What I Have Learned About Marriage From My Wife
Today is my wedding anniversary. At age 51 I have been married more years than life without Dellie! She is not only my wife; she is also a counselor. While I grew up in a solid home and got to watch a good marriage for my entire childhood, I still had a lot to learn when we married. I think each of us who marry learn a great deal from our spouse, I thought I would share some of the lessons I have gleaned from mine.
First, I learned I am more selfish than I thought. As a young man I thought Dellie was pretty fortunate to have me as a husband (what a delight, I know). Living with someone day in and day out in the covenant of marriage has revealed to me my selfishness in a way that nothing else could.
Second, commitment is the key. I watched commitment in my parent’s marriage but have experienced it with Dellie. There are times we feel married and times we do not. Yet our commitment to God and each other keep us in this permanent covenant. Feelings matter but are too fickle to sustain a marriage for decade after decade. Marriage is harder than I thought, as apparently I have watched too many movies.
Third, connection is crucial. Dellie exposed me to a secular writer, Sue Johnson, who writes about attachment. Her insights on the importance of connection in relationships are profound. In addition, finding ways to express love in a way your spouse appreciates also makes a huge difference. I remember the surprising AHA moments when I read a remarkable little book called The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman that Dellie recommends. The main concept is that people feel loved in different ways: words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, gift giving and quality time. Like many couples Dellie and I do not speak the same “love language.” We will often not connect if we are not intentional. One way Dellie has taught me about connection in marriage is her remarkable ability to give meaningful gifts. One example, words of affirmation are important to me and so every day for a year (from one wedding anniversary to another) she wrote something she appreciated about me on a card and put it on the top of a large jar where I could collect them after I read them. I have kept that jar and still occasionally go back and read her notes. Remarkable right? This is just one example but there are many others.
Fourth, study your spouse. Over the years we have taken different personality tests and used different kinds of diagnostic tools to better understand each other. When you are dating you are drawn to differences, but in marriage those difference can grate if you do not have a basic understanding of where your spouse is coming from. There are moments when a personality test she has recommended puts something together about her and our relationship in a way that I better comprehend our complex dynamic.
Fifth, Listen. Listen. Listen. Your spouse has much to teach you. I can truly say I am a better man because of who I married. Happy Anniversary, Dellie!
Pastor Derek Dickinson
Journey Christian Church