Graham and I made a commitment to each other, to God and in front of witnesses, exactly one year ago last Friday. We didn’t know much about anything. Heck, we still don’t: we don’t know where we want to live (though for the time being it’s Thailand), or how many kids we want to have (Graham’s still adamant on getting a baseball team), or what I’m doing with my life (still working on that). All we know is that we want to adventure through this earthly life together.
There are people I know whose first years of marriage are ridiculously hard. They cry, they fight, their marriages spiral. I truly feel terrible for these people because I cannot relate. This last year has been fairly effortless for us. That’s not to say it hasn’t been full of trials, because it certainly has: we both left our jobs at the same time, sold all our belongings, spent four months on the road (then got burnt out from spending so much time on the road), spent six weeks living with my parents because our car broke down in Florida, moved to Thailand, house-hunted in Phuket, job-hunted, and made new friends. If all that isn’t trying on a new marriage, I’m not sure what is. Through it all, we’ve decided to stick with each other. It felt right, so we made it right. And this is partly how we make it work:
1. Divorce is not an option.
As Christians, we believe divorce is wrong. Marriage is the first institution created by God. So they [man and woman] are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate (Matt 19:6). The divorces of “irreconcilable differences” that are scattering our tabloids are 100% not ok. Graham and I talked about this before getting engaged. We feel the same way on the topic and we’ll seek professional help if one of us ever feels it, but even before that, we’ll talk about things together – with our Bibles in front of us.
2. We’re vulnerable with each other.
- We share our feelings. We talk about everything – good, bad, silly, seemingly meaningless (see #4), we talk.
- We’re blunt with each other. He tells me right away when I say something hurtful (usually in the heat of the moment), and I call him out when he’s being insensitive. There’s no jumping around a subject and getting him to read my mind. I’ve learned I need to say what I mean and mean what I say. Put nicely in Matt 5:37a, But let your Yes be Yes, and your No, No.
- We apologize. We admit we’re wrong and we don’t hold it over our heads. We’re both flawed humans and we will make mistakes. So we make them, admit them, and move on.
3. We read, talk, and are open to advice.
We acknowledge the fact that other people know more than we do, and we accept their advice when it’s offered. I read
clickbait studies/blogposts, share them with Graham, we talk about them (see #2), and apply what we learn. A few of my favourites that have altered my thinking in my marriage:
- Love Languages. There’s a whole book on the subject which talks about how your spouse likes to show love and how they like to receive love. It helped me appreciate my relationship on a new level.
- This article on marriage being a decision – “I didn’t marry The One, she became the one after I married her.”
- These four things that are hurting your wife and killing your marriage.
- The best advice from a single guy who spent a year interviewing couples.
- <a href="https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151735776813486&set=a go right here.81166678485.79418.696628485&type=1&theater” target=”_blank”>This Facebook post that went viral – Marriage advice I wish I would have had.
4. We’re supportive of each other.
An article from The Atlantic came out last year analyzing a study which points out that two key measures in lasting relationships are kindness and generosity. Always turn toward your partner, practice kindness, and be an active constructive spouse.
5. I submit to my husband. My husband submits to me. And together, we submit to Jesus.
JC is the centre of our household, and to further His kingdom, we must love. We must love each other as Christ loved the Church, mirroring our marriage after His powerful sacrifice of love. (You can read more about a Biblical marriage in Sarah Bessey’s post here.) In our house, we make an effort to try to think like Jesus and act like Jesus: WWJD? How would Jesus act? Living with this perspective helps keep us in perspective. Do note that this is easy to say, but hard to live by, especially in today’s society. We’re learning… good thing we have a lifetime to do so.
If you were to ask Graham how we make our marriage work, he would say something like, “That’s easy – love, honour and respect one another.” He’s the laid-back, go-with-the-flow one in our relationship, so of course things come easy to him 😉 I, on the other hand, have challenging days when I have to consciously remember the purpose of marriage, and that what’s best for me may not be the best for us. For the most part, this comes naturally, but it does take some work.
One year down, forever more to go!