Two as One: Lessons learned in eleven years of marriage

This month was our wedding anniversary month. On 07.07.07 my husband Rom and I said “I do” in front of our friends and family. I was relatively young, emotionally fragile, wearing a white dress I probably shouldn’t have gone for… but in love nonetheless and incredibly determined to spend the rest of my life with this man I had met two years prior. And from that moment on, our lives changed for better.

I’m taking this opportunity to tell you all about this amazing couples’ devotional we bought a couple of years ago, called Two as One, by Ryan and Selena Frederick. It’s a 30-Day devotional but we used it on a weekly basis rather than daily, tackling one topic per week. It’s much easier to digest this amount of DIY couple therapy when you give yourself a few days to process it all.

This devotional encourages married couples to connect and reflect on their journey, talk about their joys and struggles, re-visit certain dark places with the aim to learn and grow as a couple with Christ at the centre. There’s also a lot of writing down to do, which I think is a liberating way to express some of these all important thoughts.

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Two as One by Ryan and Selena Frederick – Available on Amazon. Click here.

I promised myself I wouldn’t get too soppy, but this is the sentimental part where I have to acknowledge what I’ve been blessed with. For the past 11 years I have spent everyday with the man of my dreams, the person who understands me the most, puts up with all the ugly sides of me, and the best father our three children could ever ask for.

However, these 11 years have also been a journey of learning and unlearning. We’ve fought, laughed, cried, and over the years discovered new things about ourselves and each other. This devotional has really helped us dissect some of our deepest issues, it has allowed us to bare our souls in a way that we hadn’t really done before. And out of this, truths came out, tears flowed, and lessons were learned. Let’s take a look at some of them…

Strong foundations contribute to a strong marriage.

Rom and I never went through any sort of marriage preparation classes prior to getting married. Not one. Most Christian millennial couples swear by marriage preparation courses so I do feel like Rom and I didn’t quite get the memo on this one.

But hey, marriage prep isn’t just for engaged couples, it’s something you can go through at any stage of your marriage. For us, having Christ at the centre has always been key – that was our foundation. We had a few obstacles along the way, and I’m sure we could have done with the added support and knowledge that marriage prep provides. So our journey has been one of many trials and errors, but the end result is that today we feel much more equipped than we did ten years ago.

That silly thing you’re arguing about won’t matter in 10 minutes, 10 days, 10 years… Don’t drag it, let it go!

Once you realise that most of the things you and your spouse argue about are probably insignificant in the grand scheme of things, you’ll spend a lot less time dragging arguments that don’t need to be dragged. I’ve learned not to hold grudges or remain fixated on tiny issues that won’t matter in the long run – I literally tell myself “It’s not worth it, sis.”

Love Languages are real.

If Rom and I had known the importance of learning to speak each other’s love language earlier in our marriage, we would have saved ourselves a lot of pain, misunderstanding and miscommunication. If you’re not familiar with love languages, I recommend you read this book by Gary Chapman: The 5 Love Languages, and also take the online test.

Lack of financial fluency and money management will slowly eat away at your marriage.

Oh the importance of good money management… I cannot stress it enough. This is one of the main causes of arguments and conflict in modern marriages, but over the years I learnt that it is one that can be avoided, with the right attitude and a great deal of communication.

One thing I realised recently is that whenever money (or lack of it) becomes a issue in our household, It’s because something within us needs fixing. Be it our relationship with ourselves, with money, with each other or with God… We’re broke because we’re broken. And until we work on that, things will never feel whole, we’ll always experience emptiness.

Your spouse should be your number one confidant and emotional support.

On a few occasions in the first few years of our marriage, I was guilty of approaching other people before communicating my concerns to my husband. I’ve learned over the years that he should be the first person I go to, to offload, talk about my feelings and communicate my fears.

Confiding in other people before him, as helpful and soothing as it was at the time, has led to a lack of transparency and honesty between us. My friends may have offered me emotional support, but my husband should always be my number one confidant. It sounds obvious in theory… but in practice, it is so easy to fall into that cycle where a trusted and well-meaning friend unknowingly becomes the “third person in the marriage”… and trust me when I tell you, lines can easily become blurred especially if said friend is of the opposite sex.

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Marriage requires daily investment.

I used to say “Marriage requires a lot of work”. And I hear this a lot. I still believe it, but I’d rather refer to this ‘work’ as an investment. Everyday, you invest into your marriage. Those daily attentions, gestures, acts of kindness, renewed intimacy and passion for each other, submission and devotion to one another… they all count towards a bigger picture – longevity and happiness with this person you love. As a sidenote: Children should never be the reason why your marriage loses its spark. They’re a blessing, not a hindrance.

Marriage exposes character flaws; and you never stop getting to know each other.

My husband is the same man I married 11 years ago, but every now and again I discover new things about him. Marriage not only exposes our character traits, it also magnifies them, especially the ugliest ones. What’s really important is how I choose to deal with this. Whether good or bad, these character traits (or habits, flaws, attitudes) are part of who my husband is, and it isn’t my job to try and change him.

I’ve learned that if there are aspects of him I don’t like or don’t feel comfortable with, the best way to deal with the matter is through a kind and loving approach, as well as prayer. Blaming or shaming is never the way forward – it only breeds negative emotions.

True conflict resolution begins with the realisation that your spouse is NOT your enemy.

Whatever we’re disagreeing on, whatever conflict we’re going through, Rom is not my enemy. Never has been, never will be. It’s not each other we have to fight – it is whatever external factor has brought us to this momentary point of discontent and disconnection. Unity is key in these circumstances; understanding that we’re in the same team – this is what has helped me see our ‘arguments’ in a completely different light. And today, we deal with conflict in a much calmer way.

What are some of the lessons you’ve learned in your own relationship or marriage? Feel free to share them with me.

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4 thoughts on “Two as One: Lessons learned in eleven years of marriage

  1. Thank you SO much for sharing. As always, well written & great content :). Not married yet, but looking forward to applying your tips in future #Mapamboliebele

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