It doesn’t take long after saying “I do” to realize that marriage is not quite all that you expected it would be. Others can try to prepare you for it, but it is something you have to live through yourself. Having been married for almost 12 years now, we have some “Rules” that help us strengthen our marriage.
Like most little girls, when I was young, I dreamed of being married and having babies.
I played dolls, and my favorites were the ones that felt the closest to a real baby.
Unlike a lot of girls I grew up with, I was blessed to have two parents that loved me and adored each other. My parents provided me with security and an example of an awesome marriage.
When I imagined my life as an adult, I always imagined it with an amazing man by my side that I had a blast with. (Watching and sometimes egging on my parents’ water fights in the house were some of my favorite memories.) I imagined being married to an amazing man that was just like my daddy, who loved the Lord and his family beyond measure.
I waited for my prince charming, and was told more than once that I was too picky, but let me tell you that he was worth the wait.
While God blessed me with a husband that is so much more than I deserve, it didn’t take long after my love put a ring on it that we discovered our marriage wasn’t a fairy tale.
The day we arrived back from our honeymoon, we went and picked up our dogs, mine from my parents and his from his parents, returned to his house which I was now staying in for the first time, and had our first fight. I think the fight was over the dogs if I remember correctly.
Whatever it was over, I do know that he went to take a nap, and I went and scrubbed the bathroom. When C.J. finally woke from his nap and found me still sanitizing the bathroom, he said he had never seen it so clean, and from the looks of it when I started, I wasn’t surprised.
We had to have a long conversation about the offenses that caused the distance and hurts, and we worked that one out, but it wasn’t the last time the bathroom, kitchen, and even ceilings got scrubbed. (Does any one else clean when you are mad?)
Our first year of marriage was tough! The house was cleaned quite often. There were many tears shed, and more late nights than I can count because there were new offenses that had to be hashed out.
I never questioned if I had done the right thing in marrying my husband because God had made it clear to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that C.J. Brown’s rib was the one He had pulled me from.
Although I didn’t question us being married, I was not prepared for how hard it would be.
C.J. and I had come from different households that did many things completely different. We had both lived on our own for several years. He only likes his veggies raw, and I only like mine cooked. He trained his dog one way, and I trained mine another way. He had previously been engaged, and I had never dated a guy for more than a month. He is a boy, and I am a girl. The list goes on and on.
The differences of our pasts took time to navigate and mesh in order to build our future.
In marriage you are never done working things out because new things constantly come up like baby number 1, then number 2, then number 3, and finally baby number 4. There are job changes, new houses, death of loved ones, decisions on how to parent with technology, and anything else you can think of. Like I said things constantly come up that you have to work through.
Where We are Now
C.J. and I have grown tremendously in the past 11 years of marriage both as individuals and as a couple.
I love my husband more, and find him sexier than the day I married him.
We are incredibly passionate about our marriage and each other, and we love to gross our kids out.
We are in the best place we have been since the day we said “I do.”
As good as it is at this point in our marriage, while they are a lot less frequent, there are still nights that we stay up way too late because we are still talking out the newest argument.
Our marriage is far from perfect, and requires God’s grace and leading, but we have come a long way. We have learned a few things on this journey together, and I would love to share them with you.
7 Rules of our marriage
1. Make God the Focus
“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12
Marriage, as the basis of the family unit, is hugely under attack, and is all too often being defeated.
It definitely doesn’t work when only one spouse is guarding it.
If both parents work together at protecting the integrity of the marriage, you have a better chance, but it is not fool proof.
When God is invited into the marriage it will not easily be broken!
I can say with certainty that I could not do this marriage thing without my Lord and Savior. In the midst of tears I have cried out to my Jesus seeking His counsel. Christ has given me glimpses of how He sees C.J. when I could not see beyond the words that hurt me.
When I see my beloved husband through the eyes of Christ, I am able to love C.J. better, forgive him easier, and marvel in who he was created to be. When I see C.J. through my own eyes, my own selfishness, wants, and hurts stare back at me.
God is the glue that holds C.J. and I together, but My Heavenly Daddy is so much more than that. He is the source of our passion for one another, the protector of our future, and everything that is good about us.
C.J. and I have tried to go at on own a time or two, but marriage is to much sweeter when God is invited in to the midst of it.
2. Love Your kids, but Spoil your spouse
As parents we love to give our kids gifts. Most of us know the best gift we can give them is the security of a good marriage.
Even if we set out to do just that, it is easy to give into the temptation to do and do for our kids.
