It’s always easy for me to remember how many years we’ve been married. You just take whatever the current year is and add one more. (Math is hard.) After 21 years of sharing a last name, we have learned quite a few things about building a life together. One recurring theme has been that communication in marriage is key.
But even after all this time, I find it so interesting that the source of all of our disagreements has always been miscommunication. If you think two decades together will ensure that you can practically read each other’s mind, think again. It’s a constant work in progress. But it’s worth the work because we complement each other in so many ways. He supports my dreams and is my biggest cheerleader. He’s also a way better cook than I am, so I’m keeping him around for the long haul.
Communication is a common struggle for married couples.
This is not the least bit shocking. I found out fairly quickly in our marriage that I completely underestimated my husband’s ability to read minds. But it didn’t stop me from giving the silent treatment, expecting him to figure out what was wrong based solely on clues in the form of angry sighs and facial expressions.
I’m a slow learner, so it took me a while to realize that he wasn’t, in fact, leaving his dishes in the sink as a personal attack against me.
Here’s some free advice: Men and women are different. You’re welcome.
It’s easier to dig deep and offer up the daily grace that is required once you accept that truth.
Something that makes me smile is that when it comes to communicating, gift giving is probably where we are most effective. Weird, right?! This has never been a mystery between us. He knows I don’t need flowers, and I know that he’s better off ordering his own bike or lawn equipment on Amazon and just having it delivered right to our doorstep. There are no hard feelings. No pretense. It’s one of my favorite things about us.
In fact, just last night I had that sudden jolt in my stomach as I remembered the significance of the upcoming date. Due to navigating some extra stuff by way of pandemic, this year’s anniversary snuck up on me.
As we sat on the porch after dinner, I leaned over and casually said, “So I’m just double checking…we aren’t doing cards or gifts or anything tomorrow, right?” To which he calmly replied without even looking up, “No. We got the car in December, you got a new desk and chair for your office, and I’m building a fire pit.”
So basically, the sentiment is that every holiday and birthday is covered from now until Christmas. Our mutual satisfaction with that arrangement can not be overstated.
We communicated long ago that gifts are neither of our love languages, so the pressure is off when it comes to finding that special something. By the way, if you and your spouse don’t know each other’s love language, I highly recommend you take a few minutes to find out. It is a game changer. We saw Gary Chapman speak at a marriage conference in the fall at our church. He is doing some incredible work for marriages. (This is not a paid endorsement. I just really thought he had a great message, and he’s also really funny.)
Another thing I’d like to mention as a gentle reminder is that you will not stay married to the man you walked down the aisle with. I met my husband when we were in high school. He was 16 and I was 17. We are mere shadows of the teenagers who sat next to each other and passed notes in Physics class. This is why it’s important to stay in constant communication with each other. People change as they grow. Life has a way of shaping and molding us in ways we never expected.
We went to our senior prom together. I can guarantee that as we sat together for dinner at the Olive Garden that night, staring starry eyed at each other over breadsticks and salad, neither of us realized what would be in store for us as a future married couple. We had no idea all the ways life would change us.
Starry eyes only last for so long.
It’s the real-life stuff that stands the test of time. That cutie driving you around in his 1987 Ford Ranger will be the same one who will quite literally know EVERY DETAIL about you after he watches you have an emergency cesarean with your first child. He’s the one who will turn white and nearly pass out when you wake up after having oral surgery. He’s the one who will sit and hold you on the hard days, when you’re both wracked with fear and worry as your child battles anxiety. That handsome man standing next to you on your wedding day will also be the one you have an ongoing argument with over why brown sugar does or does not become hard after opening the bag.
When you commit to walking through life with someone, that includes the ups and downs and the highs and lows. And arguments about sugar. It requires sacrifice, patience, and endurance. It’s not easy, which is why we celebrate anniversaries with delicious food and big trips. When you accomplish something monumental like another year of marriage, it’s worth a little fanfare.
My most immediate concern on my wedding day was whether or not my hairspray would hold. I didn’t stop for one second to consider if my almost-husband would remain calm in a crisis. Would he would agree to the baby names I would suggest? Would he think ahead about making plans for retirement?
Thankfully, all of those things played out in my favor.
And my hair did hold. For about three extra days, actually.
If I could go back and tell myself anything, it would be that just because it can sometimes be difficult doesn’t mean something is wrong. Frustration easily surfaces when your differences are the source of miscommunication. But, it turns out that our differences are what make us so great together. He’s calm and focused, and I respond with emotion first and logic later. I function with organized piles, and he’s got spreadsheets and lists. He’s a planner, and I’m a “buy-now-with-1-click” kind of person.
There’s no one I’d rather do life with.
It’s true, communication can be a challenging part of marriage. But if you can find ways to communicate love, trust, and respect for each other each day, that’s all you need. Once we accepted our differences for what they are, it has led to a pretty incredible partnership.
Marriage is one of the most amazing, generous gifts God gave us. Committing to share your life with someone allows you the freedom to grow right alongside them, and to share in the joys and sorrows this life has to offer. I’m thankful every day for the honor of being my husband’s wife.
I’m also thankful I didn’t have to remember to buy a card.