I think I'm an abundantly blessed young woman. (That sounds funny.. I typically call myself a girlie... Let's try that again!) I think I'm an abundantly blessed girlie. I have a great life although it isn't "perfect," I do recognize that it is great.
One area that I feel is very blessed is my marriage. It wasn't easy, but we've been through some hard times and came out closer, stronger and more connected in the end.
You see, Brandon has loved me even when he felt unloved. I'm ashamed to admit that looking back, I didn't fully take my marriage vows as seriously as I should have. I had a TERRIBLE, failed marriage in my past and I was jaded. I didn't really believe in "til death due us part" or "forever." In addition, my mother had been married three times and had a quite dysfunctional marriage for 13 years of my life. (They've since divorced.) I spent the first few years of our marriage with a Plan B in my back of my head. And I often said "When he leaves.... " I had no successful marriage models to look to and honestly didn't believe that marriages could last anymore.
I tested, I pushed him away, I got snippy with him and raised my voice. I threw verbal low blows in an attempt to get a reaction. Friends, I am SO ashamed of my behavior for the beginning of my marriage. And yet, he loved me, he kept a quiet voice with me and he rarely reacted to my verbal low blows. He gently reminded me that he was in this for the long haul.. and if anyone was going to leave, it would have to be me, because he was going to be stubborn and stick it out. He meant his vows and took them to heart. I was his wife and the one he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.
I look back and am just in awe. Would I have stayed married to me if I were him? Probably not. And yet.. here we are in our 5th year or marriage.. excited to celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary on April 4. And yet, I can clearly see what the turning point was for our marriage.
In 2007, I did a Bible Study called For Women Only: What you need to know about the inner lives of men By Shaunti Feldhahn.
I did the study at a very hard time in my marriage... things were tense and felt very shaky... we had just been through a miscarriage and we were being pulled in a thousand different directions. Add in that neither of us are from homes with successful, lasting marriages but what the world saw as strong, independent mothers, and we were really blind and trying to feel our way around.
As I cracked open the book for the first night of homework, I immediately disagreed with the first chapter. I thought it was WRONG and when I asked Brandon and he answered the way the book said it was AND the Bible says it is (love vs. respect) I cried my eyes out and realized at that exact moment just how unloved he had felt. And it dawned on me.. If I had felt unloved for that long, would I still have been there by his side? I cried face down in the carpet in our study.. and right then our marriage changed for the better.
It was that very moment that I realized just how much Brandon really loved me. He WAS in this for the long haul. He'd told me over and over, yet at that very moment I realized that he had showed me over and over as well.
That Bible Study was a turning point in my life and marriage. I highly recommend it! It doesn't really matter how long you've been married... I sat next to women in that class that had been married for 25 years. I'm pretty sure you'll glean something out of the book. In fact, Brandon and I have talked about encouraging our girls to read it before they are married.
I've since changed my ways and apologized immensely to my husband for my terrible actions those first few years. And he has forgiven me and never brought them up again.
One of the things that our facilitator recommended was to keep a list of ways we know our husband loves us. Although I think that Valentine's Day is a huge marketing scheme by Hallmark, I figured I'd share just a few ways that I know that Brandon loves me.
- Brandon loves me enough to gently tell me when I'm wrong or when there is a better way to get something done. He holds me to our convictions even when I get weary and think things are "too hard" or when I say that I'm "tired" of being "so different." He doesn't correct me or confront me in public because he is very mindful of my feelings and would never embarrass me.
- Brandon picks his battles. In general, he doesn't care what we have for dinner, or what the children wear. The things he does voice an opinion about, I've learned are things that are very important to him and I try very hard to honor that.
- Brandon gets up every morning and goes to work. My husband went to work with WALKING PNEUMONIA once! He has never played hooky from work, and in almost 6 years of marriage, I can count on one hand how many times he's called out. He is a wonderful provider for our (growing) family.
- Brandon prays for me every.single.day. I've accidentally overheard his prayers for me... and they are the sweetest, kindest, most beautiful things I've ever heard!
- Brandon does everything in his power to protect our marriage and trusts me to do the same. We do not have secrets. We have an open door policy on email accounts, facebook, text messages, phone calls etc. We are never alone with the opposite sex. We avoid even the appearance of evil. Rumors hurt and can start to cause mistrust. If there is a situation that could be misconstrued, we come to each other and explain before it has a chance to linger or grow into something else.
- Brandon often jumps right in with whatever is going on when he comes home. Even after a 10 hour shift.
- Brandon knows me well enough to know when I'm fibbing when he asks what is wrong and I say "Nothing." He often can tell what is going on in our home, when he calls, just by the way I answer the phone.
- Brandon tells me every day that I'm a great mother, wife and friend, even when I struggle with my roles.
- Brandon has shown me Biblical Love. Not the Romanticized Love that is shown in children's storybooks and the media. I pray that each of my children find Biblical Love and that they each know how seriously Brandon and I take our vows. Our marriage isn't easy...but it is SO worth it! Brandon and I pray often that we are an example of a successful marriage for our children and that we change our family tree.