Today is 9 years of marriage for us.
Shaina is a strong, enduring woman.
I still remember sneaking down to Wellsville when I turned 20 to ask Shaina's parents for her hand in marriage. I presented no plan financially, no direction vocationally, and no clue intellectually...and they said yes. We got married 9 months later. We made $9000 our first year of marriage and I was a lot skinnier back then.
In so many ways, this year has been the hardest for us.
We spent about 1/4 of our year in a hospital going back and forth between hope and despair.
We packed up and left our core of support, our families and our church because God was calling us to Columbus.
We've been sleep deprived, quality time deprived, hope deprived...
And we're still here.
Crisis has made us better. Better at appreciating time together. Better at grace. Better at working at our marriage. Better at following Jesus.
We've got a relatively short window of time on this planet. And I will not settle for a mediocre marriage. I want a marriage that others around us want to emulate. I want Shaina to believe in me as her husband, trust me as a leader, root for me as a friend, and desire me as her mate for a lifetime. I want to be in the same bed with my wife 50 years from now, even if I take 75% of the bed (Allegedly) and occasionally play the lumberjack in my sleep (Allegedly).
So here's 5 things that I think are key for us having an exceptional marriage.
1. Talk. Not just about what is coming up the next day or week. But talk about where you feel your love tank being filled up and where it might be depleted. Own up to sin. Be vulnerable with your emotions. If something isn't working in your relationship...don't be bitter and ticked that they don't change to what you want...start talking through expectations, hopes, disappointments. And when you do it, don't ever match intensity. If she's upset and raising her voice...don't match it.
2. Speak the same language. If you're married and you haven't read The Five Love Languages, you're probably sinning or something. Know your mate's language of love and speak it early and often.
3. Quit your kids. A startling trend in the family unit is the mom and dad coexisting as roommates and living vicariously through their children. When the kids leave the house, the couple goes into crisis because the thing they haven't cultivated for the last 20 years is glaring right at them. I love Chaia. But to love her well, she needs me to love my wife more. She needs me to model 2 becoming 1. She needs to know and feel secure in her mom and dad living out a biblical, God-honoring marriage. She needs it modeled at home. So dudes...quit your kids and date your wife. Weekly or at least a couple times a month. Find a babysitter or work something out with friends where you watch their kids, they watch yours and you root for each others' marriages, or put your kid in the basement for a few hours (I kid)...but seriously...(I kid). You will struggle as a parent if you don't prioritize your marriage above your parenting.
4. Be where God calls you. When you're married, God calls you as a couple. Don't waste your life. Pray together and seek God's calling for who you are to be together, where you are to be together, what you are to value together. If God burdens you with the orphan, pray about adoption and fostering. If God burdens you with church planting, come to Columbus and join us! :-) No one wants to have on their tombstone..."Here lies _________ who played it safe with his family and had no eternal impact." Ask God to leverage your life and the lives of your family for God's glory. Can you see that prayer being answered in your life? If not...its time to adjust the sails.
5. Sex. I said it. Are you blushing? Sex in marriage is a delightful thing. There was a pastor in Texas who issued a challenge to his church. To all the married folks he told them to have sex every day for seven days and see how God worked in your relationship. That may seem intense to you...but to some of us, that's a normal week. (Allegedly!) Intimacy is so huge in marriage. But dudes, remember this nugget of wisdom...your bride is like a crockpot and you are like a microwave. If you're thinking intimacy, you need to turn the crockpot on at the beginning of the day (maybe even the day before!)and let it simmer. (You're welcome)
Well there ya have it. We're 9 years in. Here's to 90 more.