Cody has just left for work at 12:30 pm. I asked him to stay home to take care of me and the girls. I have been in bed sleeping, trying to recover from a cold and getting about three hours of sleep the night before. Cody barely got any sleep either, but he has taken care of Jane and the baby all morning, brought me breakfast and lunch in bed and now will spend the rest of the day working. What a special man I am married to. He teaches me about love and marriage everyday, and today’s post is about what I have learned about those two things.
1. Love looks different than what I saw in the movies. Love is everyday; it is constant through sleepless nights, bad judgement, smelly farts, babies, irritation, dirty laundry (literal and figurative) and misunderstandings. The rush of hormones and the passionate kisses that I saw in the movies is lust and temporary gratification. I always saw people fall in “lust,” but I rarely saw people stay in love. True love lasts.
2. Love is action. You have probably heard this many times, but only after being married do I really get it. Cody woke up four times last night to soothe a scared toddler, rock a crying baby and pacify a frustrated mom. Let me remind you that he has not got much more sleep than me. Love is making dinner when you you hate cooking. It is planning family home evenings, folding laundry and paying bills.
3. Marriage and family is choosing selflessness. I have always wanted to have a happy family–to hang a family picture on the wall with pride. I have that happy family, but now I know at what cost it comes. The pictures of family are only a small moment in a lifetime of struggle and privilege to serve and love one another. It is the most worthy endeavor, and therefore, it comes with challenge. Cody was holding the baby in the kitchen a few nights ago, like he has been doing everyday after work for the last five months, and he said, “Having a family is harder than what I imagined.” I agree. Both of us are dreamers and although having a family was a shared dream, it isn’t always easy to give it temporary precedence over our other dreams. It is not about us as individuals as much; it is more about our children and our family collectively. Cody has so many interests and talents that he has shelved until a more opportune time. I, too, have set aside career and academic goals to be a family woman. I like the ring of that. We hear the word family man, but women have to choose family as well.
4. We all love a fairy-tale, but the real inspiration comes from real-life. I didn’t have a fairy-tale beginning, but my love story is real and hard-won. I have become a better person through my marriage struggles and I see the fruits of my perseverance in my relationship with my husband and my daughters. Cody planned a really nice Valentines date that involved a five course meal and live music, but it is him letting me sleep more or washing the dishes that really shows me his love. (Don’t get me wrong, romantic dates, actually any dates, are key to a happy marriage too.) Couples overcoming challenges of communication, selfishness, physical limitations and many others is the writing of a beautiful life. So, if you have overcome real struggles in your marriage and you still love each other, be proud of your love story!
5. There is a choice everyday. Recently, a friend told me that their in-laws got divorced after forty years of marriage and the death of a child. I was flabbergasted that after all that time, love and heartache, they decided to give their marriage up. No matter what stage of marriage and family your are in, you have to decide that your spouse and children are what you want. I choose to be a wife to Cody and a good mother to my children each day. I also choose to make marriage and family easy or hard by choosing to involve or avoid God . When I love God and try to be like Him, it is easier to love, understand and serve my family. Love and marriage is a choice.
6. Don’t stop believing. (I hope you can hear that song in your head.) Something that gets Cody and I from one joy to the next is dreaming and planning together. We plan what to do with our imaginary land, with our imaginary animals, our eventual family vacations/romantic get-a-ways and our imaginary unlimited funds ;). It is fun, and it gets us excited about being alive. We also take time to think about where we were and how far we have come, all with gratitude as the attitude. We spent some time this last week mapping out our school debt elimination and we were both pleasantly surprised that we could be debt free in three years. For some of you that probably sounds like a lot of time, but after two bachelors degree, a horse training school and a graduate degree, we are feeling good. It is a goal we have had since we got married, so to see the end now and to be able to meet the goal is very rewarding for us. So, believe in your dreams and goals! It is fun to plan and even more fun to see your plans come to fruition. (If you want great debt elimination advice or financial planning advice in general, look up http://www.daveramsey.com/fpu/home/.)
So, I think knowing six things for six years of marriage is not too bad. Hopefully I can learn, understand and act a little quicker the next six years. One truth a year is not a record for me. 😉 I hope you will take time to think about what your spouse does for you everyday. Now, think about one thing you do now and can do in the future to show your partner love. Offering the love languages that mean the most to your husband or wife is so rewarding. (If you don’t know what the five love languages are, check out the book.) If you are not married, practice selfless love on everyone and you will be happy now and even more happy later when giving love to your sweetheart comes easy to you.
I am so thankful for Cody and that he picks me everyday.