4 Things I've Learned in 4 Years

Brad and I's 4th wedding anniversary is this week.  It's amazing to look back and see how much has changed!  I'm not an expert on marriage, but here are a few things I've gleaned by the grace of God in the years we've been married...

Being on the same page before marriage makes a difference.
At the end of the day, staying married is about valuing a commitment and a covenant above all else no matter how your spouse changes.  However, now that we are in the midst of busy daily life, I'm SO grateful that we talked through a lot of our core values before we tied the knot.  It's paying off... big time.  Our personalities and the "how" of our approach is different, but we both want the same end goal.  When two people are on the same page about the "big stuff", it's easier to sort through the small stuff. Brad and I largely agree on faith, kids, finances, family, roles in marriage, and other core issues that can cause a lot of conflict in marriage.  That's not to say we haven't had our share of conflicts or unexpected "hey, wait...I thought you wanted something different" conversations, but overall, those things haven't provoked major hurt in our lives.  I'm thankful for this, and I attribute it to God's protection and conversing about those issues before we got married.


It's essential to be a good forgiver.
Want to know a skill that we've exercised a lot in the last 4 years?  Forgiveness.  I classify it as a skill, because it's something that doesn't always come easy or naturally...it takes practice.  We started out early in our marriage saying to each other, "would you forgive me for...(and then naming the specific sin)" and then the other person says, "yes, I forgive you for... (naming specific sin)."  This way, we don't minimize or act like it doesn't matter to reconcile about specific offenses.  It's hard to look the person you love in the eye and name your sin, and it's equally hard to name the sin and be the forgiver.  Setting this pattern was difficult, but 4 years later, it's paying off.  Although we've had lots of hurts and conflicts, those things have been reconciled and put away, not to harm our relationship for years to come.  We make it a practice to resolve things and then refuse to continue punishing or holding it over the other persons head.  Wow...marriage changer right there.

Make time for each other and live life together.
Sometimes people have teased us about being homebodies or overly reliant on each other.  It's true that often times you'll find us doing things as a couple when we could be doing our own thing.  Partly, this is because we genuinely like doing things together and we feel like best friends.  When I have a choice, Brad is the first person I want to share activities and experiences with.  Doing things as a couple, even mundane daily things like talking about business goals, going for walks, and eating meals together every night, has helped us grow as friends and companions.

Grow and change with your spouse's interests.
Although we had many conversations about our core values before we were married, that's not to say that things haven't changed over the years.  I sometimes hear the expression, "we just grew in different directions and became different people," when referring to the end of a relationship.  Growing in the same direction is a choice, and you can choose to follow your spouse in his or her interests instead of fighting them.  Brad is a dreamer and has lots of frequently changing ideas and interests.  At first, I fought this and wanted to get practical, bringing his dreams down to earth.  By God's grace, early in our marriage I realized that if I wanted to keep going with Brad, I needed to keep growing with Brad.  These days I try to embrace, participate in, and support his interests in whatever way I can.  Yes, there is still need for the occasional, "let's get real about this" conversation, but not as often as you would think.

I'm so thankful for Brad and I am in AWE that God put me with someone who is exactly right for me in so many ways.
(circa 2008) I wonder what we would have thought if someone told us that 5 years later we would live in Iowa and have 3 boys...
;-) 
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