This week, Dave and I will have been married for three years. As I reflect on what we’ve learned so far, I am keenly aware that the road is long and we have much more to learn along the way. As we head into year number four, I couldn’t imagine a better way to embark on what may come our way than seeking marital wisdom from several marriages we love and admire.
I asked several married friends and family the following questions:
What’s the hardest thing about marriage?
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
What’s your favorite thing about marriage?
Marriage isn’t hard. Life is hard. Marriage is learning how to navigate life.
Not being on the same page for a long time.
Being held accountable for your time.
Establishing your identity as individuals and not just as a couple.
Navigating that each person has their own way of doing things. (laundry, dishes, etc.)
Staying in the present moment – so much of marriage is thinking + talking about the future, but it’s important to enjoy time together along the way.
Learning to depend on someone else and balancing the need to maintain a level of independence.
Every decision and action instantly impacts someone else.
It’s important to have God in the center of a marriage.
The importance of surrounding ourselves with a community that encourages us to be our real selves as individuals and as a couple.
You are not solely responsible for your spouse’s happiness.
Listening is probably the most important skill to develop in a marriage. You can’t always fix everything, but you can always listen.
Marriage means you’re on the same team. Knowing you have a teammate supporting you gives you the courage to do the things you might not do on your own.
Give it time, whatever it is.
Don’t try to change each other.
Marriage is not about me or you – it’s about us.
Pick your fights.
Pray for patience.
Being vulnerable in marriage is where the most growth happens.
Making memories together, laughing together while raising children, and after they’ve left the nest, still laughing.
Your best friend is with you for the rest of your life.
Having someone to do life with – all the good and the bad.
Learning to read someone’s mind.
Having someone who really sees you and knows you (sometimes better than you know yourself).
Being loved unconditionally.
To love and to know that you are loved in return.
For me, marriage is hard because there is no tapping out. We are in this for the long haul, so in the hard times, that can be daunting. I’ve learned what it means to feel empathy on the most intense level—Dave’s pain is my pain, his stress is my stress, his joy is my joy. My favorite part about marriage is growth. Growing pains are always worth it because on the other side you're met with a deeper love and greater satisfaction.
As I reflect on our wedding day, I’m reminded of something we did during our ceremony. Our pastor, Gregg Farrell, had us turn around and look out at each person who came to our wedding. In the moment, it felt like we were giving each person a chance to get a good look at the bride and groom. In reality, it was an opportunity for Dave and me to look out at all of the people who helped mold us into who we are.
So maybe this is what I’ve really learned about marriage:
We are not alone. Those people supporting us on our wedding day weren’t just there to send us off into the world. They’ve been standing with us through the highs and lows, the joys and sorrows. We have quite the tribe of people championing us through each season. So, thank you to each of you for being a part of our lives and for helping make our marriage fruitful. We are certainly better for it.