My husband Al and I recently celebrated our five-year anniversary. It’s been a wonderful five years, and I would say “I do” all over again knowing everything I know now. God has blessed us with a very happy relationship.

But that doesn’t mean these past five years have been trouble-free. And it’s some of those challenges that have led to the closeness we increasingly share.

Here are some things I have learned during these five years, some of them expected and some unexpected:

  1. Love that survives challenges leads to security. My husband really loves me! I have never questioned his love. But going through the ups and downs of life together has brought me to a level of security in his love even beyond what I could have expected. (I think God’s love is like that too!)
  2. Your spouse will only change what they want to change. My husband has made some amazing changes: quitting smoking, losing weight, and more. But salt still finds its way to the floor at dinnertime, and he still doesn’t like to go to bed early. (I’m glad the changes he’s made are the important ones.)
  3. True intimacy can provide great comfort. When someone knows everything about you – physically, emotionally, spiritually – and loves you just as much, you can relax. It doesn’t do any good to hide anyway, so no use trying. And that includes not hiding any baggage from your past.
  4. If you bend, you don’t break. Although we never fought, meshing two adult lifestyles didn’t happen automatically. Whenever possible, not making an issue out of the “small stuff” makes life much more pleasant.
  5. You have tremendous power over your spouse. Your emotional state, your spiritual maturity, your strengths and weaknesses all have a huge impact on your spouse’s wellbeing. My husband is much happier when I take care of myself, because I’m more pleasant to be around.
  6. Your spouse is not the enemy. The “enemy” is out there, but it’s not your spouse. We’ve faced health challenges, financial challenges, and major moves and “job” changes in our five years together – always facing the challenge from the same fox hole, fighting “it” together.
  7. Keep the ground between you clean. When irritations, disagreements, or problems develop, deal with them quickly. Otherwise each one becomes a brick in a wall between you that can eventually become too big to get around. Don’t let that begin.
  8. God provides super-glue to hold you together. Praying together is one of the most intimate things a couple can do, and it keeps your hearts soft toward each other. God gives you the grace to forgive each other, and to continue to love when things get rough.
  9. God uses you in each other’s lives. When one of us feels like quitting, my husband and I will remind each other of what we know about what God has given us to do, and of our commitment to Him. We help encourage each other and give each other strength.
  10. Your marriage is more than the sum of its parts. Your union together has something to say to the world, something for the Kingdom of God. You can do more together than either of you can do alone. And that makes you dangerous to God’s enemies. It’s a primary reason marriage, and your marriage, is under attack.

I wouldn’t trade the last five years for anything. And I expect the next five will be even better.

Your turn: What has your marriage taught you? How have you and your spouse helped make each other better? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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