Friday, July 22, 2011

Show Us Your Life: Marriage Advice (ha!)

I've been thinking about this week's Show Us Your Life topic, marriage advice, for a few weeks now. Micah and I have only been married for two and a half years, so I hardly feel "qualified" to preach to anyone about how to make a marriage last.

But I have loved him for almost nine years, and, miraculously, he still loves me back. So I just thought I'd share some things we've learned over the years - they were hard-fought, and maybe they can save you from a night in the doghouse. :)

Love isn't a fairy tale.
This was something that it took a long time for me to figure out, as ridiculous as that might seem. I've been a hopeless romantic since I was a little girl, and I always imagined that marriage would be like a cleverly written romantic comedy - we'd fight, of course, but then we'd have the big, movie moment make-up, and he'd sweep me off my feet and we'd ride off into the sunset.

Instead, I've come to realize, real love is less of a roller coaster and more like a slow and steady stroll through life. I learned to stop longing for drama and to appreciate the quiet devotion that Micah displays. He may not sing me love songs, but he sure does a beautiful load of laundry. And we're not making out in the movie theater anymore, but I still get butterflies when he reaches across the popcorn to take my hand.

Giving feels just as good as getting.
I don't mean that - get your minds out of the gutter, y'all! ;) I just mean that there is joy in doing something selfless just to make the other person happy. But, truth be told, we both struggle a little with this one. Maybe it's because we're both the youngest in our families, but sometimes we're too preoccupied with fair and even and reciprocity.

However, we're learning that, if we'd both just serve without regard to what the other person is doing, it will be even. If we both just give all of ourselves and love without keeping score, we both win. It's hard, and it requires trust and vulnerability, but I think it's the only way that a relationship between two human, sinful people can work.

Words matter.
No one knows this better than a lawyer, right? :) But although this comes pretty naturally to me, Micah has struggled with being able to adequately express his feelings for a long time. When we first started dating, deep conversations with Micah were liking pulling teeth. He didn't volunteer anything, and I really had to work at my patience and persistence to get a glimpse into his thoughts. I can remember once sitting in silence for 10 minutes straight, waiting for Micah to articulate an answer to my question. This has been particularly difficult for me because words of affirmation are one of my love languages - I use words to express love, and words are a big part of how I perceive love.

Slowly but surely, Micah has learned to show me his love in a verbal way. Meaningful conversations are still sometimes like a trip to the dentist, but he has come a long way from the taciturn boy he was at 16. :) On the other hand, we're both very aware that words, once spoken, can't be taken back. We work hard to avoid saying things we'll regret later, and we try not to use words as weapons.

God's got us covered.
A cord of three strands is not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12.
There have been so many times when I've been in the midst of throwing myself a grand pity party, when God quietly taps me on the shoulder and reminds me that I'm not perfect and that this marriage thing isn't a cake walk. He reminds me of the vows I made, and I remember that love isn't just a feeling - it's choice that I made to commit myself to an incredible man in the presence of a loving God. That commitment means that I can let God love Micah through me when I'm not feeling particularly loving. It makes us a cord of three strands, rather than two.

So, although we're far from perfect, I know that God has got us covered and that He'll be our anchor when the storms come our way.


Lori Alexander said...

What a beautiful post and a beautiful couple! I love reading about young couples really loving each other! I have been married over 30 years but only have experienced an amazing marriage the past 8 years so I use my blog to train the younger women to love their husbands, etc. This world needs happy marriages. Keep up the good work!

Ryan said...

Thanks, Lori! What a testament to love you are - thirty years! Love your blog... I'll definitely check back in soon.

bmullen said...

This is a beautiful post, Ryan! I second everything you said. :)

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