I’m sitting here on the eve of my ninth wedding anniversary and trying to remember what I thought it would be like this far into marriage. Someone told me that statistically years 7-9 are the hardest and looking back at the past two years I’d have to agree. New adjustments, new house, another baby, and I wonder if I could have prepared myself for the hard what would I say. We are currently on the blissful upswing but I wonder if I would have listened to my own advice, here’s what I’d say…
I know you thought that this was the hard part. You thought that finding a great man was the real battle. I know you didn’t want to listen when people told you that rocky times lay ahead. Love is like a thick fog you can’t see through and you’re so young but I know you don’t think you are. I won’t try to tell you it will be hard because you wouldn’tbelieve me anyway so I’ll just give you some pointers for the… um… speed bumps that lay ahead.
- Assume the best, this is hard for you. You have a long history of men not living up to their word. He’s not like the others. He’s good. Solid. Caring. He is patient and loves you well. So when he says something you want to interpret as underhanded, ask instead of assume. Most of the time he has no idea you just filtered his simple comment through the lens of your past and fears. Talk about it, don’t walk around with your panties in a wad… its unattractive.
- Have fun, for the love have fun. Life throws you some real curves. Things don’t always go as planned but you can enjoy life as much as you choose to. Ben’s better at this than you, he knows how to laugh. He knows how to take hospital rooms and tense moments and make you smile. He’s good at throwing a good old-fashioned dance party right there in the kitchen. Let your guard down. Laugh more. You will have plenty of time to be serious.
- Your kids are amazing but he is too. Now right now you can’t imagine putting anyone before him. The thing is though motherhood is powerful and it turns out you are more maternal than you thought. The babies are wonderful (yea you have a few) but when they leave the house, which is the goal, you two are left standing and you want to be standing side by side holding hands. Also, if ministry teaches you one thing it’s that nothing will affect your kids in a more powerful way than your marriage.
- Stop keeping score, right now! From this day forward there will be a silent scorecard in your head and the temptation is to see who does more. He does the dishes, one point. You clean all the bathrooms, five points. You wake up with the kids, 1000 points. He goes to work, 10000. You stay home with kids, not a number high enough. The thing is, you always seem to award yourself more points and in the end, no one wins. Stop keeping score and just support each other. Oh and ask for help when you need it, he can’t read your mind.
- Weep together and pray together. I know you hate crying. Actually, you hate all strong emotions except anger. You like control, but weakness and vulnerability are bonding. Lean on him when you get bad news, tell him when you’re sad, and don’t expect him to get it right every time. He’s a really good shoulder.
- Saying something that stings hurts both of you. Oh if you could just get this one right if you could hold your tongue from all the hurt that you will spew out when disappointment, loneliness, and frustration happen. If you could just see that your words give life or cause wounds. Those are the only two options. Don’t take it out on him. He deserves more respect than one-liners that sting. Give it to him.
- Hormones are crazy. I know you think you understand this now but let me just warn you babies make you think and feel things in a whole new way and the only positive ones seem to be aimed at the baby. Don’t trust estrogen or prolactin or whatever else is coursing through your body in a year or so after you have a baby. It’s a liar, you will get along again. Things will be fine. Power through.
- Marriage is as amazing as you hoped it just takes more work than you thought. Even your ordinary life feels extraordinary when you get to walk it with someone you love
- You need God, like a lot. At the end of the day you can only control your half of it and thats scary, trust God with the other half. I know you think you could change a cat into a dog if you tried hard enough but you are naïve. Ben is exactly who he needs to be, love him for that, and pray when things are hard. No one will get you like the man standing beside you. Don’t take it for granted. Cheer him on, talk less, and don’t take for granted his belief in you. Its truly astounding all that he puts up with.
A much more tired version of you