Lessons Learned in 27 Years of Marriage: Love Is What Love Does

Instead of making a card and writing a poem, I decided to sit down and consider some of the things I have learned in 27 years of marriage…

I have learned that:

  • Remembering what I learned in Kindergarten is invaluable:

      • (Adapting the Kindergarten rules when necessary is important too):

    • Sharing is caring

    • Clean up your mess

    • Hold hands

    • Color inside the lines (but there’s a time and place to color WAY outside of them too)

    • Treat others how you want to be treated

    • Use your Imagination

    • Nap

    • Balance is Key

    • Be happy (but don’t simply base it on what happens to you; choose joy and kindness in the midst of trials, pain, and suffering; life is difficult, but it can still have delightful moments if we cultivate discernment and chose to respond in love)

  • Remembering Basic House Rules is also super invaluable:

    • If the trash is full, take it out

    • If you use the last (fill in the blank), replace it

    • If you open it, close it

    • If you turn it on, turn it off

    • If you unlock it, lock it

    • If you break it, fix it

    • If you can’t fix it, call someone who can

    • If you borrow it, return it

    • If you use it, take care of it

    • If you make a mess, clean it up

    • If you move it, put it back

    • Or, one way to say all this is: “If it needs to be done, do it!”

  • “Happily Ever After” requires a lot more than a “Welcome” mat and 4 walls with cute things hanging on it

  • Ask not, What can my spouse do for me? – but what can I DO for my spouse?

  • Choosing to be a Best Friend (regardless of circumstances or feelings) rather than expect your Best Friend to be his best all the time is more realistic than the later

  • Put your spouse first

  • When your spouse calls answer

  • Put a 15-30 Minute Cap on “Venting” to one another about work or politics, or whatever at the end of the day. Clock out and Check in with one another

  • If and when you have kids, remember that your spouse came first

    • The children do not have equal power or voting rights

  • It’s not about whose more tired…

  • It’s not about whose turn it is…

  • IT’S ABOUT out-serving one-another

  • The only thing I will guarantee you in your marriage, is this: If you start making your spouse’s lunch, YOU will forever be changed for the better (and it just might rub off on your spouse)

    • Notice, I did not say, your spouse will be super thankful and begin to be the perfect spouse in return

  • Perfection is a farce – working on ourselves and our marriage is a process (notice I didn’t say “working on changing your spouse is a process; that’s actually a ridiculous futile endeavor – harsh but true)

  • The 3 most important words that God ever spoke to my heart were: “Make him a sandwich.”

    • Choosing to ACT on those words changed, saved, and transformed my:

      • Heart

      • Perspective

      • Attitude

      • Disposition

      • Life

      • Health

      • Relationship with God

        • Relationship with my Self

        • Relationship with my Husband

        • Relationship with my Kids

        • Relationship with anyone I was/am in Relationship with

  • Whatever you do, you will do more of it –

    • So….pay attention to the type of momentum you are creating for yourself (sitting on the couch and eating potato chips more than you contribute, complaining, and sulking creates a certain (negative) momentum of entitlement, depression, and anger and/or hopelessness and it impacts EVERY area of your life, health, and marriage

    • On the more optimal flip side, if you stand up, take care of yourself and the stuff that needs to be done, limit the # of potato chips you eat, and if  - more often than not – you seek to contribute for the good of the marriage while taking good care of yourself, give compliments to encourage and lift up, and seek to leave yourself, your spouse, and this world better than you, he, and it was when you found yourself, him, and this world, NOW THAT’S A POWERFUL MOMENTUM that is UNSTOPPABLE!

  • Bad news is part of life, but how we respond to it makes up the stuff of life

  • Some things that you consider to be “bad news” today, just may be one of your biggest blessings or lead to countless blessings!

  • Research says that 70% of couples with special needs children split up, however, I say that 100% of couples who respond to one another’s needs IN LOVE in the midst of it will SOAR to new places of intimacy:

    • Every Day examples of responding in love, for me (us), look like this:

      • Praying, laughing, and crying together can make a world of difference!

      • Turn inward instead of away

      • Connect instead of disconnect

      • Say what’s on your mind instead of expect your spouse to read yours

      • Allow yourself to be vulnerable and admit when you are scared and terrified of the diagnoses and what you are supposed to do  – but don’t stay there (and sharing your thoughts and feeling with one another will allow you to move through it stronger and more united)

      • Say what you need (first to yourself and do what you can for yourself – and then, say what you need from your spouse – but don’t get the two confused and put undue burdens on your spouse – they have enough burdens of their own and now they have the additional demands of parenting in an anything other than ‘normal’ situation).

      • To quote Patsy Clairmont,  “Normal is just a setting on your dryer” anyway

      • Don’t compare your child with special needs (and/or your children without special needs) to ANY other child with or without special needs

      • Sure, get expert opinions, but don’t stake your child’s life on them – God has the final say

      • Listen to your gut! Mamma truly does know!

