip. There’s good, bad, and annoying stuff in all of us. When you live with someone, there’s stuff that person will do that will drive you bonkers. When I focus on the negative things, I become negative and critical. But I’ve learned that if I focus on the positive things in Skip and celebrate them, I’m content, happy, and thankful for him. The more I praise and celebrate the wonderful things about him, the more my love for him grows. Then I start to think he hung the moon. Because for me, he did! 🙂
#3: Nag less–pray more.
I’ve failed at this more times than I can count. Still do. But when we went through a really difficult season in our marriage, the Lord impressed on my heart that if I truly wanted to see a change in Skip, I needed to get serious about prayer. I looked up scriptures that dealt with things we both struggled with, and began to pray them over our lives. I felt like the Lord was telling me to stop nagging Skip about areas of weakness and start taking it to the Lord in prayer. I can’t be his god. I have to let God be his God. Only He can change hearts. And over time, He has answered so many of my prayers.
But here’s the catch: What tends to happen is when I start to pray about an issue I see in Skip, God works on the issue inside me first. Before He changes Skip, He usually changes me.
I believe that God has given wives a powerful gift of influence in our families. It can be used to build up or tear down. I used to think if I bragged on Skip too much, he would get a big ego and become full of himself. But I’ve learned through the years that most men are very insecure. They are always wondering if they are “man enough” for their wives, children, jobs, friends, etc. If a man’s woman thinks he is “man enough,” and believes in him, there is nothing that man can’t do. There’s no dragon he won’t slay. He will take on the world if his little lady believes in him.
So instead of nagging your man about how he isn’t measuring up, build him up. Tell him how proud you are of him. Tell him how thankful you are for him. Mention specific things he is doing well. Then just sit it back and watch what happens. That man you have been wanting, wishing, and praying for, just might become that man. A woman’s influence under God’s influence is powerful!
#4: Treasure your spouse today. Tomorrow might be too late.
There is a lady who goes to my church who lost her husband in a car crash a few weeks ago. I have only met her once, so I don’t know her that well. I do know that they were a strong Christian couple. Suddenly, in an instant, everything forever changed for her. Now a woman, around my age, is a widow and a single mom of three children.
I can’t imagine that loss. I don’t understand why things like that happen. But as I have been praying for them this week, I have been reflecting on own life.
I get one shot at this life. One chance to make it count. I only get this present moment. I am not promised the next minute, hour, day, week, or year. I don’t know how long I have left to live on this earth.
None of us do.
And yet I often live as if I am going to live forever.
I get caught up in in trivial things that don’t really matter, and lose sight of the things (and people) that truly matter.
So if I don’t get tomorrow, I want to make sure I do everything I can to treasure my man today.
So here’s to 13 years of marriage and the best man I know!
Lord, thank You so much for my man. He’s a gift from You. I love my precious husband so much. Help me to treasure him every day. Fill me up with Your love so I will be able to love him well. I want to pour my heart, time, and energy into loving You, my family, and the people You put on my path. In Jesus name, Amen.