I know. I know. It is only one year. But y’all. This has been a crazy year. Not only did a pandemic happen, but I went to India, graduated, and got a full-time job. Suz took on a third major, finished her Junior year, and is working an internship and a job. We have never been more challenged, more filled with doubt, and more unified.
Through the pasture of those memories I found 7 principles that I hope continue to last. I wanted to share these 7 principles with you:
I. Eliminate the need to prove you are right
Little scuffles turn into WWE real quick when we don’t get this right. In an argument, it is easy to get caught up in how you are right and the other person is wrong. It is easy to snap back or to list the excuses for why you did what you did. In reality, what builds a relationship and brings health is to admit your faults. You cannot see from your spouse’s perspective if you are pushing your own perspective onto them. Make apologies a regular routine.
II. Tiredness is not an excuse for absence
Every day when I come home the love of my life is expecting me. Expecting me to lend a hand, to remind her of her beauty, to love her. When I give everything to my job then there is nothing left for me to give. Tiredness cannot hold me back from what matters most in life. Often times when I am tired in life it means I need to adjust my food, sleep, or work habits. Tiredness is not an excuse for becoming absence.
III. Love is patient
Y’all. This sounds great in marriage counseling, but not so much on Monday. Patience is hard to practice. I always want it, but I struggle to give it. It is hard to wait for your spouse to get ready when you know you are going to be late. It is hard to wait for each other to cool down to have a rationale conversation after a fight. We never perfect patience, but we all need to practice patience a little more today than yesterday.
IV. Know your non-negotiables
Talk daily. Late night dog walks. Weekly date night. Sabbath. These are a few of our non-negotiables. If we don’t do anything else together throughout the week we do these things at least. We schedule around these intentional moments together. Define and defend your non-negotiables.
V. See a need. Fill a need.
This is a phrase Suz has coined in our marriage. It means exactly what it says. If you walk by the dirty dishes then do the dishes. If you see Ollie (our whoodle pup) break a pot (which he does a lot) then clean it up. If you see a fly in the house then take care of it. Sometimes it is as simple as see a need then fill a need.
VI. Spiritual leadership is 90% living by example and 10% intentional conversation
Spiritual leadership in marriage is not a one size fits all formula. No, I don’t lead a devo every night for Suz. No, I don’t read the shema over my wife when she wakes up. No, we don’t always practice Sabbath together. I lead my life as well as I can. When the opportunity comes then we talk about God and what he is doing in our life. Leadership is not about legalism. Leadership is about going on the journey and taking people with you. In that respect, marriage is the most beautiful and intimate form of leadership.
VII. Honor or be a goner
In public. In private. When you like each other. When you hate each other. When you’re tired. When you need to calm down. When you are watching TV. When you are listening to a podcast. When you blow the budget. When you lose your job. When you need help. When everything is ok. When you are sitting in the hospital. Honor always.
In everything, let the gospel be the narrative of your marriage. Remind yourself of your desperate need for God’s grace. Know your sins are forgiven in Christ. Walk in new life knowing the old has passed away and the new is here. Your spouse can’t take your sin. Only Jesus. When we surrender to Christ then forgiveness gets easier, patience gets easier, and love gets easier. Because we know that Jesus did it for us.