My husband and I just celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary this past week. As a two-decade veteran of the marriage world, I am often inundated by questions from younger generations. Questions like, "Oh, great and wise, Kristin, how do you stay in love?" and "Oh, wise one, what must I do to have a love like yours?"
Okay, actually they don’t ask me those questions, mostly I just get comments like, "Wow, I had no idea 40 year olds could have that much gray hair!" Whippersnappers. But if I ever were to get such marriage questions from the aforementioned whippersnappers, I’d be ready with the advice. And since you, constant reader (at least on Sundays), are reading today, I’m offering you the chance to partake of my wisdom. If I had to nail down three things that make a marriage successful, it would be: grace, thankfulness and humor.
The grace is for when you are neither one at your best. Like the days when you are still in your pajamas at 4 p.m. with baby spit up on both shoulders about to cry a river when he walks in the door from work because well...because you have a new baby with tummy issues and insomnia and you blame both of those on your husband and have no problem telling him about his faulty DNA. Or when he leaves his tiny red beard hairs all over the bathroom sink and vanity no matter how many times you politely ask (or not-so-politely ask) him to FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY, PLEASE CLEAN THOSE UP. Or when you are overwhelmed with the backed up washing machine drain, the arguing kids, the checkbook that won’t balance, the cut-off notice on the utilities and when he says, "Hi, honey! How was your day?" you take immediate offense to his kindness and tear him a new one while he stands there blinking like a deer in the headlights. Yeah, grace for those days.
The thankfulness is something I have only recently really begun to grasp. I’m talking absolute thankfulness. Big thanks. Oh, sure, I’ve been thankful for him for years. I love him beyond comprehension, but it’s only been the past few years that I have truly understood how blessed I am to have him. I see marriages fall apart around us. I see couples that fight for the sake of fighting, couples that fight to physically hurt, couples that fight to wound the other’s ego and it breaks my heart. It was when I learned to be truly thankful for my husband that the grace became easier to extend. I am thankful for how hard he works. I am thankful for the way he supports us by working so I can stay home to educate our kids. I am thankful for the way he curls up next to me at night and barely flinches when I stick my ice cold feet on his legs. When the initial shock of my icy toes passes, his arm slips around me and I am thankful he’s there.
The humor is there for all those times that are so tough, so difficult, so wrong, so confusing, and so incomprehensible that nothing else will help. Many an argument has been diffused by humor over the past 21 years. I have always been goofy and silly; he has had to learn how to be that way. He’s a pretty serious, quiet guy, my husband, but when I am stressed and anxious and wound tighter than an eight-day clock, he can strike a silly pose, cock his head and grin stupidly at me. In that split second, instantly I am forgiving him for the beard hairs, thankful he’s in our home every day to leave them scattered about like itty bitty bits of DNA confetti and laughing my head off in love with him.
Extend grace, be thankful, act silly. They make "I do" that much sweeter.