Next Sunday, April 7th, is my husband’s and my 9th wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe we have been together for almost 11 years– I’m not sure where the time went! (…well, about 4 years went to the Marine Corps)
But as a sort of “fun” thing, I decided to share one lesson I’ve learned about marriage for each year I’ve been married. And since it seems each year has had it’s central lesson, I’ll start with the biggest lesson of year 1 of marriage: Humility.
I spent 9 months of the first year of our marriage with my husband. He did a delayed enlistment in 2011, and his boot camp graduation was on our 1st anniversary.
I grew up with parents who really struggled (and ultimately divorced) to show one another respect. And I believe a lot of their unmet expectations one another proceeded from a lack of humility in their relationship.
Going in to marriage, I was a 19 year old music theatre major with an ego bigger than the state of Texas, and a complex of not wanting to be taken advantage of or walked all over like I believed my mother had been. This led to some obvious friction in my marriage.
To begin with, I always had to have the last word. It didn’t matter if I was completely wrong, I was always the one, in my mind, who needed to have the final say. But things started happening as a result of my selfishness. My husband would answer phone calls from other people when it should have been “us only” time. He would actually take extra or extended shifts at his various jobs to avoid spending time around my abrasiveness. What really got me was when he enlisted in the Marine Corps. I felt like I had driven him away, and in part, I had– at least emotionally.
My arrogance had stunted his ability to lead and my selfishness and pride had caused him to shut down to me emotionally. While he was in boot camp, the Lord convicted me of my selfishness and led me toward humility in Christ. I began to see the toxicity of my behavior and I knew that wasn’t the kind of woman I wanted to be; I didn’t want my marriage to be another divorce statistic.I remember receiving a voicemail while I was at work. It was completely unexpected to receive a phone call from my husband while he was at basic, but his unit had accomplished a special achievement and were afforded a brief phone call. I remember his voice breaking as he told me that he’d been growing a lot closer to God, and really depending on Him for strength. I found out later he did his swim qualification with pneumonia and/or bronchitis, and was crying out for the Lord to be his strength and to sustain him. That was brand new to me; I’d never known my husband to talk about spiritual things before. What he didn’t know at the time is that God had been working on me too, preparing me to be the wife he needed.
Once my husband and I were reunited and living under the same roof after about 9 months of separation, our relationship was completely different. God had worked on us both individually to humble our hearts and soften us toward one another. I heard a sermon series on marriage at church while he had been away (not by accident, because God is providential) that convinced me that I could submit my right to be right, because I trust that Christ is right. In His design for marriage, God intended the woman to be emotionally soft; to submit to her own husband as is fitting in the Lord, and allow her husband to lead her spiritually. Well, fear, pride, arrogance, and hardness of heart had previously prevented me from doing this, but I began to see that if I could trust God to simultaneously work on my husband’s heart and my heart and actually strengthen our marriage while more than 2,000 miles separated us, I could trust him to lead me through my imperfect husband.
I do not regret this lesson in humility one single fraction of a degree, even though it was one of the most difficult and trying periods of my life. I am forever and eternally grateful to God for his mercy, grace, and love in reaching out to me and to my husband, and for not only giving us this gift of marriage, but for teaching us how to live in marriage in a way that glorifies and honors God.