8 Lessons in 8 Years – Learning Lessons in Love

In honor of World Marriage week 2016, I’m re-sharing this post from the archives. When you’re finished reading, please check out the other lovely reflections on marriage at the Catholic Mommy Blogs Marriage linkup!

==========================================================================

Linking up this beautiful St. Valentine’s Day with the lovely Mary of Better Than Eden, sharing eight of the {many, many, many} lessons about love I’ve learned in the eight years of our marriage.

http://www.betterthaneden.com/2015/02/learning-love-lesson-year-in-marriage.html

–1–

When I’m most convinced he’s doing everything wrong, and everything is his fault…that usually means I’m the one with the problem.

It has been my experience in our relationship that issues I stubbornly maintain are his “fault” are usually *actually* because I am trying to avoid taking a good, honest look at the reason we are disagreeing.  Because truth be told, when I do, I know what I will find — that really, I’m the one at fault.  And I don’t like that at all, not one bit.  Which leads me to…

–2–

The things that irk me most about him, his “worst” qualities and the extent to which they drive me crazy, are a direct reflection of the things I like least about myself.

For instance, when it comes to procrastination and lack of motivation, he is kinda the king.  It drives me insane.  EVERYTHING is postponed until the last possible minute, and we have missed important deadlines because of it.  But guess what I struggle with?  An awful lot?  Procrastination and sloth.  It takes a lot to light a fire under me and get me going (once I’m motivated, you can’t stop me!) I notice when I am particularly struggling with a vice or bad habit, I get nitpicky with him about that same vice.  In a Christian marriage, we are called to help each other in our pursuit of holiness and help each other get to Heaven, so I am not *completely* out of line, but still.  Jesus did was serious about that splinter-your-brother’s-eye-but-a-beam-in-your-own thing.  What can I say?  Work in progress over here!

–3–

Write it down.

When we attended our Engaged Encounter, one of the techniques we learned for clarity in communication is “dialoguing.” This particular brand of “talking it out” has proven to be pretty useful.  Basically, when there is a topic that’s difficult to talk about or has the potential of becoming emotionally charged, we go to our journal and each write out our thoughts on the matter at hand.  Then, without speaking, we swap journals, read each other’s point-of-view, and either write a response to swap again, or begin talking about the subject then.  It REALLY helps to be able to see what the other person is thinking before a word is even spoken, and it gives you a chance to be heard without interruption.  We really need to get into a habit of doing this regularly, even about non-controversial things.  There’s a comprehensive list of questions here if you’re interested in trying it!

–4–

 Sex gets better with time – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Really.  And it’s a great thing!

{Mom and Dad, y’all just skip this one, ok??  thx.}  When we first began our relationship, I wasn’t practicing my Faith very well, and Superman was an agnostic.  When I think back to those early days, I realize that our lustful first encounters were short on love, mutual understanding, and respect for each other (though you couldn’t have convinced me of that at the time.)  Rather, those were ideals we have had to really work to develop, and like with anything worth pursuing, it doesn’t happen overnight. As the years have passed, we’ve learned to be patient with each other, we’ve learned what works and doesn’t, and we’ve learned to be open and responsive to what the other needs and feels.   Adding to the sweetness has been our use of Natural Family Planning to avoid pregnancy during various times of our marriage.  I’m not going to tell you that NFP is all butterflies and banners.  It’s not.  It’s simultaneously the been the hardest and most beneficial aspect of our sex lives, but it’s taught us a lot about giving of ourselves freely, and self-denial in pursuit of a common good.  The tradeoff once we’re able to “be” together after some time apart?  Well…it’s pretty great 😉

–5–

Little things sometimes mean more than the big ones.

If you’ve never read the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, I highly recommend it.  We give it as a wedding present to our friends and family members.  Superman’s Love Language is Acts of Service, so he feels most loved by me when I fill his travel coffee mug or pack his backpack before class.  My Love Language is Words of Affirmation, so my heart thrills when I see a short love note on the bathroom mirror or when he tells me that the way I helped Elizabeth learn a sewing trick really impressed him.  They are small, little, almost insignificant details – but they help us to let the other know that we really do love each other.  Sometimes, it’s hard work to get creative within the confines of the other’s “language,” and sometimes, we miss the mark.  Overall, though – these “little things with great love” have the potential to make our days so much richer!

–6–

Prayer changes things.  Big things.

