Is it too old sounding to say that I’ve been learning more and more recently that life is a journey? Well it’s true.
And here I am on my journey. I have been married for three years. We dated for two years before that. To be honest, God’s grace has been present since day one, not only in our interactions, but our growth individually and as a couple. I look back over five years and cannot help but think of it as both an incredibly long and an incredibly short amount of time – both in actual time and how it feels from our growth.
In those three years of marriage, we have brought one beautiful baby girl into the world and are about to bring home a bouncing baby boy (unless of course the ultrasound tech was wrong). In college, I had a heart-letting session with God, begging him to show me what my ministry would be. And he told me that it would be being a mother. And so, my husband and I decided that if God put it in our hearts to be parents, he would make us parents in his own way and in his own time. We are prepared for whatever this looks like from natural children to adoption to being our kids’ friends parental figures. So far, though, this has meant that over half my marriage, I have been pregnant. But this is a beautiful beyond measure gift and there’s something new every day.
When we used to sit in college and talk about the future, we were never sure what we would do, ya know, forever. It seems like so long when you’re 21 and don’t even know what the world will be like in 10 years. But we planned. And talked. And laughed. And dreamed. So far, I can’t say that we’ve hit the nail on the head in any of the plans. But I can tell you that we are learning that our journey may not look like anyone else’s – and that’s wonderful. From our finances, to our child rearing and producing, from our job situation, to our family vision – we are setting out with long term goals that seem strange in the short term. And that’s ok with us.
But how do any of those things bring me here? Well, it was on this journey that I, who love to share and help, quickly became a “go-to-gal” for my friends who got married after me. “What books should we read?” “What about the wedding night?” “How do you guys budget?” “Where did you get your centerpieces?” And so, I started passing along my knowledge, but mostly my heart for not only these subjects but for what they can do in a marriage.
I’m sure I’ve given more than my fair share of bad advice, but every time I learn something new, I share it. To the extent that the friend who was asking me all kinds of questions that I couldn’t answer? I just sent her a book recommendation – two years after her wedding. But hey, better late than never.
And on that journey of soaking up as much knowledge as I could, I stumbled upon a book. In honesty, I can’t remember what I was looking for. But it was a big step for me – looking for a marriage devotion to do *gasp* alone.
The devotion I found was The Respect Dare by Nina Roesner. It is a 40 day journey through God’s word – seeking after God’s will for marriage through the lessons we learn in scripture. A beautiful by-product of this is that it may change the way our marriages work – for the better – as we seek our fulfillment from God instead of our husbands.
I “completed” the dares for my husband as our first anniversary gift. [You never really complete the dares, by the way, but rather they grow with you.] He was truly amazed at the gesture. We were finally able to discuss the questions from the book. I could ask him if he felt respected in our marriage.
I cannot begin to go into all of the details of how this is impacting our marriage every single day. It been amazing.
Being the advice lady among my friends, I just had to share this knowledge. So I slipped it into conversations. I sent blog posts to my friends. And, wouldn’t you know, I didn’t get one single response. No one seemed interested.
When I finally plunked up some courage to ask why, the answers I got surprised me, but maybe they won’t surprise you.
-Why would I need to work on my marriage, when nothing is wrong?
-Of course I respect my husband. He’s perfect!
-Those women in marriage books – they are so [old, negative, different from me] that I can’t relate to the stories that are shared.
This got me really thinking about what us young wives are missing out on. Truth be told, we’re not taught much about respecting our husbands simply because he is our husband. When we first get married, we don’t think our husband can do anything to not earn our respect so we’re covered. We don’t think ahead to the future. And we don’t think about the big stuff we deal with each and every day, that we fight about, and that are shaping our long term habits.
And that is where the desire in my heart started to grow. Hey ladies – young wives, young moms, engaged ladies – we are not doing ourselves any favors by waiting until we have issues to learn about marriage and God’s way of doing it. We’re not doing ourselves any favors by deciding we’ll only do a devotion if our husband does one with us or at the same time as us. And we’re not doing ourselves any favors by only getting marriage updates from the media and husband-bashing with our girlfriends.
I want you to know that I really believe that respect is like a multivitamin – it’s a way to help get our marriage in shape and stay healthy. As we work our respect muscles and strengthen them, we can be assured that we are building habits which will carry us through what we have yet to experience – financial troubles, job relocations, having children, and more. I can’t promise that these events will be less stressful, but I can say they will give you a different opportunity to grow when you flex your new muscles.
My desire in this blog is to speak to things that are unique to us younger wives, things that are a part of our early journey through marriage. Hopefully, as we journey together from our unique vantage point, we can relate to one another in how respect is changing us in our marriages.
My story and my journey are not over. I might know parts of my route and a destination or two, but I have a long way to go. I am so looking forward to sharing my journey with you and sharing in your journey as well.
(Originally posted as a guest post: http://ninaroesner.com/2013/05/28/what-advice-would-you-give/)