Growing Marriage: Lessons in Love From My Husband

Fifteen years Nineteen years ago we married, mainly because we were infatuated with each other and thought it would be cool to get to share a house. God’s direction and miraculous grace on those two wayward young people cannot be measured, as I ponder the depth and growth of our love–he’s my husband, my teacher, my best friend.

Marriages are built, not fallen into. They are tended, not run on autopilot.  You must intentionally spend time growing marriage.  The years are made of weeks, the weeks days, and the days moments. And what happens in those moments is what a marriage becomes.

I’ve learned a lot in the last fifteen years, mostly about myself and how much a good marriage depends on our choices. But there’s a disclaimer: My husband is a rock star. You know, not in the literal sense, just that he makes marriage easy and I think he’s awesome. He hardly ever, ever, ever gets mad at me. That’s worth a gold medal. He listens to me and takes to heart my thoughts, feelings and opinions. He likes to make me happy. He serves me and never keeps score. (He isn’t perfect, but you know that, because he is human.) And even with a man like that, a marriage could easily falter and break under the weight of daily cares and careless neglect.  I can still find things to complain about–we all can, because we’re human and sinful and selfish.

Two big things I’ve learned in my fifteen years:

1.  Expectations will destroy your marriage or at least make it miserable.

2.  Choosing to see the best in your spouse makes all the difference.

We see those with whom we live under a microscope (too bad we don’t see ourselves that way enough). Marriage is work because it requires us to keep liking a person even though we know all his faults and even though we are more familiar with him than anyone. (Why does “familiarity too often breed contempt”?)

But that should be just the sweetness of marriage: the intimacy to know a person and be known, and still be unconditionally loved. Because a person who can love another person, despite faults and humanness, is a person who has chosen to live in forgiveness, loving as he wishes to be loved.

And the person receiving full acceptance and love, despite  shortcomings, is a person who has found a safe reprieve from everything harsh and scary in the world.

And what if we were more careful with the gift of a spouse? What if we smiled at him like we smile at our friends? Like we are glad when he comes home? What if we picked up his clothes gratefully, remembering how painful it would be if tomorrow there were no clothes because there was no husband? What if we found little ways to make his life easier or more fun? What if we didn’t complain so much about what we don’t have or what needs to be fixed and just expressed gratitude for the good things? What if we remembered to joke around, play pranks and in general, lighten up? What if we really worked on making him enjoy being with us, looking forward to us?

Here’s the part that hurts to write: I’m learning it, but I’m still not good at living it. I still create expectations and allow myself disappointment if they’re not met; I can still be so quick to point out his faults when there are ten of mine own staring me in the face. I am often far too careless, taking his gentleness and goodness for granted.

I’m learning from him. Because he loves without expectation and he forgives as if it’s the first offense. He pretends to be blind to my faults and that is amazing to me.

Is this how Jesus loves His bride?

Surely it’s close.

Thank you, my beloved, for putting flesh on real love for me.

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31 Responses to “Growing Marriage: Lessons in Love From My Husband”

  1. Jennifer says:

    Beautifully written and convicting as well! Happy 15th anniversary to you both!

  2. Holly says:

    Happy Anniversary and may God bless you with many, many more years together!

  3. Magriet says:

    It’s so beautifull, it’s almost painfull to read…
    May God bless your marriage still more.

  4. Kelly ~

    Beautifully written…may the Lord bless you with continued joy in Him, which DOES flow into your in marriage. Your wedding photo is lovely…you look just as young and beautiful as the day of your wedding and your inner beauty shines through your post. 😀 Happy Anniversary and God Bless you both!

    Because of HIM ~

  5. Kelly L says:

    Happy Anniversary! This post is beautiful and convicting. I love your openness and transparency, it usually serves to give me a swift kick in the butt. 😉

  6. Rachel says:

    Yeah! I love anniversaries, congratulations on yours!

  7. Cassandra says:

    Happy Anniversary! Excellent post.

  8. Amy says:

    Good advice. And happy anniversary to you both!

  9. Andy Traub says:

    My wonderful wife sent me this with a sweet note. Thank you for writing it. And thank GOD for my wife!

  10. Becky says:

    Congratulations on 15 years together! May God continue to bless your family and use your testimony to encourage others!

  11. Keri says:

    Happy Anniverary to you Both!! I think you look the same..Really!!

  12. 6 arrows says:

    You’re so right that marriages need building and tending. And this was so sweet: “the intimacy to know a person and be known, and still be unconditionally loved.” Beautiful thoughts here, Kelly.

    This was such a neat post to follow the one picturing all your children. What a blessing that the Lord has gifted you and your husband with so many arrows for your quiver in these 15 years of marriage.

    Happy anniversary to you both, and may your love for each other and the Lord continue to deepen through all the moments, days, and I’m praying many more years together.

    • Word Warrior says:

      Thank you, 6 arrows. I said to him at breakfast, “you know I’ve been pregnant for more than half our marriage”. And he answered something very sweet and sappy. Interesting I think, how children tie the hearts of couples.

