Marriage is funny. You dream about it for years then you get it and it looks nothing like you imagined. My wife and I have been married for over 15 years and we dated for 5 before that. I knew when I first met her that I wanted to marry her but we were still in college and…I didn’t really know her. And this is how it is for a lot of people. You know the person you want to marry; you get to know them and then you get married. Then for some reason, it’s like everything changes. This is not what we saw on The Cosby Show and Family Matters. It looks so easy on television. Have as many kids as you can and you will have one big happy family. But reality is rarely like television.
I can confidently say the first few years were hard. I had my way and she had hers. And by “way”, I mean baggage. I was still trying to figure out how to make a quick buck, trying to lead without listening and doing what I thought I saw others do, even though it was all wrong. By the time we had our first kid, we were yelling, fussing and now we were having money issues. Oh! Did I mention we were on our leadership ministry in church? There were some really rough times, but we made a commitment when we got married that we would not discuss divorce. We both came from households where we didn’t see what we imagined marriage could be. So, we really wanted to make it work. Boom: that was the catalyst for the rest of our marriage: the desire to make it work.
Marriage is what you make it. And eventually we both came to the realization that we wanted to make it better. We still loved each other in the midst of all the miscommunication and issues. I can’t say there was a point where things started to change but I will say our situations got worse and somehow, we drew closer. I think we both decided to find ways to invest in our relationship. We started going on dates again and trying to sneak in moments for just us while raising three kids.
In the midst of these investments in us, we ran across two great books that really helped us. One we found early on in our relationship: The What Works the Best Principle by Lyle and Deborah Dukes. This helped us to understand teamwork, leadership and real love. Understanding we are a team means that whoever is the best, let them do it because it will be done better and faster. Leadership chooses efficiency and productivity. Lastly, true love gives and if we are both trying to help each other versus thinking of ourselves, marriage is a lot easier. We used this principle as much as possible and it was life-changing. This is a gem for any marriage!
The other book that really blessed our marriage is The Five Love Languages. We recently read this book after 15 years of marriage and it really blessed us. To sum up the book, there are five different love languages and within those languages, different dialects. The biggest problem with married couples is the person is not meeting their spouse’s emotional need to feel loved. Even though they love each other, people express love the way they want to be loved, not the way the other person wants to be loved. The goal is to understand that people feel love in different ways and to find out your spouse’s love language. Then speak her or his love language until their love tank is filled! It is an amazing book. It’s a great investment.
It takes two to tango. Teamwork really does make the dream work. If you are married and you want to connect on another level, first agree to make it work no matter what. Then invest in your marriage by reading these and other books together. If that doesn’t work, find a Christian counselor. Make up in your mind that you will do whatever it takes to have a fulfilled and purposeful marriage. And that is exactly what will happen.
BY COREY BOONE