Archive | December 2016

What’s So Great About Marriage?

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A single friend posed this question to me several weeks back, concluding after a few recent interactions with married couples that maybe she doesn’t want to get married after all. She’d witnessed a disagreement, a snarky remark behind one spouse’s back, some compromises in action, and perhaps rightly so began to wonder about the good parts of marriage.

I was taking the trash out at the time of our phone conversation and listed the first things that came to mind. Since then, I’ve had more time to think about it—while also experiencing my own marital hiccups—and came up with a top 10 list of reasons marriage can be wonderful.

I say can here because I’m not sure any marriage has ever reached its full potential—no one is perfect, you know—and it does take constant effort to make it work. I’ve known several marriages to come to an end and know it can be complicated. Nevertheless, I think there’s something beautiful about the husband-wife relationship that you can’t quite replicate with anyone else.

Here’s what’s great about it:

  1. A teammate for life. Friends are one of God’s most precious gifts, but a spouse takes it to the next level. Together, you tackle day-to-day affairs: grocery shopping, yard work, vet visits, parenting, car repairs and so on. You find out who’s good at what and split your couple duties. (He fixes things; I write thank you notes.) It’s someone to get into a rhythm with. Someone to complement. Someone to cheer on.
  2. Love despite the unlovely. When you’re dating, you try to put your best foot forward. Look your best, smell your nicest, be your most charming. But when you see someone every day, morning and night, year in and year out, things get real. You’re going to get moody, be childish, make mistakes, have bed head, get sick, say things you don’t mean and just be human. But eventually, you forgive, you laugh about it, you get through it and move on. Knowing someone can love you at your worst is not only incredible but makes you want to be a better spouse.
  3. Sharing breaking news. Whenever a new work trip comes up, Pete is typically the first one I tell. When there’s good news in the family, I can’t wait to tell him about it. When something exciting or unexpected comes up, I look forward to sharing it with him. He’s my go-to person for all things newsy.
  4. Sharing life’s ups and downs. This one piggybacks on the previous two. Your spouse gives you a shoulder to cry on and someone to share the joys of life with. Your spouse walks with you through all stages of life. Yes, friends can be there, too, but your husband or wife is typically closer—both physically and emotionally.
  5. Becoming less selfish. Being married means another schedule to consider. It means giving up some of your free time and preferences and emotional capacity to meet the other person’s needs. It means serving someone besides yourself. This is one of the hardest, but also one of the most rewarding because it slowly but surely whittles away your selfishness.
  6. A stand-in date. Want to go see that new movie? Try that restaurant? Finally visit that other country? Your spouse is probably the first person you think of having new experiences with. I don’t have to find someone to go with because Pete is usually around.
  7. Familiarity. The first time you hold hands with someone or kiss someone, it’s electrifying. (Assuming here that you like the person.) When you’re with one person over time, it can still be that way, but there’s also something comforting and familiar in the way you fit together. One of the best parts of my day is getting a hug when Pete gets home.
  8. Someone to care for and to take care of you. You and your spouse take care of each other and balance each other out. He’s my protector; I’m his encourager. He keeps my car safe; I pack his lunches.
  9. Knowing someone better than anyone. You know things about your spouse no one else knows, and your spouse knows things about you no one else does. You know each other’s likes, dislikes and pet peeves. You know what that person is thinking before the words are spoken. You can be vulnerable and safe at the same time.
  10. Understanding God’s divine love. You’re going to do stupid things. You’ll mess up over and over because you’re a flawed individual, but the up side is that your spouse isn’t going to walk away and disown you. You’ll (hopefully) ask forgiveness and (should) receive it because you’re in this together, linked for life. And God is the same way. He offers second, third and fourth chances. He hits the reset button and gives you a clean slate each time you come to Him, hanging your head because of something dumb you’ve done. He loves unconditionally and gives us the capacity to love the same way. What better way to test that love than in a marriage?

While friendships should never be taken for granted—I cherish my girlfriends beyond words—a marriage takes the one-on-one relationship even deeper. Pete is one of my best friends, but so much more than that.

The more we experience together, the more our flaws are exposed, the more I love him because he still loves me—despite the occasional crankiness and shrunken shirt.

Why Married Couples Should Attend More Weddings

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In the past 30 years, I’ve been to 22 weddings (that I can remember), the most recent one just last weekend. Thirteen of those weddings came after my own.

As I sat through this latest ceremony, I thought about how good it is for married couples to attend weddings.

All I remember from my first wedding is how my white dress twirled at the reception. At another one a few years later, I remember eating too many creamy mints off the food table outside and feeling sick afterwards.

But as I got older, I started paying more attention to the actual service—what was said, the way the couple looked at each other, how excited everyone was for the start of their new life together.

Since my own wedding, the ceremony has come to mean even more. Every wedding after mine has served as a kind of refresher—a restart button on my commitment to my husband.

We attended quite a few weddings within our first year of marriage, and during each one of those, I was thinking something like, “Now they get to have what we have!” Or, “Now they can experience all the blessings of marriage themselves!”

Six-and-a-half years into marriage, I still have those thoughts, but I also look at the couple up front, all dressed up, holding each other’s hands and getting lost in each other’s eyes, and think, “There’s so much to come.”

Overall, Pete and I have had a smooth ride with no major catastrophes. But we have had our share of losses, disagreements, snags and failures. There’s a lot to learn in marriage, and I’d say I learn something new—or maybe relearn it—about every week.

The thing about attending weddings as a married couple is that it reminds you of your own.

For me, I start remembering why I got married. I remember how ready I was to walk down that aisle and give myself to another person. I remember how fortunate I felt that he wanted to marry me and how committed I was to be the best darn wife I could be. I’m reminded not to be selfish, but to love the man beside me in a visible, intentional way.

In the stress, fatigue and frustration that comes with everyday life, I’m not always that selfless, gung-ho person I want to be. Weddings, though, make me want to be that kind of bride. They challenge me to renew that commitment I made before God, family and friends.

The night before our wedding, Pete and I wrote our own vows to each other which were later framed and now sit in our living room. I read them from time to time and get the same feeling I do at weddings.

During each wedding Pete and I have attended together, I’ve noticed that we get a little reminiscent, a little sentimental and hold hands a little tighter than normal. (Especially this last time during an outdoor December wedding.)

I think it’s good for married couples to have those times of remembrance—to pull away from the demands of daily life for a moment and see your spouse as that man or woman you were so excited to marry—the one you chose to commit your life to.