4 Secrets to a Successful Marriage…According to Me!
Looking at my resume on marriage, I am probably the least qualified to speak on the matter or offer suitable advice. Four major themes continually pass through my marriage and they don't seem to change. As I sat in my front living room drinking my coffee this morning, however, I felt encouraged to address some things I have learned and continue to learn on this thing called marriage.
1. Communication is key...blah blah blah.
When I hear this I just want to scream. What if you are horrible at communicating or never learned how? What if your spouse refuses to hear you? Please don't misunderstand, I agree that communication is vital; but how do you do this effectively without direction or coaching? Some people refuse to go to counseling or seek any type of self-help, so this area of marriage crashes when there is not emphasis placed on strengthening this muscle. Before my divorce, I was very rude, selfish and impatient. I hurt now thinking about some of the things I said in arguments and how I truly believed I was always right. I do not even know that person anymore. Fast forward to current, being married to my best friend. I have evolved and improved, but now I am communicating with a completely different style. I still fail at connecting effectively because I am an emotional being. My secret now, though, is that I go to the Father before I bring something up and immediately after. He can do wonders in helping my husband hear my heart and also in showing me how I could have done or said it better. I believe learning the art of communication is ongoing until we die. So don't be so hard on yourself or so hard on your marriage. Don't think you married the wrong person because you can't talk to him or her anymore. I plead with you to not ever think you have ever gotten to a place where you don't need to improve how you communicate, because this is a trap.
2. Don't believe that the "triggers" are your spouse's fault.
I used to think that my husband saying or doing something that made me sad or feel rejected was his fault. He has also, at times, believed that me triggering anger in him proves that the fault lies with me and I shouldn't make him mad. Brothers and sisters, you are the keeper of your own soul. Your mind, will and emotions were given to you to control and master. This is something else that is ongoing because we are human! You may think or even say: "You didn't trigger me when we were friends or dating, but now you do and you must not be the right fit that God meant for me." This is a lie straight from hell. If I have learned anything about God, it is that He often does things backwards from what our earthly minds would have orchestrated. I believe, wholeheartedly, that He put that person in your life in order TO TRIGGER YOU! We all have hurts from our childhoods and pasts that have made us evolve into the people we are. Wouldn't it be nice if we could stay as happy and sheltered as a newborn baby? Unfortunately, we step into our relationships with baggage...that we don't unpack until after we say "I do". Change your mindset when those triggers happen. Instead of blaming the other person, say: "Thank you Lord for showing me that something is still in my heart that gets triggered. Show me what it is and help me navigate through it."
3. The person your spouse is today is NOT the person you dated...and WILL NOT be the same person in 5 years.
We have all heard that the real work begins after the "honeymoon phase" ends. I don't know about the rest of you, but our work began the day after we got married! It was like expectations completely transformed overnight and neither of us were prepared to steer through that change. My husband and I have been very hard on each other over the last several years. I can't help but wonder if the premarital advice we had gotten was: to expect the other to change, to evolve and to grow; if we would have been better prepared to face the good and the bad together? No one told us that things would change in the bedroom or that the courting and kind gestures would come and go just like the seasons do. No one told me that my best friend, lover and husband would get on my nerves to the point that we couldn't be in the same room at times. Expectations are set based on the thought that this person has swooped in and saved you from everything bad and hurtful in your life. Dear friend, this person will be the source of everything hurtful in your life at some point. We are all imperfect, so it will happen; but that leads to the most important piece of advice that I could give you...
4. You must choose to love this imperfect being everyday...EVERY....SINGLE...DAY.
If you have been fooled to believe that it will be easy to love this person every day, you better pray for God to silence the enemy! Ha! Think about how hard it was to live with your parents and siblings as you grew up and matured into your own person. I would bet you probably clashed some, if not most, of the time. Did you stop loving them? Absolutely not. Did you have to choose at some point to overlook an offense or irritation and love them through it? Probably. So why would it be any different in marriage? It's not. It is difficult to share your life with anyone. Especially the person you are supposed to eventually mold into and become one with. Just remember, moving forward is growing and making progress. If you choose to never stop evolving, then I am confident you will be successful and have a heart that will propel your marriage to a whole new altitude.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.