Owen and I are coming up on our 7 year anniversary and we’ve packed a lot into those years together: 5 moves over 3 different states, about a dozen jobs between the two of us, countless miles on trails (actually not countless, he has a spreadsheet for that, too), and many wonderful memories.
But more than just a list of activities or accomplishments, we have grown together in an amazing way, and even though we’ve had our bumps along the road, I’m so glad I get to spend my life with him. Considering almost our whole relationship before marriage was long distance, we certainly learned a lot about each other and about living together in the first few years; but really, in marriage that learning never stops.
In some ways it seems like the time has flown by and it hasn’t really been that many years since I lived alone in my little apartment in Wisconsin, but then sometimes I think seven years is a legit amount of time to be married (I mean, it’s practically 10 years which everyone knows is pretty solid).
So without further ado, I want to share 7 things I learned in 7 years of marriage:
- Marriage is less about being happy and more about becoming sanctified.
They don’t tell you about this one when you’re dating, engaged, and so in love you can’t stand it. In true Bachelor fashion, you think that finding your soul mate is all about what will make you the most happy in life, and without that person, you could never dream about happiness. Of course, this is one big myth (ultimately our joy comes from Christ, whether we marry our soul mate at age 20, or live a life of singleness), but it sure is easy to let it cloud our vision. I’m not saying there aren’t moments of deep happiness, but my goodness, when you throw two sinners together under one roof, you find out pretty quickly that it takes work and happiness is not the end game. I am so grateful that Owen is an incredibly loving husband (some times I have to tell him not to let me get my way because I can tell I’m becoming spoiled), but the process of compromising, dying to the flesh, growing, and learning together as you struggle through this life is more rewarding than fleeting moments of happiness.
- Your spouse can’t fulfill the deepest needs of your heart.
About a month into our marriage – when I was struggling to adjust to being in the same house (much less city) as Owen, living in a new town, and being so far from my family – I unknowingly put all the responsibility on Owen to satisfy all my longings. And while I loved being married to him, I couldn’t understand why he didn’t know my thoughts before I spoke them (that’s what husbands are for, right?), and why he didn’t have unlimited energy to comfort and support me. There was some deep need that I had that he wasn’t meeting. It took me a while to realize that I had replaced God with Owen. He had become everything to me in a way that he couldn’t possibly be. And likewise, I sure was not meeting his expectations for the cheerful adventurous wife he had dreamed of. And that’s okay. We will never be to each other what only God can be for us.
- There’s no “one size fits all” marriage advice.
We have been pretty snooty in our earlier years of marriage looking down our noses at other couples, judging their attitudes toward each other, comparing their marriages with our own. I’ve come to realize that other than a few universal standards of marriage, everyone’s relationship is so unique that there’s really not one piece of advice that will help or relate to every couple.
- Love is a commitment.
We were at a wedding recently and I was struck by how many times the words vow, covenant, or promise were used. It felt more like a legal ceremony than a celebration. And really when you think of it, it is a legal contract, it just gets covered up by the pretty dresses, flowers, and yummy food. I’ll be honest, the D word (divorce) has crossed my mind since we’ve gotten married, thinking maybe this particular difference/misunderstanding/argument is a problem we can’t overcome, but Owen has never for one second let me believe that marriage is anything but a promise that he is not going to break. Most of the frustrations we have with each other are because we’re overly tired or hungry (that would be me) or otherwise preoccupied and just require grace and understanding for each other. When you know that you’re in it for the long haul not matter what, it makes you more willing to forgive and let go.
- If you marry someone who is your best friend, and you remain best friends, it will be easier to stay “in love”.
I know this is not always the case with couples, but we genuinely like spending time together. I joke that I don’t need to go out and have friends when my very best friend lives in the same house with me. I always used to keep journals, and now that I’m married, Owen is my journal. When you truly like someone and are attracted to them, those feelings of being in love last longer and come around more often.
- Be open to growing and changing because of your spouse.
They always say you should marry someone who loves you the way you are, and while that’s true, it doesn’t mean it’s not also good to be open to change. When two distinctly different people become one in marriage, they bring two unique perspectives to the table and that’s a good thing. I used to be pretty consumed with collecting items to decorate my space with and making everything around me pretty (See Is Jesus Really Enough?). Owen, on the other hand thinks that if something doesn’t have a practical purpose then it’s not necessary. I hope I’ve helped him to appreciate the the beauty in the ordinary, but I know he’s caused my perspective to change to see that things aren’t really what’s important and sometimes they can detract from what really matters. There are a lot of ways I’ve changed my thinking as a result of the perspective he’s brought to the table, and it’s always interesting when he surprises me with a take on something I never would have expected from him.
- Marriage is just pretty darn great.
I used to really enjoy being single, but now if I think about going back to that stage in my life, I think I would be really lonely. It’s really a special thing to have a lifelong companion to hang out with, snuggle up to, and talk to any time you want. God ordained marriage to be a picture of Christ and the church and to help sanctify us and to establish families, but he also gave it to us as a gift to be enjoyed. The depth of love I have for Owen is greater than any love I have ever had and that adds a depth to my life that I am do grateful for.
In honor of wedding season and the blessing that marriage is, I’ve added some cards to my shop. They’d be great for weddings or anniversaries! Love Never Fails Note Cards
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