I will never forget showing a friend of mine this guy named “Ben” on Facebook back in 2007. I had been looking at his pictures and messaging him every month or so, learning his personality through the internet. He lived 800 miles away from me and we were both in college, but I thought he looked cute and he seemed like he was into deep conversations.
My friend was not into him. While I clicked through some of his pictures he posted, my friend made the final judgement:
“He looks like a player Ro, I’d forget him”.
I couldn’t forget about him. Soon after, Ben got my number and started texting me. Butterflies would flutter every time I’d see his name pop up on my flip phone and the smiley faces showed he was clearly interested in me.
Our first phone conversation lasted 2 hours, and as I hung up, I wondered if he would be good husband material.
He thought I might make a good wife….and so…. he flew all the way to my little college apartment in Philadelphia and we spent a week together. I took him to the Jersey Shore, NYC and side babysitting gigs. We fell in love fast and hard, and he put a ring on my finger 6 months later.
On our wedding day, we were greeting guests and dancing somewhere on cloud 9 when a family friend gave us a devastating blow,
“Marriage is hard. It’s the hardest thing you will ever do. I hope you guys make it. I hope you’re prepared.”
After the wedding, I left everything I knew and traveled to the mountains of Tennessee to live in a studio apartment above someones garage. Our sink was so small we did dishes in the shower, and we didn’t have a proper stove so we ate a lot of pumpkin rolls. Neither of us had jobs. It was the perfect setup.
10 years later, and we have survived what feels like a lifetime of hardship. In our early years, we found out we weren’t the same person and after that, we found out life didn’t come by easy. Maybe we’d never shock a marriage therapist with what has happened over the years, but we’ve shocked ourselves…. multiple times and in multiple ways.
Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned that have kept us together:
1.) God is always a lot nicer and should always come first. He is the saving grace of all graces.
2.) Ben is not me. Which means, I shouldn’t treat him like he’s me.
3.) I can choose Ben everyday regardless of what he chooses.
4.) Honesty is way harder than it sounds, but there is forgiveness and connection waiting on the other side.
5.) “I feel” statements are better than “You suck” ones.
6.) Criticism is poison. Encouragement is food.
7.) Maybe try and speak his love language a lot.
8.) Sometimes marriage is hard just because of stress and not because the other person sucks. God has lots of ways for me to deal with stress and it’s a great opportunity to realize Ben is not your idol.
9.) Pray. Pray when you feel like it, and when you don’t.
10.) Thankfulness is a good habit to get into, praise and worship is probably pretty good too.
There are other lessons like boundaries and stuff, and I could probably expand on the ones I’ve shared-but I’m not a counselor and I don’t want to act like one.
I just wanted to say that life isn’t easy- it’s messy and hard, and that includes marriage. But it’s also beautiful and causes you to grow into the person you’ve always wanted to be-just a little more like Jesus.
Be nice out there, life is hard.