Tomorrow I celebrate 16 years of marriage to this guy….
Scott and I met in high school when I was only 16 years old. We were married when I was only 19 years old.
I have spent over half of my life loving this man. He is intertwined in my memories, he stars in my dreams, he is as much a part of my life as breathing.
We have been so blessed over the years to enjoy a happy marriage. Oh, there have been irritations and disagreements, there have been annoyances and struggles, but, it seems almost miraculous to me that our entire marriage has been characterized by love and friendship. I admire him. He delights in me.
And then, this past December, January, February and March…..I didn’t particularly like the guy. We went through the hardest season our marriage has had to endure.
Obviously, one major contributor to this was the stress in our life. The logistics of doubling our family, the shifting and changing of our new roles, the constant demands on our time, the emotional baggage that we were dealing with….all of this created a storm of stress around us.
But there are other factors that were just as culpable.
#1 – Satan
Oh, that sneaky adversary! He knows exactly where we are weakest. He targets those weaknesses. And he does it in such sly ways that we often don’t attribute any of the problem to him, but rather blame it on our spouse.
Let me tell you something, satan sees God getting the glory around here. And he hates it! So he attacks.
He whispers in my ear, “Scott should be doing more. Look at what he expects of you! He goes to work and gets to relax with his friends. Then he comes home and he doesn’t even help with the dishes! Oh, that ungrateful man. If only he would offer to do more. I shouldn’t have to ask him! He should know that I need his help. If he really loved me, he would take out the trash.”
And satan’s whispers sound an awful lot like my own selfish thoughts. They fill my head and have me angry at my husband before he even steps foot in the door.
#2 – Selfishness
I had blinders on to the demands that our new family was placing on Scott. I didn’t worry about him balancing work and home, him feeling the pressure to provide for a family of 8, him being tired and worn and burning the candle at both ends. I was only focused on how everything was affecting me.
I was tired. I needed more help. I was stressed. And wasn’t that what was important? My needs?
I spent a large part of the time during those painful months mad at my husband. It was so easy to channel all of my frustration at one target. But, thankfully, my husband is slow to anger and quick to forgive. He was patient with me. And, most importantly, he is a man who loves the Lord and who prays over our marriage.
But, our God is a God who redeems. April and May have been filled with some of the sweetest times our marriage has ever known. There is a new-found appreciation for each other. There is a realization that when we face this battle as a united force, we are stronger than we could ever be alone. There is a feeling of overwhelming gratitude in my heart that I married a man of such character.
I wanted to share just a few of the lessons that God has been teaching me. Really – these lessons have been learned over the last 16 years, but they have been cemented over the past 6 months.
#1 – Marry Scott Putnam.
Oops! He is already taken. I guess you will have to move on to #2.
#2 – Celebrate each other’s strengths, forgive each other’s weaknesses.
Often, this is all in your own point of view. Instead of getting irritated that my husband won’t make a decision and get “insert my assigned task” done quickly, I can appreciate the fact that he is wise and thoughtful. That he never acts rashly and that he takes the time to decide what is best for our family.
Instead of keeping a list of things that he doesn’t do for me (clean, cook, pick up his dirty underwear), I started listing the things that he does do well (play with our children, listen when I need to talk, tell me that he loves me and thinks I am beautiful.) And when I compared those lists, I realized that the things he does do well – those are the important things in life.
#3 – Spend time enjoying each other. Laugh often.
During the roughest patch of our transition, Scott told me that he missed my laughter. I have always been full of fire and passionate about the good and the bad, but lately, it seemed I was only passionate about the bad. I didn’t have the energy to laugh. And he missed that.
#4 – Don’t try to live your marriage 50/50.
No. Instead, you give 100%. Give everything you can. Don’t keep a tally sheet and try to make things “fair.” Something interesting happened when I stopped demanding my husband’s help and instead focused on all that I could do for him. He started taking out the trash. And he offered to help the kids with some school work. He told me to sit down and relax while he covered the bedtime shift. He felt loved and appreciated, and in turn he wanted me to feel the same way. He still hasn’t started doing the dishes – but I expect that to happen any day now!
#5 – Do not rely on your own strength. Make your marriage a 3-part-relationship.
I am so thankful that 19 years ago, when that cute, nerdy boy who sat next to me in math class asked me to go out, I said yes.
Well, okay, first I said no.
But then I changed my mind.
Good thing, huh?
I look forward to spending the rest of my life with this man. Who knows how many kids we will have in another 16 years?
Happy anniversary to the man of my dreams.