…and 5 Years in to My 2nd (and forever) Marriage

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I just shared with you how things are going for me 10 years after my divorce. I shared hope with you because hope is something that you never actually lose, but once you abandon it, it haunts you and terrorizes you, reminding you that you never should’ve left it behind.

I don’t want that for anyone.

When I met my husband Byron, I had left hope in the dust. I had just found out that my sexy boyfriend had a sexy girlfriend that wasn’t me. I had lost my job. Life was pretty terrible. And I had pretty much resigned myself to a bleak existence for a while.

I dated a few guys who were never ever marriage material and some that I suspect still aren’t. I had dated a few guys who thought they were in love with me, but they scared me because deep down, I knew I just wasn’t ready for love.

As the story usually goes, I met Byron when I least expected it and when I truly wasn’t looking. I had no desire to impress him nor did I see him as a dating option. Naturally he would be the man who would steal my heart for good.

In reflecting over the last 5 years (almost 9 if you count our dating years), here is some wisdom I have garnered over the last few years of my marriage to the greatest man I know:

  • Marriage is, in general, a great deal of work-Our marriage is good, in part, because we both feel lucky. Meaning that we both feel like we married up. But no amount of luck will keep any of us from having to actually put effort into our marriage. And effort isn’t flowers on a birthday, or a pot roast on father’s day. Effort is a daily, continual effort that flows from a desire to love on the person you choose to spend your life with.
  • Love is a verb-Love can be a noun, but love as a noun won’t sail the love boat. Love has to be a verb, an action that tells, shows and echoes not just an emotion, but a deep, never-ending, robust commitment to your partner.
  • Love isn’t enough-We can love each other so intensely that honey drips from our mouths, but that isn’t going to cut it. Women need to be cherished, adored and sought after. Men needed to be liked, appreciated, respected and admired. Love without these needed ingredients, will feel impotent and incomplete.
  • Respect isn’t a 1-hit wonder-You can’t just tell a man you respect him and call it a day. Respect is proven over years of letting him finish his sentences, retell old stories, honoring his decisions, standing down when you are convinced he is wrong, and praising him when you have every “right” (in your mind) to criticize him. Respect is the marathon of marathons. It’s an Iron Man competition when you don’t even know how to doggie paddle. No amount of love when ever make up for a deficit of respect.
  • Relationships have boundaries, not rules-It’s true you can’t control others, nor can you get very far with ultimatums, but each of us has the right to establish healthy boundaries that tell others what we as humans (and children of God) are willing to to accept and tolerate. The hard part for many of us, is sticking to our own boundaries. Don’t expect others to honor them when you move the lines to enable others to step on you. Setting boundaries early is best, just like declaring your house rules in Monopoly; it takes a consensus to change them later.
  • Life is hard-Well there’s a big fat DUH. But seriously, even if you have met your Prince Charming, or if you are living happy and single, life is just hard. Sometimes it’s just too much: conflicting needs, arguing teens, failing grades, health problems, chronic infertility and pregnancy loss, PLUS all the other stuff I don’t care to blog about. But no matter how hard it gets, we never stop working at strengthening our commitment and our covenant. If we expect life to be easy for our marriages to flourish, no one would ever stay married!

I met with a friend recently, and she was saying how hard marriage is and she’s been married a very long time. She was surprised when I told her that I don’t think that it’s supposed to be easy. I think marriage is a training ground for eternity and a multi-decade exercise in self-sacrifice. Ephesian 5:21 tell us to, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” You don’t even have to like your spouse that day to honor them; you just have to have reverence for Christ.

Marriages that last do so because two people are working for the benefit of the marriage, not themselves. They are following Christ, even when they don’t feel like following each other into the next room.

Byron and I have a good marriage, but not because we have a perfect marriage. We disagree, argue and have times of great stress. Our marriage is lasting because we admit when we are struggling, we keep seeking God as the center of our marriage, and we don’t let the bad overwhelm the good, even when it’s damn tempting.

The biggest lesson that I have learned is that when you find a caring and decent human who loves you and gives a rip about how you feel, do everything possible to appreciate them and thank God for this gift.

God has blessed me beyond measure.

And I plan to live like it.

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