I walked down the aisle to the sound of Pachelbel’s Canon in D on Friday, 17 April 2009. Andrew stood at the other end with a big smile on his face and tears in his eyes. We said our vows in front of family and friends. Within moments, we went from being two single people to being a married couple.
That was almost fourteen years ago. So much has changed, and so many things haven’t. I certainly don’t have it all together, and Andrew and I are far from perfect, but it’s through the telling of our stories that we find connection, validation and healing.
So, here’s three things marriage has taught me (and continues to teach me). While every relationship and journey is unique, I pray that these insights are timely, helpful and encouraging.
What you focus on grows.
It is easier to focus on all the things that aren’t going well, the things you don’t like and the things that frustrate you. But I’ve found that the more I go on about those things, the bigger they get! I’m not suggesting that we should ignore problems and issues. But I’ve learned that expressing gratitude and giving praise for what is working and what is going well grows the positive things, which naturally helps deal with the negative things.
Vulnerability is a risk worth taking.
Vulnerability in marriage is allowing your spouse to see who you truly are – to let them in on your thoughts, emotions, memories, hurts, hopes, dreams, worries and fears – and trusting them with those things. Vulnerability strengthens and deepens a marriage, yet it’s a risk that many couples don’t take. Many marriages get to a certain level of vulnerability and remain there causing stagnation. I’ve learned that if I want my relationship with my husband to go to a new level of growth, it requires another level of vulnerability.
Each day is an opportunity to live out the vows you made on your wedding day.
It’s romantic at the altar – ‘from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death do us part’.
I definitely meant every word of my vows when I made them on my wedding day. But it wasn’t until we actually experienced seasons of financial difficulty, periods of sickness and challenging circumstances that brought out the worst in each other, that I understood the depth and weight of those vows.
I once read the words of an older man in his eighties reflecting on marriage: ‘This generation throws things out when they break and gets a new one. My generation fixed and kept them.’ While I understand that this is a generalisation, I certainly got the point he was making.
Marriage has taught me about the multi-faceted ways of loving and cherishing my husband through the ups and downs and highs and lows of life. Choosing to continually fix and repair and mend and restore.