I’ve got a question for you. Married or not, think back to a season when you were unattached. At that time, what came to mind when you thought about marriage? What did you imagine married life would be like? Personally, I pictured lots of Instagram-worthy adventures, a perfect balance of laughter and tender “sharing our hearts” conversations, fancy date nights, a nice house, beautiful kids, and singing in perfect harmony while cooking together in our could-be-a-screenshot-from-Pinterest kitchen. And also I would be lying if I didn’t include the presupposition that we would constantly have the hots for each other. But mostly, I imagined that we would be completely and perfectly and incandescently happy together.
Fast forward to the present. Not to scare you single folks, buuuut….marriage hasn’t looked much like what I imagined, although we do laugh A LOT and our house is a total hidden gem. It’s not that our marriage has sucked, because it hasn’t! It just hasn’t lived up to my (unrealistic) expectations. We’ve been on a handful of really great adventures, but my photos of them are rarely anything special. And we haven’t had nearly as many fancy date nights as I had anticipated. Daniel can’t carry a tune in a bucket, our less-than-impressive kitchen can only fit 2-3 people in it at a time, and we’re still waiting on those kids. We’ve had harder conversations than I could have ever imagined anyone having with the person they love most in the entire world.
But guess what?
We are still super happy.
Wanna know what’s made all the difference for us, behind the scenes?
1. Sometimes, we go to bed angry. But we always go to bed together.
“Don’t go to bed angry” is one of the most repeated pieces of advice I’ve heard from my parents’ generation about how to succeed in a marriage. But there have been multiple nights that we have gotten absolutely nothing accomplished by staying awake. It was better in the long run for us both to shut up, sleep on it, and pick the conversation back up the next day when we were in a better frame of mind. However, we have always gone to bed at the same time, even when we’re frustrated with each other.
2. We check in with each other.
Every Sunday, typically, we walk through our weekly calendars together: what’s going on for each of us at work, lunch plans with friends or coworkers, church responsibilities, weekend activities, etc. This ensures that we’re on the same page for the week and don’t accidentally double-book ourselves or each other. We also text and email throughout the work week, sometimes to touch base about the day and sometimes just to say “Hey, I love you!”
3. We prioritize time together AND apart.
In our busy seasons, we make a point of planning evenings at home together, even if it’s something as simple as making a big bowl of popcorn and watching through the Harry Potter series (which we do every fall, by the way). But we also intentionally put guys-only and girls-only activities on the calendar too! For example, Daniel has a long-standing Buffalo Wild Wings night every other Thursday, and I usually hang out with the girls on Sunday nights.
4. We ask for help.
When our relationship starts drowning under the weight of selfishness, hurtful words, unmet expectations…really just sin in general, we don’t try to weather the storm on our own. We bring in the cavalry. We don’t confide in anyone who would encourage us to do things like punish or ignore the other person, take our rings off, flirt with a coworker, or take a break from each other. Instead, we humbly invite the advice and prayers of our closest friends who have a healthy view of biblical marriage and will lovingly call out sin, challenge us, and cheer us on.
5. We do ministry together.
The really funny thing is throughout our marriage, we’ve discovered that we don’t have much in common. (Those of you who know both of us well probably just snort-laughed.) We have different taste in music, movies, food, hobbies…almost everything. But one thing we have in common is our love for the Lord and our church family, and that is one of the strongest foundations (if not THE strongest foundation) you can have in any relationship. We have individual ways that we use our gifts to build up the church, of course, but we’ve experienced some of our greatest joys in serving together over the years at the BCM, leading multiple small groups, and helping facilitate Lakepoint’s marriage and pre-marriage ministries.
Our happiness isn’t dependent on the state of our finances, where we’ve lived, the health of our relationships with friends and family, physical appearance, our ability to start a family, or even overall compatibility. Every one of those things has changed multiple times since we met, and if we tried to find happiness or security or comfort in any of them (especially compatibility), we would be severely disappointed.
Happiness can’t be found in things that are constantly changing. It must, instead, be found in something unchanging. Something constant. Steady. Unshakable. Enduring.
Our happiness in marriage is fully dependent on one thing – or, rather, one Person.
Our gracious, never-changing, ever-faithful God. ♥
One thought on “Behind a Happy Marriage”
I’ve never told you this but you need to write a book with all your marriage tips in one place. You could totally do it and I could help you achieve this goal. I am serious. Laura, you are a great writer and you have a way of putting meaningful things into practice that I really admire. Couples need what you have to say about marriage and I enjoy reading each blog post about your adventures. Each time I come away from your marriage blogs with a desire to tell you that what you write about, those issues concerning marriage is so valuable to the Lord. Please pray about this and see what the Lord has to say. I love your style and I wish I would have had your advice long ago in the early years.