Yesterday I mentioned the recent used-to-be-my-wedding-anniversary date. As I scrolled through my Timehop the night before, I saw a link to a blog post from a dozen years ago, 19 Things I’ve Learned During 19 Years of Marriage. It seems like a lifetime ago yet a small hop, skip, and a jump into the past. I clicked on the link and realized I posted it on my first blog site instead of this one. That’s been a while.
It might seem odd for someone who is divorced to share marriage insights, but I want others to know you have a voice even when you’re removed from a relationship, position, or circumstance. Your experiences still matter. Every single one of us will always have space to learn. Because you are rejected, abandoned, fired, diagnosed, or convicted, you are not disqualified. When we are humble, we can learn—and share that process with others. It is when we assume a position of expertise and are unapproachable with any learning invitations that don’t match our preferences, that we lose a voice that contributes to others well. It’s not our experiences that devalue our influence but the pride we allow to push out our humility.
Today I humbly re-present the content from that long ago post. I not only share it from the place where I was but with the honesty of where I’ve been between then and now. I don’t know where you are today, but I hope these words challenge and encourage you, whether it is in your relationship or in your confidence to use your voice and experiences well.
Our backgrounds, experiences, and personalities lead us to react to each other and situations in different ways. And that’s okay. Our differences make our marriage better.
Men are different from women in not only the obvious but also many subtle ways. When I assume my husband needs and wants what I need and want, we both get frustrated.
Honesty, no matter how difficult at the time, is the only option when facing a situation that might divide our relationship.
When one of us is weak in an area, the other one “taking over” isn’t the best option. Complementing each other means coming together where we are and walking together toward a common goal.
Dream together. Not “if only we could” dreams that breed discontent but a vision of where we want to go and grow together in our lives.
Competition can be fun but it has no place in our roles in marriage: who does what and contributes what. Replace competition with encouragement.
Say “I was wrong. You’re right.” as often as possible.
Express your love and respect for your spouse as often and in as many ways as possible. Say it. Do it.
Build each other up outside of your marriage…in front of your children, spouse’s family, coworkers, etc.
Don’t pack your bags. Avoid baggage by not packing any! Choose to face your spouse and resolve an issue or leave it behind. Packing it for later use only gives you a sore back and cranky spirit.
Develop a multi-faceted relationship. Be friends, lovers, co-parents.
Foster healthy relationships outside marriage. Women need to hang out and do “girl stuff.” Men need to hang out and do “guy stuff.”
Don’t assume. We can’t read each other’s minds and no matter how sure we are of our spouse’s motivation, it’s always better to ask instead of assume.
Expect changes. You’ve (hopefully) grown in the last several years. You’ll continue to grow and change. So will your spouse.
Take time for each other. Every day.
Clean up each other’s messes. Big stuff and little stuff.
Take responsibility. Don’t blame your parents, kids, work, etc. Grow up and own up.
Remember it’s not about us. We made a commitment to both ourselves and God. To break one shatters the other.
Have hope. When times are tough, hope for better. When times are good, hope for better. I look forward to the next 19 years!