Saturday, April 14, 2018

Eleven Things I've Learnt in Eleven Years of Marriage

We celebrated our eleventh wedding anniversary this year.  I've been learning a lot along the way:

1) The strength of my marriage is not measured by the intensity of my feelings.  I'm not someone who regularly overflows with positive feelings towards others; so it's unlikely you'll ever find me declaring that I fall more and more in love with my husband every year.  That doesn't mean that our relationship hasn't strengthened though.

2) Our marriage has strengths that I'm not even aware of.  I thought I had a good idea of the areas where our marriage is strong and not so strong.  And of course it's easy to focus on the 'not so strong'.  A couple of years ago though I took part in a small group study about marriage.  The issues talked about were ones that I'd never even realised people struggled with; I knew we didn't.  I wonder what other areas of strength we have that I'm totally unaware of.

3)  Forgiveness is vital.  Resentment quickly sours a relationship.   When there are ongoing disappointments about something that I'm still waiting for, I may have to forgive 'seventy time seven times'.  I have probably needed forgiveness this many times for some of my own bad habits!

4) I am not responsible for my husband's choices.  Whether it's the words he speaks to others, the answers he gives to questions on a form or actions he takes, I have to recognise that it's not my job to control his choices and I am not responsible for the outcome of his decisions.  Of course I can give my opinion; I can pray; I can decide how I respond afterwards.  If he has offended or annoyed someone, it's between him and them; it doesn't need to affect my relationship with that person or their partner.

5) It's a very bad idea to compare my husband with others.   And these comparisons are usually inaccurate anyway: It's too easy to notice someone else's strengths without noting their more unappealing characteristics.

6) It is good to recognise the things that I really appreciate about my husband.  Not so that I can gloat, but so that I can be thankful.

7) I've learnt, through my husband, about the habits I have that can irritate others.   Some of them I can understand (such as leaving cupboard doors open, and interrupting).  Others make no sense to me, but are easy to avoid.  There are some goals that are always going to be a struggle for me (eg keeping the kitchen neat and tidy) but I can at least try.

8) When circumstances aren't ideal, I can adjust my expectations.   There are many interests and views that I would love to share with my husband.  But I'm married to a real person and not to a reflection of myself.   Yes, it would be nice if we had more shared interests.  But it can also be enjoyable to do things separately and come back and share our experiences.

9) Caring for others needs to start with my husband.  I've learnt so much in the last few years about supporting people through difficult times.  If I don't apply my listening skills to my own husband though, something is wrong. 

10) Sometimes I'm wrong!  I tend to be overconfident in my opinions and recall of facts.  Being married for ten years has given me plenty of opportunities to become more humble :-)

11) I still have plenty to learn.  My husband's personality is so different to mine.  After eleven years I still have lots to learn about how to love my husband and communicate well with him.

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