5 Thoughts on Marriage for our 5 Year Anniversary....


Hello all it has been awhile! I feel like it's been forever since I wrote a post. A lot has happened. For one my husband and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary! I can't believe it has been 5 years already. 5 years ago we declared, in front of hundreds of people (Korean wedding), our love and commitment to each other. 


































At that moment I never could have imagined the great joy and fulfillment it is to share your life with the one you love and yet I could have never imagined how hard it could be at times. 

This anniversary was different than all others. I was deeply contemplative of the last five years and it got me to thinking about the most important elements of marriage. I've narrowed it down to 5 major points. Now, if you care to read on, here is my disclaimer: I am not a marriage expert! I'm just a woman writing her thoughts and I would never claim to be the first to say any of the below regarding marriage. I am sure there are archives and annals dedicated to each point I’ve stated, but these are just my own observations based on my marriage.

1) Time.



Unlike most married couples my husband and I have always worked together. In our last church he was the youth pastor and I was the children's pastor, before we got married that was the case as well (that’s how we started dating). So sufficed to say we spend a lot of time together. Also interestingly, because of the nature of our jobs there were phases when we would barely see each other and if we did, it wasn’t quality time. Seeing both sides of the coin and the subsequent effects of both sides, it has made me realize how important quality time is. By quality time I mean, not just being in the same room but actually talking about our day, our thoughts, our frustrations, and experiencing things together etc.

There is no replacement for time. You can get counseling, you can read a million books on marriage, but that can never take the place of spending time with your spouse. It might make you better apt to make your time more fun or worthwhile, but never a replacement. Time together is like a lot of land to a tree, is the room and space you need in the marriage to grow.

2) Communicate and Appreciate.


I'm sure you've heard it before but it is so important. There are the obvious reasons. For one, communication allows you to get to know each other. The more you are able to share you thoughts, ideas, opinions, and with each other the more you are able to be a better spouse. Without communication there is no direction in a marriage.

Then there are the less obvious reasons why communication is key and I think it comes down to the day to day things. Clearly communicating each other's expectations of one another is extremely important in a marriage. From the big things, like "You work and I stay home with the kids." or "We both work and we both share house duties" etc. Then, there are the little things, the daily schedule and running errands. You'd be surprised how not clearly communicating these little things can lead to WWIII fights. Communication is like oil to a machine, it keeps it going, lack of clear communication is like throwing a wrench in the whole thing and then you see the machine grind to a screaming crashing halt.

It looks something like this:

 "You said you were going to bring her shoes, and I was going to pack the diaper bag."

"No, I never said that and besides you always pack the diaper bag!"

So we are the parents with our kids are running around without shoes and an empty diaper bag.

And its best to avoid situations like:

"Can you hurry up?"

"Why...?"

"Because I have a meeting in 15 minutes!!"

"WHAT!?!?!? You never told me that!!"

"Yes I did!!! I told you this morning! You just weren’t listening!"

"By ‘telling me’ do you mean you mumbled something under your breath?!?!"
.... 
And the list goes on. Like I said, it's the oil to the machine, it keeps it going and gets you to where you need to go, shoes and diaper bag and all.

Appreciate!

Also key in communication is to express your appreciation. I think this is intrinsic to human nature. I've noticed I can walk with the burden of the world on my back as long as I am appreciated. I remember one day, pretty recently, when my husband was out all day because of meetings and what not. I had both kids all day. By evening time I was cranky and exhausted. Just before we were about to put the kids to bed, I guess my eyes made my weariness plain, because my husband looked at me and said sincerely, "Thank you. I was thinking how blessed I was to have married a woman like you..." needless to say my heart swelled up and gladly I was willing to do 10 more days like the one I had, because I was appreciated. 

On the flipside...

There were days when we both forget to communicate our appreciation. Our attitude to all our spouse’s endeavors become... "Well that’s what you're suppose to do..." or... "Well, that is the least you can do..." We are both guilty of this.. me a little more. From what I've seen, often it’s the female counterpart that prone to this type of thinking... because, often wives do a lot. When days go by and we are both busy and I don't feel appreciated my thoughts turn into something like...

"OH NO YOU DIDN'T!!!! YOU TRY TO SPEND ONE DAY IN MY SHOES!!!" (Flipping tables and laundry baskets... J/k!) Your thoughts turn into one long list of things that you do that that person doesn't, and you start wondering to yourself why you put up this and “the he/she can never do what I do!” Then you become bitter and resentful.

 All of the above can be avoided if you communicate and appreciate. One sincere word about how much that person means to you and one sincere thank you can cover an ocean of petty grievances.

3) Fight Fair and Don't Compare!



In a marriage you are going to fight. It’s in the DNA of a marriage. Bringing two imperfect, flawed human beings together in holy matrimony is often a recipe for a beautiful... disaster. It doesn't matter how much you compliment each other, or how much you love the other person, it doesn't matter if you would be willing to take a bullet for the other person. If you take a snap shot of ANY marriage (yea even the gross couple with pet names for each other) at its ugliest points... and I guarantee you, it is ugly. So you know you are going to fight, when you do, Fight Fair. Here are some guidelines to fair fighting:

  • Talk about the REAL issue- Often times a breakout fight is never just about the incident that sparked it. Usually there are deep more substantial reasons. It’s never just about "because you said that." or "because you forgot to turn this off" or "because you didn't do that". Often fights are just the tip of the massive iceberg underneath. When angry, sort out the frustrations. Don't blow up over socks being on the floor... Think about why you are really angry. It’s because seeing your spouses socks on the floor communicates to you that your spouse expects you to pick them up, which makes you feel like an unappreciated door mat...which makes you angry.