Prayer for each other.  Prayer for specific intentions.  Prayer with or without fasting.  Adoration time, alone or together.  Frequent confession.  Prayer and daily readings together, in the wee hours with hot coffee, before the little ones are awake.  You can start small – just a morning offering together to start your day.  Build from there.  Looking back, the times in our marriage where we wounded each other most or we struggled with the curve balls life was lobbing at us were the times we were not actively nurturing our relationship with the Lord.  If your spouse refuses to pray with you or just plain doesn’t wanna, don’t give up!  I spent the first six years of our marriage praying alone.  I’ve been there.  Dorry the fish says “just keep swimming”; Cajuntexasmom encourages you to “just keep praying!”

–7–

Just say “no” to the “D Word.”

When we were first married, we resolved to never say the “D Word” in our home.  In fact, you’re more likely to catch us dropping that other word that starts with the letter two more spaces down in the alphabet (yeah, I know.  We’re working on it!)  Superman has NEVER used the “D Word” in our home in our eight years of matrimony.  On the other hand, I have shamefully used it as a last-ditch, low-blow insult in some of our bigger “disagreements,” even though I never actually meant it.  I have regretted it every.single.time. it has flown out of my mouth.  It’s such an ugly, manipulative word, and I’m not proud of my failure to stick with this pretty great resolution.  We have been through a lot of ugly together, more than some couples have seen in an entire lifetime, but we know now that if we can weather the things the Lord has lovingly allowed us to experience, then we can literally weather anything.  There’s no backing out.  There’s no changing our minds.  We are in it for good!  {Lord, help me to reign it in!]

–8–

We have so much more to learn – about each other, about our marriage, about our lives, and about Our Lord.

I think it’s so true that a sure sign of maturity is when you recognize you really don’t know it all.  Neither of us pretend that being married a whopping eight years has taught us everything we need to know about successful marriages.  We are each continually surprised at the things we are still learning about each other, even after eight years of being married and ten years (today!) as a couple.  We are still learning things about our marriage – what’s working, what isn’t, what needs adjusting, what needs scrapping.  We are still learning things about ourselves, though it’s wonderful to make these discoveries side by side.  Above all – we have “only just begun” to learn about the love of God, the love he has for us as a couple and for our family, and to share what we know with the fruit of our love…our kids.  How wonderful it is to continue down a path where there is so much yet to learn, to know, to see, and to do!

What lessons have you learned in your marriage?  Please, share with me!

9 thoughts on “8 Lessons in 8 Years – Learning Lessons in Love

  1. These are so great! The Love Languages was really helpful for us, too. I still fail at it but I now get how my husband feels loved versus how I do. And we are exact opposites 🙂 Funny how God does that! I remember my sister-in-law talking to me way before I had even met my husband and we were having a conversation about Marriage. I was expressing my fears since both of us came from divorced families and she just said it so simply, “We just both know it’s not even an option.” That gave me such a different perspective from so much of what I was used to! It’s certainly a little more complex than that but that idea gave me a lot of strength to even *think* about getting married! Thank you so much for linking up and sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love these, Wendy! And yes to prayer! That is one we are still trying to work out. It’s been hard to be able to set aside the time to pray together outside of family prayer time but the times we do it’s so so so good. Thankfully we started going to Confession once a month and I can already see it changing us. Baby steps over here 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t get hopping mad at my husband very often, but when I do, I go in knowing that I am completely right and he has been so wrong. I even think, “THIS time, I really am right. He is going to have to admit it this time!” And then, after I have my say, he talks. And I think, “Darn! (or the stronger word) He has a point!” and I get mad that I wasn’t as right as I thought. I’m better than I was 20 years ago. 🙂

    Sex most certainly gets better with time. And good for you saying it. My parents read my blog, and I just couldn’t do it.

    My husband’s and my parents are divorced. We agreed before we were married that it would not be us. We would not let it be an option. That attitude changes everything in a marriage.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “And I get mad that I wasn’t as right as I thought.” Ummmm yeah. Story of my life, friend. I had a coworker once who thought I was crazy for saying divorce is never an option; I thought she was crazy for keeping the option open. Thanks for dropping by!

      Like

  4. Especially like your mention of prayer and avoiding the “D” word. I think that when couples marry, they should be committed not only to each other, but also to the institution of marriage. Too many times, people enter into marriage thinking that there is always a way out when things get tough.

    Liked by 1 person

What are your thoughts? Share with us!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s