Seven Lessons From Seven Years of Marriage

March 22, 2013

It’s been a busy month.

Earlier this month, I celebrated thirty years on planet Earth.

This week, my wife and I celebrating seven years of marriage.  Seven years of love, true love.  Wow.  If we count our time dating and engaged, we’ve been together almost an entire decade.  Like, a third of my life!

To mark the occasion on this Friday, I’d like to share seven lessons I’ve learned in seven years of marriage.  I’d love to hear from you too – what you’ve learned about marriage and relationships lately.  (And tell us how long you’ve been married!)

We Cannot Change One Another…

But the Holy Spirit can change us.  Most of the changes we would want to make to the other would be mostly to suit ourselves.  But God makes the real, necessary changes when we allow Him to.

I always notice the dog fur collecting on the stairs before my wife does.  I’d rather she become more observant.  But, you know what?  God hasn’t made her more observant yet.  If I want the dog fur cleaned up, I can just do it myself.

Mutual Submission…

It works.  It keeps us equals.  When we both lay down our interests for the other, everyone gets what they want in the end.

March Weddings Are Kind of a Bad Idea…

If you like nice weather.  We had some flurries on our wedding day, despite getting married over Spring break.  Today, there are flurries outside my window.  March is probably the most unpredictable time to get married.

But then again, my brother got married ten weeks later at the end of May.  They had an outdoor reception…in a freak 90 degree heat wave.  So that sucked too.

She Will Always Be Mysterious…

I will never completely understand the deepest recesses of my wife’s mind.  That’s what keeps her interesting, I suppose.  I think couples that stop being interested in getting to know their partners are the couples that grow stale.

Strong Fences Make Good Neighbors…

That’s what they say, and it’s true.  It’s an illustration of boundaries.  And I have realized that some healthy boundaries are necessary, even in a good marriage.  Not like emotional boundaries, or boundaries that keep us from communicating.  But each of us needs some space that’s ours and ours alone.  Each of us needs a special activity that we do alone.  Each of us needs some time that’s just ours.  We shouldn’t be so co-dependent on each other that we have to “own” everything in the other’s life…

…And that includes the bathroom.  I don’t know about you, but for us, even after seven years, bathroom business is a private affair.  There are some places that don’t need an open-door policy.  If we actually had a “master” bathroom with two sinks and two toilets, it would be a waste.

I Have to Be Okay…

Even when she is not.  My emotions cannot be completely determined by my wife’s.  When she is down, I have to be there to pick her up.  When I am down, it’s best if she is able to pick me up.  If I’m a mess just because she’s a mess, it takes a lot longer for us to climb out of the hole.

My Marriage Is Not For My Happiness…

I recently skimmed a marriage book in Barnes and Noble that had one line that seriously impacted me.  I don’t want to tell you the author, because I want you to just get the line without any preconceived notions:

“Your marriages primary purpose is not for your satisfaction. It’s for your sanctification.”

That changes everything.  My wife and my marriage are not about satisfying my every desire.  God is using my marriage to make me more into the man He wants me to be.

What are some of the biggest things you’ve learned from your marriages or relationships?

15 responses to Seven Lessons From Seven Years of Marriage

  1. Ha! I know what marriage book that line comes from. Happy Anniversary! We just hit 11 years in January. Nothing like driving to your honeymoon in a blizzard.
    Wise post. Mutual submission ftw. Your points about emotions are good. That’s one thing we don’t do well.
    We’re pretty opposite in most things we like and do, which can be frustrating. So a few years ago I joined a fantasy football league with him, to be interested inssomething he liked. I didn’t even know what a quarterback did. And now I run 2 leagues. Football has become something we can do together, which is fun, and needed.

    • So you know why I’d leave the author’s name off. :) Just better that way.

      • I liked that book when I first read it, although that one line pretty much captures everything; I hated the guy’s book about parenting, and the whole “hey let’s take this phrase and write whole books applying that phrase to different aspects of life” thing.

