Love and Marriage.

Jill and I have a wonderful love story together. The other day I went through a big bag of love notes she’d written me while we were dating. Yup, I kept ALL of them. Some were written while she was in class at Russell High School and some were written while she was away at Georgetown College. It was evident from the very beginning we have something special. As she so adorably put it in a note from September of 1995, we’re like peas and carrots!

I (barely!) graduated in ’95 and she graduated in the class of ’96. We knew each other through school but weren’t friends. I didn’t exactly sit at the cool kids table… I do remember crushing on her when she’d come in Ms. Thompson’s 6th period math class, my senior year, to pick up the attendance sheet but that’s as far as it went. Sometimes I’d say hi and she’d say hi back. It was the summer of ’95 that Steve Cremeans and I went to the Ashland Town Center to get the new Silver Chair CD when I ran in to Jill. She told me later how she debated whether or not to speak to us! Funny how one encounter can change the course of your history. I’ll admit I was instantly smitten with her. There was something about her that absolutely captivated me and we quickly became best friends. We fell in love fast and it’s evident from that priceless bag of notes.

Here a few things I’ve learned about love and marriage through the years.

For God’s Sake… Communicate!

Fast forward to December of ’98 when we were married. Seriously, I had no idea how to be a husband so I just faked it the best I could. Marriage is hard, ESPECIALLY at the beginning. We both had expectations that neither of us met and we struggled in a few areas, especially in communication. Really, it all came down to communication. She’d talk and somehow her words would go in my left ear and then magically escape through the right one. I had to learn the hard way that problems won’t just go away if you don’t think about them or just ignore them. Some of the problems we’ve struggled with throughout our marriage were even evident in a few of those love notes. I’ve had to learn how to listen and ponder words that are said. I’ve learned to not just formulate a comeback in my mind while she’s speaking. I’ve made it my purpose to actually listen while she’s talking. Then taking it to heart and responding- or not. Sometimes it’s better for me to just shut up!

Hold Yourselves Accountable.

Jill is my most loyal and valuable confidant. I tell her almost everything with complete confidence and without fear of condemnation. This isn’t something that just happens. You have to work on this and hash out all the details and perimeters before you ever begin spilling your guts. Although we’ve always had accountability to some extent in our relationship, it literally took us years to get to this place of trust and confidence. And we’re still working on it! We’ve learned to take practical steps. We have a written accountability contract that we very thoughtfully wrote out, prayed over, and then signed. We keep them in obvious places where we can be reminded of them often. Seem extreme? Maybe. But we battle a real enemy that comes to kill, steal, and destroy. And that’s exactly what he loves to do. Especially with marriages.

Your Wife Should Be Your Standard Of Beauty.

Never compare your spouse to anyone else. Period. End of story. You’re dishonoring them and God when you do. The grass is NEVER greener on the other side. Everyone poops. (Unless you’re an android!) Everyone farts. Everyone wakes up with bed hair, stinky breath, and crust in their eyes. You’ll never be content in your marriage if you’re comparing your spouse to someone else.  You’ll never be right with God while your imagining having sex with another person, staring at a jogger, watching porn, flirting, or giving place to someone else above your spouse in your heart. Your heart has room for only two. Jesus Christ and your spouse. In that order. Jesus said if you even lust for another woman you’ve committed adultery in your heart. Matthew 5:28 (NIV) says:

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Wow! That’s not a boat I want to be on. When I think of beauty I think of my wife’s eyelashes and her gorgeous blue eyes. I think of her soft lips and how she unashamedly kisses me. I dream of her beautiful smile and thank God for her precious one of a kind personality. She’s beautiful inside and out. And God has given her to me.

Love and marriage isn’t for the weak. Love isn’t something you fall in and out of, and unfortunately real life isn’t like a romantic comedy. Love is a verb. Love is a decision. Love is practical. Love serves.

1 Corinthians 13 4-7 (NIV) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Don’t get me wrong, my heart still flutters when I see Jill, and I still get a little giddy when she kisses me and what not. (More what than not!) Because she’s my fantasy. No other woman fills my thoughts or my dreams. She has my whole heart. We’re leaving a legacy and we’re in it to win it! I look forward to our kids and grandkids reading those notes one day and seeing a legacy of true love and God’s grace in ole Maw and Pa.