Last month, my husband and I celebrated eight years of marriage! It seems like a lifetime and like the blink of an eye, all at once.
Every year when we celebrate this gift of time together, I feel like I know less and less and I’ve got more and more to learn.
About love, about life, and especially about how to make a marriage work. This marriage thing is hard stuff some days. And just when I think we’ve gotten over one hill, another one seems to spring up out of nowhere.
When we got married I was 19 and my husband was 22. Kids. We were kids.
We transitioned into married life and then parenthood pretty quickly. There were a lot of difficult days those first few years. My husband was finishing up his bachelors degree and working full time and I was adjusting to life with a baby.
I was so young and naive about life and love. If I had to sum up the sinful human nature of myself as a young married person in one word it would be: Selfish.
Maybe not in glaring ways, but as I look back on it, that’s exactly the word I would use. Anytime I wanted something other than what we had, what we couldn’t afford at the time, or what I knew (or should have known) my husband was working so hard to provide, it was selfish.
Whether it was possessions or his time, I let those unhappy feelings turn into bitterness and resentment. Both of which are sneaky things. They start with a thought or two. A simple thought of “Well, if he wasn’t working late, if he wasn’t so tired, if he would just buy us this or that” can simmer and begin to turn into more.
I don’t have to tell most people that the first few months/years of marriage aren’t easy. And we weren’t exempt from the stresses. As the months turned into years I found myself caring just a little less about simple things. Things like buying his favorite pop, making his favorite food, making time just for him.
We had settled into a routine that was more of an act than a healthy marriage. I remember one night in particular that I thought “This can’t be all there is. All married people can’t be this miserable.” Around that same time a women’s Bible study was starting up at our church. It was at the house of a woman who lived about 45 minutes from mine. I still don’t know why I decided to go (Well, that’s not true… God obviously had plans for me and my marriage.).
The study was on a book called “Is There a Moose in Your Marriage?” by Connie Grigsby and Nancy Cobb. I don’t remember a lot from the first time reading through that book (though I’ve since read through it several times and more words are now highlighted than not) but I can tell you this much, the turning point for me in my marriage started with a simple suggestion.
The authors suggested doing something for your husband. Serving him in some practical way. Which seems simple. But to me at that point in life it seemed they were asking me to move a mountain. And I’m pretty sure I may have grumbled a little while doing it the first time. “He could do this himself. I do everything else and I have to make his coffee too? What’s he done for me?” type of grumblings.
All over the act of service I had chosen… making his coffee. It’s something I had done previously but since I had allowed the bitterness to fester in my heart I had stopped showing him love in such practical ways. I can still remember the tone of his voice and the look on his face when I made his coffee for him that first time. The love was there that had always been.
All along, I had put all the blame of my unhappiness on my husband but it was my own heart and selfish nature that had caused such a rift between us. God used a simple coffee pot to soften my heart. It makes me tear up to think about now but I don’t ever want to forget it. By serving my husband, I was doing as God intended for my life and my marriage. And in return He softened my heart.
It’s easy to forget that the goal of marriage is to bring glory to God, not ourselves. But I can assure you that things got so much brighter for us when I laid down my pride and let Christ back into my heart. I, of course, still get frustrated with life. We’ve since added two more kids, a Master’s degree, job promotions (which mean more hours at work) and various life happenings into the mix. But I always think back to where we were and how God used one simple act of service towards my husband to change my heart.
I choose to love my husband daily by simple acts of service. It’s a lesson that I am ever so thankful God taught me. Using a simple coffee pot.