      • Model how to be a statistical outlier for your child and they WILL be!

      • Don’t use words like “disabled” – use words like “fully capable to the best of my abilities” and watch and see the miracles unfold for you, and your spouse, and your child/children!

      • Make sure that your other child (children) know that they are very SPECIAL TOO and that every individual person is special, unique, and beautiful in their own way and that God has plans for all of us! It is not based on being disabled or not but being fully capable to do what we can when we can, however we can – and we can!

      • Make as much special set aside time for the child without special needs as you do for the one with special needs

      • We ALL have a need to feel and believe we are special – because we are!

      • No excuses, No Pitty, No Poor Me perspective ever leads to anything great

      • Don’t forget, however, that sometimes you just need to get mad and punch a punching bag and get sad and cry until you dry-heave – it’s hard and it hurts – this cannot be denied. Remember that acknowledging the pain and sadness helps us all persevere that much more

      • Don’t compare your spouse to ANY other spouse (especially on Facebook, in your family, or in your neighborhood or ANYWHERE because you are only seeing a clip in time not the REALITIES of day to day life! And, don’t compare your spouse to the made-up characters on TV – especially The Hallmark Channel because it’s not reality – it’s MADE UP. And, it’s made to appeal to the utopian desires within all of us that aren’t possible because perfection is a farce. Challenges don’t typically end with a kiss, music, and laughter and cookies and cocoa (sure, it’s possible – but every single time? nope.)

  • And speaking of, don’t expect your husband to read from “The Perfect Husband Script” – it doesn’t exist (unless a man is playing a character on Hallmark and reading from it)

  • The “Good O’l Days” weren’t 100% good – they were just different; don’t idolize them

  • The future is not here yet. So just because it doesn’t exist yet, don’t imagine that it will be perfect or that it will be the most catastrophic disaster you’ve ever feared

  • Wishing that this season would pass causes you to miss the moments of joy in the present as well as the lessons within the difficult season that are actually meant to sustain you in this challenge and the ones to come; and I guarantee you – they will come…

  • Easy and Hard is a matter of perspective – so too is Possible and Impossible

  • “There’s always a way to make it work”

  • Don’t go to bed angry

  • Whatever you say and do to your spouse, you ACTUALLY - simultaneously do to yourself (so, speak and do wisely, you will reap the benefit or pay the costs)

  • Fear is a liar! (most of the time. Sometimes, it’s trying to tell you that you are in real danger – like when a Kodiak bear is in front of you, etc.)

  • Chose Faith over fear – every time!

  • Chose LOVE over anger

  • God is love

  • Choosing to love God is possible because He first loved us (as we were and are)

  • Loving God makes it possible to love yourself

  • Loving God makes it possible to love your spouse

  • Love is an action word – not merely a noun

  • Just as faith without works is dead so too is love

  • The thought does count

  • Leave loving thoughts in “note” form as much as possible

  • Say I love you first

  • Say “I’m sorry, first”

  • Listen more than you speak (and listen with your heart – not just your physical ears)

  • Give more than receive

  • Wives, respect your husbands (not because they have earned it or deserve it. Do this and you will be more likely to find that their words and actions are more likely to cause you to respect them) If you wait for your husband to earn your respect in order for you to give your respect, it will never happen because nothing will ever be enough and eventually both of you will have had enough

  • Husbands, sacrifice (your time, talent, and treasures) for your wives more often than not (and you will more than likely find that your wife is more likely to show her appreciation and respect for you) more often than not

  • A wise person avoids all extremes

  • If alcohol is your nemesis, don’t pretend like it’s not

  • Pay attention to the valuable lessons you got from your family of origin (and work VERY HARD to repeat and add to the good ones, and work ESPECIALLY HARD to NOT REPEAT the unhelpful and hurtful ones)

  • Throw that traditional rule thing about what you are supposed to “get” for the 1st year, the 5th year, the 10th year, the 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th, etc. out the window and plant something instead – a dogwood, an oak, a palm, an azalea, a rose bush… and every season, watch them grow and bloom, knowing that their roots are becoming more and more established to weather the seasons of life in the same way that you and your marriage are

What did I leave out?

Oh, yes, the kitchen sink – don’t let the dishes stack up too, too often (unless you have infants or toddlers or other life things that take more time and energy than you have – but even then – try to not let them stack up more than you don’t)

I’m off to buy 7 Dogwoods to surprise my husband (although, I don’t think he will be too, too surprised)

Now, the two rocking chairs for the front porch that I ordered from Cracker Barrel, those just might surprise him this year, but not as much as the note he left for me this morning on our bathroom counter made out of Q-Tips and Cotton Balls….

Love is what love DOES; Live Well. Love Well, my Friends,

Kristina