Christian and I have been married for five years today. I can't believe it. In some ways it feels as though we have been married far longer for all that has happened in our lives in this relatively short amount of time. We have moved five times in five years (although three of those moves were in the Chicago area). We have traveled to Mexico, Paraguay, Panama, Canada, Greece, and Germany since the day we vowed to be each other's in addition to the Lord's. We have laughed (a lot), cried (a lot), been angry, hopeful, discouraged, faithless, and faithful, feeling love, and not feeling love.
Christian has been a student since day one, and after a few years of having no clue what I wanted to do professionally, I finally landed on it only this year at age twenty-seven (see the about tab for more info). (So for those of you who are somewhere around age twenty-three and are anxious because everyone else on social media looks like they have their life together and knows what they're doing, be encouraged.)
A dear friend of mine actually prompted my thinking on my marriage a bit further last week by asking me what I have learned about being a godly wife in the last five years. I'll tell you what... after honest, prayerful consideration, I have arrived at the same conclusions at which many God-fearing women before me have arrived. And please bear in mind that the things I will write below are things that will always offer me continual growing opportunities because the Lord (and Christian) know(s) that I fall short in these things daily, and I say that with full honesty and absolutely zero false humility. But this is what bonds us in this world, women. Our honesty in our struggles, and our strength in uplifting up one another toward Jesus. So here it goes...
1.) Pray. Pray for your man. For his relationship with God. For his growth. That God would fill him with wisdom, discernment, confidence, strength and boldness. Because whether we believe it or not, the way our man is doing in these areas effects us as wives. A lot. If he is not spending consistent time with his nose in his bible, pray that God would compel his heart. If he is afraid of making the wrong decision for your family, pray that God would fill him with wisdom and discernment. If he struggles with knowing how to love you in ways that make sense to you, first of all, please gently mention it to the poor guy (once), and then pray that God would miraculously fill him with the "right kind" of love method.
And women, here's a big one: If he is struggling with confidence in his leadership-- in his God-given role as a man-- or struggling with temptations, pray hard that God would fill him with confidence, strength and boldness in his role and/or in overcoming the toxic, tempting voices of the world.
I am convinced that this is the greatest thing we can do as wives.
2.) Be best friends. Be available to him and prioritize him. I am not a mother yet, but I have seen so many families that revolve around their children, which I can only assume is super easy because, I mean, kids are just so dang precious! But what's more precious? Yeah. Our marriage. Because if we can't do that, our family falls apart and our men feel lonely and unloved.
And ultimately, we need to know how to play and have fun with each other.
This is, fortunately, something at which Christian and I are pretty dang good. In fact, most of the people that have seen us together think that we're siblings because of how we mess with each other. I know this is totally based on the couple, and we certainly have times of total mush (ask our housemates), but our romance is not the catalyst for our friendship... it's the other way around.
We also decided a long time ago that our priority for our life together was to fill it up with as many memories as possible instead of stuff. In fact, this priority helps get these two homebodies out more because otherwise we would probably most often be content to just stay home. But this way, we push each other to go out-- to experience wherever it is that we are and therefore make some seriously fantastic memories.
Also,we talk about everything-- bouncing ideas off each other, discussing what God is teaching each of us-- we pray together, read together, eat together and serve together. This is what makes us each other's best friend.
3.) Serve him. Ya'll... I have been learning that the best way to be my husband's best friend, and to show him my love and respect for him, is to serve him even when I don't feel like it. It also means that I take the time to listen to him. Not hear him, but listen to him. It means that I am quick to forgive him when he messes up or frustrates me. It means that I learn his habits, his likes and dislikes, what makes him feel loved and appreciated.
Back when we were first married, we talked about the big ways that we can express our love to each other in a way that makes sense to the receiver. At the time, Christian told me that affirming words are his biggest way of receiving love, but after observing him and how he responds to words versus random things like making the bed, keeping the kitchen clean, etc, I have discovered that Christian responds most (by far) to these acts of service that I do for him. Also physical touch, but seriously, like we didn't already know that....
And because I am not Super Woman, a short while ago I asked Christian to give me his top five things that I could do to serve him that would make him feel filled up with love. Seriously, it's been SO helpful. That decision to just ask him has allowed me to have significant grace with myself, and also given me the ability to know what to prioritize in my day-to-day.
Another thing that pertains less to the individual and more perhaps to men in general is that there will be times, wives, when we find ourselves needing to take our turn on the backburner. We as women are a crazy capable and gifted gender, am I right!? God just made us freaking power-houses and I love that. But here's the thing: God has made our men incredibly capable and gifted, too. And sometimes God calls our men out ahead of us to use them for something awesome and wonderful. And when that happens, we need to be willing to step back and watch for a bit. Sometimes, that means that we serve our men by waiting for our turn and, in the meantime, patiently watching and supporting, and then rejoicing when we see all of the ways God is growing and using them.
Plus, I have found that doing this just gives me even more ways to keep falling in love with Christian over and over. Trust me, as hard as it has been for me to sit on the back burner in the past, it has payed off big time.
Honestly, there is no greater struggle and no greater triumph than learning to die to yourself.
Well, that pretty much sums up what God has been showing me about what it means to not just be a wife, but more like Jesus in the last five years of marriage. Even though it's been challenging and unpleasant at times, reflecting on it all has just filled me up with so much thanks that God would love me enough to teach me these things, allbeit the action on them still is left wanting in many ways.
It also has reminded me of how great of a gift I have been given in Christian by God's grace and mercy.
*Note: Sisters, if you are single right now, I encourage you-- please, please keep your standards crazy high. Don't compromise on a man who is "okay with your religion" or just "goes to church" or "is open." Hold out for a man who already loves God fiercely, is passionate for His Church, and who pushes you to be better rather than encourages your bad habits (because we all have them). The decision will forever effect the rest of your life, for better or for worse.
**If you are married already and are struggling... girl... first I want to say that my heart breaks for you. I hope that I can encourage you to keep loving Jesus and to serve your husband for God's glory, as awful and as difficult as it may be. I have seen God change a life in minutes (and to be honest, also years), but I hope I can encourage you now by telling you that your prayer, your service-- it's not in vain.
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. - Hebrews 11:1
Keep praying, keep serving, keep loving.
And happy anniversary, Schatz. Ich leibe dich mit alle mein Hertz.