Bethany took this photo. I think she did pretty good!
Marriage isn’t an easy thing. It’s not simple or basic, and often times love isn’t enough. On the day you marry your “perfect” partner, most people see nothing but a beautiful future. The new love goggles that we all sport (along with the white dress, beautiful music and delicious food) lead us to believe that we’ve just made the easiest decision of our lives. We have our best friend at our side and nothing could ever go wrong. The future is filled with candles, and roses and chocolate all under a canopy of rainbows and unicorns.
It’s a false view that at some time or another comes crashing to the ground.
Real marriage is hard. Sometimes real marriage is ugly, it’s raw and it’s one of the hardest tasks most of us will ever commit to doing.
Just like parenthood, being married is a job. It’s a wonderful, God ordained job, but one that takes work, effort and compromise. It’s one that, if it’s going to last takes commitment, and if it’s going to succeed takes the help of our Heavenly Father and two people who love each other.
It also takes guidelines and rules. Not to restrict or suffocate one or both of us, but to protect us, to encourage us and to give our marriage the stamina it takes to survive. We know that marriage doesn’t last just because you love each other, sometimes it dies despite that love. We want nothing more than to reach 80 years married together but we know, that without some help it will never happen. Without God present we’re doomed to fail.
As the time has worn on, and we’ve spent time talking we made decisions. We’ve faced our challenges, we’ve witnessed difficulties and we do our best to lay the path for a smooth road. We want to respect each other and set a good example for our girls and we both feel the best way to do that is to talk it out. To have expectations for ourselves and each other, and to know where the hurt can live. Together we have to protect our marriage, to keep it ours, and so we have “rules”
Our marriage is “closed doors” – This is absolutely and without a doubt the biggest one on the list. From the day Corey and I were married we did our best to make our family and friends aware of the fact that we have a closed doors marriage. What happens between the two of us is between us and God. It is not open for discussion or advice, we do not want your opinion or your “help”, if we did we’d ask. Those on the outside don’t have to like what they see but they do have to keep it themselves. And while we know that the friends and family in our life want nothing but the best for us and have always had good intentions, their input is not welcome. It’s “closed doors”. (Likewise we do our best to treat those around us with the same respect.)
We don’t air our dirty laundry – Since our marriage is no different than anyone elses, and we are only human, it’s fair to say we have our moments. Corey is the perfect man for me I know that but that doesn’t mean that we always have the perfect fit. We’re only human, born with a sin-nature (and maybe if you’re me a stubborn one too) which means we’re bound to butt heads, to struggle and from time to time argue. When those moments happen, we keep them to ourselves. I don’t blog about them, Corey doesn’t phone all his buddies or air it out on Facebook because it’s nobody’s business. Doing those things only causes hurt, it makes somebody feel bad and it can open the door for unwanted advice or negative attention.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T – It’s the foundation of every relationship, our marriage, our friendships and our relationships with our kids. We do our best to respect each other in our actions and our words. Always.
We talk it out – I don’t possess the ability to keep things in. If I’m angry at you, chances are you’re going to hear about it. If I don’t, I stew, and boil and then I explode, it’s ugly and unproductive. So, when there’s something going on we talk about it. We’re working on our communication skills so that nobody’s ever left guessing.
Love is a priority – Making each other feel loved is a number one priority. While our days are super busy and often times we only get to see each other for an hour maybe two an evening, we do our best to show/share the love. We say “I love you” many times a day, we give hugs and kisses, do our best to encourage and be affectionate because feeling loved and appreciated is HUGE in giving marriage confidence.
Opposite gendered friends have restrictions – One of the big “rules” in Corey’s and my marriage is that we are very careful about the friendships we have with people of the opposite sex. Corey’s very best friend coming in to our marriage was a girl, one I’ve come to love and respect very much but in the beginning I found their friendship very threatening. It was hard for me to see how you could be that close to anyone of the opposite gender without being in love with them. Oppositely I came into marriage with multiple male friends whom I wasn’t very close to but enjoyed spending time with. Very quickly Corey and I agreed that any activities we did with those friends either happened when we were together as a couple or not at all. (As time has worn on we all were married and the close friend of Corey’s picked a wonderful man for a husband that we love as much as her and spending time together as couples is fun for us all.) Corey would never go out with a female friend for dinner without me, just like I would never have a male friend in for coffee while Corey wasn’t home.
It’s not that we don’t trust each other. Without a doubt there is nobody on the face of this planet I trust as much as Corey, and I hope it’s fair to say that it’s the same for him with me. But things happen, rumors start when people are seen together along (and I know from my own childhood how damaging those rumours can be), temptation is found when someone crosses a line, and instead of leaving room for hurt, we refuse to give it a chance to take root.
We take to God – No matter what we face, no matter how good or bad the path that lay ahead of us, Corey and I committed from our very first date to bring it to the Lord. We know He made us for each other and that this marriage was His plan, so it only makes sense to consult Him as we walk this road together.
Big decisions get made together – Whether it’s a large purchase or a parenting decision, we agreed to make those choices together. There’s nothing worse than feeling undermined or over thrown, so instead of taking that chance we again, talk it out.
We don’t have the secret to a happy marriage. We can’t write a book or teach a course. We’ve never seen a unicorn and the chocolates and roses are a treat not a regular. We have had our share of disagreements and know that the future holds more, but we’re willing to work through them. We know that marriage is worth fighting for and our love is for real. God gave me this man, and I’m not ever planning on letting him go.