Greg and I celebrated 14 years of marriage in July! This is a long time, folks! We have seen a lot of life during that time. To use a roller coaster analogy, there have been a lot of ups and downs, twists, and turns. So today on my blog I’m going to share 14 things I know about marriage after 14 years…
14) Teamwork is key.
This word is very fitting considering our lives. Greg works in collegiate athletics and is also the President of the Knox Youth Sports board here in town, so we do a lot of sports. We were a team before children, but I can honestly say that if we didn’t work together as a team with children, our family would fall apart. During the school year, we are running all over Knoxville, and we often have to drop off and pick up kiddos from different locations from each other. We each pitch in to make it happen. We help each other to be victorious in our individual roles.
13) Don’t go to bed angry with your spouse.
This little bit of advice came up numerous times in our premarital counseling. I really didn’t get it until we were in the thick of our marriage. So what if we have a little argument and hold a grudge about it when we lie down at night? We are probably just tired and need to sleep it off until the morning. It is a big deal, though, especially if you want a peaceful night of sleep! The Bible says, “Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.” (Ephesians 4:26 MSG) One of us in our marriage cannot stand it if there is a rift between us and will not sleep until it is hashed out…here’s a hint…it’s not yours truly. Ha! I have really had to work on this one, but it is so important. Thankfully, in all honesty, Greg and I don’t fight that much.
12) Love requires sacrifice.
If you would have told me in 2001 when I was a junior in college that I would eventually be a stay-at-home mom, I would have laughed and questioned your sanity. Seriously. I had big plans to practice public relations in a high-rise building in a big city. I wanted to wear suits and high heels to work every day. Staying at home sounded boring and beneath me. Fast forward to 2007 when our first was born, and my husband and I made the decision together that staying at home was the best route for our family. With that being said, I left my fun and fulfilling job at the university to stay at home and change diapers all day. Much to my surprise, I fell into a routine and enjoyed staying at home. It was a sacrifice, but I made it because I loved my husband, but more importantly, I loved the family we were building. Financially, it made sense too. There were some tough days (still are!) where I wanted to ditch the yoga pants and spit-up stained shirts to look like a human again, have adult conversation, and sign off on a contract. After nine years of staying at home (with a very part-time job in between), the sacrifice I made was worth it for our family.
11) Date your spouse.
Dating is however you define it. Think about when you dated your significant other. Yes, typically there was a physical location where you ate a meal or watched a movie. I think, however, that dating can evolve into whatever fits your family and your schedule. There are weeks where we can’t find a babysitter or don’t have the funds, so we simply pour a glass of wine and flip on Netflix. Dating could also be calling your spouse in the middle of the day just to check on him/her. Sometimes I text him encouraging words, quotes, scripture, or crazy emoticons. Think flirting! This simply lets him know that I’m thinking about him.
10) Physical touch (and no, I’m not just talking about the ultimate act) is important.
I’m about to blow your mind with this next statement. Are you ready? Men and women are different. Whoa! What? While there can always be exceptions, men are triggered by physical touch more than women. Men just need that hand to hold, that kiss on the cheek, or that massage on the shoulders. Women need this too, however. I think that for me as a mother, I have physical touch all day long (kid on a hip, tapping on my shoulder to get my attention, etc.), so when I do see my husband in the evening it takes extra effort to be affectionate. I know how important it is, though, so I try to be cognizant of what I offer when he walks through the door.
9) Get to know your spouse’s love language.
This one ties into the above for me personally. My husband’s love language is physical touch. Mine is not. I have to work extra hard to make sure that I’m being affectionate with him because it just doesn’t come naturally to me. My husband and I both love to be loved by spending quality time together, so that is why it is important for us to get away one to two times a year for little getaways. We reconnect in this way, and it re-energizes us to come back and plug into our busy and active family.
8) Be your spouse’s cheerleader.
