Derek and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary this past weekend. TEN YEARS! It is a good chunk of time, huh? My family and my dearest husband himself has been hyping up that date for months now. Me? I am in awe of what God has been for us, what He’s worked in us as a couple, how He’s grown us up a little, but the number “10” meant nothing special to me. Am I defective? Not as “in love” as I’m supposed to be?
Maybe the answer is the opposite. I am completely in love! My heart is secure. Sure we’ve had a few bumps in the road, some that made us hit our heads — like, really hard — but we learned to fight for each other and for our marriage. We’re in it for the long haul! Why is 10 years different from 9 or 11 in tallying up a marriage? I will still be in love 4, 5, 16 years from now, because love is a choice and every time I make that choice my “feelings” of love grow stronger.
If for nobody else other than my sentimental self and hopefully my kids someday, I’m jotting down some marriage notes right here:
1. Be Best Buddies. I’ve read a few marriage books that suggest husbands and wives find best friends outside of marriage. Maybe this works for some people, but it makes no sense to me! I would rather be with my husband than anyone else on the planet. He feels the same way, by the way! I’d choose a coffee shop with him over time out with my sisters or a girlfriend any day, and he’d rather snuggle with me on the couch and watch a movie than hang out with the guys.
2. Stop Being A Daughter and Sister. I learned this one early one, thankfully! Obviously I’m not being literal here. You can’t unmake your familial relationships! But early on in our marriage, whenever my family came to visit, I’d put Dee on the back burner. Never intentionally! Somebody graciously pointed out this flaw. Stuff like brushing off his invitation to sit in his lap because I was busy talking to my mom, or staying up late every single night playing cards or talking to my sisters instead of going to bed with him, or going out shopping with my sisters and letting suppertime get all screwed up without even talking to him.
3. Cook His Food! No, I’ve never poisoned my husband with raw chicken. I’m saying if your guy likes taco salad, make taco salad even if you hate ground beef. If he likes bean burritos with refried beans instead of black beans, make the burritos his way. Maybe he likes chili and salsa with NO tomato chunks. Well, spoil the guy!
4. Go to Bed With Him! Not every night. I can’t do that! I love to stay up late. It’s my down time. I enjoying being alone, so even after Dee and I have finished watching a movie, or talking, or reading, I still want to be by myself for a little bit. But after we had some issues in our marriage, I realized I was leaving him alone too much at night. Some nights I’d go to bed with him, have sex, and then get back up. Um, husbands like emotional connection just as much as their wife! Men can feel “used” too. So now, if I go to bed with Dee, which I try to do on a regular basis, I stay in bed with Dee. (I try really, really hard! Some nights I’m still so wired I have to get back up and read myself to sleepiness!)
5. Let Him Touch You! I’m not talking about sex anymore. I’m talking about stopping the dishes so he can wrap me up in a hug, instead of me being annoyed, because “Can’t he see there’s work do be done? I’m busy!” Most of the time, the dishes and laundry are still there when the kids go to bed. (I know! I should be more organized and get it done during the day. Yeah… not happening!) Or I walk around straightening up from the multiple explosions of life with kids. Most of the time, Dee will help me clean up. He’s SO sweet! But if he wants to just crash on the couch and have me join him, I try to drop the dishes and go sit with him. He likes to nuzzle my hair (which promptly turns greasy!), or grab my hand and pull me into his lap at random times.
6. Speak His Language. I think Dr. Gary Chapman is a genius for presenting the 5 love languages! My guy likes physical touch. When we’re walking up to his mom’s house, he wants to hold my hand. When we’re driving in the car, he wants to hold my hand. He plays footsies under the table, and hugs me all day long! No exaggeration. Part of the physical touch love language is physical presence. Dee loves it when I sit in the bathroom while he takes a shower, just to talk. He likes it when I sit on our basement stairs while he’s building a fire in our wood furnace, and he likes it when I keep him company while he’s working on the car. So if I want to love on my man, I just have to hug him and be near him! Easy. I used to write him notes and letters, because that is just THE most romantic thing ever! I thought. But after discovering that he didn’t devour my letters right away, but just left them in his truck all day, I realized that words didn’t mean the same thing to him as they do to me. Bumping shoulders and leaning on each other as we brush teeth at night means “LOVE” to him!