  • Never Break The Spirit- Make it clear why you are upset. Never call that person names, curse at the person, or make them feel less of a man/woman. In our first year of marriage, as wonderful and exciting of a time that was, we also had some major duking-it-out fights, some fights where we definitely violated this rule. Seeing how it traumatized affected us I am glad to say we both sincerely learned from this lesson. We still fight on occasion of course, but we never break each others spirits. We never leave the fight doubting our love for one another... we just might not want to breath the same air for a bit.

  • Forgive and FORGET- I remember someone told me something their spouse did before they got married and as a joke they said, “It's an ace up my sleeve.” Meaning when they fight, he’ll bring what she did in the past and he will ultimately win. Though my friend is very good-natured and wasn’t serious, it got me to thinking that is often how we are in marriage. Wrongs are not forgiven they are “indexed” in our minds and we bring up our spouse's past misgivings to win future arguments. I’ve fallen prey to this, and have seen other couples fall prey and never get out of the pit of endless grudge holding. You can never move on in your marriage unless you forgive and forget.
When you fight, talk about it. Get it all out. And forget it. Move on. Don't leave it in your index of things to bring out 2 years later. If you play marriage like a game of Hold’em, you will definitely lose.  No showdowns. Your spouse messed up so bad at some point and you think you got a Royal Flush to show at any time? Well flush it down the toilet. Needless to say we are learning. Joe and I are both pretty patient with each other but when we get angry. We get really angry. We need to get it all out. But afterwards we forget it. Sometimes we look back and we forget what we fought about... until the next time, at which point I force myself to throw my straight flush, straight into the flush (ok I’ll stop now).

  • DON"T COMPARE- I heard someone once say when you compare yourself to someone, you are comparing what you know about yourself, to what you don't know about the other person. This is never truer than in marriage.

Over the years in hearing people vent and complain about their spouses, 99% of the time comparing the spouse with another is part of the mix, if its not the root of the problem, it is certainly fanning the flame. You look at so and so's spouse and think, "Man they do the dishes! Why can't my spouse be like that!" "That person's spouse is so organized!" "Wow he is so accommodating!... Good for nothing husband (grumble grumble)" on and on. The grass is always greener on the other side.

There are often times when I fall prey to this as well, and often in my times with God, He swiftly reminds me of all the things about my husband that I take for granted. During this time of reflection I realize how unbelievable blessed I am to share my life with a man like him. We all need these times of reflection. When we remember all things our spouse does and is, that we fail to appreciate.

I think ultimately everyone has his or her strengths and weaknesses. Many times we take for granted the things about our spouse that is so invaluable, though there are areas we all can work on the key thing is appreciate what you have. In marriage many times you are both growing together. Hopefully in a marriage your strengths and weakness ultimately make you both better people together than if you were apart. Challenge the other person, while challenging yourself in areas you lack as well but make sure its based on the fact that that is what is needed in the relationship, not based on feeling disgruntled.

4) Love and Respect



So I’m not going to say much here because someone else said already and much better than I ever could. One of the most helpful books on marriage, I think is a book called Love and Respect. Basically it boils down our needs according to genders. Men need to be respected in a marriage and women need to be loved. Now, I know its not just that simple, and women need to be respected as well, of course, and men need to be loved, obviously, but what the author does it narrow it down to our most primal needs according to gender. I remember hearing this many times before I got married, and I always thought “Duly noted” now after having been married for 5 years, certainly in the dynamic of our relationship and most relationships out there, 100% true.

Men need to be respected. Women need to be loved. All true.

In fact when I survey past problems we have had and problems that I see other couples have, many times it just boils down to the fact that each spouse feels that the other violated the above principal in some way.

If we as wives, conveyed our frustrations to our husbands in a manner that showed that ultimately we respect them, it would make every argument 99% better than if we were to just explode… which is normally what we would do. The same would be true if
husbands conveyed their frustrations in a manner that showed that ultimately they love their wives. How feasible is it? Nearly impossible for both genders to carry out fully, but what is great about this book and knowing this fact is, it gives you a starting point.


5) Be Gracious:


I would say over anything I mentioned the most underestimated but indispensable aspect of a relationship is GRACE. Most people would immediately think it’s love but I would disagree. Of course you need love in a relationship but love can only survive in an environment where grace is the bedrock.

Going back to analogies, I would say grace is to love as a building is to its foundation. Love is the building, in that it is what you see and touch. It’s the physical manifestation of your relationship. Grace is the bedrock and the foundation that allows that building to stand and withstand the storms, the misfortunes, the misunderstandings, and the troubles in a marriage.

Five years of marriage is not a long time. I would say we just hit the tip of the iceberg in our journey together and we both have a long ways to go, but I've noticed something really interesting over the last few years. I noticed in the darkest, most exhausting, most difficult, times in our marriage, when my husband and I still choose to continue to love, forgive, and give ourselves to each other, it is the thread like fiber holding us together, to keep us going.

With busy lives, children, and a never ending to-do list, the days can get stressful. Sometimes when my husband does something that drives me crazy, what keeps me from blowing up and keeps me one degree below volcanic eruption is the grace he shows me day in and day out. How can I just explode and go crazy on him when I know there is an endless list of things I know I need to work on? Many things that he does not even mention, things that he could hold against me, but chooses not to. The same both goes ways. I do a lot and I give a lot and I know he appreciates it. It is this grace that acts as a buffer, as thin as a layer of filo dough, that keeps us from cracking.

You want to keep going in your marriage despite what life throws at you? Continue to forgive and continue to show love, even when its hard, feels unjust, and contrary to every fiber in your being, and when your tank is empty, grace will give you just enough to move on.

5 years later...






 



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