Eleven years together in marriage. There were ups and downs. Two miscarriages. Lots of heartbreak. Two different houses. Four amazing children. One very long NICU stay for one of them. Two different careers, and now we are waiting to see what the third one will bring. Friends have come and gone, but our marriage has been so blessed and will last “until death do us part”. Not because I know it’s going to happen. But because I believe it must. Through all this time together, we’ve learned a few things. So here is a list that we’ve put together that we believe has helped us through all of it. Some are more important, but each and every one of these marriage tips has contributed to where we are today.
1 | Be each other’s best friend
This sounds cliché, but it’s so true. Bertus is the first person I go to when I have news, and (if he doesn’t forget) it works the same the other way around. Yes, he’s forgetful once in a while, but we’ll chat about that in tip #6. I don’t have any secrets from him (other than his Father’s Day gift, but I’d even tell him that one if he’d ask). When there are issues regarding his life when he’s not at home, he tells me everything. Being honest with each other has strengthened our friendship. Beyond anything I could have imagined.
2 | Compromise
Yes, allowing Bertus to have something, buy something, do something, or wear something that I don’t like doesn’t always make me happy, but it’s not about me. It’s about us. And that means there should be more give than take. To be honest, if I see him walking around at a party in shoes that I particularly dislike, the fact that he’s happy and comfortable in them outweighs the fact that he doesn’t match the rest of us. (Yes, I know I’m slightly OCD.) Side note, he wore these at my request, even though they’re so not his favourite…
3 | Don’t make yourselves too busy
When Bertus and I are both in the thick of busyness (he with exams, me with editing) we tend to have a lot more arguments. So I have compromised with him on that, and I now am training an amazing editor to take some of my workload during the busy time. She’s also the one who captured the majority of these photos. Yes, sometimes not being too busy can be a sacrifice in other ways, but the fact that we are happy together even during high season makes me so thankful.
4 | Share household chores
My favourite thing about when Bertus was teaching is the fact that he enjoyed doing mundane tasks like washing dishes and vacuuming. Now that may change, but we will figure that out when we cross that bridge. In our marriage, I do the cooking and he does the dishes. He washes and hangs the laundry and I fold and put it away. I clean the house and he watches. Okay, maybe that last one isn’t really sharing.
5 | Let the kids see you kiss
Our favourite thing to do to make our kids smile is to act like we were kissing when they walk into a room (where we were probably in reality actually giving each other a kiss). They then often come in for a snuggle after they have a good giggle, and this gives us the perfect opportunity to build our relationship with each of them. Allowing your children to see that their parents love them also gives them a lot of confidence. That no matter what happens, their parents are always going to be there for them, together.
6 | Don’t expect perfection
Yep, Bert can be forgetful. But so can every man I believe. I’m also far from perfection. In fact, he’s still reminding me to file our taxes for last year (almost done, I promise). But knowing and accepting that in love, with an appropriately timed reminder, creates that perfect balance. I feel the worst when I notice that he is doing something that he knows I don’t like and I right away want to remind him. I make sure to try and stop and think about how far from perfect I am before I do anything else. After all, we’re all sinners in Christ, and outside of Him, there is no perfection. This marriage tip doesn’t mean we should not strive for perfection, as long as we do so in a Christian manner.
7 | Be the first to forgive
I yell once in a while, and it makes me feel so bad. I get upset quickly, but thankfully God has given me a heart that forgives quickly. Bertus thankfully doesn’t get upset that fast, and I’m so thankful for this constant in my life. God can forgive us our sins, so the most Christ-like thing we can do is to lead by His example. It is so hard sometimes, but I’ve never regretted it!
8 | Don’t stop being spontaneous
Remember that time that you just decided to go for a drive to the beach on a whim? And you sat there until the sun went down and the sky glowed orange? Yes, that was back when you were dating. But where have you learned that you cannot do that now, with some marriage experience under your belt and possibly some kids? Bertus is the best at making me forget my plan and just going where the wind blows us. This adventurous side of him really came out during our cross country trip two years ago. And while it takes some getting used to once in a while, there is nothing I love more than deciding to do something fun when my family is least expecting it! That’s how memories are made.
9 | Put each other first (before the kids)
Yes, I just said that. God says in Genesis 2:24, Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. In the fifth commandment that God gave to the Israelites, he commands children to obey their parents. That is not possible if parents put their children ahead of their spouses. Yes, God created this relationship so intricate, and it’s not meant to be easy. That being said, that does not mean that parents should not respect their kids. Children will always try to exploit their parents by trying to pit them against each other. I have to laugh once in a while when I hear one of our kids ask permission for something which gets denied by Bertus, and then they walk to me and ask me the same question. As if I didn’t hear what just happened on the other side of the wall…
10 | Have your memories captured
I will never regret spending our hard-earned money with some of our favourite photographers to capture amazing memories. I believe in it 100%. Looking back at how incredibly small they were when their birthday comes around is something that never gets old. Looking through their albums and seeing gorgeous photos of mischievous smiles makes my heart so happy. I’m not posting this blog of wedding tips to try and convince you to hire me. But hire someone. It might mean sacrificing a dinner out or possibly even a gift for your spouse. This is a gift in its own way.
11 | Read the Bible together
The family that prays together, stays together. That doesn’t just mean a simple prayer once in a while. But that means worshipping the Lord in their lives and doing so together. Having family worship time during dinner (especially during these last few months) have allowed us to explain things better to our kids and has helped to increase the faith that they have in us and vice versa. There was not much that was more amazing than having our little girl’s eyes light up when she told me that “God made me! And God made Easton!!!” Conversations go from feminism to the current virus, and approaching everything in a Biblical way has really opened up my eyes. This is also the case in other matters that have come up in the last few months. We truly believe that this is the most important of these marriage tips. We know that even though a decision of which the result isn’t beneficial to us but it is Christian, the result will never hurt us. Especially if it brings us closer to Christ.
It’s been eleven years. We’re hoping for dozens more. Only God knows.