I’ve heard over and over that the beginning years are the foundation that sets the pattern for how your marriage plays out in the years to come. Well, these past 9 months have been the beginning of the beginning. So for future reference’s sake and also for the edification of you, my reader, I’d like to remember five of the lessons I’ve been learning that have stood out the most in the past 9 months.
1. Check to make sure there are no drinking glasses out before getting out another one.
By this I mean that using common sense and consideration in your daily habits goes an incredibly long way in smoothing over small bumps in daily life that can turn into bigger irritants if you’re not careful. Small bits of consideration contribute to a big expression of love. This is a much bigger lesson for me to learn than her, and I’d suspect it’s that way for most couples. With that in mind, my point isn’t entirely a metaphor, either. I really do mean as literally as possible: check to make sure there are no drinking glasses out before getting another one.
2. Always, always keep getting to know her.
A few weeks ago when we were eating dinner together after church, Heidi and I started talking about her job. Just for fun I began to ask her deeper and deeper questions. “In your personality, what is it that attracts you to what you do at work rather than somebody like me?” “What about your worldview influences the way you do your job?” We eventually settled into a really fascinating conversation, and it struck me that these deep, searching conversations bring back that feeling of getting to know Heidi for the first time. Even though the novelty of marriage can wear off fairly quickly, continuing to rediscover my wife can remind me why I married her and strengthen my enthusiasm and gratitude for our marriage.
3. Keep inside jokes.
Our relationship started with a foundation of inside jokes. As camp counselors (which is how we met) there was a lot to laugh about, and Heidi and I clicked on that level first. Back then we joked that we had 5 inside jokes, but now they’ve multiplied to who-knows how many. There’s something to laughing about something nobody else gets that just reminds you that you belong together. Being straight-up goofy together falls under this category, too. Our favorite inside joke is ….ha! Nice try. Like I’m going to tell you that! Then it would be an outside joke!
4. Vulnerability and openness are manly qualities in marriage.
At first I think I assumed I had to be a solid, never-failing leader for Heidi, and while that is a great thing to attain, I am human. I’m never going to be completely perfect for her, and I had to learn it’s ok for her to realize this. In fact, she’s there just as much for me as I am for her. Because we are in this together for the long run there shouldn’t be anything to hold back from completely being myself with her. This extends to praying with her and pouring out my heart before God. By being honest about my shortcomings, we can build our relationship on reality rather than pretense.
5. Assume the best about her intentions.
This was a really big lesson I began to learn a few weeks into our marriage. One of our wedding gifts was the book Cracking the Communication Code, which makes an extremely important point that spouses most often have goodwill towards each other even if some communication doesn’t always seem that way when it’s delivered. It was revolutionary to realize that that even when something she says might come out a little harsh it doesn’t mean that she hates me as a person (it sounds silly when put like that, but sometimes in the heat of a moment it might threaten to feel that way). Assuming the best about each other’s actions covers a multitude of potential offenses.
I understand that the future holds so many more powerful lessons. I’m committed to being open to learn them because I know it’s completely worth it to get to be married to Heidi.
What is one important lesson you’ve learned that sticks with you to this day?