Let preface this post with a disclaimer: my husband will probably kill me for writing this.
Deep down, I know he’ll love it, but he’s not in any shape, form, or fashion a PDA kind of guy, and this will probably embarrass him. But I’m feeling sappy and sentimental so he’s going to have to deal with it for now: kind of in the same way I have to deal with the fact that every time he calls in a to-go order for us, he uses some crazy alias, like, for instance, Bart Farfuldnugen. “Large cheese pizza and cheese sticks? Here you go, Mrs. Farfuldnugen.” (Cue the sigh and eye roll before I pay and leave).
Anyway, the point of this post is to share my however limited advice on having a happy marriage. Clay and I celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary last month. We dated for four years and were engaged for one year before we got married, for a grand total of twelve years together as a couple.
Needless to say, a lot has changed in those twelve years. We both finished college, then we got married. We’ve changed jobs and addresses, gotten more degrees, then different jobs, and had three kids along the way.
And I’ve loved every minute of it.
You get love advice from everyone, everywhere, all the time. Some good, some bad, some really weird, and some just downright disturbing, and it’s sometimes frustrating to know who to listen to.
Clay and I are by no means perfect. We argue. We have our long, tiring days and we have our mood swings. But we are happy. And I believe there are several fundamental reasons for this, and all of them point in one direction: to God.
Two of our best friends recently got engaged, and I was talking to the bride-to-be this afternoon about wedding plans. I was taken down memory lane and found myself remembering life before kids, and I could for just a moment remember that giddy, school girl feeling of wondering what married life would be like.
Hollywood is entertaining, but oh-so misleading. So many girls today expect some sweep-you-off-your-feet Julia Roberts and Richard Gere kind of marriage 24/7. Sure, there may be some of those moments from time to time, but eventually you come to realize (at least I did), that real romance isn’t quite so glamorous, but is so much more meaningful.
Here are a few of the reasons I love my husband so much, and why I believe we are so happy.
- We laugh together. A lot. There are very few days that go by without laughter in our home. Sure, sometimes we laugh to keep from crying, but most of the time, we laugh because we have fun together. As time goes on, we find new things to laugh about. Our kids are pretty hilarious, I must say. Sometimes he laughs at me when I’m not trying to be funny. Sometimes I laugh because he hits his head on the open cabinet door. The point is, we laugh, and it serves as a special way we bond.
- We are each other’s biggest fans. Clay has always been my biggest supporter, especially when it comes to my job. Being a nurse practitioner is a big responsibility, took a lot of education, and is mentally and physically draining at times. As much as I love it, I’m not sure I could do it if I didn’t have him constantly reminding me that I can do it and that he’s proud of me. When he started talking about making his pressure washing side job a full-time business, I could tell he really wanted to do it and I was totally confident that he could, so I said to go for it.
- We are best friends. OK, I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true. He’s the first one I call with big news. He’s the first one I can’t wait to tell that funny story to. He’s the one I want to go with to the game, or to that new movie, or that restaurant down town. We go to each other first for advice. We whine to each other when we’re down. We lean on each other when sadness or adversity strikes. I miss him when he’s gone. Basically, he’s my BFF.
- We learn more about each other with every passing year. After dating for five years, I didn’t think there would be that much more to learn about him after marriage. Boy, was I wrong (in a good way, of course). As we’ve grown older, our interests have changed. We’ve adapted after children, and through different life experiences, we’ve both changed. Seeing him hold our babies and watching him with them as they grow makes me fall in love with him all over again. There’s not much that brings two people together like bringing children into the world and then trying to raise them to be lights in that dark world.
- We appreciate each other. I was raised to be independent and to always be able to take care of myself if need be, and I still believe I can do that. However, one weekend without Clay makes me remember quite quickly how much better (and easier) life is with him in it. And he reminds me now and again, too, that he doesn’t know how I do all that I do. We value each others’ respective roles in our home, and, even though we probably don’t do it enough, we try to verbalize our gratefulness to each other. He always says “thank you for supper, lunch, etc.”, even if said meal consists of hot dogs and Doritos. We each understand that sometimes, you just gotta do what you gotta do.
- We compliment each other. I used to love when he called me pretty or let me know he liked my new haircut, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I still do, but my favorite compliments are now, “Doesn’t mommy look pretty in her dress?” and “Didn’t momma cook a good supper tonight?” He builds me up and shows me respect in front of our children, and I try to do the same for him; which leads me to number 7.
- We respect each other. My husband is the head of our household, and that is what we teach our children and try to live by. No, I was not brainwashed to believe this. No, my husband is not an abusive ogre on a power trip. Yes, I have a master’s degree and a mind of my own and still concede to the idea that I am the weaker vessel. In this modern age of feminism and political correctness, many women disagree with that statement. Although this is not the popular model for marriage, it is the Biblical model, and that’s all that matters to us. He is the head, and I am the neck that holds up the head. For the most part, every decision we’ve ever made, we’ve made together. If the head of the household loves his bride as much as Christ loves the Church like he is taught to do in Ephesians 5:25, he won’t abuse that God given authority and the marriage will work as effectively as God planned, with each spouse receiving mutual respect.
- We share the same goals. We have common interests, similar tastes in food and music, and in general, enjoy many of the same hobbies. We also have very different tastes in some things, and that’s okay, too. But the most important thing we have in common is our mutual desire to get to heaven. We believe in the same God, and we believe that if we are obedient to His will, we can spend our physical and spiritual lives together forever. In reality, nothing else matters.
I am forever grateful to my precious mother- and father-in-law for raising my Prince Charming to be the husband and father he has become. He is everything and more that I hope my future daughter-in-law will say about our son some day.
So, in conclusion, our marriage isn’t perfect. It isn’t always pretty, and we both make mistakes. But we are happy. We’re not Hollywood happy, we’re heavenly happy, and that’s as good as it can get.