(He’s smart, by the way, and buys me a card AND writes in it for special events like birthdays, anniversaries, and Mother’s Day! And he knows that words of praise will help me recover from a rough day like nothing else. Throw in a hug while he’s praising me, and we’re all set! Both of our love tanks are full.)
7. Let Him Talk. Guys know how to talk. Really, they do! I mentioned in an earlier post how Dee used to head up to his mother’s house and talk. Partly, he just wanted somebody listen to him talk about work and trucks and other important things to a guy! He didn’t want to come home and listen to me go on and on and on about the kids, or complain about his mom, or tell him he wasn’t meeting my emotional and spiritual needs. (I don’t do that anymore. Honestly! Except the kid horror stories. And only because Dee gets into them just as much as me! We love trying to outdo each other with the latest Hunsberger Kid Escapade.) He just wants to have a turn to talk too. Even recently, I realized that I was shutting him out when he started rambling about what the guys said at work or how he fixed the broken something-or-other. If I truly listen, and engage (meaning, I can’t be playing Candy Crush or updating my Facebook status), he will talk and talk and TALK! Some girls think that guys don’t want to talk about deep issues. Well, for one, a guy’s truck kinda is a deep issue. I get that now. (Black smoke = Good!) I think too, us girls have to prove that we’re capable of listening before a guy is going to open up and spill his guts!
8. Don’t Talk Dirty. Not saying this is an excuse, but early in our marriage, I had NO IDEA how negative I sounded! I hadn’t figured out yet that there’s always two ways to say the same thing. Like, for example, Dee asks what he can do to help. I can sarcastically say, “Well – the dishes are still there!” (interpreted: “Duh — are you so stupid that you didn’t even notice?”) or I can sweetly say, “Would you mind unloading the dishwasher?” My husband is way more motivated to whip out his superman cape when I respect him. Another example: our shower. I hate cleaning our shower. It’s the ONE thing I ask him to do on a regular basis. I can drop a snarky comment like, “Wow — looks like this shower hasn’t been cleaned for months!” Or, “Hey Babe, do you think you could clean the shower this week?” (I could go on and on and on…) Two ways to talk — but we BOTH win when I speak respectfully, because of course my husband is going to feel like wearing that superman cape all the time!
9. Be Grateful. I wrote a post about a clothesline the other year. My guy loves to be noticed and appreciated! Don’t we all? Men and women are not different in this area, for sure! Even though we know our rewards are in heaven, we still want somebody to see us now. To thank us for our gifts of time and service, however little. This is where marriage is a beautiful thing! Dee and I get to be each other’s witness. To notice little details that the rest of the world misses. When we express gratitude, we’re saying, “I see what you’re doing, and I appreciate you.” It makes us matter. Tonight, Dee had supper ready, the dishes done, and the coffeepot ready to go when I got home late from a long trip to the hospital with Kirstyn. Maybe some wives would feel comfortable acting like that’s the least their husband could do! I just gushed with gratefulness.
10. Read Your Bible. I find this funny, for some reason! Often when I sit down to read my Bible in front of Derek, he compliments me and tells me he’s proud of me. Um, okay! I read my Bible to be closer to Jesus, but if it makes my husband happy, than it’s a win/win situation for me! I think he just likes knowing that I’m with him on this hard road of marriage and parenting and life in general. We’re on the same page.
I thought I’d irritate you OCD folks by writing about 9 or 11 things — ’cause I’m ornery like that — but 10 things just happened naturally. Happy 10th Anniversary to me and Dee — feel free to send chocolate and happy wishes our way!