Last weekend my husband and I celebrated our fifth anniversary. For the first time, we left both of our boys overnight at my parents house and we took a little trip…. just the two of us. We really enjoyed it!
Although we both really missed our children, it was quite nice to have a little time to ourselves. We didn’t do anything super fancy – like a cruise or trip to the beach. We simply traveled a couple of hours away to a town that most people wouldn’t consider very special. We went to Cookeville, Tennessee. Cookeville is basically a college town, as it is home to Tennessee Tech. We picked Cookeville because of its proximity to several waterfalls. My husband has always loved hiking, and it’s something we haven’t done very much of since we got married.
Once we settled on a place we did research to find other things to do in the area. We ended up eating at a restaurant called Mauricio’s. On our first anniversary we ate at a restaurant that should have been much nicer than this one but Mauricio’s definitely topped it. It was set up as an old house that they had turned into a restaurant, and they had old music playing – the kind you might hear in an old Audrey Hepburn movie. It was lovely, and the food was some of the best I have ever tasted. If you’re ever in Cookeville, you HAVE to check it out.
It was great to reconnect and enjoy some time together, and we really did enjoy the hiking as well. On top of that, it was a good chance to look back over our first five years of marriage – and to realize that the time we have spent together so far might only be around 10% of our married life. We have learned a lot in the past five years, and there are many things we hope to get better at. It is exciting to realize that we more than likely still have plenty of time to learn and grow together.
On our first anniversary I wrote a post on my previous blog about the lessons I had learned as a newlywed. The top lesson that I had learned in my first year of marriage is that I am a selfish sinner. Today, I’d say that’s still my biggest struggle. Yes, I have grown in this area and there are plenty of ways that I put others ahead of myself. But still, there lives inside me a deep seed of selfishness that God is still working on daily.
If you were to ask me today, four years later, what’s the biggest lessons were that I have learned in marriage, my answer would be very similar. I have learned that selfishness doesn’t pay. I have learned that I have to daily die to myself and my own desires. I have learned that it’s worth it to humble myself and dig the gross food out of the sink that my husband or children dumped in there. I have learned that it’s worth it to pick up the dirty clothes that my husband left on the floor. I have learned that even when I’m stressed, a smile directed at someone in my family is worth the effort. I don’t always remember these lessons, but I have deeply experienced their truth.
Marriage really is an excellent mirror. It is easy to see someone else’s flaws, but it’s also easy to look into their eyes and realize your own shortcomings. I might also say that the biggest lesson I have learned is to focus on myself. I know what you’re thinking…..“Ummm, HELLO! You were just talking about being selfish!” I know, I know. But stick with me!
I cannot change my husband. I cannot miraculously make my children obey. I cannot wave my hand or wrinkle my nose and make perfect the other members of my family. What I can do is work to develop godly character inside myself. I can develop routines that help me to stay calm in the chaos of life. I can prioritize time in God’s Word and in prayer, so that my mind is stayed on the Lord. I cannot change my family, or fix their flaws, but if I put my trust in the Lord – He can change me.
This isn’t something I have learned because my children or my husband are so horrible that they need to change. In fact, I do believe I have the best husband that I can imagine in real life. Only, he is human. He is not perfect. Unrealistically, it can be so easy to expect him to be perfect. To hold him to a higher standard than I hold myself. This is not what God wants for me or for my marriage. God designed marriage so that a man could lead his family. My husband does this well. God designed marriage so that a woman would respect and honor her husband. He does not want me to fix my husband. He wants 2 things from me:
- God wants me to honor and obey Him above all else, and to grow in godliness as a follower of Christ.
- God wants me to honor and obey my husband, and submit to his leadership.
God wants me to focus on HIM, and on my own faith. As I do that, #2 becomes easier and easier. And as I honor my husband and follow his leadership, My marriage gets better and better.
Five years of marriage. To me it seems like a long time. It’s a huge milestone for us. In five years we’ve had two babies and one miscarriage. My husband graduated from seminary, became a youth minister, and then he became a senior pastor. We have worked together to now be debt-free (WAHOO!), and we’ve been able to do a lot of ministry and long-range vision planning together.
Through the study of Scripture, we’ve been challenged in our beliefs. We have made choices for our family that are different than we would have ever expected. We have seen the Holy Spirit work in each other, in our family as a whole, and in the ministry. We have been through a lot together, and we are truly blessed to have one another. I cannot wait to see what God does with the next 50-ish years.
Just for fun, Take a look at some pics from our first five years!