Tasha and I recently celebrated 17 Years of Marriage! Part of this year’s anniversary celebration included some time for Tasha and I to reflect on lessons from our first 17 years of marriage.
I provided an overview of the first 8 lessons in the past two posts (Part 1; Part 2). I’ll take a look at lessons 9-12 in this reflection. Before I do so, here is a quick overview of our 17 Lessons again:
- Prioritize Time Together
- Keep Short Accounts
- Laugh Often
- Learn and Speak One Another’s Love Language
- Appreciate, Don’t Expect
- Celebrate One Another, Including the Differences
- The Kids Are #2
- Ride the Waves like a Pro with the Ups and Downs of Life
- Keep the Friendship, and the Romance, Alive
- Give Tech a Timeout
- The Grass is Greenest Here
- Enjoy the Mountaintops and the Mundane
- Dream and Grow Together
- Change Yourself, Not Each Other
- Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
- Listen and Learn
- Stay Connected to the Vine
Here we go: Lessons 9 – 12 with a bit more detail.
9. Keep the Friendship, and the Romance, Alive
Just before our wedding, Tasha had the following engraved on the inside of my wedding ring: Song of Solomon 5:16. The phrase to which Tasha was referring is this: “This is my beloved and this is my friend.” When I look at my ring, I am regularly reminded of this precious and unique beloved-friend relationship Tasha and I share.
Our marriage is the only relationship in our lives that embodies this unique combination of both friendship and romance. Although I have many friends, only Tasha occupies the position as my closest friend. Although I have many friends, Tasha alone is my lover.
With five children, our marriage relationship is not 24-7 roses and candles. But in the midst of “mundane” living, we daily have the opportunity to nurture both the friendship and romance in our relationship. Although this sometimes finds its expression in an intentional romantic evening out on a date, the friendship and romance is more often found in the small gestures—gestures like checking in with one another throughout a busy day, serving one another with a task the other finds burdensome, or the lingering hug and kiss as we pass in the kitchen.
Keeping both the friendship and romance alive is vital for a healthy and thriving marriage.
10. Give Tech a Timeout
While it is true that there is no one other than Tasha I would rather be next to as we are on our phones, tablets, or computers, better than this is to just be with each other as we “give tech a timeout.”
The point is not to demonize technology, but rather to prioritize technology as it should be—behind and subordinate to our relationship.
One of the things I appreciate most about technology is its capacity to facilitate communication with people through pathways like email and Facebook. As a married couple, however, these other forms of communication must not take priority over our marriage and friendship.
One of the keys for Tasha and me is to be proactive in communicating when we want to set aside technology so we can focus on one another. At times this means leaving our phones in another room as we enjoy conversation and time together. Other times, this means we mutually decide we want to catch up on emails together.
Whether utilizing technology, or giving tech a timeout, the key is to be proactive in seeing that technology serves your marriage and friendship and does not take away from it.
11. The Grass is Greenest Here
In the book of Exodus (20:17) and Deuteronomy (5:21), we find the following command: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.” The New Testament also reaffirms these cautions around coveting (e.g., Luke 12:15 and James 4:2). What is behind these commands? How does this relate to marriage?
The concept of coveting is about desiring after something that does not belong to you. Here’s one formal definition: “to desire wrongfully, inordinately, or without due regard for the rights of others.”
In marriage, it is right, fitting, and beautiful for Tasha and I to desire one another, fantasize about one another, and enjoy one another through physical intimacy. This is the relationship in which these desires are to find their expression for us.
In contrast to these healthy and beautiful expressions in marriage, sin also promises to fulfill desires. The problem is these desires are counterfeit and rob couples of true and lasting pleasure. Here are a few counterfeits that compete with marital love in our day: pornography in all its expressions (from visual images to fantasy novels); looking longingly to the romance of others through film and other story book forms; or, looking to other individuals outside of marriage to find physical or emotional fulfillment of desires.
Often times, such outlets are motivated by comparison. We think that the “grass is greener” somewhere else. The problem with this line of thinking is that it is comparing the real to the counterfeit. While the counterfeit entices with fleeting pleasure, the real offers stable and lasting pleasure. In other words, the grass really is greenest right here. For Tasha and I, the grass is greenest and the pleasure is the best right here in our marriage.
The Bible’s wise cautions against coveting are not about killing joy, but rather fulfilling joy. Treasure the gift God has given to you; enjoy the real and set aside the counterfeit.
12. Enjoy the Mountaintops and the Mundane
In the Movie “Good Will Hunting,” the character named Sean (played by Robin Williams) shares life lessons with the young Will (played by Matt Damon). As Sean remembers his wife who passed away two years earlier, he recounts for Will “the good stuff” from their relationship:
“Wonderful stuff, you know, little things like that. Ah, but, those are the things I miss the most. The little idiosyncrasies that only I knew about. That’s what made her my wife. Oh, and she had the goods on me, too, she knew all my little peccadillos. People call these things imperfections, but they’re not, aw, that’s the good stuff. And then we get to choose who we let in to our weird little worlds. You’re not perfect, sport. And let me save you the suspense. This girl you met, she isn’t perfect either. But the question is: whether or not you’re perfect for each other. That’s the whole deal. That’s what intimacy is all about.”
Tasha and I enjoy the mountaintops of life together. Some of these are memorable times away on vacation when it is just the two of us lingering together in the beauty of nature. Other mountaintops have come on days we will never forget, like our wedding day and the days our children were born.
But it is important to remember that most of life is not lived in the mountains. It is lived in the mundane day-to-day life in the valley. Along with Sean in Good Will Hunting, Tasha and I want to treasure “the good stuff” that comes along with daily life together. This daily life often includes casual conversations about our days and how the kids are doing and a daily cup of coffee together in the morning.
The key for us is to enjoy both the big and little parts of life—learning to treasure both the mountaintops and the mundane.
What is your biggest takeaway from this week’s lessons? How have you seen them at work in your life?
I’ll pick up with lesson #13 in the next post.
Here Are the Links for The Entire Series: