marriage

Married at 19.

My parents got married at 19.

Today they celebrate anniversary #37.

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This means they’ve spent 2/3 of their life together.  That’s a huge commitment.  I’d argue that it’s really hard/impossible for them to remember what life is like without each other.  When you get married at 19, there are a lot of years ahead of you, and you haven’t had many years to figure out who you are as an adult, separate of your parents. I think people change a lot from their teens to 30.  You face situations that change you and force you to grow into your own person.

I think one of the best lessons they’ve passed along to us over the years ties to that.  That although they got married to each other at 19, they’ve remained married into their 50s.  To do that, you have to be willing to give your mate the freedom to grow and change.  They aren’t the same person they were standing at the end of that aisle.

So often, the reason listed for a divorce is “irreconcilable differences” – which basically means, we were once compatible but one or both of us has changed to the point where we are no longer a fit.

My parents have worked through a lot of differences over the years.  However, they’ve made the choice to make them reconcilable differences.  My mom’s had to loosen her expectations on punctuality and organization.  And my dad’s had to tighten his priorities in these areas.  They’ve had to find a tender balance between kids/grandkids, marriage, work and fun.

They’ve also had to give each other grace and room to grow as individuals at age 20, 30, 40 and 50.  Allowing their spouse room to change.  When you wait to get married until you are 30 or 35 – you’ve had the opportunity to discover for yourself who you want to be without having to worry about how this might impact your marriage and your spouse.  Instead this discovery was something they had to do together.

I’m proud of the way my parents have made their marriage work, by accepting (and even appreciating, at times) the way their partner is changing and evolving.  It’s a lesson to me for how I need to treat my own marriage – giving room for Dean to change and not expecting him to be the same Dean I met when I was 20 years old or who I married when I was 27 years old.  Giving him grace for the gaps in our expectations of each other.  And supporting him as he grows into the person he’s becoming.

So cheers to you mom and dad! I hope Dean and I can rock it at our #37 the way you have!

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Married: 8 years

8 years.  In eight years, we’ve done a lot.  We’ve had two kids, lived in two houses, changed jobs, participated in several couples bible studies, taken lots of beach trips, a few international vacations and more.

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Yes, those are the big things.  But the big things are just that – big – extraordinary – not the norm.  It’s actually the little things that really make up our marriage.

In those 8 years we’ve gone grocery shopping together over 500 times, we’ve tucked in the kids over 2,300 times, we’ve made 2,000+ dinners together – some out of a box, some from scratch, and we’ve watched every episode of Big Bang Theory. But that’s not all.

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We’ve also had at least 100 fights – some big, some small – and we’ve apologized at least that often.  We’ve disagreed on everything from decorating our house (no we aren’t going with his purple Ravens Man Cave idea) to disciplining our kids. I still yell at him at least once a week about his driving skills and he “reminds” me not to be quite so opinionated whenever I meet someone for the first time.

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But there have also been hundreds of kisses; huge, enveloping hugs at just the right moment; laughter in bed as we talk about our life (and kids!) and so many fears, secrets and dreams shared.

It’s been a busy 8 years, and I’m thankful for every day of it.

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7 years. done.

This weekend, Dean and I celebrated 7 years of marriage.  And like any married couple will tell you, it’s been easy and hard.  Fun and challenging.  Simple and complicated.

But that’s what makes it good. It’s always changing and evolving. If we didn’t have lows, we’d never get to experience the highs.  It would be stagnant. And no one wants stagnant.  So I gladly take the handful of hard days mixed into our many easy days. I’ll gladly take the frustrated tears for the many sweet moments we’ve shared.

Anything worth something takes work. And this is work I’m lucky to do with my favorite partner.

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I can’t wait to celebrate 43 more with my favorite Esposo.

I’ve taught him…

Yesterday, I shared a few of the ways my husband has shaped me over the past several years. Ways I WANT to be better because of the example he sets for me.

I like to think this is a two-way street and we are both inspiring good in each other.

Here are some of the ways I think I’ve influenced him:
1.) Trying new things.  Whether it’s traveling to new places, spending the day trying a new activity or even making new foods he’s never eaten.  I love to try new things and over the years I’ve slowly opened him up to enjoying new experiences. I love when he surprises me by being on board with trying something exciting and I don’t have to do my salespitch on him 😉

2.) It’s ok to look a little crazy in public.  My husband is very even-tempered – especially in public. I have no problem cartwheeling down the aisle of Target but he’s anti-gymnastics-in-stores.  But I will say that over the years, he’s come to be more ok with looking a little crazy in public.  I think this one really might be a combo of both me and the kids, because let’s be honest – trying to wrangle two kids in the toy section during a missed nap can get a little crazy and I guess you just learn to go with it!

3.) Fiscally conservative. I know that Dean has pushed me to splurge at times when I didn’t necessarily want to, and I’ll say that I’ve definitely tightened Dean’s wallet over the years.  I think he knows what to expect when it comes to extra expenditures and he knows I’ll ask “do we really need this?” or “we could use this money for _____ instead.” He’s definitely cut back on asking me for lots of expensive things because he knows that I think it’s really wasteful.  But he’ll be thanking me when we retire with our bazillions in the bank and he is playing lots of golf instead of bagging groceries at age 65+ to make ends meet 😉

I’m so thankful to be in a marriage where we are constantly wanting to be better – for each other, for our kids and for ourselves.  I appreciate all the ways my husband quietly molds me into a better person and hopefully he appreciates me in the same way.

