Gratitude Day 666
John 15:9-10 – (Jesus said,) “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.
Yesterday morning, I went out for a run. It was hot. Humid. Sticky. Not super comfortable. I was reminded of the weather from Aug. 26, 2000. Twenty-one years ago; the day Hubby Rick and I said, “I do.”
It was HOT that day. And sticky. And humid. It stormed early in the morning, enough that our reception venue lost electricity. After the rain, it simply felt like someone had turned on a wet oven and left it on all day.
I think there is an old wife’s tail about rain on wedding days. Is it a positive? A negative? I’m not sure. What I do know is that rain or not, we were married and have celebrated our relationship every day since.
In all honesty, yes, there have been days that felt and were very hard. Days that I wanted to pull the sheets over my head and ignore everything going on inside and outside of our marriage. Yet, there have also been some wonderful and very special days. Days that I know that I have a wonderful partner beside me. He loves me. Respects me. Cares for me and honors me.
I wish I could do this half as well for him as he does for me. I know that I got a keeper.
Yes, there are days Hubby Rick drives me nuts. I know the flip-side is true as well. Around the time of our anniversary, I like to hit the pause button and reflect upon our relationship. What has worked the past year? What have we and I found challenging? How might I honor and love and respect my partner in such a way that I can encourage him? What do I value about our relationship?
As I ask myself these questions, I put them across to you as well. Whether you are currently in a committed relationship or not, these same questions can be pondered for all the important relationships in your life: your partner, children, grandchildren, loved ones and special people in your life. I pray that as I dig a little deeper into what I see in my marriage relationship these days, you might see a little bit of yourself here as well. And so, here are some lessons from marriage that I am learning and relearning after 21 years of being with Hubby Rick.
- Put the other person first. So often, in relationships, we question about whether a person is filling our love bank. “I want more,” we tell ourselves. “I’m not getting enough.”
This may be true. I continue to believe that the best way to receive something is to be the first to give. Not because I HAVE to … but because I WANT to. I WANT my partner to know that he is special to me. I value him right after my relationship with God. And I pray that he knows this because of the choices I make EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
There are days when he is not at the top of the list because there simply is something else that is more demanding in the moment. And vice-versa. But for the long haul, it’s important Hubby Rick knows I have his back. Not because I say it but because I live it. My actions speak more loudly than any of my words. If I prioritize other “things” over Hubby Rick, then he will rightfully begin to assume those other “things” are more important.
Early in our relationship, Hubby Rick told me that I will always be number one for him, after his relationship with God. Not his kids or other family members. Me. Unfortunately, I needed to hear this. But it made all the difference to me. He lives this daily. I pray that I try to do the same for him.
- Journey through the dark and challenging days together. Over the years, a variety of situations have arisen which could have pulled us apart or knitted us together. We continue to be in the middle of some of those challenges. Often, these situations are not in our control. They affect us, personally and together as a couple. We choose whether or not we will stay in the same boat and paddle together … or if one of us is going to bail.
Years ago, we committed to keep paddling together. NO. MATTER. WHAT. Period. Would it have been easier at times to bail? You bet. Would it be less challenging in our relationship if we removed some of those distractions? Absolutely. So far, we have decided to keep paddling in the same boat together, even when we have no clue which direction we are going. Sometimes, we simply feel like our boat keeps spinning in circles.
Recently, a person who is experiencing relationship challenges said to me, “(So and so) didn’t sign up for this in our relationship. Should I expect them to stay” While this may be true, I could easily point out lots of situations that I did not sign up for either. Honestly, I have said this to my spouse when I have been frustrated. Yet, Rick could count out things he did not sign up for either. Yet, he’s still here. Dipping his paddle into the water.
Grief is tricky. Disappointment can be devastating if we allow it. Hubby Rick and I can be at very different points in the process and have very different feelings about a situation. This is OK. When this happens, we allow for space. Agree to not always agree. BUT we do not let the distraction get the better of our relationship. This is a decision we make over and over and over. Sometimes, even daily. He doesn’t give up. Neither do I. Paddles go into the water. End of story.
- Tell each other the important things. Regularly. Daily.
Yes, we remind each other daily that we love each other. And … we sprinkle other phrases into our conversations as well.
“I am sorry.”
“Please forgive me.”
“I forgive you.”
I think it often feels easier to say these phrases to someone other than the people who mean the most to you. But isn’t this crazy? Should not we be comfortable enough to say those things to the people who mean the most to us?
These are the words that I feel keep us rooted in each our and our relationship with God. When I say these words to my husband, I’m reminded of God’s unconditional love for him and me. This challenges me to love Rick the way God longs and desires for us to love each other. Remain in God’s love and remain in each other’s love. This is what John 15 instructs us to do. We had these words read at our wedding and I pray we live them throughout our relationship.
- Relish the little things.
We often focus on the big things as benchmarks for life. Special times within a family’s life. Yes, these events are note-worthy. But for me, it is the normal, every-day things that weave through our lives that I cherish.
The things that seem too simple to take note of. Lunch together. A walk after church. Maybe a bike ride or catching up over coffee. Sitting in the swings in our backyard. A moment with loved ones that takes your breath away. I contend these are the ways we demonstrate over and over how much someone else means to us.
Yes, vacations and sky diving and celebrating a milestone event are special. Important. Memorable. But I also deeply appreciate and relish kayaking together. Working in the yard and garden at the same time as Hubby Rick. Tasting the first tomato out of the garden at the island together.
Hubby Rick and I have our own interests and things we enjoy. Yet, we also create space where we connect together. This creates memories and special moments that sustain a relationship for the long haul; something every relationship needs.
What are some things YOU are learning about relationships these days? It’s OK to let the challenges guide you; as they should. Relationships are never stagnant. They are always moving one direction or another. Personally, I pray the downs teach me as much as the ups and together, I continue to discover and appreciate my spouse more.
Saying “I do” to another person is a big step. A huge decision. Couples choose day after day whether they continue to say “I do” to each other every day going forward. Thank you, Hubby Rick, for saying “I do” every day. I pray we have another 21+ years together!
For an opportunity to reflect upon 21 years of marriage, I am grateful.
Holy God – it took a series of events ordained by you for Hubby Rick and I to even meet each other. We’ve never forgotten this and value and appreciate how our story has been knitted together. May we celebrate our relationship daily and have it blessed by You. Amen.
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