Well, it's my 8th wedding anniversary and I can't believe it's been that long since I said "I Do!" Eight years and two kids later, I have grown soooooo much as a woman, wife, and Christian. Marriage is a journey, full up peaks and valleys but most importantly full of lessons and opportunities for growth. Here are 8 of the lessons that I've learned, and have yet to master, in 8 years of marriage.
1. Choose your battles wisely. Everything isn't worthy of a fight. I am one who stands firm on what I believe and I make sure that my voice is heard but that doesn't always work in marriage. It may benefit me but it doesn't benefit the marriage. Some things just need to be ignored for the sake of peace.
2. Remember you're on the same team. The enemy loves to bring division in marriage because if he can divide, then he can conquer. No matter what the issue is, you must remember that your spouse is not your enemy. Instead of fighting against each other, join forces with your partner and defeat the enemy of your marriage together. One can chase a thousand but two can put 10,000 to flight! You are stronger together.
3. Prioritize your marriage. It's so easy to get so consumed with doing life...work, bills, kids, church...that you forget to put your marriage first. Like a tender flower, your marriage needs to be nurtured in order to grow. If you fail to water your marriage with love, kind words, and quality time, it will diminish over time. When your marriage is thriving and healthy then you are able to thrive in the other areas of your life as well.
4. Stop comparing your marriage to others. We all have been guilty of this at one point or another. You know, wishing our marriage was more like someone else's because they "seem" to have it all together. But what you don't see (and what they may never tell you) is that they have problems too! The perfect marriage does not exist so stop looking for it. How do I know it doesn't exist? Well, because we are all human and we are all flawed. Your spouse will mess up at one point or another and so will you. Your marriage is unique. What works for you might not work for another couple and that's okay. Just know that someone somewhere wishes they had what you've got.
5. Don't keep secrets. Your spouse should be your confidant, the one person you can expose yourself to both physically and emotionally. Push yourself to be vulnerable even when everything in you wants to put up walls out of fear---fear of rejection, fear of betrayal, fear of being misunderstood. You have to trust that your partner will embrace your nakedness privately but also cover you publicly. There's a fine line between secrecy and deception and you must not give the enemy a foothold in your marriage. Dare to bare all!
6. Forgive and do it quickly. Forgiveness pleases God but it also frees you. If you hold on to the offenses of your spouse, your heart will eventually grow cold and callused. Where there is the absence of forgiveness, there is also the absence of grace. So, not only do you end up locking your partner out of your heart but you also lock out God's grace. Forgiveness is the only way to uproot seeds of resentment, anger, and bitterness.
7. Laugh out loud. Marriage can be tough and sometimes the only way to get through with your sanity and your marriage in tact is to laugh. Laugh with your spouse. Laugh at your spouse. Laugh at yourself. Laughter can be medicinal so as you laugh, you're healing yourself and your marriage as well. Allow the joy of the Lord to be your strength.
8. Try to always speak life. Whether you're speaking to your spouse or to your marriage, speak life! Let your words bring edification, illumination, and hope. You have the power of life and death in your mouth. You can build up or tear down, plant or uproot, create or demolish. What you speak will ultimately become your reality.