This week my bride and I celebrate a decade of marriage. As I consider the good times and the not so good times, the valleys we’ve endured, and the mountain top experiences we’ve celebrated, there’s a wealth of wisdom with which I’ve been blessed.
Honestly, if ten years ago I were taught these lessons, I probably would have been foolish and ignored them. Some of them I’ve learned the hard way and others I probably missed the first ten or twelve times they were taught to me.
While I feel as though I’ve received a Master’s degree in marriage relationships, I know that I’ve only just begun the education of being a husband.
Here today after ten years, I share with you ten lessons I’ve learned in ten years of marriage.
1. I’ve learned to GIVE more than I GET.
Early in marriage I thought a lot about how Amber could meet my needs and wants. Today I’ve discovered the paradox of relationships is you receive more when you give more. There is incredible value in serving my wife; because, when I do, she actually wants to serve me.
2. I’ve learned to say “I’m sorry” a lot.
I am far from perfect. I mess things up all of the time. And when I do, it is not acceptable to simply ignore my mistakes. I’ve found it’s necessary to take the initiative, apologize, and ask for forgiveness when I’ve made mistakes.
3. I’ve learned that HOW I say it matters as much as WHAT I say.
As a communicator by career, I know that words matter. I am very careful in choosing the right words. Ten years of marriage has taught me that the tone of my voice, the expressions in my face, the posture of my body, and the context of the conversation all matter AS MUCH AS the right choice of words.
4. I’ve learned that LISTENING is more important than DOING.
I’m a guy. I fix things. Sometimes my wife doesn’t need me to fix anything. She just wants me to listen. That’s really uncomfortable for me. But it’s exactly what she needs. (While I’ve learned this lesson, I’m still trying to figure it out.)
5. I’ve learned that we “LOVE” differently.
It’s really second nature for me to love in the language that I want to be loved. But my wife speaks a different love language than I do. I’ve learned the importance of loving how she hears it, not how I want to show it.
6. I’ve learned that distractions are easy.
Ten years ago we didn’t have to compete for one another’s attention as much as we do today. My wife and I each have a smartphone, an iPad, television, and two kids distracting us from one another. We’ve learned we have to intentionally choose to give one another our attention if we’re going to overcome distractions.
7. I’ve learned that being home is not the same as being present.
When I come home from the office, I must choose to be present. I can physically be home while mentally I’m somewhere lost in cyberspace. We’ve learned that we need to remind one another to turn off every other connection for the sake of keeping family connections open. That means ignoring the text messages, letting the calls go to voicemail, and resisting the urge to check Facebook and Twitter. We eat dinner at the table together. Being present is a choice.
8. I’ve learned that I have a bride and so does Jesus.
I’m a pastor. I love my job. The demands of my job never end. I’ve learned that my marriage takes a higher priority than my job. And that’s not always the easiest decision. What helps me make the right decision is remembering that I have a bride, her name is Amber, and I vowed my commitment to her. Jesus also has a bride, her name is the Church, and He vowed His commitment to her.
9. I’ve learned that love is a CHOICE.
Love doesn’t just happen. Every morning I wake up and the circumstances of life are different than they were the previous day. The one thing that I can count on every single day, is that I get to choose to love my wife again.
10. I’ve learned that I have so much to learn.
While I have ten wonderful years of experience in loving my wife, I still have a lifetime of learning ahead of me. I’m just grateful that I have someone so wonderful to learn with.
If you’re married, whether it’s more or less than ten years, what lessons have you learned? I’d love to hear what you’ve learned! Share your thoughts and comments in the section below.