I probably made this statement a lot when I was a kid growing up with two brothers. But I know I say it often now in my household with a husband and a son.
Men are just different than we are, ladies. Living with them isn’t always easy. (And I’m sure they would say the same thing about living with us.)
As much as society wants to lump us all together and say men and women are the same, we just aren’t. And even though I grew up with brothers and a dad living in my house, marriage is a whole new experience. When I said those vows on that warm South Carolina day in May, I didn’t truly know exactly what was ahead. We were in love and we were ready to start our lives together, no doubt. And we were in our mid-30’s, more mature than a lot of newlyweds. However, nothing can really prepare you for the day in/day out of marriage.
There are some days when “I do” just isn’t enough.
Marriage isn’t a one-time recitation on the “happiest day of your life.” Marriage is a daily commitment. It’s a constant choice to put another’s needs before your own and love that person unconditionally even on the worst of days when he or she is at their worst.
Emerson Eggerichs, author of Love & Respect, puts it this way:
“One of the most popular illustrations we use in Love and Respect Conferences compares women and men to pink and blue. The audience responds immediately when I talk about how she sees through pink sunglasses and hears with pink hearing aids, while he sees through blue sunglasses and hears with blue hearing aids. In other words, women and men are very different. Yet, when blue blends with pink, it becomes purple, God’s color—the color of royalty. The way for pink and blue to blend is spelled out in Ephesians 5:33: “[Every husband] must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband” (NIV). Living out Ephesians 5:33 is the key to blending together as one to reflect the very image of God.” *
Very different. But able to blend harmoniously if we keep God at the center and follow God’s commands in scripture.
Every day, we need to renew our vows. I’ve found three things that work for me in my marriage.
- Be each other’s biggest cheerleader.
I would not be sitting here doing what I’m doing as a writer and stay-at-home mom if it weren’t for the support of my husband. It was a big step of faith to go from two incomes to one. It didn’t make sense on paper but my husband was sensitive to the Lord’s calling and a believer in my dreams. He is my strongest support system and I hope that I am that for him, too. When you keep the perspective that you are both on the same team and have the same goals for your family, it makes it harder to allow contention to rise up between you.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10a
- Don’t let bitterness fester.
If we are honest, most of the things that cause bitterness in the first place are minor annoyances or occurrences that are best left by the wayside to die. However, if there is something that causes a break between you and your spouse that you truly feel is important, bring it up. Have it out if need be. Don’t let it sit in your heart and build a wall between you and your spouse. Nothing will break down communication and damage a relationship more than bitterness.
“…bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” – Colossians 3:13
- Go to bed in peace.
Above our bed, there is a wall vinyl that says, “Always kiss me goodnight.” Unless something like a contagious illness or a business trip prevented it, we have always kept to this mantra. We may not even like each other or be 100% okay with each other when it’s time to lay our heads on our pillows, but we always kiss each other goodnight. It makes it harder to be angry and easier to sleep in peace. Plus, we usually wake up the next morning forgetting whatever we were upset about in the first place.
“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” – Ephesians 4:26
There are so many other ways to keep your commitment fresh every day with your spouse. The most important factor is to remember that it is a commitment. So many couples are so focused on the fun, fancy wedding part of the marriage and don’t realize that there is so much more to a marriage commitment, and honestly, a lot of it is not fun. Remember that you aren’t just making a vow to your spouse. You are making a vow to God. And He expects you to be all in.
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*Source: The Language of Love & Respect: Cracking the Communication Code with Your Mate by Emerson Eggerichs