“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Wow! Can it possibly be true that 10 years has flown by in the blink of an eye?! Your Dad and I are celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary today and we are proud to say that we have grown closer together in those last ten years than we ever thought possible. It is true what they say–a good marriage is a labor of love!
Every year I write to you a little bit about what I have learned over the past year. My hope is that by the time you are venturing into your own marriage you will have 30+ years of marriage tips/tricks and advice to help you navigate the waters. When I think back on each year as they go by, I try to determine any over-arching themes, any areas that have stretched my thoughts or times that I have felt myself grow as a person. Then I use what I have and try to convey some sort of (hopefully) helpful advice to you. Also, if you look back on each year, it would be a pretty safe to say that the pieces of advice that I give are areas that I am currently or have intensely struggled with. That is why they “stick out” to me as being important or recurring themes. I am not perfect. Marriages are not perfect. They are a team effort that require a lot of give and take along the way. If you look at each post as a “snapshot” of my year, I also hope that you’ll see little pieces of my heart and who I am/was during that time.
Sidenote: I just felt completely overwhelmed and compelled to tell you how much I love being your mom. I am blessed to have you both in my life and I consider it the honor of a lifetime to be a part of yours. ❤
Here are links to previous years posts:
Years 1-6: (Year 1-5 were the “carefree” pre-children years, although they of course weren’t totally carefree…I just didn’t give much thought to the motherly advice I wanted to give yet. Year 6 is when things got real and I had to start a blog so I could tell you all the things!), Year 7, Year 8 and Year 9
This year’s relationship advice is a bit of a personal one and is something I believe we all may struggle with to a certain extent.
Relationship Advice #10: “For richer or for poorer” refers to BOTH of those seasons of life and everything in between. Otherwise known as: Your “things” do not define you.
Hard times are bound to happen. A lost job could turn your financial situation upside-down overnight. A newly purchased car can become totaled within a week of purchase. Bills can pile up, unexpected medical bills can nearly put you in near financial ruin. Your health can deteriorate, a family member can pass away unexpectedly. Life is good in the good times….but guess what– life is good in the hard times too.
This past year has been a tough one for us financially. We struggled to see the good around us when it seemed like time and time again we just kept getting knocked down. It was a difficult time, to say the least.
“Team work makes the dream work.”
After sulking for a tiny bit, your Dad and I developed a plan. We cut down our expenses, we nearly eliminated all of our personal disposable spending, we were creative with our grocery shopping (you’d be shocked at how many variations of spaghetti we have had in the past year! But at around $2.50/meal it truly can’t be beat!) and we prioritized every. single. thing. that we bought and constantly asked “Do I really need this?” before buying something new. I’m talking down to questioning whether or not we really needed a new bottle of ketchup one time at the grocery store. Things were really that tight.
Stress can ruin a lot of things for people. Stress can either make or break a person. Financial stress is one of the biggest issues that can plague a relationship. Spend time being intentional about how you handle the stress in your life. Being intentional about handling the stress in my life is what made all the difference for us. We worked together, made decisions together and were determined to come out on top. We knew that nothing could be gained by trying to fix it alone and we knew that we could rely on each other no matter what came our way. Find a partner who values your “team” and who knows that “team work makes the dream work.”
Since I was questioning every single expense down to the bottle of ketchup, it goes without saying that items like new shoes, clothes, camera gear, etc. were completely and understandably put on the back burner. You might have looked at our bank account and thought “Gee, these people sure don’t have a lot.” I’d be the first to tell you that you were completely and utterly wrong.
I found myself becoming increasingly aware of people around me. I noticed my husband working harder than ever to support our family. I saw my children (you!) laughing and smiling and learning and growing each day. I began to see that God was placing certain people into my life for different reasons. Some people had great messages and always seemed to say and do the right thing at the right time. Sometimes it gave me chills, sometimes it brought tears to my eyes and sometimes it made me exhale in relief. For example, the bible verse listed at the top of this post is a verse someone had shared with me after I had an exceptionally hard day. I know with all of my being that that person was meant to share that scripture verse with me that day. That was a time that I knew God was there. I knew He was stretching me. I knew He was growing me as a person and refining me to see the big picture in life. I know he was trying to help me see what really mattered….and what didn’t. I was reminded in that moment that God works all things together for good. All things. Even when we don’t understand it.
After a time of not really thinking about buying “things” for myself, I started to notice that I stopped thinking about them (mostly, at least). I recognized that “things” are just objects…some are helpful, some are not. Some are just there. They don’t define who we are. Our personalities, who we are as people and the values that we have can define us as people. What are we doing to make this world a better place? It doesn’t have to be a huge thing, something simple will do just as well.
I started to realize that life wasn’t about your job or how much money you had. Your job title did not determine who you are. Your job is fleeting. Life is fleeting. The only thing that lasts is love. When we die, we can’t take any of our stuff with us. We can, however, leave the world a better place than how we found it. We can realize that we are more than the clothes we wear or the things we have (or don’t have!). Love is the only true wealth any of us can ever have. The ripples left from a loving relationship can affect generations. It truly is a beautiful opportunity we’ve been given to make the world a better place simply by loving others.
Helpful Tip: Be careful when justifying your purchases with phrases like “Well I work hard, so I deserve this.” A lot of people work hard. A lot of people “deserve” those things too. But for one reason or another, they may not be able to have it. Keep that in mind, always. Nothing in life is guaranteed or “deserved.” Be thankful for everything. Life is a gift.
Some questions to consider to help you determine where the desires of your heart truly lie:
-Do I place more emphasis on wanting to acquire material items instead of what I can do to help make the world a better place?
-Do I notice the “things” people have and constantly compare what I have to what they have?
-Do I know without a doubt that although sometimes life is hard, God uses all things to work together for good?
-Am I capable of seeing myself, my partner and the people around me for who they are as people and not “what” they are?
So, my sweet ones, when you take your wedding vows and you say “For richer or for poorer,” know that that means during BOTH of those times and any time in between as well. Use the hard times learn more about yourself and grow in your relationship with God and your spouse. Realize that life isn’t just about you and sometimes the chips are going to be down. Who are you going to be when the chips are down? Maybe you’ll decide you want to be that person when the chips are up again too. I hope so.
I love you, I love you, I love you. To the moon and back! A thousand times! Forever and ever.