He’s taught me…

Marriage is a funny thing. It’s always interested to see how your spouse rubs off on you and changes you for the better in certain ways. My husband likes to call this process “molding” and he routinely jokes about how much he’s molded me in the years we’ve been together so that I can be a better wife, mom, and all around-person. He’s smoothing out my rough edges!

And I think it really goes both ways. There are many ways he makes me better and several ways I think that I’ve rubbed off on him.

My husband has taught me:

1) To be a little more filtered.  I’m not saying I’m good at this yet, but when we are out with friends, I tend to be an open book with my opinions and values.  Sometimes, he’ll share with me how I might have been too harsh in what I said or how I said it. I know he wants me to be aware of ways I may intentionally hurt someone’s feelings.

2) To have more patience.  My husband is definitely the most patient person in our home.  And there have been times I’m getting frustrated and at the point of screaming at the kids because they aren’t doing X, Y or Z and he’ll remind me: “Ginger, you screaming at him isn’t going to make him move any faster.” And sometimes I take his suggestion well and other times I just flip out on him. But definitely an area that I wish I could be more like him in.

3) Figuring things out.  Dean can figure out most of the things he tries to do, whether it’s setting up a computer system, fixing the lawn mower, changing brakes, fixing one of the kids toys, etc.  He just spends time working on it until he gets it.  It may take a YouTube video or some Google help, but he usually finds the way.  And I know this has rubbed off on me. More than once, I’ve chosen to push through something frustrating because I know that Dean would try harder to figure it out.

4) Splurge – at times.  In our home, we run a pretty tight ship financially.  And I have the hardest time spending a lot of money on things – like a pair of $150+ sneakers is outrageous to me.  I don’t see the value in buying a ton of the latest gadgets – especially when they first come out and are at max price.  However, there have been times when my husband has pushed me to splurge a little bit and just get it.  And when we splurge at times, it always feels fun and extravagant to go a little more than we normally would.

Tomorrow, I’ll share some of the ways I think I’ve done some of my own molding when it comes to Dean.  And isn’t this what marriage is all about anyways – making each other better?!

More.

I have more appreciation for my mom (now that I’m a mom), than I ever did growing up.

I love my husband more now than I did on our wedding day.

I understand more of what God wants for my life now than I did when I first started walking with Him.

I appreciate the little things more now than ever.  Holding hands with my little boys as we walk through the neighborhood.  A few minutes of conversation with my husband after a long day.

My future is more important to me now than it was in college.  I care more about where our family is headed.

It is more important for me to get a few minutes of snuggles than another episode of _____ (whatever my latest favorite tv show is).

I am more confident in who I am than I was in my teens and twenties.

Marriages are the hardest relationships

I’m often shocked when a friend shares new of their marriage ending – especially when they seemed like Ken and Barbie (yes, I know marriage has a darker side) and you thought they’d be together forever. I always think of the divorce rate statistic and how hard it is for people to stay married.  No doubt that marriage is one of the hardest relationships to maintain.  Since I got news of this marriage ending, I’ve started reflecting on my marriage and the areas that I think it can feel hard.  And I think it’s probably a couple different things:

1) it’s a never-ending relationship.  You’re in it for the long haul and there is no end date.  For some reason, things with an end date always seem easier for me. I remember preseason in college… it was several weeks of multiple practices a day.  Hours and hours in a hot sweaty gym.  So when the days were long and practices tough, I could always look at a countdown. 15 days left. 14 days left.  I knew I just had to make it that far and then the schedule would lighten up.  In marriage, there is no countdown, so when I’m in a “growth opportunity” (aka fight) with my husband, I don’t get to say, well only 47 more years.  As long as I’m breathing, we have to work through it.

2) it’s a combination of two people who were raised differently.  He saw a different “norm” than I did in marriage and how his parents interacted probably defined how he handles challenges in marriage.  And my parents showed me their “norm” which shaped how I perceive marriage to be.  Neither way was really right and in fact, I can guarantee that Dean and I would both say that our parents did some things good and some things not-so-good in their marriages. But the hard part is melding our two “childhood norms” into our own “norm”. Because I wasn’t in his childhood, I really don’t know what he saw, and vice versa, it can be hard to relate to how someone handles a challenge, especially if it is completely opposite of what you saw growing up.  And then you panic because you don’t like how he’s doing it, or he doesn’t like how you’re handling it and things usually escalate from there.

3) it’s a CHOSEN love.  There is something different about the love between a husband and wife.  I truly believe that because it isn’t a blood related love (i.e. parent/child) that it is a harder love.  I feel like parent-child and child-parent love is this primal love that is so deep and just there, no matter what.  But, I think that a lot of times in marriage, there are times of lust-love and then times of chosen-love.  I believe it is completely normal in marriage to fall in and out of love in cycles and when you hit a low, you have to CHOSE to love your spouse, even when it doesn’t feel like love – especially when it doesn’t feel like love. We live in a culture that so often promotes an “it’s-all-about-me” attitude and that is never going to mesh with a strong marriage.  I think this is an area that I struggle with.  I so often get stuck in the “me, me, me” – ‘why isn’t he filling my love tank? when is he going to recognize my contributions to our marriage?’ – and then when that happens, I feel like he’s not loving me.  But a marriage is choosing to love, even when you don’t feel like it’s being reciprocated.

I am thankful for a husband who chooses to love me, even when it’s not fun to love me. And I’m thankful for a husband who has committed to the long haul.  I want at least 44 more years with this guy so we can hit our big 5-0!

What else would you add to the list?