At first glance, I probably don’t look like someone qualified to give marriage advice. Craig and I may still be young (at least that’s what I keep telling myself), but last Sunday we celebrated our seventh year of marriage. And we’ve been in a relationship for 11 years total.
So, maybe I’ve learned a thing or two about life, love, and specifically, marriage. There’s something to be said about the fact that Craig and I still aren’t tired of each other yet. In fact, we actually still like each other a whole lot.
The Story of Us: From High School Sweethearts to Happily Married
First, I’ll give you a brief synopsis of everything Victoria and Craig.
- We met at a church youth camp the summer before my 11th grade year in high school. Craig was entering his senior year. We didn’t know each other, but my friends hadn’t gone
to campthat year, so Craig and some other kids from his church accepted me into their ‘group’ for the week. Plus, Craig was cute. We exchanged numbers at the end of the week, Craig texted me the same night we left youth camp, and the rest is history, as they say.
- Craig was from Port St. Joe, Florida and I was from Crawfordville, Florida. The cities are about an hour and a half apart, so the first few years of our relationship was “long distance” (that’s a pretty long distance for high schoolers, you know. We REALLY liked each other).
- We got married young. I was 19 (almost 20, ok??) and Craig was 21. We hadn’t lived together before marriage and were ready to start our life together. Everyone told us we were too young, and now that I’m older, I don’t blame them. I would tell any 19
yearold NOT to get married so soon. Thank goodness we were listening to God and not people though,because it was exactly the right thing for us to do.
- At 22 and 23 we became Family Teachers for Boys Town. We lived with, cared for, and provided therapeutic treatment on a daily basis to a group of foster care children. Specifically, girls ages 10-17 (we usually had 6-7 girls in our home at a time). Talking about that experience would need to be a blog post (or book) on its own, but I’ll just say we learned a lot. We, as a couple, were co-workers with one another and parents to a group of troubled teenage girls. We got two 8-hour ‘shifts’ off each week and one weekend off a month, but we had to be back by 9:30 p.m. Sunday night. There are so many things I could say about that time in our life, but one thing is for sure, our marriage grew so much.
- After Boys Town, we bought our first home together and have spent the last
coupleyears settling in tonew careers, establishing ourselves, and expanding our family (with fur children).
- I forced Craig to become an Instagram husband and he kept loving me anyways. #truelove
Secrets to a Happy Marriage
Please believe me when I say I’m not trying to brag, but I think Craig and I have a pretty amazing marriage. At this point in our lives, we don’t really fight, we truly enjoy spending time with one another, we make decisions together (and are almost always on the same page about things before even talking about them), and we truly approach life together as a team.
I know that this isn’t true for every marriage. It’s sad, but the truth is that about 50% of marriages end in divorce. So, I was trying to think about what makes mine and Craig’s marriage so good.
First and foremost, it’s because God brought us together and we have strived throughout out entire marriage to keep Him first in our relationship. Ultimately, this is the #1 “secret” to a lasting marriage.
However, I was also doing some reading about love and marriage, and of
Side note: Craig and I are not perfect. Our lives have not been all sunshine and roses. But we’ve put our relationship through the fire so to speak (married young, dealt with family conflict, ‘raised’ teenage girls, were co-workers, Craig worked an out-of-town job, career changes, financial changes, etc). And we’ve come out on the other side pretty strong.
3 Ways to Stay Happily Married
1. Love is patient AND not easily angered.
Man, patience is hard. It’s a word m
We both had to learn some patience. How? Well for me, I had to learn to slow my roll and take a minute to ask myself, “Is this something worth starting an argument over? Does this really matter in the grand scheme of things?” Honestly, I have learned to just be quiet and not start spewing the first words that come to mind. Most times I find that I don’t actually want to say those words after all.
Partly, I think this comes with time. But, it also can happen through choice. You can decide if [insert situation you are upset about] is worth damaging your relationship. Getting angry doesn’t automatically hurt your relationship, but acting in anger often will.
When something really bothers you (i.e. when your spouse leaves the laundry on the floor
2. Love is not self-seeking
This is more of a mindset that affects your entire relationship. When you love someone, you don’t approach life wondering how they will make you happy or make your life better. You seek out ways to bring them joy and put them first.
I can confidently say that I know Craig puts me and my needs before his own and I do the same for him. I’m not thinking about what Craig should do to make me happy, I’m focusing on how I can be the best wife possible for him.
Maybe that sounds a little “last century” to you, but when you and your spouse are both seeking to serve one another, and not yourself, then you both win.
3. Love keeps no record of wrongs.
Craig and I never throw out the ‘remember when you did ______”. We just don’t. Craig, probably because he’s just such a good man, and me likely because I can’t remember anything anyways. 😉
But, here’s my advice: just don’t do it. If you love someone, don’t keep a list of all their wrongdoings to bring out at just the “right time”. Because that is most definitely the wrong time. Let the now be about the now because once it’s forgiven, its forgiven. That doesn’t mean you forget it ever happened, or that you don’t both learn from your mistakes. But learning and changing from something is a very different thing than keeping
So, there it is. Seven years of marriage summarized in a single blog post.
What are some ‘relationship rules’ you have that keep your marriage/relationship strong? Leave all your love advice in the comments below! 🙂