My husband has had several things go on this past year career-wise where I really had to get my pom poms out and cheer him on in his endeavors. It is because I stay at home that his career becomes mine. Does that make sense? I want him to succeed. Our family needs him to be successful and happy with what he is doing day in and day out. As with any job, there are good, bad, and ugly days. I have made it my job to cheer him on no matter what kind of day he has had. His success is also mine. If I’m not supporting him and encouraging him, who is? He is my cheerleader as well and has supported my writing 100%. I was elated when he gave me the green light to go out of town for five days this past spring to a writing conference. Thankfully my mom came down to help him out with the kids. His support and encouragement make him even more attractive to me!
7) Communicate…and then communicate again.
Women tend to be better communicators than men. Once again, however, there are exceptions. I have found that over the course of 14 years, sometimes I need to check and double check on things. We are a very busy family, and Greg’s work schedule can get hairy, especially during football season. With that being said, we like to sit down at the end of the weekend to go over our schedule for the week. Once the week gets here, though, I shoot him texts to double check on things. Sometimes his meetings or trips get cancelled. Sometimes an event gets rescheduled. This way we are in constant communication and not missing a beat.
6) Give your spouse grace.
I’ll never forget the one day prior to our wedding where I totally flipped out about something Greg had done. My mom just listened and then looked at me and said: “He is not Jesus, Lyndsey.” I have never forgotten that statement. No, he absolutely is not Jesus. He is imperfect, just like me. We will both make mistakes and probably disappoint each other at times. In those moments, however, we need to extend grace and not criticism.
5) Compromise is not a bad word.
Oh my goodness, compromising is important. Marriage is give and take. Greg and I are very similar, but we also have differences. This is never more apparent than when we sit down to choose a movie to watch. I know this might sound silly or petty, but it is true. Sometimes we have to compromise in what we want to watch. I’ll agree to watch a sci-fi thriller one night and he’ll agree to watch a rom com another night. Obviously, compromising can be much bigger than this, but you get the picture.
4) Pray for and with your spouse.
I know this is important. I really do. It has to become routine, and I’m working on that. Unfortunately, sometimes I get to the end of my prayer and forget all about praying for the most important person in my life underneath God. At night, Greg and I have good intentions to pray together, but exhaustion gets the best of us, and before we know it we fall asleep without praying together. Perhaps we need to pray as soon as we put the kids down for bed, before we lie down on the couch and succumb to sleep.
3) Take an interest in what your spouse is interested in sometimes.
I can’t remember a trip that my husband has planned (Yes, he plans all of our trips! He should be a travel agent on the side because he is that good at it.) that has not included something that I absolutely enjoy, and he just is along for the ride. I’ll never forget being tourists in L.A. several years ago, where he booked a bus tour of the stars’ homes. He knows how much I love reading all the celebrity gossip (since then, I have lost some interest), and he planned that special day specifically for me. Even though checking out homes of the rich and famous in Hollywood was not something he probably wanted to do, he knew it was important to me. Likewise, I have taken an interest in Florida State football because FSU is his alma mater, and it holds a special place in his heart. Whenever they are on, I either sit down and cheer them on with him OR entertain our kiddos on another floor of our house so that he can concentrate on the game.
2) Solve problems together.
I joke around that Greg puts out our fires. He is so good at it. Perhaps it is a strength that has been developed throughout the years in his job (believe me, he has had to put out some fires!). It is important, however, that we solve problems together when it comes to our family. For example, if we have an issue with a child, we have to come together on a united front in how we handle the situation and discipline the child.
1) Always come back to placing Christ at the center.
Greg and I are both Christians, and our faith is very important to us. It is how we are raising our family. Although our priorities can easily get misplaced, we always try to come back to Christ first, spouse second, and children third. Even when we are at odds with each other or have a family issue, we have to remember to pray about it before going to a family member or friend. In the center of our wheel, Christ should always be the center where all of the other spokes are attached to Him. We don’t do this perfectly, but we have a perfect God who helps us in the process.
There you have it! We do not do all of the above 14 things all the time, but those are the lessons we have learned about marriage in 14 years.
Thank you to all of you who read my book review for Breaking up with Perfect: Kiss Perfection Good-Bye and Embrace the Joy God Has in Store for You. The winner of the giveaway for the free book is Dana Roark. Congratulations, Dana! I’ll be in touch with you soon.