Reflections On Our 2nd Anniversary
READ TIME: 7 MINUTES
Today’s post is extra special, because Russell & I are co-writing this thing together. We wanted to share personal details that give an inside look at the marriage we’ve built thus far.
We feel comfortable sharing these details with you, because God gets the glory out of our lives, whether trials or victories.
Here’s where we are on this celebratory occasion of our second anniversary!
What we’ve done well:
Monthly Goal Planning
Let’s talk about the sexy stuff first: goal plans!
We decided in our engagement season that we didn’t want a lame marriage. We saw some marriages consisted of two tolerating roommates and others where the couple partnered together to build a life. Here’s how we create the latter of the two.
At the start of each month, we set down and discuss the 5 areas we have mutual goals in. We call it our “JPM” for Jordan Partnership Meeting. We start with prayer, then discuss our goals: Spiritual, Marital, Health, Financial, and Vocational. We talk about our progress on the goals we set the previous month and write goals for the following month.
To me, this is foundational to a working marriage, because if you don’t have goals or a destination in mind, you don’t have direction. You fall into the Groundhog Day routine: wake up, go to work, come home, go to bed, repeat. That gets old quickly. When you’re bored with the monotony of that pattern of life, discontentment creeps in, and you end up taking it out on your partner. It’s not their fault, but it’s easily blamed on the other person.
We all know the saying, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.” There’s no such thing as remaining the same. If you’re the same a year from now, you’ve actually deteriorated, because time has charged on without you. Your human nature will fight that on an unconscious level, which is when discontentment creeps in.
Having direction for your life prevents boredom.
Even though the day-to-day may still be monotonous, you know where you’re heading and you’re both working in that direction together — and that is exciting!
“A sluggard’s appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.”
I love goal planning, and it makes a huge difference in our daily lives. We don’t fight, and I attribute mutual goal planning and prayer as two of the big reasons why. If you’re busy cheering, encouraging, and helping someone else achieve their goals, you don’t have time or energy to criticize and nit-pick. In American society, this is really difficult, because the glorification of independence and autonomy is so unhealthy for working marriages. Setting goals and allowing Russell to encourage and correct me requires me to swallow my pride, but it’s so worth it. I might say, “I didn’t hit that goal” and then spat some lame-o excuse, and Russell will gently push back at my excuse. Through it, I’m refined. I’m sharpened. I’m not just one goal closer to the life I’m called to live, but I’m more disciplined as well.
In the achievements, when I get to celebrate with Russell on a goal he’s worked all month to complete, I get to be the one who saw him struggle, cheered him on, and knows the full cost of achievement. I get to watch his character grow! And I know the real him — all the potential that God gave to him — which only makes me want to love and support him more.
Daily eye-to-eye time
Every day, we carve out time to look each other in the eyes and communicate. Some days, we eat all our meals together and get to talk privately, but if we have a busy day, that may not happen. Most days, we set aside 10 minutes to talk before bedtime.
For me, eye-to-eye ensures that I have space to communicate my feelings, the things I’m working on, and anything I’d like Russell to know, celebrate, pray over, etc. This time helps me to feel known and heard. Also importantly, it helps me to know what’s on Russell’s heart. He isn’t a big talker AT ALL, so this is pivotal for me to know what’s really going on in his head.
I personally benefit from eye-to-eye because it gives me a chance to put aside the craziness of the day. I’m a thinker, so I have a lot of abstract ideas which occupy my mind, and it’s difficult for me to communicate those ideas well. A set aside time every day gives me a chance to work on my communication skills, which is a skill I want to improve. Communication is one of Priska’s strengths, so I get to learn from her by observing how she brings her thoughts to words.
Also, daily eye-to-eye gives us the chance to check in with each other on any progress or difficulties we’re having in pursuit of our goals. When we’re having difficulties and we share them with each other, new solutions tend to come out of the conversation. Conversely, when we have progress or breakthroughs, we can share with each other what worked. And we both know how meaningful accomplishing those micro-goals are, because we know how it fits into our long-term goals.
We don’t fight
Priska: It’s nearly impossible to instigate a fight with Russell. I, on the other hand, tend to be highly confrontational. Like nearly lose my Jesus for the sake of fighting it out.
Luckily, Russell is the most mellow guy. He doesn’t care about a lot, and he doesn’t need his own way on almost anything. He’ll let me choose my high-strung, Type-A, control-freakishness. The few areas he is the boss of in our marriage, I yield. Especially in our financial habits. I’m a mess financially without Russell. Sure, I got a finance degree, but putting it into practice personally is a whole other beast!
Still, I have some perspective on fighting in marriage because I grew up in a broken home that barely stayed together til I was 9 y.o. and I have lots of married friends. I’ve noticed that anytime there is fighting within a marriage, it’s because at least one person is digging in his/her heels and demanding the other person yield immediately. If the other person yields, there’s no fight. If you both disagree but give it time to change, there’s no fight. Easier said than done, right?
Another consideration is that all because you’re disagreeing, doesn’t mean you need to fight. Disagreeing isn’t the worst thing; not caring enough to come together on issues is worse. Once you stop caring, you can pretty much guarantee divorce will soon follow.
When you’re disagreeing, here are some tips:
Give each other space and pray — immediately! Pray for you both to have changed hearts. Pray for God’s Spirit to bind you together in perfect unity. Pray to be loving and tender-hearted despite whatever words were exchanged.
Don’t go to bed angry. You can go to bed still disagreeing as long as you communicate that whatever issue you disagree about is not as important as your unity. If unity is more important than the issue, you’ll be able to let go of anger.
After a cool-off period, come back together and discuss the topic again. Oftentimes, I’ll find that if I drop a hint at something new to Russell and I go back later after he’s mulled over it, he’s more open-minded. But when I bulldoze him with a new idea that I myself have pondered all day, AND my new plan of action involving him, AND how he’s going to do this new thing starting tomorrow… well… it doesn’t go over as well. Even if it’s a topic that neither of you have changed your mind on, the prayers for unity should help open your hearts to hearing your spouse’s perspective. Lastly, if it’s a huge issue, give it more time. For example, “I’d like us to be vegan” is going to need more time than “I’d like to us to add a vegetable to our daily diet.”
“In your anger, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”
Russell: As Priska said, I’m not a fighter. I value peace. I grew up around two households: a peaceful one and a contentious one. I decided as a kid that as soon as I had the opportunity, I would create a peaceful home. As an adult, I’m so firm in this belief, that I won’t allow drama in any form to invade my life or my home.
Generally, when Priska gets emotionally charged about something and she brings it to me, I listen and allow her to say anything she wants. But I don’t ingest the emotional component, and I don’t feed her negative emotion. This has the effect of draining the negative energy. (I could go much deeper on my philosophy around this issue, but we’ll leave it here.) She gets frustrated at first when I don’t add my emotions to hers, but it has a calming effect and she eventually comes back to talk when she’s stable.
This dynamic is why we don’t fight, but I would be doing her an injustice if I left it there. The things that Priska gets emotionally charged about are almost always very important topics that need to be discussed that otherwise wouldn’t be. This is just one example of why we are such a powerful force brought together by God.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”
I hope this post helped shine a light on how we’re building a God-centered marriage. I hope you learned a little something and are eager to make a change. If you’re single, I highly recommend studying marriage books. It changed my life. If you’re already married, I hope you picked up some ideas to try in your marriage! If you’re going through a rough season: pray. pray. pray. pray. pray. I’ve seen God use prayer to revive dead marriages.
I write all of this with humility. I’m well aware that I don’t deserve this life, but it’s by the grace of God. So I will boldly stand and declare His goodness in our lives!
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