  2. I googled the quote but nothing came up. You wrote that line, didn’t you? I’m judging!
    I agree on the mutual submission part, too. It’s also best if you don’t tally to see who’s being more submissive. Then it just gets silly. I may be nitpicking, but I don’t agree everyone gets what they want that way. You both end up with something different entirely, and that’s okay. That’s what I learned in five years of marriage.

    • The funny thing about the whole “submission” thing in Ephesians is that Paul starts by saying “husbands and wives, submit to one another” and then he goes on to explain that. And it’s the explanation so many people seem to have a problem with.

  3. No lessons learned, since I’m single, but I just wanted to congratulate you both, and wish you more years of happiness and, yes, sanctification together.

  4. Good Post. Like what you were saying about both sides learning the strengths/weaknesses of the other and complimenting how eachother are geared.

    I believe the quote may be Mark Driscoll?

  5. I’m going to guess Mark Driscoll, but that’s only because you left his name out. :)

  6. hmmm. mark driscoll, who might’ve borrowed from john piper; and that could also have come from tim keller.

    is that cheating, making three guesses?

  7. 7 years, huh. Pffffft, *newlyweds* :)

    Going on 12 years here. These are some of the rules for living that we’ve come up with.

    1) I’m with you on the first one. Your spouse is not a “project”. Or, as my mom put it before I got married “Think about something he does right now that drives you nuts. Now, make sure it’s something you can live with, because he will NEVER stop doing it. In fact, when he’s an old man, he’ll probably do it even more.”

    2) Also with you on the bathroom thing. All bets are off during childbirth, but some things should just kind of be kept mysterious.

    3) Don’t compare anybody else’s marriage with your own. (For me, that includes the reading of marriage manuals.) Definitely, don’t use somebody else’s marriage as a measure of what’s “normal”.

    4) On a lark, I did read a victorian-era “advice for wives” book, which was amusing. But one line that stuck out to me was “A woman’s heart should be a tomb for her husband’s faults”. Terribly old-fashioned, but it’s actually pretty good advice if applied to both spouses. I take it to mean that if you have a problem with your spouse, you take it up with them–you don’t gripe to your friends or your parents about it.

    5) Never get into a pissing contest with your spouse about who has it worse (particularly if one of you is at home with the kids and the other isn’t.)

  8. 2006 was a very good year! We beat you to the altar by a month (Feb 11th). I wanted a winter wedding and had asked God for a little snow on the ground so we could get some pictures. It started snowing about the time the reception started. The next morning, we had 24″ on the ground and a tree across the parking lot, blocking us in (we didn’t have anywhere to go except to return his rented stuff, so it didn’t matter). It was awesome! :)

    What have I learned? That when I get upset about him doing/not doing something, it’s probably because I’ve got an expectation that’s not being met. Instead of fuming, I need to take an honest look at myself to see if that expectation is realistic or not.

    It used to bug the CRAP out of me that he wouldn’t take out the trash. It even came up as a way to “speak my love language” (which _isn’t_ “acts of service,” it just made me feel loved for no apparent reason and pissed me off when he wouldn’t do it). Turns out, I realized, my dad always collected the trash from around the house, so to me, that was just what the husband _did_. When the husband in my marriage was not _doing_ that, it was like my world was upside-down….until I realized I was just expecting him to be my dad and he was just being oblivious (not that he was intentionally _not_ doing something he _KNEW_ showed me he loved me)…..then I was much better.

    Life is especially better now that our son is old enough to take out the trash. The world is right again. ;p

  9. We’ve been married 33 years and counting. That’s a lot longer than 7, yet your final point is probably the most important thing we’ve learned in all these years. God never promised us that marriage would make us happy (although it does, most of the time). But He does promise that He will make us more like Him, and one of the most effective ways of doing that is through marriage. Happy anniversary!

  10. Congrats. This morning the phrase “God isn’t interested in making you happy but making you holy” come to my remembrance while considering a marriage issue. So let it be confirmed by two that I stumbled here to read your final point. Thank you.

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