How do you fight off the “7 year itch”?
My wife and I are coming up on 8 years of marriage this May. In that time we’ve seen friends married, divorced, married again, widowed and a few who who have vowed it off all together. Though 8 years may not be long for some it is just past the national average for marriages that end in divorce. That’s a staggering thought: If a marriage is going to end in divorce, on average it is falling apart right now. Thinking about that drives me to pursue my wife more. I want to study her and find ways to make sure we don’t become a part of the divorce statistic.
I feel like I still have so much to learn about her. There is so much going on in her heart and mind that haven’t been revealed to me. It’s like a Puzzle Box, I can see this beautiful woman on the outside and as I get to know her better I see there are little intricacies about her that unlock more and more of who she is. Where this analogy breaks down is that there is a way to finally open a puzzle box and I will spend the rest of my life figuring my wife out; there is always another piece, always another thing to learn. I love that about my wife. She is constantly changing, learning and growing. There should never be an end to my pursuit of her.
So what makes our marriage different from those that have already fallen apart? I came up with 5 things that have grown to become the foundation for our marriage:
1) Jesus. It may sound a bit cliche but it’s true. It’s easy to keep going through the hard times when I have someone to be accountable to. Our covenant of marriage is not just between my wife and I, it’s between us and God as well. Our marriage isn’t built on our own shoulders. It says in Matthew 7:24-27 that those who listen to His word and obeys it is “like a wise man who builds his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.”. Storms will come so we need to have a solid foundation at the base of our marriage or we find ourselves blown away.
2) I serve her. Serving others doesn’t come easy for me. I think to much of myself and my own desires so unless I have something to gain from it I’d rather find an excuse than to lay myself aside to serve my wife. That means I need to do it even more. Serving her over myself doesn’t mean she’s “in charge” like some poor views of marriage would lead you to believe. When two people desire to serve each other over themselves you develop a balanced relationship. No one is trying to “win”, no one is trying to be “the boss”. I find the most joy in my marriage when she is feeling blessed by what I have done for her with no expectation of something in return.
3) We pray. Every night before we go to sleep we pray together. We’ve done this for over 7 years now and man does it make a difference. It’s hard to go to bed angry when we have to come together and pray for each other. Sure we could passive-aggressively pray for each other (“And God bless my wife’s stupid head and may you soften her heart and show he that I am right and that she is wrong…”) but we respect the time we have together to much to do that. Even at times when we are hurt it’s still humbling to “go through the motions” of praying for our friends and family. There is something about the act that brings clarity no matter what is going on.
4) We don’t “fight”. That doesn’t mean we always agree with each other or have emotionally charged discussions, it means I never take it to that next level of insulting her and pointing the blame. I never speak poorly of her to friends (even jokingly) and I never yell at her. As things get heated we try to take a step back. Sometimes this means physically walking out of the room to cool down. We do whatever we can to make sure a disagreement doesn’t get to “that point”. This is hard but is incredibly vital to a healthy marriage.
5) I know who she is. This one is probably the hardest to maintain. I’ve spent years with my wife getting to know who she is so when something comes out of her mouth that doesn’t line up with who she is I know something is wrong. When I know something is wrong it is easier to avoid taking offense to what has been said or done. I go from a defensive/offensive mentality to figuring out what the core of the issue is. I am by no means an expert with this but have found it has diffused more situations than I could count.
Again, with almost 7 years experience at this marriage thing we are far from experts but have found that these 5 things (among many others) have helped build what we like to believe is a healthy, God-honoring marriage. We are taking this a day at a time and trying to build accountability around us to keep us out of compromising situations. As long as we keep serving each other and focusing on the calling Christ has called the two of us to we desire to continue on like this for many years to come.
What are the pillars of your marriage? What is it built on?
Note: I’ve mentioned it before but I highly recommend reading the book “Marriage on the Rock” by Jimmy Evans. It’s a fantastic book that has helped us build the foundation we have for our marriage.