Over ten years ago, on September 18th, 2004 before God and our assembled witnesses of friends and family, two people named Shane and Kasi made a covenant with each other to love, cherish, and honor one another 'till death do us part, and were joined together as one.
It's amazing that we ever got married at all, considering the fact that I (Shane) proposed to Kasi in a barbecue restaurant. Yes, I'm publicly admitting to that. There's nothing quite like dodging sauce on the ground as you get down on one knee for perhaps the most important moment in your life up to then.
Fortunately, my skills have grown somewhat in the last ten years. So, we celebrated our anniversary by repeating our marriage vows on the beach in Destin, FL.
Marriage has been by far the most challenging and most rewarding adventure of our lives. Recently, after putting our four children under the age of ten to bed (2 biological & 2 adopted) through weary and bloodshot eyes, we decided to jot down ten things that we have learned during this time, from Jesus and each other.
Here is what we came up with:
1. Almost all of the time being married is NOT a fairy tale.
Marriage is neither a Disney movie, nor an episode of The Bachelor with dates in helicopters on remote jungle islands. Sometimes it's hard, it's exhausting, and it takes a lot of work. However, words fail us in trying to describe the benefits from such hard work!
2. Have fun, and don't take yourself too seriously.
Often, as Christian couples, we can make things overly-complicated or too spiritual. It's good to have fun! Be silly. Do things to make each other laugh! It's okay to have a good time, without having to explain it away with religious jargon.
3. Your spouse shouldn't "complete you".
We know, we know, Jerry Maguire would vehemently disagree with us. If we're depending on our spouse to fulfill us, we're setting them up for failure. Only God can truly satisfy and fulfill the soul; the more we're completed in Christ, the better spouse we'll be to each other.
4. The kids cannot become the center of your home.
It's unfair to our children for them to become our lives. That is way too much pressure for an eight-year-old to handle. According to the Bible, I have "become one" with my spouse. It doesn't say that about our kids; we're simply to be good stewards of them. We plan on being married until we're old and grey, and hopefully one day our children will move out. We don't want our home to crumble when the kids leave, so because of that, they'll never be the most important thing in our home.
5. "Mommy and Daddy time" gets better the longer you're married.
Does this really need explanation? Come on. Just like anything else, you get better with experience and repetition. We have gone through great seasons together, rough seasons, celebrations, and battles. Love has made us get through, and therefore, we know how to make love!
6. The goal of a good argument is not to win, but to learn.
Arguments aren't always bad; sometimes a good argument is needed to clear the air. It can actually be extremely constructive if you seek to learn something about each other, and how to move forward. However, it can be very selfish, destructive, and hurtful if we're only trying to win the argument.
7. You have to fight really hard to not become roommates.
It's so easy to fall into a routine of doing daily tasks together. Laundry, yard work, the grocery store, daily chores, honey-does, help the kids with homework, paying the bills, and watching our favorite television shows. Wow, look at us, we're a great team! We get a lot done, yet we have completely stopped "wooing" each other. How sad. Remember, if you're coasting, that means you're going downhill. Date each other, pursue each other, be husband and wife.
8. She deeply needs love; he deeply needs respect.
"However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband" (Ephesians 5:33).
This verse says it perfectly: The greatest desire of a wife is to have a husband that loves her, and a husband desperately desires that his wife respect him. (Interestingly, these are two sides of the same coin. You don't respect someone you don't love, and you don't love someone you don't respect.)
9. Everything boils down to good communication and clear expectations.
99.9% of arguments and conflicts come down to a communication issue and unmet expectations. Issues over money, children, sex, schedules, they almost all boil down to clearly, lovingly, and selflessly communicating expectations.
10. We are in this marriage for a lifetime, so we can either choose to be joyful or to be miserable.
We made a covenant with each other that included some very important statements, "For better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, till death do us part." That means that neither one of us are going anywhere, no matter how bad it gets. It is going to be difficult, so daily we must work at being joyful. The only other option is to be miserable, and no one willfully chooses that!
Marriage is not about us as individuals or even as a couple, but it is actually about something much bigger than us.
According to Ephesians 5, marriage is the visual illustration God has given the world to show Christ's relationship to his bride (the Church). "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church" (Ephesians 5:31 – 32).
Our marriage is actually preaching a Gospel message to the world; that truth alone makes marriage eternally important. It's necessary for us to ask ourselves this question often, "What kind of message is our marriage preaching to our children, our church, our family, our friends, and a watching world?"
Originally posted at AlreadyAm.com.