I can't believe it's been twelve years of marriage already! Please know that even after all these years we are definitely not masters at being married. It's a learning journey! These years include lots of trial and error coupled with God's guidance.
Here are some of the areas I've grown in (or still working on ;) along the way:
* God first, spouse second, children third, and all else follows. I've found that I'm less successful in my marriage when my priorities get mixed up and God isn't #1. It's super easy to get this order out of whack especially with small kids and/or the demands of life. Those demands can suck all the energy out of you but try to remember your husband or wife is not an obligation but a vow you made before God and others.
* I don't have to say EVERYTHING I am thinking. Trust this is an area I'm still working on (ask Wes!) Wes is not super detailed and I am, so sometimes I may need to shorten my story to keep his interest. ;) Also if I am frustrated with him and need to tell him (which I do- no walking on eggshells here lol) there are ways to present the issues that are much more respectful.
* I can't change him... Ladies if you think you can change your man or vice versa good luck there. When Wes and I first had pre-marital counseling we were asked about the things the other one did that drove us crazy. Then we were asked if we would be able to live with that forever. Great question because many of those same things I listed Wes still does...Smh. Also keep in mind that everyone changes over time so Wes and I are not the same exact people we were when we got married to an extent. Shoot throw kids and sleep deprivation into the mix and see how fast it changes you and your perspective haha!!
* Pray for your husband/wife!!! Sometimes it's the only way to keep my sanity and not be that "nagging wife." ;) Seriously pray not only for the things you want changed but for their mind, health, career, protection, etc. God knows your spouse more than you do and prayer is the best way to support and love them. Prayer absolutely changes things!
* Wes and I are different for a reason. Sometimes I expect Wes to see or handle a situation as I would, but we are two completely different people. As much as I think I want Wes to be more like me, if I'm honest with myself that would probably drive me crazy. I know I couldn't handle two of me for sure! Wes and I are complete opposites, but it works out beautifully for us. He is calm especially under pressure, not overly emotional, he takes his time, thinks things through, sees the best in everyone, and doesn't jump to conclusions and I...well... sometimes I'm the opposite of all of that (in certain situations), so he definitely balances me out!
* WORK IT OUT! This was the best marriage advice we ever received from a couple who at that point had been married over 50 years! Whatever situation that has comes up our #1 goal has been to work through it together. Disclaimer: trust I do know that there are non negotiable areas but our personal goal was to just not toss that word around every time one of us got "up in our feelings" about something. We are not perfect in any way but we decided early on that we would not bring up the "divorce" word and so far twelve years in we have accomplished that. Praise God! My running joke is that it's taken me too long to train Wes (still working on it!) for this gal to start all over again! ;)
* Always be growing together and enjoying each other. Wes is my best friend and I love hanging out with him. We get on each other's nerves like no other but we also have fun together. Every opportunity for a date night (esp w/free babysitting- thank God for family! lol) we snatch it up! Remember to always be working on your marriage, reading, and associating with other married couples. A guy once told me at his wedding over 40 years ago his dad presenting him with a plaque with two pieces of the same cut of wood attached. One piece of wood had been sanded beautifully over time and was smooth and the other piece was left jagged and rough. His dad explained marriage is similar to that wood example in the sense that the only way to get to the beautiful piece of wood (a healthy marriage) is to work on the wood. If not it would stay jagged and rough. He wanted his son to be reminded of it whenever he saw that plaque.
Marriage is hard. If you aren't married yet, you may be tired of hearing this phrase and may think it's an exaggeration but it's true and I promise you will see one day when/if you get married. One book I read basically asks the question, "what if the goal of your marriage was to make you more Holy instead of more happy?" Many books I've read explain how marriage basically exposes your complete self. In friendships and/or dating you can somewhat highlight your good sides. I promise after marriage your partner will see the good, the bad, and even the downright ugly sides of you and if they are dedicated will still love you through it all. There is no where to hide! So no matter what social media may portray from pictures, posts, and what not- it's not happily ever after (directly after you say I do) without work, real love (not that fluffy butterfly stuff based 100% on feelings), time, and dedication. I mean seriously what do you expect when you take two flawed individuals and have them share their lives together ;)
I won't sugarcoat it-we've had some great and some rough moments along the way. I've personally grown so much and it has humbled and stretched me beyond words. I know 100% that my marriage is the hardest yet most rewarding accomplishment in my life and I pray for many more years to come with my babe! Happy Twelve Year Anniversary to us!!