Fourteen years ago, Reggie and I were married on June 15th. As we are celebrating our anniversary, I have been reflecting on how we have managed to sustain a happy, healthy marriage over the years. Of course, God being the center of our marriage is the most important thing. Having various mature married couples (with inspiring marriages!) as friends and mentors has also been invaluable. We have received a lot of great direction and input along the way. The best marriage advice I ever received was given to us during our engagement though…by our friends Norman and Jeni Vossschulte. It is the advice that we have passed down to practically all of the dating, engaged and married couples that we have mentored over the years:
Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.
–Song of Solomon 2:15
Catch the little foxes
What does that even mean? Well, it means to watch out for the (seemingly) little things that can grow to destroy your marriage. When you’re newly in love, it’s easy to overlook things that are little but meaningful because you’re in love and it feels so wonderful. If those things aren’t addressed though, they have the potential to ruin your love story.
The tricky thing about this advice is that you have to figure out which things are worth “catching”/dealing with on the couple level versus the individual level. That’s where prayer and getting advice from other married women (with happy marriages!) have been helpful. Actually, you can get advice from anyone whose wisdom you respect. I remember the first week that Reggie and I got back from our honeymoon, I thought that the marriage wasn’t going to work. Why? Because he folded the bathroom towels “wrong”. (I know…I am particular about certain things. I had/have issues. 🙂 ) I remember talking to my friend Bobbette. She is married now, but was single at the time. She shared some wisdom that a married friend had told her, “Don’t major in the minors”. That helped me a lot. I’m just glad that I didn’t decide to “throw in the towel” over the fact that my husband folded towels differently than I did!
There are times though that you will need to deal with “the little foxes” as a couple. It can be things ranging from the division of housework to how you handle your finances. If it’s not something that you can feel great about overlooking, then deal with it. Your future married life will thank you for it.
I’m not claiming that my marriage with Reggie is “perfect”. We are imperfect people so that’s impossible. However, I can write that he’s my best friend. I can count on less than one hand how many times we have been in a big argument over the last 14 years. (Granted, a lot of that is due to the fact that we have very different temperaments. I process things quickly. I usually know exactly what I think and feel as soon as something happens. I talk about it and then I’m done with it. On the other hand, Reggie is more cool and reflective. He is more deliberate in the way that he processes things. Due to those differences, he is usually calm when I’m being crazy and I’ve already gotten over things before he is upset about them. Yes!) Most importantly, we have a lot of love and respect for one another.
We truly take to heart one of my favorite Scriptures about marriage:
Enjoy life with your wife (or husband!), whom you love…
I hope that this piece of marriage advice is helpful to you too. If someone has shared marriage advice with you over they years that you find helpful, please let me know. I still have a whole lot of marriage left to enjoy (God-willing!)…