So it’s been 6 wonderful years of wedded bliss. Marriage is, by far, the greatest adventure. We just spent 5 days in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic to celebrate and now we’re quietly holed-up in our happy place: the lake.
Does life get much better?
I’ll detail our DR trip later, but for now I’ll leave you with 6 wonderfully surprising truths I’ve learned about marriage.
1. Laugh often. Laughter can dissolve tension, save one from spilling words that hurt, bring joy and delight into the most unexpected places, and cement a moment in time creating a cherished memory or an inside joke to be relived again and again. Laughing at ourselves keeps us humble and honest and focused on the best things – shrugging off or, at the very least, making light of the heavier things. Whatever the reason, giggle, laugh out loud, and tap into those deep-belly, no-noise-making, tearing-up, occasionally-snorting, relishing-and-delighting-in-the-moment laughs. And do so often. It makes for a happy marriage, full heart, and a joyful life.
2. Be grateful. Years ago I heard Andy Stanley say, “Gratitude unexpressed comes across as ingratitude.” Say, out loud, in no unclear terms what you’re thankful for. It’s nice to be reminded of the little things in a love note or flowers and card, but it can be as simple as quiet pillow talk just before bed:
“Thanks for working so hard to provide for us. I appreciate all that you do and sacrifice.”
“Thanks for making this house a home. My favorite part of the day is walking through the door. It’s like the world falls off my shoulders and I can relax.”
I recently saw a quote that made me pause: “What if you only had tomorrow what you thanked God for today?” Be grateful – make note of blessings big and small – and be sure to take time to thank your spouse and express your gratitude.
3. Power down. Set aside intentional, full eye contact, phones and to-do lists aside, quality time. We’ve decided to put our phones in a drawer for dinner and turn them on silent past a certain time at night. We don’t begin or end our day on our phones. It creates intimacy and shows that you value the other person and your relationship when you unplug. Picking up your phone mid-conversation is basically conveying that any other person who can reach you on your phone is more important than the person sitting across from you. Don’t do that to people – especially don’t do that to your spouse. Put the phones away, disconnect from the world, and reconnect with each other. It’s amazing what fun, charming, witty, brilliant conversation you have when the phone’s put away, laptop is closed, and TV is off. You might find you rediscover the fully-engaged, interesting person you fell in love with.
4. Pray together. And always hold hands when you pray together, the physical intimacy mirroring the spiritual intimacy. It will be a discipline you develop, a habit that you look forward to, and an example your kids will admire and respect. There is so much power in prayer. Uniting your hearts and minds as you make huge decisions – or come across minor ones, or simply thank God for each day – is a beautiful thing and, I believe, a necessity. Praying together will open the door to healthy communication – keep nothing hidden from each other. Honesty is the only foundation for trust.
5. Love well. Love the one you fell in love with, and said your vows to, with a fierce love. Wake up and choose to be committed every single day – when you feel like it and when you don’t. Never give up on each other. When the world comes at you, make the choice to link arms and face adversity together. You’ll weather the worst of times – sometimes out of sheer mad stubborn commitment to your vows, angry at the one who caused the mess; other times, you’ll find yourself so eternally grateful for the one who’ll stand beside you even through the mess you yourself made. You’ll rejoice in the best of times – thankful for the covenant you have before God with your best friend to love, honor, and cherish, to share all things, to take the good with the bad. But you’ll face it all together. Love well, love often, and fight for your marriage with a fierce, abiding love.
6. Forgive – quickly and sincerely. This was the advice my daddy gave us on our wedding day and it’s a word of wisdom we’ve come back to many times. Ask for forgiveness and give it freely each day. Be humble when you’re wrong and admit it. Be gracious when your spouse comes to you admitting the same. Resolve your differences quickly and sincerely; don’t stay mad for too long but don’t fake forgiveness while secretly harboring resentment. As Tammy Taylor, one of my all-time favorites, says, “There’s no weakness in forgiveness.”
Bonus Tip: Try new things together. Pursue each other. Learn something new about the other one’s hopes and dreams. Continue to become students of each other’s love. Study your spouse’s likes and dislikes – and, more importantly, ask why. New adventures – trying new restaurants, traveling to new places, learning a new skill set or hobby – creates bonding, a shared experience, something that is new and fresh to both of you. It brings out youthfulness, spontaneity, and the you-don’t-have-to-be-perfect, no-expectations, good-old-fashioned FUN of trying new things and either surprising yourself or laughing off insignificant failures (that make for great stories later). Try new things, and as you uncover new things together, you discover more things to love and appreciate in each other.
Grant, I love you so. Thanks for being the head of our home, the first one I run to with good news or bad, my best friend, a patient listener, an awesome communicator, and a steady rock in so many ways. You are fun beyond measure, brilliantly smart, quick, witty, handsome, and hands-down the funniest person I know. Thank you for 6 amazing years of travel, laughter, adventure, school, work, play, entering adulthood light-footedly, exploring, netflix-ing, catamaran-ing, dancing barefoot in the kitchen, lake weekends, and countless celebrations, big and small. You’re my favorite and I love you so much. Happy anniversary!!