Wednesday, July 8, 2015

11 Years...and a Lifetime to Go!

Just because you really
need to see this!

Happy Anniversary to us! 

Today is Jeff and my 11th anniversary -- eleven whole (sometimes pretty long feeling) years. Those who have been married for decades may laugh at my "pride" in this accomplishment, but since 40% of marriages in American end divorce after about 8 years, I'll happily take my 11 (Source: Quora).

Last year for our anniversary, I posted my Top 10 favorite moments of our relationship. It hasn't always been rainbows and unicorns for the Waltons, but we've had some pretty fun times, and I'm confident we're just getting started.

And not to be out-done by last year, here are 11 pieces of advice I wish someone had told me about marriage some 11 years ago. You may have heard some of it before, but like most good advice - it's worth repeating. 

11. No matter how much you plead (or nag), boys are not the "neat" (or sometimes even clean) versions of the human race. I live in a house with three. I rest my case. Moving on. 

One of my favorite pics - EVER.
10. Having children changes everything. And let me say it again - EVERYTHING. From the way you spend your time to your priorities with money to the crazy voices that come out of your body when talking to an infant, children are a game changer. But I can honestly say watching Jeff be "Dad" makes me love him more as a husband. The first time I saw him hold the boys and how that big ol' guy melts at some of the sweet things that come out of those two crazies' mouths - well, I melt. He really is the best dad. 

9. Never say "never." There are so many things I said "I'll never..." or "There's no way..." and it seems as though it's those very things that I end up doing. Click here for Exhibit A with regard to marriage. Drop by and see me and the Reverend in Noxapater, y'all! 

8. Couple friends are important. Surrounding yourself with couples who are similar to you in faith and priorities can be a huge encouragement to your marriage. And Christian couple friends are also great sources of wise counsel when troubles come your way. You're probably not going to find a lot of couples that you both want to hang out with but you make the sacrifice for each other. 

7. You aren't marrying his/her family...but really, you are. I can't tell you how many times I heard people tell those soon-to-be-married folks, "You're not marrying his/her family!" But you are. You will spend holidays and all the other important life events together. And let's face - your spouse is largely who he or she is because of his/her FAMILY. So fight that one all you want, you better be darn sure you can look across that table at your in-laws for the rest of your (or their!) life with a smile on your face. Thankfully, this is a non-issue in our house because BOTH our parents are just perfect!

6. Have a life outside your marriage. While I do dearly love Jeff, I do not want to spend every waking moment with him - and I guarantee you, he'd say the same thing about me. We support each other in ministry and in life, but let's keep it real - I need some girl time. He does not care about my latest dilemma over which shoes to wear with what jeans or which Noonday Collection samples to purchase (although he does typically, and with much patience, weigh in when asked on both of these "issues." Bless.). Get out and make friends apart from one another and be involved in things without each other. It'll give you more to talk about over dinner! 

5. Pray for your spouse daily; you'll probably be surprised who changes. One of the most amazing things about praying for your spouse is that we often selfishly go into it praying for him or her to change...but then God does a miracle in our own hearts and we are often the one changed. I remember in the early days of our marriage, I prayed zealously over all "sins" I thought Jeff needed to get rid of that would undoubtedly make our lives better, right? Then God bought me to my knees one day with Matthew 7:5...

"You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, 
and then you will clearly see to remove the speck from your brother's eye." 

Ouch. There it is. 

Who knew "Coach" Walton
would one day be "Reverend"
Walton...I certainly didn't. 
4. Marry the person he/she is - not the person you think you can turn him/her into. Don't marry someone you think will eventually one day down the road once in a blue moon become the man/woman of your dreams. Marry the one who makes you laugh and that if you didn't have in your life, well, it just wouldn't be the same. Because some days are really rotten, and all you have is each other to turn to. Thank you, Jeff Walton, for always making me laugh...even sometimes when I don't want to.

3. Don't keep secrets. Not even about those hot new shoes hiding in the back of your closet waiting to make the perfect appearance a few months after they've been purchased when you can innocently say, "Oh, these old things? I've had them forever." Not even...not that I have ever done that. Bless. 

But seriously, this is a BIG one, friends. Secrets eventually come out and then there's even more issues to deal with. Just be honest - even if it's hard. Once trust has been broken, it's so much harder to gain back. Hurt heals faster with honesty.

2. Pick your battles. There are things worth fighting for and standing your ground about -- and then there are some things that you just have to say, "It is what it is!" And rock on, my friends. If I went to battle over ever little thing that bothered me in our marriage, we'd have a bloody mess around here. And I'm sure Jeff would say the same thing about me because well, let's face it - I'm not easy. 

1. Marriage is NOT a fairytale. Period. End of discussion. Roll those credits, Walt Disney. Love is a CHOICE. A moment by moment choice. It's intentional and takes work. I used to laugh at all those "old people" saying marriage was like a garden and you had to "tend to it" each day...and then I got married. You'll get out of your marriage what you put into, sweet friends. It's not easy. It's hard and messy and difficult and sometimes downright ugly - sometimes it's those things more than the sweet, sappy fairytalesque thing we have in our heads when we walk down the aisle dreaming of our happily ever after. But it's worth it. It's worth it to fight through the ugly and the messy to enjoy those fairytale moments when he surprises you with flowers for no reason, writes a lullaby for your boys, gives you the morning to sleep in or the afternoon to get a pedicure... Ok, maybe that doesn't sound "fairytale-ish" to you, but see #10 for context, friends. EVERYTHING.

We look like babies...
 probably because we were.
So, there you have it. I don't know that I'm very wise or have any of the secrets to a successful marriage, but I'm honest (maybe to a fault?) if nothing else. Looking back on our 11 years of bliss, these are a few of the most important things that have helped make it work at the Walton house. We're not perfect. We get angry and sometimes yell and slam doors (Gasp. It's true, people! Even preachers and preacher's wives argue. You're in on the secret. Use it wisely.). 

Regardless of what a particular day or even a particular moment looks like, we love each other. We made a choice to love each other eleven years ago...from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish. And we meant it. Even if it's hard to do...we do it. We choose to do it. And I'd choose to do it all over again with this guy! 

Happy 11th Anniversary, Jeff Walton! You continue to amaze me, keep me laughing and somehow find it in your heart to love me well. Thank you...I know it's not easy.

No comments:

Post a Comment