Reflections On Our 2nd Anniversary
Can I be transparent about my marriage?
Will you promise to receive what I say with an open heart?
Every marriage is different, but I’d like to really show you how we’ve created our marriage. I’d like to let you into our home, but this is a tender space. Please be kind. If you disagree, that’s fine! If what we’re doing doesn’t work for you, also fine! But please be kind.
We’re going to share some personal details that we only feel comfortable sharing because God gets the glory out of our lives. When we falter, and He redeems us, He gets the glory.
Here’s where we are, on this wonderful celebratory occasion of our second anniversary!
What we’ve done well:
Monthly Goal Planning
Let’s talk about the sexy stuff first…
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. There’s a huge difference between being tolerating roommates and partnering together to build a life. It’s in this time that we charge forward as one unit in Christ. 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’s the pattern most people fall into, and it gets old quickly. When you’re bored with the monotony of that pattern of life, discontentment starts to creep in, and you end up taking that out on your partner. It’s not their fault, but oftentimes it’s 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. (Priska adds: The devil will whisper in your ear to blame your spouse, instead of taking responsibility for your life.)
Having direction for your life prevents boredom.
Even though the day-to-day may still be monotonous sometimes, you personally 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 lead, 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 about 10 minutes to talk before bedtime.
For me, eye-to-eye ensures that I have space to communicate any feelings I have, any things I’m working on, and anything I’d like Russell to know, celebrate over, 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: At the risk of sounding like a Stepford Housewife… Russell and I have only fought once, maybe twice?? Admittedly, I was hormonal both times. 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’s just as happy to let me choose in 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 ‘nother 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 9y.o. and I have lots of married friends. Oh, and people DM me to talk about their marriage problems. I’ve noticed that anytime there is fighting within a marriage, it’s because at least 1 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. Now, that’s really easy to say. I get it.
But another consideration is that all because you’re disagreeing, doesn’t mean you need to fight. And disagreeing isn’t the worst thing. Not caring enough to come together on issues is the worst thing. 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. (See: Ephesians 4:26) 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 less stubborn and 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 or a huge change, 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.”
What I’d like to work on:
(Hi, it’s Priska again — I’ll finish out the rest of this blog post.)
There’s nothing I’d like to drastically change in our marriage. We both grew up in broken homes, and we’ve been keen to learn, repent, and grow our marriage differently.
When I was single, I spent a lot of time “interviewing” happily married couples and reading Christian marriage books. I spent a lot of time putting into practice what I was learning about marriage — but in my friendships. I’m not claiming to be an angel — anyone can attest to that! It was all trial and error for decades, but I’m a much better wife because of it all. Having healthy friendship practices makes me a good bestie to Russell.
The thing I’d like to work on is our perseverance to continue working on building our marriage. I’m pretty sure most people want a good marriage, but it’s not normal in our society to work at it…until something bad happens.
Just google “building trust in marriage” and you’ll find an array of articles and blog posts about repairing broken marriages.
As a society, we don’t like to do the preventative work. We fall into the trap of thinking things should be easy and come naturally, because that’s how it is in movies. In case you believe that, or in case you see the external qualities of our marriage and think we cruise through it…
We work at it. Every day. We have the difficult conversations BEFORE they become blow-ups. We work to progress instead of naturally digressing. We work on unity. We work to forgive quickly. We work to believe the best in each other.
It’s work. As Mo Isom says, “Hard but holy work.”
All the things that are in our daily practice are counter-culture. But Russell and I know all too well what culturally normal marriages look like:
Fighting, hating, bitter, war-filled homes, single-parent households, divorce, splitting assets, being poor, etc.
And I’d love to prevent that.
In fact, a number of my friends are going through marital problems and/or divorce. I don’t want that for any of you. The problem is that we don’t think our idea of marriage is flawed until our own marriage breaks apart and you’re left wondering how this could happen to you.
We need to be proactive — whether single, engaged or married — to conform our idea of marriage to God’s purpose for marriage: for His glory, not our happiness.
The goal is God’s glory
I just don’t want to cruise through life, relaxing the whole way, and at the end of it realize that Russell is just my roommate. I want to have a thriving, vibrant marriage that’s cultivated over years and decades. I want to ensure that our children have a solid home base and see the Lord’s love in the way we love each other. And that they see we are quick to forgive because we’re living in God’s grace. I want to show the world a better way to do marriage. Too many couples I know are just tolerating each other. Or they’re breaking up as soon as there’s a bump in the road. On to the next…til the next bump. That’s heart-breaking, and I want to show a better way.
Russell and I don’t always get it right, but we’re quick to repent, forgive, and heal. And that is only entirely because of the forgiveness and restoration we’ve experienced in Jesus.
It’s a funny thing. When you’ve been pardoned from a life of sin and you’ve been given a life of grace that you don’t deserve, but it’s yours — (Thank you, Jesus!!!) — well, it’s hard to hold other people at fault for minor things. Forgiveness is easier when I think about what God’s forgiven me for.
And that might be the entire point of this blog post.
Our marriage isn’t about Russell and me. It’s about God. It’s all about God.
Russell isn’t my fulfillment in life.
He isn’t the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
Our wedding wasn’t the best day of my life.
Jesus is my fulfillment.
Jesus is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
When I started walking with God, it was the best day of my life.
Thankfully, I married a man who thinks the same. I don’t live under the pressure to fulfill him. I don’t have to be fake and shiny so he doesn’t see my flaws. I can be so transparent with him that it weighs him down some days, and he lifts me up. I’m not his be-all-end-all. Russell’s best day was when he started living in God’s grace, too!
By following the Lord, I’m a better wife. By following the Lord, Russell is a better husband.
And that’s all ya need, really. All the other advice — even what we’ve written here today — comes from the deep well of our relationship with God — knowing His mercy, grace, forgiveness, and restoration in our lives.
I hope this post helped shine a light on godly 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 have a godly marriage. If you’re going through a rough season: pray. pray. pray. pray. pray. Seriously 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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