I love our marriage, I get excited when I meet another young married couple, I enjoy talking to engaged couples, and I love what marriage can be. By no means will I ever claim to be a professional at marriage, but I do want to encourage others with things Loren and I have learned. I dream of sharing experiences throughout our life, teaching others how to improve their friendship, intimacy, and communication in marriage. Marriage, at the core, can illustrate Christ's love for us. That excites, motivates, and inspires me! Marriage also is meant to be a safe place and ultimately the perfect place to be transformed into the image of Christ. As a spouse, we have the unique role to lead our beloved closer to the feet of Jesus, empowering them to be molded into His likeness! Oh what beauty!
Our young marriage has so much to teach us as we journey through life together, but I couldn't be happier with the route we've taken so far! We were warned that the first few years of marriage would be rough and hard, but in utmost honesty, these last two years have been the best years of my life. Full of joy and laughter, dreaming with no ends, and blessings beyond belief.
We were recently asked what we saw as most important when building our marriage on a firm foundation. I definitely claim that building it on, with, and through Jesus is essential and key. Without Him, we would not have a perfect model for marriage (sacrificial love through service)!
In no particular order, here is our Top 10 list for now - it is subject to change as we grow, learn, make mistakes, and remain committed!
1. *Honestly communicate as well as recognize unhealthy expectations. There are 4 problematic types of expectations: Unconscious Unrealistic Unspoken Unsettled Get rid of the "uns" and be completely honest with one another; vulnerable. I would say that most conflicts are due to some sort of "un"-expectation. Search your heart, your past, your present to find what that expectation could be!
2. *Make intimacy a priority, both emotionally and physically. When this is neglected, it is difficult to know your spouse's heart. Everything feels "off" and you're unsure of their heart towards you. Simply, you are out of sync. One of the many benefits of making it a priority is that your bonds deepen as intimacy occurs. Your hearts are knitted together, one stitch at a time. Take advantage of marriage in this way! You have the opportunity to be KNOWN by someone (both physically and emotionally). To be frank, you have the honor of one person discovering and loving every crease and crevice of your body AND your heart! Such a special blessing.
3. Go to bed at the same time. Sometimes the most encouraging talks and loving conversations are pillow talk. What a comfort it is to fall asleep next to the one your soul loves! If someone likes to read, bring the book to bed.
4. *Spend quality & quantity time praying for your spouse. Especially when you're hurt, arguing, or frustrated with them. It will turn your heart towards your spouse and ultimately better your marriage as a whole. When you are able to look at your spouse with the lens of humility, something will happen to him or her as well - they will feel safe and able to communicate clearly and honestly. Plus, praying influences the heart of God himself!
5. No television/tv in the bedroom. We don't have television or internet, so this was easy for us. However, my sister-in-law shared how it had effected their marriage without them realizing! She explained the distraction it brought, never quite allowing deep emotional intimacy. Let your room be a sacred and peaceful place.
6. Enjoy at least 1 meal a day with one another; uninterrupted by emails, phones, or TV. "Breaking bread" with someone can be one of the most emotionally-intimate acts. Ask one another how they feel most loved, least loved. Let it be a time of closeness and friendship. Converse about your dreams! Sip some wine! Relax and enjoy the presence of your spouse.
7. If possible, keep your "day off" the same. If anything, have an evening off. Plan friendship building activities for this day, or simply relax together! Be together, hold hands, laugh, walk, hike; the choices are endless. Loren & I love to play monopoly, chess, or banagrams. The Do Not Disturb feature on our phones is lovely. Enjoy each other, without the pressure of work or to do lists.
8. Don't be alone with the opposite sex. Chemistry is a dangerous thing, and it bubbles without warning. Creating this boundary allows complete trust and confidence, and knowing your spouse is committed to something this simple (and yet this big!) shows their undying commitment to you. This is a major boundary for us; we see it as a very high priority. It's worth offending someone for the sake of our hearts remaining pure.
9. Be okay with the interruption of a tickle fight or wrestling match. Let it happen and enjoy the laughter! Soak in the joy and unity that it really does bring. I used to resist, seeing the task before me as more important than an interruption of tickling. Now that I have learned to embrace these moments I see that our hearts have grown closer. Our laughter is music to my ears, and I realize how much I was missing out on! Go initiate a tickle fight!
10. Don't let money have the power over you that it threatens. View it as it is: money. Spend more time focusing on your friendship and the way you treat one another, rather than where and how to spend money. Seriously, it does not matter. Money is not eternal; how you treat one another is. Do not let money rule you! Heck, spend $100 to get away for a night and don't stress out; receive the gift! Read about our budget plan here!
This LIST is simply a list. Anyone knows that there is so much more to any relationship. But these boundaries, vows, and commitments have blessed us! I share them in hopes that you may be blessed to!
Whenever possible, snag every moment you can to build up and empower your spouse. Encourage them, thank him or her for loving you in a specific way. Support them with their brilliant ideas and their wild dreams. DREAM BIG & let him or her dream bigger. In all things, be so honest. Be raw & honest. Even if it is painful - honesty heals.
Above all, seek Jesus. His heart for your marriage is huge; He craves deep joy and endless laughter. He desires mutual submission to one another, and completely sacrificial love. Jesus offers the ultimate example of serving His bride from the act of washing feet to the decision to die for Her.
I am so blessed to be Loren's spouse. He is quicker to serve than I even think to! His servant leadership in our marriage is imperfect, but most definitely from a heart after God. As he serves me without end, I am urged to serve him right back. I am inspired to build him up and help him. It is a beautiful cycle of love, and I pray that you choose it!