My husband & I celebrated 4 years of marriage a few days ago. We spent a lot of time looking at each other and exclaiming, “Where did the past four years go?!”. Now, obviously in the grand scheme of things 4 years is an itty-bitty accomplishment. Its not 10 years, 55 years, or even 5 years…yet. But with the way marriage is portrayed these days, and in the world of 72 day nuptials, I think everyday is something to be treasured.

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When I look at this picture I am reminded of the last 4 years of being this mans wife. I am reminded of all I have learned, and all that has been seen, talked about, fought over, prayed about, laughed at, and pushed aside. Even in four years I have learned more than I ever thought I would. And I absolutely love that I will be spending many more years learning, and seeking how to honor & grow in my marriage. There is so much beauty in that. We’re not meant to have all the answers now, or to have everything discovered. With that all said here are some things that I HAVE learned the past 4 years as a wife. This is for the young, old, men, women, engaged, or the single & mingling.

1.) I’m going to start with this one because it really pertains to mine & Dustin’s relationship. Getting married young does not set you up for failure. I was 20 years old when Dustin & I got married. He was 26. While most were supportive, there were the critics who liked to scoff at what we were doing. I remember one instance where I was talking with a lady at a group study, and she asked if I was dating anyone. I explained to her that I was engaged, and would be marrying the middle school pastor at our church, in a few months. She looked me square in the eyes, and said, “Your perspective on marriage is obviously very flawed! You are way too young.”. She might have even thrown a, “bless your heart”, in there. Like I said before, getting married young isn’t a set-up for failure, it takes work & lots of love & lots of dedication, but if I am not mistaken, that is EVERY marriage. Friends, who are well seasoned in the marriage department, if you have young couples in your church, take those sweet little couples under your wing, and pour an astounding amount of knowledge & wisdom into their hearts. Don’t treat them like they have no business marrying, love them. Lets show them the beautiful gift marriage is, and lets watch marriages strengthen from the start. And to all that are married, never stop seeking wisdom from those who are older & have lived through marriage longer. Wisdom from them is a special gift.

Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.~Job 12:12

2.) You have to laugh. A lot. Learn to laugh at the moments when you accidentally forget to put gas in the car, and you have to call the other spouse to come rescue you. Laugh when you burn the pancakes, and laugh at each other when the other spouse pretends to like your failed attempt of gourmet food. Find moments of laughter when you’re both up all night cleaning vomit & other awful stuff, off your toddler, the walls, the floors & yourself. Who’s with me on that one?! Laugh when you’ve cried so much it hurts, and you have no more sadness in you. Laugh with each other. Joy is a precious gift of God that can be found in anything. Seek it, find it, use it.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.~Proverbs 17:22 ESV

3.) Offer much grace when one spouse confronts the other about something wrong they might have done. Because lets face it, we don’t always talk or act like we should. The grace goes both ways really. When your spouse does something to wrong you, or sin in some sort of way, instead of letting bitterness & anger creep in, confront them. Because those two things are swift & dangerous. With a heart full of forgiveness and grace, allow them to know that what they have done is wrong. Do it privately, never in front of anyone, and calmly. Lets flip the coin, when YOU are confronted with something you have done, don’t go into ultra defense mode. No karate kid action on this one please. Accept it, learn from it, love them, and realize that it’s OK to say “I’m sorry”. It’s also OK to forgive. THAT is big stuff.

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.~ Ephesians 4:7

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.~Ephesians 4:32

4.) Pray for your spouse. Get on your knees and pray everyday for the one that your soul is one with. I could keep repeating this over & over until I am blue in the face. It is no secret that the bond of marriage is constantly being torn apart, beaten by lies, hurt, and sin. The world does not hold on to marriage the way God does. Everyday there is a constant war. Cry out to God everyday for protection from the things that can be so damaging to your marriage. One of my sweet friends Kristina, recently posted some resources on her blog that can help you in achieving daily prayer for your spouse. There is nothing more powerful than praying scripture over them. These will help guide you in that direction. There is one for wives, husbands, and even for your children. Check it out here: http://jaxandjoy.blogspot.com/2014/01/new-years-resolutions-are-for-birds.html

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.~ Philippians 4:6

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. ~Colossians 4:2

5.) Love your spouse, more than anyone, and do not put anyone or anything in front of them, like work or even your children. GASP! I know, this one might get me in trouble. Here’s the deal, that person that you are married to is with you until death do you part. That is a LONG time. You are one with them, and they are yours. They are the one you go to when you’ve had the worst day possible, or when you have the most exciting news. Your spouse is the one that holds you when you cry, and wipes away every tear. I have two little girls and I thank God every day for letting me be their Mommy. I can’t imagine life without them. They are my favorite people in the whole world, right after my husband that is. One day they will leave our house, and they will start a life either with their husband or on their own. And you know who will be left here with me? My husband. I will be completely honest, this one is hard for me. I want to spend every moment with my babies. They grow so fast, and I already feel like moments are just flying past me. But that man that I’m married to needs my time too. He needs my attention, and he needs to know my love for him is here at every moment. Take time to show how important your spouse is to you. Even if you have date nights at home. Put the kids to bed early, and get some take-out, get the fancy plates out, light some candles, and enjoy a dinner & movie.

6.) This is the last, and to me, the most important thing I have discovered in these four years of marriage. If your relationship with God is lacking, so will your marriage. I am going to be very real for a minute. There are times when Dustin and I will feel as if we are running a bit on empty. We’re aggravated with each other more, we annoy each other more, and it’s easier to fight about small things. In those moments we sit down and reevaluate everything. We talk with each other. A lot. Communication is a precious gift, use it. One of the first things we ask each other is, how has your time with God been? Have you spent time reading your Bible & praying? Have you gone to Him first with these troubles? More times than not, we both could say that we were lacking in that area. Here’s why that is so important, and I’ll try to make it as simple as I can. My husband didn’t redeem me of a life of sin and death. Though I love him with everything in me, Dustin didn’t save my soul. And though my husband loves me more everyday, and constantly shows me that, my Jesus loves me an innumerable amount more. Loving God first, allows us to love each other as much as we do. And we could kill with how much we love each other. 😉 Take a look at your relationship with Jesus. If you don’t have one, seek Him! Bask in Him, love Him, accept Him, make Him the ultimate in your life. And though doing that won’t take away all the pains, fights, or hurt, it will allow you to have comfort & peace from a God who has an abundance of it. When you fix that, you will see a difference in your relationship with your spouse, I guarantee.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~Romans 5:8

The Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. ~Jeremiah 31:3 

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace. ~Ephesians 1:7

All of these points are things Dustin & I are not perfect on. Everyday we strive to make them better. Our marriage isn’t perfect, nobody’s is. This is not all we’ve learned either.  There are things much bigger things than this, and much smaller that we’ve found the last few years.

My prayer today is for marriages. I pray that God will strengthen the ones already made, and the ones that will be united in the future. It can be the most beautiful picture of God’s love, don’t push it aside as if it’s the least of your worries.

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This was on on our anniversary this year. He didn’t tell me what we would be doing that night, until we pulled up in front of Dave & Busters. Lots of laughs happened people. It was perfect. And me beating him at almost every game was just the icing on the cake. 🙂 I cherish these moments, and I don’t let the fear of not knowing all there is to a “perfect marriage” scare me. I take one day at a time, and allow God to lead us through every moment. And we’ll learn, grow, and cherish every moment along the way.

P.S. Sorry OCD friends for having 6 points, and not 5 or 10. 😉