8 Things I Learned in 8 Years of Marriage

rocks

Hoover and I celebrated our 8-year wedding anniversary this weekend! One blissful day to enjoy a slow breakfast, a long walk, and a chocolate lunch!

For memory’s sake we made our way out to the place Hoov asked whether I would date him. That start to our relationships is a story for another day, but the walk along the jetty that separates our Port and Marina is a story in and of itself.

We hadn’t been out there since that day (which was nearly 9 years ago!) and I had forgotten how challenging the terrain was, especially in super flimsy thongs. I really needed to lean into Hoov’s help and as I did, I had some good reminders about our marriage and some of the things I’ve learned.

8 things i learned

1. Have a common vision.

It sounds simple, but we started our walk knowing what we were going to do. We questioned it a few times when we realised how long it was taking but we knew that we had set out to do it, and we wanted to get there.

One of the things I love most about Hoover is that he was straight up with me when we were dating. He knew that he wanted to live his life to love God and serve others and he wanted a marriage that would be to strengthen one another to that cause. I’ve never questioned what our purpose and vision is in our marriage and family and it gives us a good rally point whenever we have conflict or questions.

2. Life gets rocky.

There were some easy parts of our walk and some challenging parts – the rocks were, well, rocky. I didn’t necessarily go into marriage thinking it would always be easy but I didn’t know what “hard” or “rocky” would look like. One of the best pieces of advice someone gave us was that we would have good days and bad days… and that we’d also have good years and bad years. We’d have seasons where we’d be rockstars at marriage and seasons where we really wish we could do things differently. In only 8 years I can definitely say we’ve had some of both and having a long term perspective and an understanding that things would get tough was super helpful.

3. Go with your strengths.

On our walk, I really had to lean into Hoov’s strengths – he’s much stronger than me and more agile, better balanced. I had the nickname “Grace” my freshman year of Uni just because of my crazy accidents. I’m not an athlete at all but Hoover is. I had to recognise that in this situation, he would have the best advice and strategy for us and I was happy to follow his lead and lean into his strength – strategically and physically.

This last year of marriage has been one of getting really comfortable with our strengths. We are VERY different and to be honest, some of my strengths are what I would consider the more traditionally masculine strengths. I can be very directive and have a vision and go for it. Hoover is thoughtful, contemplative, and gracious. When he makes a decision you know its a good one because he’s done ALL the research and then some. I’m learning to be comfortable with both of our strengths and not let gender stereotypes keep us from giving one another our best.

4. Lean into one another.

Many times I had to completely put all my weight on Hoover just to get across to the next spot without falling. If I had resisted him, I would’ve probably made both of us fall.

During this past year, there were times when things were hard and I really wanted to resist him in my heart. I know, that sounds terrible, but its true. I just thought things would be easier if he did his thing and I did mine – working side by side and sharing a home – but not really working together. I’m so glad that deep down in my heart, I was reminded to lean into the anointing that is marriage. It did not feel comfortable to do. I hated extending trust knowing I could be disappointed. But as I did that with a partner who was also leaning into that same anointing, we actually met in great strength and saw incredible growth and depth.

5. Hold hands, even when its hard.

As we went along there were a few rocks that weren’t stable. I almost slipped several times and I kept picturing a twisted ankle, skinned knee, or worse! So many times, holding Hoover’s hand was the very thing that kept me standing up right. Sometimes we were close together, sometimes it was awkward as we twisted over various rocks or grew wide apart with chasms beneath us. But we kept holding hands.

Hoov is a physical touch kinda guy and even if we’re disagreeing, its really important to him that we stay connected through physical touch – an arm around his shoulder, or on his knee, or holding hands makes all the difference to him. I find that hard, but its worth it knowing that it helps us keep connected.

6. Get good at communicating.

Nearly as much as I loved our talks on our walk, I really loved our silence too. There is a depth that comes after 8 years. I anticipate it will only grow that way, but I can really tell the difference from when we were first married. As we walked, even when we were quiet, we got into such a rhythm that Jared would just point or nod, ever so slightly and I knew which way we were to go.

Communication seems to make every marriage list – every team or relationship list really – and I don’t want to just do it – I want to get really good at it!

7. Celebrate.

We stopped several times along the way just to enjoy the view, the company, to affirm one another. These times were so precious! They made the journey that much more memorable.

We are not always the best at stopping to celebrate in every day life but that is something we’ve really been working on the past couple of years, especially now that we want our kids to celebrate and remember. Historically, Biblically, culturally, these are things that we are people hold so dear and we want to become really good at celebration.

8. Finish.

I said it before but we came really close to not finishing our little walk. There were so many beautiful spaces to stop and so many things that tempted us to turn around and go back – especially the time since it was taking me ages in those silly shoes! But we decided to finish.

The reality is, in our marriages, I’m sure we’ll all have a great many more challenges and celebrations ahead, but to stay committed to finish is really important. When we got married we both knew that there were no guarantees – we’d only stay married as long as both of us stayed committed to it. This weekend was an awesome time to remind each other that we are committed to finish what we started!

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