Ever since I was a little girl I knew I wanted to grow up, get married, and have a family. I thought it would be fun and beautiful. We’d spend all our time doing adventurous things together and life would be good. It would be just like the fairy tales I loved. Some handsome man would come along and sweep me off my feet and rescue me from the chaos of my childhood home.
After thirty years of marriage and five children I can say without a doubt it has been fun and beautiful and good and messy. That’s the part I never anticipated. My vision of our happy life together raising our family was filled with ease and laughter, and there’s nothing really easy about raising five kids except for watching them sleep. We’d always have plenty of money, and thankfully we live more comfortably than most, but there have been periods of time in our lives when we were broke as a joke!
Wanna’ take a little walk down memory lane with me?
Back in the early 90’s, we were financially destitute. We shacked up in a tiny one bedroom house, which actually belonged to my husband’s late grandmother, with three young children and another on the way. Mark and I plus one slept in the living room and the two oldest took the bedroom. Now, let me clarify when I say bedroom I’m talking a room that would fit bunk beds (only if they were bunked) and a tiny dresser…that’s it. Don’t get me wrong, it was adequate and we had a roof over our heads, but it wasn’t ideal. The bathroom didn’t have a door either; I guess when an elderly lady lives alone she really doesn’t need doors, but we could’ve used a few, so we hung up some sheets and went about life.
Much can be learned when living in less than ideal situations. I remember only wanting certain people to visit us. I guess I felt less than. Less than those who had more than we did. And I didn’t want to world to see our struggles. Perhaps you’re in a similar season. I’m here encouraging you today to embrace life wherever you are! Things are never as bad as they seem my friend. And they’re never as good as they seem either.
Today I’m sharing four things to help you through the tough times, and they apply even if you’re not experiencing marital struggles.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO LIKE EACH OTHER TO LOVE EACH OTHER
Say what? Listen…I love my husband more than anything in the world, but it doesn’t mean I always like him. In fact, there have been times when I’ve said as much. We are imperfect beings. We screw up, occasionally make each other mad, and say things sometimes we shouldn’t. And living in less than ideal conditions can sometimes bring the worst of us to the surface. It’s taken many years to retrain the way I thought a healthy marriage should look. My vision of the perfect marriage included two perfect people, and there’s no such thing. I do have a knight in shining armor…he even brings me coffee in bed EVERY DAY (yep, he’s a keeper), but he still makes mistakes and so do I.
WE DON’T HAVE TO AGREE ON EVERYTHING
He’s him and I’m me and just because we’re married doesn’t mean we’re going to see eye to eye on everything. And that’s okay! Yes, marriage makes us a team and we must work together, but it doesn’t mean we are going to be in alignment on everything. We can disagree. The important thing is we take the time to communicate our feelings to each other about our disagreements in a respectful and understanding way. Start with being a good listener. Communication is the key to a successful marriage.
NEVER GIVE UP
This is huge. Things haven’t always been rainbows and butterflies over here. We’ve had our share of tough seasons, and I’m talking REAL trials, the kind that destroy marriages. What I’ve witnessed and participated in was two people who were willing to do the HARD WORK! Seriously hard work. We ignored our feelings. When we felt like throwing in the towel, we didn’t. Here’s the thing, marriages are sometimes messy and the mind is a battlefield. You’ve got to be willing to fight for your marriage. Remember…the only way to fail is to quit!
PUT GOD FIRST
I promise you if we hadn’t done this, there are times I believe our marriage would’ve failed! You heard me right…failed. I have seen the amazing power of Jesus transform our marriage. One quick glance in the rearview mirror and I clearly remember knowing there was no way we would make it through those tough times. With God at the center, our marriage not only survived, it flourished.
One more thing…if you’re looking around you and you think that lots of other couples have it all together…they don’t. Please don’t play the comparison game and measure the success of your marriage against what you believe about others. Instead, focus on how ways to improve your own relationship. Here are a few communication starters you can use to spark positive vibes with your spouse:
Wishing you and yours a blessed Thanksgiving!