Friday is our anniversary, and we will be celebrating the lucky number seven.
Seven marks many years of laughter, tears, joy, sorrow, trust, honesty, lessons learned, lessons taught and a whole lot of give and take, in all of the good ways.
A lot of times when I tell others that I've been married for seven years, I get the look and I know the question about my age is soon to follow.
Twenty-seven y'all. I'm 27.
These last seven years have taught me a few things that I feel is key to a successful marriage. Granted, Nick and I do not have the perfect marriage. Actually, we are far from perfect. We're two imperfect people who leave the perfect love giving to the one Whom knows how to give it, and we just trust that He will always carry us through, but I can say we've officially reached a place in our marriage where we know that he and I are a success.
In order to celebrate this joyful thing that I get to have with my best friend, I thought I'd share seven things I've learned along the way.
1. Never use the "D" word. This is a lesson we learned early on in our marriage. Marriage to God is an all thing. Not an all or nothing thing, but an "I'm ALL in with you thing." I know friends and family that have divorced, and everyone has their own story, and I love them regardless of their story, but when Nick and I married, we both agreed that divorce would not be an option. Now I know things happen, believe me, my parents divorced, but we also learned that even using the word can be as hurtful as actually acting upon it. It's better to stay clear of the word altogether, lose it from your vocabulary, and trust that God will have better options to resolve the issue.
2. HAVE FUN. Dance, sing, flirt, be complete nerds with each other and have fun. Nick is that one person that I can immediately go into my "Spider Dancing Days" and know that he'll look at me with loving eyes and laugh with me. He's that one person that I can sing on top of my lungs, never in tune, and share that my dream growing up was to be Whitney Houston... We have fun with each other and let me tell you, it's a good time. We are actually quite hilarious, but you'll probably never know that side of us. We save it for each other and our no judging eyes. You probably couldn't handle our "cool." But bottom line, LET GO and just be the nerdy kids you once were. You do not have to work so hard anymore. Have fun with it.
3. Be open. Now our story may be a little different than yours, seeing that our story involves a traumatic loss, but one of the most precious keys to a successful marriage is to be open with each other. Make sure you both are on the same page. If you're having a rough day, say it. If you need alone time to just unwind and regroup, say it. If you're hurting, say it. If you're anxious, say it. If you need help, say it. If you need just a hug and no advice, say it. Marriage is not a guessing game. My husband should not have to guess where my emotions are in each moment of the day and vice versa. We can skip a whole lot of back and forth just by opening our hearts to each other. God created us to be one, which means when I hurt, he hurts with me, and when he's going through something, I go through it with him, etc. We are one so we must act as one. Be open and then be there for and with each other. This became key in our marriage through our grieving journey. Grief made me want to curl into a ball and isolate myself, but what my heart really needed was for him to hold me. I didn't need him to speak and give advice to me or tell me what to do, but I needed him. He didn't know this unless I told him, and I learned quickly that it was more than okay to say, "Today is a bad day and I just need you." Be open with your spouse. It'll do wonders.
4. Date. Especially if you have kids. Date!!!! It took us awhile to nail this one down because when you have kids you either want to have a family night or go to sleep. You know you're old when.......
No, but seriously, some of our best memories are while we've "dated" each other while being married to each other. When we lived in WA, we used to go to YOGA every Tuesday night as our date. I remember those nights like it was yesterday and sometimes I wish it was. We would hold hands all the way to class and give each other a cute wink as we tried to bend so graciously in downward dog, and then laugh our butts off on the drive home. Also, some of our best date nights have been at our friend's wedding nights! As a Wedding Planner, my favorite part of the day is watching everyone get down at the Reception but all I can do is watch. So when we have a chance to go to a wedding as a guest, we go all out. Or at least I do. He just ends up being my partner along for the ride. I just fall in love with him all over again on our dates, and I'm reminded why God chose us for each other. That can get lost in the daily hustle and bustle as we both work 24/7, trying to juggle two kids, two full-time jobs, a home, a puppy, bills and ourselves. It's good to pick a night, once a week or every other week, and just focus on each other and date with no other pressures surrounding you. Best investment ever.
5. PRAY. You can't do it alone. Plain and simple. A marriage is a triangle, not a straight line. If we rely so much on each other, we'll eventually push each other away. If we turn to God, we'll get our needs fulfilled from God and we'll learn how to give to each other's needs. Nick can't save me, and I'm far from saving him. If we turn to God, He'll save us both and we'll be our bests for each other. Plain and simple.
6. Love languages matter. If you're my best friend, you're probably coughing and laughing at this one. Jenna has yet to master the love language part, but she's learned the importance in it. And so has he. We know each other's love languages - actually, mine fluctuates, poor Nick, so I usually just tell him my language of the day. HA. But we truly know each other's love languages, and we've been making it a point to love each other the way we need to be loved rather than the way we want to be loved. It can do wonders. It can change a marriage. It can change your heart. If you do not know your spouse's love language, go buy the book, take a quiz and find out. Like yesterday. I'm still a work in progress, but hey(!!) at least after seven years I'm willing to work on it. ;) (Stop laughing friend...)
7. Let go of the past & forgive. We are high school sweethearts. That means we have a whole story to tell about long before the day we actually said I do. When we were younger we held onto everything. I mean EVERYTHING. And then one day we learned about forgiveness. We opened our hearts to each other and then left everything from the past in the past. We apologized, we asked for forgiveness, and we forgave. Ever wonder when you've truly forgiven someone? It's that moment it doesn't hurt anymore. I can honestly say, that everything that has happened in our thirteen years, his fault or mine, today, I no longer hurt and neither does he. The past is in the past and we've got God on our side. Let go. Be free. And forgive.
Number 8 would probably be "do not get a puppy," but I don't want to hurt Joplin's feelings. ;) #thirdchildsyndrome anyone?
I'm grateful for you. I'm grateful that we took a chance, bought a one way ticket and never looked back. I love your eyes just as much today as I did the first day we met. I love the way you slap your knee and tear up while you're cracking up. I love the way you dress your daughter and get so proud that you picked matching CUTE clothes. I love the way you love Cohban, just as your Dad loves you. I'm grateful for the past 13 years and especially for this last one. I'm grateful that you carried me when I couldn't walk, you spoke for me when I couldn't talk, and you carried me through when I thought I wouldn't make it. I'm grateful for your shoulder to cry on, your hands to hold and your tight hugs. I love our crazy dances around the house and the way you make my coffee at church. I absolutely love the boots you bought me and how you love shopping for me. I love our Netflix dates every night and I just love everything about you. I cannot wait to see where the next seven years, and forever, takes us. Thank you for being you.