We are adults, right? We will be ok, won’t we?
Before we know it we are doing things we swore we would never do before we had kids. We knew everything then, didn’t we?
When my husband walks into the door after a long shift, the boys have always run to great him. They throw their arms around him and squeal with excitement. The dog even gets in the mix.
Despite having four kids and a dog desperately fighting for his attention, my studdly husband comes to give me a kiss. He often says he has to fight his way to me, but it is a fight worth fighting for. Besides it usually means he is going to get a 20-30 minute head massage (his favorite) while we catch up.
In his younger years, the dad of one of C.J.’s friends gave him some great advice. He told him, “Love your kids, but spoil your wife.” My husband is good at spoiling me!
It has been a conscious decision we have both made to keep each other as a top priority even after having kids. Our kids know this and expect this to be so, sometimes even rolling their eyes because they have to wait a minute while daddy and I focus on each other.
Obviously we can’t completely set our parenting duties aside, but everyone in our household knows that at certain times, unless it is an emergency, mommy and daddy are going to focus on each other. Our children are still within the line of site or in earshot.
Our boys also know that after giving daddy and I time to have a conversation or sneak in a little cuddle, we will focus on them and their needs and wants.
The kids will one day fly from the nest, and when they do I want our marriage to go on as it always has, not suffering from the silence.
If you have never studied your spouse’s love language, I highly recommend you do, and lavish them with the love that pierces the depths of their heart.
We all know we don’t want to raise spoiled children, but trust me, you do want to spoil your spouse with love that strengthens the integrity of your family.
3. Talk often throughout the day
My husband works 96 hours a week as a firefighter and paramedic. He is away from home half of the week, and takes up residence in the firehouse.
C.J. leaves well before the sun rises to head out to save people. He always wakes me and gives me a kiss before he goes. (He would be in major trouble if he didn’t!!!) When I open my eyes to begin my day, I call him at work. He is usually checking off his unit, and we say our real good mornings. It is not a long conversation, but it is one we never miss.
We call each other several times throughout the day, sometimes just to hear the other’s voice, and sometimes because there is something important to share.
Given that his shifts are 24 hours, and he won’t be home until the next morning, we have another ritual that we call each other and say good night.
My husband has had a few partners before he promoted to supervisor, and there are several guys at the station with him on every shift. More than once they have picked on him that he talks to me so often. Many of them don’t talk to their wives at all while on shift. That is their time with the boys.
Talking to my husband often, and us both being informed on what is going on in the other’s life, is vital to the health of our marriage and family. It keeps us connected to one another.
There are many times I call or text my husband and he can’t respond because he is pounding on someone’s chest trying to give them another chance at life. If he can’t answer at that moment, I know that as soon as he can he will get back with me.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am a stay-at-home mom surrounded by four little boys all day, married to a guy who has a lot less words to give each day than I do. There are times that he doesn’t feel like talking too much, but he makes it a priority because he knows I need it for my own sanity, and because I am a girl. He often jokingly asks when I take a break after a 30 minute conversation if I got all of my words out for the day.
In the beginning it was more difficult for him to do, but he has commented to me on several occasions how important he has grown to realize this habit is for our marriage. It is important to him because it helps speak into my love language, but also because it keeps us on the same page, and he can much more easily step back into life at home if he is kept up to speed on what has taken place in his absence.
Staying in touch with your spouse throughout the day does not always have be a phone call either. We text each other all day long. Sometimes it is to share quick facts, sometimes it is a romantic text meant only for their eyes, (sometimes that can backfire, see how here), and sometimes it is just letting our love know we are thinking of them.
However you decide to do it, I recommend you talk to your spouse often and stay up to speed on each other’s day.
I will add one other secondary rule we have is that we are always aware of the where our spouse is and are always available to them. This was something shared with us in our pre-marriage class, and we have alway lived by it.
We don’t stalk one another, but out of courtesy we just update our love if we are changing locations. He lets me know if he is getting sent to another station for the shift. I let him know if I am going to spend the afternoon at my mom’s or we are going on a field trip to the zoo (those two places and Target are the boys and my favorite places to go.)
Rules 4-7 and Bonus
This post is getting a little long, so due the fact that I want to devote a sufficient amount of time to each rule, I will continue with Rules 4-7 in my next post.
I would love to hear if you have similar rules in your marriage, your thoughts on these, or if there is anything you would add.
I hope you will come back to find out the rest, but I will leave you with some ideas for texts that you can send your husband to put a smile on his face at work.