      • 6 arrows says:

        I agree, Kelly. And I was thinking how it gets even sweeter, those heart-ties a couple shares, when they welcome children according to God’s perfect will and timing. It certainly did for us, anyway.

        The Lord turned mine and my husband’s hearts in that regard right around our 14th anniversary. This 15th anniversary post of yours was a precious reminder to me of my own 15th. I held our sweet baby, one month old on that very day, our fourth child but the first baby the Lord gave us after the heart-change He orchestrated.

        My husband and I had had some marital struggles after we’d been married maybe 11 or 12 years. Our 14th anniversary and the decision to give over my womb to the Lord, though, brought much healing to our marriage, to my great surprise and pleasure. (That was entirely the Lord’s doing, of course.)

        We really turned a corner in our relationship, and as God brought us more children (and took two we didn’t meet to heaven), the bond my husband and I shared grew stronger. That has been in spite of some big challenges we have weathered in the second half of our almost 27-year marriage now, challenges that have been for the most part beyond our control.

        I am reminded of the verse “…a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12b) With God at the center of marriage, we can withstand the pressures of life, and see our children more clearly as the blessing they are, and a picture of the love husband and wife have for each other. All of that, I think, makes for some strong bonds within the family, and especially with the couple, hearts tied in love and unity, wanting the best for each other and for the children with whom the Lord has blessed them.

        Anyway, that is my ramble on God’s gift of children tying the hearts of couples. 😉

        P.S. Loved your “you know I’ve been pregnant for more than half our marriage”. 🙂 I’ve never been able to make that claim, but about two years ago I reached the point where I had been married for more than half my life, and that is sweet, too. 🙂

        Many blessings to you and your husband, Kelly.

  13. Laura says:

    Your wedding pic is cute, Kelly…You both look about 19! I understand what you mean about having a husband who listens, serves, and cares…Mine even changes [poopy] diapers! So many days, I look at him, and wonder how on earth my sinful selfish self ended up with such a man! (of course I know the Lord arranged it, I just get amazed even after 11 years…)

  14. Claudia says:

    Loved the two beautiful photos! And while I loved your tribute to your husband, I really cracked up at your first line! Appreciate the honesty, as I can relate. 🙂

  15. God has been good to you 2! The years have been good to you! You look better now than when you 2 young birds got married! I know that the intimacy, spiritual and emotional maturity are greater now too!! Nothing like togetherness to refine and polish us to let our inner beauty shine through. Blessings!!

  16. Annie D says:

    I agree about expectations being deadly. I’ve found thankfulness to be the key to contentment at our house!! (And there is always SOMETHING to be thankful for!)

  17. Kristen says:

    Congratulations on 15 years. What a beautiful couple you make.

  18. Heather Newcomb says:

    Beautiful post and full of truth! Happy Anniversary!

  19. Hilary says:

    happy anniversary!

  20. Expectations. That’s a big one. When I am struggling with how to respond/treat my husband, I always try and take myself back to the early days. The days where he hung the moon and could do no wrong. The days where our love was new and everything he said was always just right :). Of couse it wasn’t always right and he wasn’t always perfect, but I wore a different set of lenses back then. So when I struggle, I try and put those lenses back on and there he is. The amazig man I fell in love with. And then I try and treat him accordingly in spite of my feelings. And even with nearly ten years together under our belts, it works almost every time!

  21. Erica says:

    Congrats on 15 wonderful years…we’re working towards 19 years in August! I love being able to look back and see how much we’ve both grown throughout our relationship. The joys & challenges we have met head on together. I have had the pleasure of being able to stand back and see how much nicer people that share a home can be towards strangers, yet not show each other the same politeness/caring/understanding…and thank God that he showed me this years ago so that we can work as a family on appreciating each other more & treating each other better. A constant process that I doubt we’ll ever totally achieve, but we’ll keep trying.

    Blessings to you!

  22. Word Warrior says:

    I’ve so enjoyed and appreciated all your well-wishes! After a brisk night away and a wonderful, quiet evening spent with my husband, I continue to revel in God’s goodness to me. (And he got me a certificate for a pedicure (and nails and hair) before the baby’s born since I can’t reach my toes!!!)

  23. Ponder Woman says:

    Happy anniversary! 🙂

    I haven’t taken the time to write out any comments on your blog posts for a while but I’ve been reading and appreciate the time you take to express yourself, though that sentiment is clearly not shared by all. 😉

  24. We are coming up on 29 yrs and I could count on one hand the number of times he has criticized me. And it wasn’t really even criticism, it was honest truth. OTOH, I can’t count the number of times I have criticized him. It hurts my heart to know how ungrateful I have been.
    We turned a corner in our marriage not too long ago, and the next 29 yrs will be the best yet!!
    So so SOOOO thankful for the man God blessed me with. And I was 17 when we got married. Ten kids later, I would marry him again in a heartbeat.

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