Your father and I have been married for ten years today. (Yeay, us!)
I thought about the first three years of our marriage and realized what a miracle it is that we are here, celebrating a decade of being married to each other. During those three years, I have thrown stuff at him out of anger, contemplated running away and taking the kids with me, called my father to tell him that marriage is bull and I wanted out, threatened Papa with the D-word, and ripped his shirt in half because he was tired of fighting with me and wanted to leave but I would have nothing of it.
A few nights ago, he and I sat down on our bed after the three of you were asleep to reminisce about our journey. We had a good laugh over how ridiculous those first three years were. If that were the only image we had of marriage, we wouldn’t have gone on, for sure. However, we were blessed to be given a better idea of how marriage should be and we worked hard to make that idea a reality in our lives. Joining our church’s small group was one of the best decisions we ever made to bring our relationship upwards. We learned about strengthening our relationship and we started new family traditions because of it. Our annual honeymoon is something I look forward to most – and he does too, I’m sure.
We’re currently at that age where some of our friends have started to leave their spouses and abandon their marriages. I’d like to believe that they have given their marriage their best and it is with the heaviest of hearts that they decided to go their own separate ways. However, because it is so close to us, sometimes we let it scare us, letting ourselves believe that it could happen to us too. We have learned to show our empathy without imposing our own values or even thinking that their relationship reflects ours. We are different people with different problems and we really don’t know what happens behind closed doors anyway.
There are no perfect marriages, but there can be a happy one.
While your Papa and I may not have it all figured out, we enjoy being married and we know that our marriage works. So, in honor of our tenth anniversary, we took the time to list down 10 things we learned from our marriage thus far. (If you know your father at all, you’d know just how important this is to him *insert my smirk face here*)
- You have to surround yourself with happily married couples. To run the marriage race well, you need to create meaningful relationships with other people who are running towards the same direction. To have people who can build you, encourage you, and even correct you – as a couple – is a beautiful gift you should not take for granted. Your Papa and I have been blessed to be a part of a church community that have walked with us and directed us to where we are today.
- You need to be careful who you seek counsel from. Taking marriage advice from someone who doesn’t flourish in their marriage is like taking financial advice from a homeless person. Get to know your source and ask yourself, “If my marriage turned out to be exactly like theirs, will I be okay with it?” If yes, learn from it and apply what you have learned it in yours.
- You need to choose your battles wisely. The shampoo cap will remain unclosed and the toilet seat will stay up. Yes, these little things can and will bother you – if you let it. Before you get worked up about it, ask yourself: “Will I remember this five years from today?” You’ll most likely find that it doesn’t really matter. Learn to focus on the fundamental issues and let the trivial ones go. Accept and tolerate. I have been putting down toilet seats and Papa has been closing shampoo caps for ten years now, so what? Let the trivial problems go.
- You need to talk about money. Money isn’t everything, but money can get in the way of anything. You can fight when you have no money and you can fight when you have a lot of money. Manage your financials well. Start by communicating your expectations about your earnings as well as your spending. Set your priorities together and commit to it. And always, always, always agree on the solution instead of the problem.
- You need to make their dreams your own. More than just supporting each other’s dreams, you need to own it. The difference between owning it and merely supporting it is the amount of effort you (will) put in making it come true. Own it and then go after it, together.
- You need to complete you. Your husband or wife may fulfill many of your needs, but certainly not all of them. No one, but yourself, should ever be held responsible for making you feel complete. If you feel emotionally empty before you enter a relationship, you will feel just as empty once you are in it. Be happy with yourself and who you are first and foremost before you enter any relationships. It takes two strong individuals who are already happy with themselves to make a relationship work. (Take it from me kids, believe me, because I learned this the hard way.) Besides, when you expect your husband or your wife to complete you, you’re basically setting them up to fail because there’s no way they can ever do that.
- You need to know that romance alone isn’t enough to make a relationship work. A marriage that works even through the tough time needs a commitment from both people in the relationship. Romance is simply the icing on the cake that is already wonderfully delicious.
- You need to be committed. Unlike dating, marriage is forever. There is no turning back. Most of the time, we look to the dreamy side of the word “forever” but take the meaning of it for granted. In order to make a marriage last, there must be a commitment or it will easily fall apart. When two people are not truly committed to one another, they always give themselves two options to handle problems: to solve it or to quit. The only option you and your spouse should have when things are not great is to fix the problem. Any other option aside from that means that commitment never really existed.
- You have to tell the story of how you met often. The stories of how you met and how you fell in love can get drowned in the busyness of your day to day. Your children, work, finances, new hobbies will take over and all the butterflies will go away and soon you’ll forget. But tell it often, and you’ll remember. Our story isn’t the most romantic, but I love telling it, especially to you and watching your faces light up as I tell you about how he and I came to be. I also love listening to Papa tell his side of our story. He tells the same jokes and yet, after ten years, I still think it’s funny.
- You have to remember that you were a wife/husband before you were ever a mom or dad. You’re going to have children and they are going to be the sweetest, cutest, most adorable little creatures you will have ever seen. You are going to want to make them the center of your lives – but don’t! Even when there are hungry tummies to feed, butts to wipe, exploding baby poop to clean up and romance will be the farthest thing from your mind (because who’s got time to be all lovey-dovey when you ain’t got time to shower, right?), make the conscious decision to remember that you were a Wife/Husband first before you were ever Mama/Papa. Have your weekly date nights, go on your honeymoon trips, try new things together, continue to find things to fall in love with in each other and work on your marriage because a strong marriage is the best thing you can ever give to those little precious beings in your life. Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty about leaving your children for a while to spend some time alone with your spouse because believe me – when your relationship is strengthened, they will be the ones to benefit most from it.
Our marriage is far from perfect. But we’re happy. And isn’t that the ultimate goal of marriage?
Pray together often, ask God to continuously bless and protect your marriage, and when you find yourself feeling disappointed in each other (and you’ll find that you will), look to God and then love each other out of your love for Him.
I hope you’ll learn something from us, my darlings.
With all our hearts,
Mama & Papa