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5 years and 5 lessons

August 4, 2012

Last weekend my wife and I celebrated 5 years of marriage. Now, by no means do I consider myself a guru of marriage – far from it, but nevertheless I thought it might be fun to blog 5 observations I have had after 5 years of marriage.

1.       Communication is Crucial

In the lead up to getting married I must have heard people tell me this a hundred times over, and still I don’t think I fully appreciated how true it was.

I’m convinced that the single most common cause of marriage failure is rooted in a lack of communication. Most marriages have the potential to overcome any obstacle but often they don’t because we let problems fester under the surface without exposing them. Our insecurities and frustrations are often left to grow until the problem seems too difficult to deal with and then we don’t know what to do.

On a more positive note where good quality communication exists so does a healthy relationship. Talking things through with your spouse isn’t just about damage control, it’s also a key ingredient to enriching your relationship.

I remember one occasion when Bex and I were eating in a restaurant and we noticed an older couple sat on the table next to us. We watched as they ate their entire meal without saying a single word to each other. This serves as a warning for us on a regular basis – we don’t want to be that couple.

2.       Love is a Language

In 1992 Dr Gary Chapman, a marriage counsellor, released a book called ‘The 5 Love Languages’. 20 years and 7 million copies later his advice remains as helpful today as it was then.

Dr Chapman teaches that we all have a ‘love language’, ‘a primary way of expressing and interpreting love’.

Dr Chapman identified the love languages as being; words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.

Essentially what this means is that we as individuals feel loved in particular ways and as such it’s hugely helpful to identify the love language of your spouse. Otherwise you may think that you are showing your spouse how much you love them but the message is not being received.

For example one of my love languages is ‘physical touch’ which means I tend to feel loved through the medium of physical affection, however my wife’s main love language is ‘acts of service’. So imagine, if you will, a Friday evening as I walk in from work exhausted by a long week. I go straight to Bex hoping for a cuddle (as I tend to do), Bex however has had an equally long hard week looking after CJ, doing the housework and the million and one other things she does and all she wants is to get the house work finished and dinner on the table. I get frustrated because Bex seems uninterested in me, whereas she gets frustrated as there’s lots more to do around the house before we can settle down for the evening.

The key is for us to learn to communicate in the love language that our spouse appreciates. This doesn’t work too well if only one person is doing it – both people need to be on board.

Why not have a think now as to what your spouse’s love language is and plan to learn it and then use it more regularly.

3.       Marriage is a Great Investment

On a daily basis it feels like there are a hundred things trying to grab my attention, my time, my effort and my money and often I climb into bed at the end of every day exhausted after trying to dish out doses of my life to anyone trying to get a piece of me. It’s the same for all of us; we live extremely busy lives.

And I have come to learn, that second to investing time into my relationship with God investing time into my marriage is best. Marriage has the potential to last your entire life, it has the potential to outlive your career, it has the potential to outlive your church ministry, it has the potential to outlive friendships and hobbies and as such it ought to carry a higher priority than all of these things.

Too often marriages fall apart because people value other more temporary things above their spouse. I’m guilty of this too – even when I think I’m doing good I only need to look at my diary and my bank balance to identify what I really think. By God’s grace I press on.

4.       It takes some digging

I once heard someone say:

‘You can’t have your treasure unless you’re prepared to dig it up from the dirt’.

It’s the same with marriage. Most marriage vows have the following words:

“For better, for worse,

For richer, for poorer,

In sickness, in health,

Until death do us part.”

I wonder how many of us are actually aware of the covenant we are making on our wedding day. We are basically saying, ‘when it’s easy AND WHEN IT SEEMS IMPOSSIBLE’.

I will love you Bex when you buy me presents and when you leave my DVDs out of the cases so that CJ scratches them to high heaven.

I will love you Bex when you give me steak and when you give me couscous for the fifth day running

The above two comments are obviously somewhat silly – Bex doesn’t give me couscous that often, but the point is we need to understand that marriage takes effort.

We live in a throw away society where the moment things get difficult or damaged we think ‘I’ll chuck this one and get a new one’. If my iPhone breaks my brain will start planning my purchase of a new one rather than looking to fix the old one. Sometimes we have the same view with marriage.

If you want to experience true joy and pleasure in your marriage, if you want to experience that buried treasure then you need to roll your sleeves up and get your hands dirty – no relationship is exempt from this!

5.       Marriage helps make me more like Christ

For about 22 years I plodded on through my life, thinking I was pretty cool and yes I knew I was a sinner but all in all I considered myself a good guy who was doing well in his walk with God.

Then I got married and it was like someone stuck a mirror in front of my face for every second of every day – ouch! I saw more of my depravity than I had ever seen before.

It was the just the little things it was also the big things – I’d never seen how selfish I was.

Before marriage I was only responsible for me, my day to day was geared around Jez and then I realised that everything had to change, I was now living in a partnership with someone who wasn’t Jez, it was no longer ‘me’, but it was ‘we’.

5 years on and I am marginally better with this, my wife amazingly remains a fantastic example of selflessness and love – I have still got a long way to go – what a kick to my ego this has been – but my goodness how grateful I am for it.

Marriage helps me in my process of becoming more like Christ – I am able to see my shortcomings more visibly in the context of my relationship with Bex, and it gives me the chance to allow God to work his sanctifying grace in my life and I am tremendously grateful to God and to Bex for this.
So here’s to the next 5 years!
What observations have you had about marriage so far?

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From → Life Advice

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