Happily Married…well, sometimes

I’ve liked Ryan since I was 14. After what felt like a forever wait, we finally married when I was 21.

We celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary in the spring.  We’re very happily married…well, sometimes.

Let me be clear, I love being married to Ryan.  So, why does the grass look greener elsewhere sometimes?  Because Ryan is a sinner and I am a sinner.  And, when two sinners hookup for life, it’s tough.  You hurt each other.  You take the other for granted.  You see the happy and the grumpy.  You get the well-rested and the totally exhausted.  You receive the loving words and the impatient words.  You get the selfless and the selfish.  You get the empathy and the apathy.  When you marry a sinner, you get sin in the mix.

However, the grass on the other side looks greener because all you can see from a distance is kindness, gratitude, happiness, sweetness, loving words, selfless actions, and empathy.  But, guarantee if you crossed over that fence (which would be sin, but we’ll skip over that for the moment), you’ll find mixed into that beautiful lush green field a whole bunch of weeds that look a lot like the weeds in your own marriage.

How can I be so sure?  Friends have shared with me different struggles or negative experiences they have had with their seemingly perfect husbands.  All the fields have weeds.  Every marriage has hard aspects.  There is no “happily ever after” with the spouse of your dreams.

So, how do you stay content in the field you chose?  How do you resist talking to the stranger at the park who is being very friendly and makes you feel noticed once again?  How do you resist thinking about the person at church who always seems to be so loving and perfect?  How do you say no to all others and stay loyal and true to the person you vowed to love till death do you part?

Confide in a wise, older mentor (of your same gender) about your struggles.

This was one of the best and hardest things I did at one point when I found myself very distracted by a particular person.  The mentor helped me tremendously and that battle has now been won and that person is no longer a distraction. Praise God.

Understand the 80/20 principle.

A wise lady, who is now very sadly a widow, told me about the 80/20 principle.  She said you love about 80% of what your spouse does/is.  About 20% you don’t like.  Focus on the 80%.  Our tendency is to narrowly focus in on the 20%.   This sweet widow confided that when the spouse passes, you will only be thinking about the 80%.  Let’s try to go ahead and focus on the 80 now!  And, when my husband does something that I find a struggle to deal with, I try to remind myself, “This is part of the 20.”  Expect the 20.  But, focus on the 80.

Consider getting Biblical marriage counseling together as a couple.

One of the absolute best things that Ryan and I have done for our marriage (and our happiness) is seek outside help.  Yes, it was very humbling to actually admit we weren’t perfectly sufficient to figure out this marriage thing on our own.  But, once we got over that hurdle, we have found both formal and informal marriage counseling to be very helpful.  And, just a heads up, counseling helps you see your own 80/20!

One couple recommended the book Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler.  While not a marriage book per se, I have found the principles shared immensely helpful when applied to our communication with each other.

Realize and accept that the only way you will make it to your 50th wedding anniversary is broken together.

I love the song Broken Together by Casting Crowns.  New love is beautiful and exciting and is necessary to get two people together typically in America.  But, when you’ve been married 10, 20, 25 years, your love has been tested, retested, and then tested yet again.  And, sadly, we fail those tests repeatedly.  We speak harshly and hurt each other deeply.  Forgiveness must be infused into our marriages.

Thank you, Ryan, for loving me…and for letting me share this post. I’m looking forward to our 50th anniversary.

(This post is for those in nonabusive relationships. If you are being physically hurt by your spouse, please get help immediately.)

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