Coming up this month, on June 13, is our third wedding anniversary. Last year, I celebrated on the blog by sharing a very personal post (linked here) of our dating history, talking about why it’s worth it to wait. For this year’s anniversary, I wanted to get personal again by sharing 3 lessons of communication that have made our relationship stronger (what better time than when people expect you to be extra sappy, and actually tolerate it? It’s all about that strategy my friends. Ha!).
Granted, at 3 years, we are hardly experts – but honestly, I don’t think anyone ever is, regardless of the amount of time they’ve been together. Either way, the formula is the same: The daily (and sometimes hourly) choice to love the other person and to not only extend grace but to seek grace from them when you aren’t necessarily being your most lovable self.
Throughout the last three years, J and I have been through much more than either of us expected on this bright and wonderful day. Most of these experiences have been more than great, like bringing home Toby, trips together, and seeing growth in the Lord within one another. Others have unfortunately been a bit more difficult – the strain caused by law school was a very heavy burden on our household in a number of ways; interference from toxic relationships (everyone has at least one of these people in life, right?! I will happily trade ours for your crazy uncle 😉 ); and a few deaths of loved ones have all weighed pretty heavily on our little family, sometimes all at once. I’m not sharing these parts of the less than joyful side of our marriage in the hopes of getting sympathy, as it isn’t needed. As hard as these moments – sometimes over the span of many months – have been, they’ve also solidified us as a couple much more than any “happy” season ever could.
I thought I trusted Justin with my life on the day we got married, but looking back, I know I was still holding onto the idea of controlling what my life would ideally be like with him in it. Whereas today, I wholeheartedly trust him with my entire person; past, present, future, ugly, pretty, smart, dumb, whole, and broken. He is such a gift that I still wonder why God chose me to be his wife. That doesn’t mean that we always communicate perfectly with one another or that we have a “perfect” marriage. We still and will have days when we both want to bite each other’s heads off. There’s just no such thing as a perfect marriage when there’s a pairing of two imperfect people. But y’all, grace abounds from this man. Throughout these last three years, he has and continues to teach me so much about forgiveness, kindness, and joy.
As we celebrate three years married and embark on our fourth year, I am definitely going to be focusing on these 3 lessons of communication that we have learned and worked on together. I love these, because they can be used in literally any relationship, at any stage:
1. Be Intentional
Spending time together sometimes needs to planned, and when it is, be present. Put the phones away and focus on the other person. Being intentional also applies to the words you speak. You have the ability to choose what you say to someone, so choose wisely. The freedom to be vulnerable in relationships is so important, and it’s much more difficult to repair trust than it is to destroy it through thoughtless words or actions.
2. Be Honest
You know what happens when you bottle things up for too long? You explode. Not only that, but you aren’t giving the other person a chance to fix it or even know what is bothering you. (Tim Keller discusses this very concept much more eloquently in The Meaning of Marriage – which I highly recommend!) You may think you’re being the bigger person by not saying anything, but usually you’re just setting yourself up for an unnecessary meltdown. When you choose to share what’s going on, be intentional with what you say and how you say it. You’re on the same team. This also means being honest with your own heart and mind. Did you just catch yourself using a not-so-nice tone? Don’t wait for the other person to say something about it for you to own it and apologize. Be accountable and honest with you.
3. Be Quiet
I know this is an ironic one to follow the “Be Honest” tip, but just roll with it. Sometimes when venting, the other person doesn’t want advice. It can be hard to resist the urge to jump in and start explaining all the ways they can fix the issue. But, as much as we want to help our spouses and loved ones, sometimes what they need more in that moment is just for someone to listen. If you really think you know the answer to what is causing their angst, then when they are finished, ask if they want you to speak into it. Most of the time, that answer will probably be yes, but if it isn’t, be willing and ready to respect their wishes.
Thank you for celebrating with us by taking the time to read this post. We love and appreciate all of you more than you know! If you are interested in reading more about what I’ve learned from Lesson #2, I’ve included the links to the original book as well as its study guide companion below: