Exodus 20:14 – Be faithful in marriage.

Gratitude Day 849

August 26, 2020. The day began with an early storm. Rain pelted the ground and wind whipped leaves from the trees. The wind was strong enough that some areas of town lost power for a few hours. Then, the clouds cleared away. When it was time for the bride to walk down the aisle at the small church, sunlight poured through the stained-glass windows. Thankfully, power was restored just in time for the wedding reception. This was the first lesson in marriage we had.

Twenty-three years ago today, Hubby Rick and I exchanged our “I do’s” at the small church where we met 16 months earlier. The months between when we met and our wedding date were filled with so many changes. I became the pastor at this church and another small country church. We went through the appropriate approval process to start dating because dating is different when you are the pastor and the other party is the Ad Council chair. A few months later, Rick’s eldest son was killed in a snowmobiling accident. Suddenly, life felt very precarious. We realized there are no guaranteed tomorrows. Rick proposed to me on Easter Sunday. Four months later, we officially became Rick and Dianne Vielhuber.  

Today, we celebrate 23 years of marriage. Twenty-three years of excitement and joy as well as challenges and opportunities. We have moved five times, served in ministry at a variety of churches and said good-bye to all of our parents. We have bushels of memories and stories. Nearly every day, I continue to discover something new about my spouse. I consider this a very good thing.

Often about this time of the year, I like to reflect upon our marriage and relationship. It is helpful for me to look into the rearview mirror and appreciate the last year with my spouse. To think about what I most appreciate about my husband and where I can build up my part of our relationship. I hope you’ll humor me as I share some of my reflections about marriage and relationships today. Maybe they will encourage you to think about the relationships that mean the most in your life.

Here are my 7 Lessons from Marriage that I have appreciated this last year.

  1. Ask the other person how you can help them

The past several months have been a bit full for me. I’ve taken on more things than I probably should have. (No big surprise here, Hubby Rick would say.) The last four weeks have been jam-packed. I know that I am the one who has taken on these additional things. And I am keenly aware when I say “Yes” to these things, I am also saying “No” to other things. Like, more time with my spouse.

Rick has been incredibly patient with me. In fact, there have been many days when he knows I am buried deep and he says to me, “What can I do today to help you out?”

It makes my heart break every time he asks me. He lovingly knows this is the most important question he can ask me. He does not want to add more things to my plate. Instead, he hopes to take something off of it. Anything I have suggested, he has gladly accepted and done. Every time he does something big or small, Rick makes a deposit into my love bank. He demonstrates how much he loves and cares for me through his questions and actions.

Often, these are just little things. Making lunch. Watering the flowers. Running one of the grandkids some place. Throwing the bedding into the wash machine. As I often say, the little things really are the big things. At least in my world.

2. Be open to change

Honestly, we have gone through quite a few changes since the beginning of the year. We’ve moved. I’m back serving churches. We are closer to our grandkids. The people we see on a regular basis has changed. While Rick is officially retired, he picks up part-time jobs when he wants.

After Rick’s retirement, we saw more of each other first few months. This summer? Not so much. It’s not good or bad. It’s just how it is. It’s the season we are in right now.

Change is hard for a lot of people, including Rick. He has been a champ with all these different changes in our lives. He has not gotten frustrated or short. He and I both believe that we determine how we respond to what happens in our lives. We decide individually and as a couple if we will let the lemons in our lives sour our attitudes or if we will turn them into lemonade. I think we make lemonade most of the time.

3. Less is more

As we looked for a different house, one priority was to downsize. We left our beautifully restored home and moved into a much newer house that is one-third smaller. Yes, I miss our previous home. But the downsize has been so good for us. We were intentional about going through and getting rid of things and moving less. Honestly, I can say it has been very freeing to simply have less stuff.  

Yes, we still have plenty of things. We could get rid of more. There are a few places I want to go through things this winter. But I feel what we have is more manageable. Ricka and I have both commented about how this has been one positive of our move.

Why has this been a plus for our marriage? Because it was something we were intentional about and worked on together. I didn’t decide what of Rick’s things should be eliminated nor vice versa. But we have been a unified voice in having less. After going through other people’s things multiple times, we knew this was a priority for us. And we feel good that we’ve made great strides on this. Together.

4. Have your own things that you do

Rick and I are very different people. We are ying and yang. Opposites attracting. In our 23 years of marriage, we have learned to navigate our differences and celebrate that we each have a different voice.

We have different interests. I know Rick wishes that sometimes I would go on a motorcycle ride with him. And I will. Soon. But he also knows this isn’t my “thing.” We are comfortable with each of us having things that we do just for ourselves. I think it makes our relationship healthier. We have things to share when we are together. It allows each of our personalities to still be secure and independent.

This past week, I took three of our grandkids school shopping. This is something they and I look forward to every year. Grandpa has no interest in school shopping. Zero. So, later the in day, he took them to the pool swimming. This is what he likes to do with them. I let him have this time with them, just as he let me have school shopping time with them. And we all had a great day.

5.Do certain things together

At the end of the day, every couple does need things that they look forward to doing as a couple. These are where memories together are made and remembered.

For us, worshiping together is absolutely necessary. I am leading worship again, so we don’t get to sit in the pew together. But there have been ministry opportunities that we have done together. Sometimes, we visit shut-ins together. On the day we have a tailgate party with worship, Rick is the one who grilled the brats and hot dogs and helped me get everything set-up. This day reminded me how much I love doing these things together and how we really are a ministry team.

Have special things that you do with those important people in your life. They define your relationship.

6. Express your love daily

Rick is great about telling me every single day that he loves me. We never doubt this about each other because we freely say those words to each other. I never tire of hearing them. I love it when he sends a text message just to let me know this as well.

Love can be expressed with words. It can also be modeled through our actions. Rick does this when he rubs my back, drives when he knows I am tired and makes a salad for me each night because he knows how much I love a fresh salad. These little choices that he makes for me daily reiterates the words he says and confirms for me that his love for me is real.

7. Be committed to the long-haul

Relationships are a choice. Every day, we decide how important a relationship is to us. Yes, some days or weeks or months we may not have as much opportunity to put towards a relationship as we would like. This is life. But at the end of the day, those who you consider your MVP’s must know that you will not give up on them. You value them and who they are.

This is true of your partner, your kids, grandkids and your most special friends. Yes, there are days and weeks when Rick and I do not have as much time with each other as we would like. We try not to get frustrated when our alone time is less. Instead, we celebrate the time we do have together. If I have other things that occupy my time, I still want Rick to know that he is my most precious relationship after my relationship with God. I believe he feels the same about me.

We never question whether our relationship will break when something difficult comes into our lives. Instead, we affirm that we are “stuck” with each other. This brings great comfort to each of us.

As I have shared some highlights of our relationship of late, I hope this inspires you to celebrate and honor those relationships that mean the most to you. I am thankful God brought Hubby Rick into my life, for the marriage that we have and our relationship that is always centered around Christ. Thanks be to God.

For the wonderful man God brought into my life, I am very grateful.

Blessings –


Lord God – I never imagined that I would meet Rick when I went to see about becoming their pastor. But You did. Thanks for orchestrating our relationship, love and marriage. I pray we honor You through our lives. Amen.

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