I have a habit of reading any news or blog story on relationships. 5 ways to have a successful marriage, 10 ways to spot a cheater, 50 years and counting, why won’t he/she listen to me, why we’re happily married swingers, you name it I’ve read it. Articles ranging from ridiculous to good advice, I can’t get enough. I often laugh out loud but occasionally there will be a nugget of wisdom to reflect upon. Daniel and I have been together for 16 years. We are not the same people that we were all those years ago. We both have had career changes, hair changes, religion shifts, political shifts, the list goes on. We’ve spent all of these years growing up while growing together. I’ve spent many years being married to my perfect match and here are some of the things I’ve learned.
Daniel has encouraged me pursue what I’m passionate about even when it makes no money. I supported him when we both thought he would make it in the music industry. We watched that dream die together just in time to watch a new dream begin. We both have worked to get our company off the ground and now we are watching all of those years of struggle turn into something successful. None of this would have happened if we hadn’t learned to bend with each other.
Be the calm in the storm
We got married and 2 weeks later I got pregnant. I was the absolute worst pregnant person in the history of pregnant people ever, seriously, I was THE WORST. Daniel gently and calmly talked me through those months of misery. He could be deemed a saint for dealing with the beast of pregnant Carrie. A few years later he was having a hard time and it was my turn to be gentle and calm. Having a partner who can help balance what life throws at you is a valuable trait that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Communication is everything
We have learned that every single day we must communicate. We recap our days even if all I have to say is I cleaned the house and supervised Kaija in her schoolwork. Daniel usually has a lot more to say than I do and I listen with rapt attention. We ask questions and have great conversations every single day. We could easily spend our evenings tending to our kids constantly running from one sport to the next or plopped in front of a tv without talking to one another. What would our relationship look like if we made a habit of those things? It would do nothing but damage us. We knew from the beginning that the key to a healthy relationship was continued conversation.
Daniel threw hay at me on a hayride many years ago and that is when I knew I loved him. It was that small spark that has turned into a 16 year inferno. He has been the most steadfast committed person that I’ve ever known. Commitment to one another through the good times and the crappy times isn’t just a vow to say during a 15 minute ceremony. Commitment is every single day even when those days suck. Commitment is picking your weeping wife off of the floor because her dad just died and she’s lost the ability to stand. Commitment is standing by your husband when he makes a decision that unknowingly will come with years of consequences. Commitment is every day choosing to value and love one another above anything else.
Commonality in regards to religion and an open mind
We were both Christians which was one of the most important qualifying factors for each of us when we were looking for a mate. Years later our mindset has shifted miles away from the evangelical views that we once had. We’ve been bent and contorted because of church related bull crap and that has caused us to dig in and study which has caused a shift in our thinking that was unforeseen just a few years ago. I’m uncomfortable with some of the studies but you can’t learn anything if you don’t stretch yourself. What I’ve learned is all of those years we spent being self-righteous has done nothing to promote the kingdom of Christ but rather it caused us to have many situations that we feel bad for now. We’ve continued to grow together in our pursuit to have a healthy balance of seeing the bible for what it really stands for and what it really says. It takes an open mind to be able to do things that make you question all of your years of thinking.
We have valued friendships that have grown with us. Having friends who support you and love you even when you’re not that lovable are a gift. Finding a life mate is something that is hard to find but finding friends who stick by you when they have no reason too are a real asset. Don’t get so absorbed in a relationship that you lose your friendships, it’s a dangerous place to be. Not only does it take a village to raise a child, it takes a community of people to have a life that flourishes.
Contrary to popular belief in movies, the first time you have sex it’s not all fireworks collapsing in a heap of breathtaking passion. It’s rather weird getting to know someone else in such an intimate way. It’s especially awkward for Christians who have been taught that you’re going to burn in hell if you look, think, or touch another person before you are married. Suddenly you’re allowed and it’s uncomfortable at best. Fast forward a little bit and you get to enjoy the true bliss of giving yourself wholly to another person. Sex should never be used as a weapon or manipulation tool as some of those magazine articles promote. Sex is a gift you give to your mate. It’s something that gets even better the more you know someone. Have it often
Disagree without creating divides
There are a few things that we will always disagree on and that’s okay. It’s healthy to have disagreements as long as you don’t let them become wedges between you. What I’ve found to be true is the more I bend, the more Daniel bends, then we are able to grow together. Our willingness to hold each other hearts while valuing our partners ideas, rather than being selfish or safeguarding our own ideas,
help us to be the best person that we can be for the other.