This weekend marks our 13th Wedding Anniversary!

13…13…13..I just keep repeating that number! I feel like we just got married and that we have been together an eternity all at the same time.

People comment on what a cute couple we are, how in love we are, how much we love each other, how much fun we have together and so forth. They think we found each other and it was this fairy tale from the start……in all actuality…..I didn’t care for him! We met and he asked me on date….I was not interested but my friend pushed it so I went. We went on a date and I thought that he was just okay. He kept calling me and pursued me and I wasn’t really that into him UNTIL….he picked me up and we went riding around the campus. He picked up some fake cigarettes and started smoking them and I just fell out laughing and was like OKAY THIS GUY IS FOR ME! I always wanted someone who wasn’t stuffy because I am not stuffy! I went on dates with guys who were so boring I couldn’t control my yawns. I always had to bring the fun to those dates. I wanted someone who was going to challenge me and bring the fun WITH ME on those dates and he did it! I brought a boa to dance one time to just be funny and fun….the guy I went with didn’t appreciate it at all….at that moment in life I learned someone can be very pretty or handsome and I could not be attracted to them in the slightest. I learned it wasn’t the looks that made the connections (though that doesn’t hurt) it is finding the person with the qualities you want and need.

Marriage came and of course 3 little baby boys who keep us busy as the fairy tale goes but our fairy tale isn’t a fairy tale….. its real life. In those stories they forget to say the princess and prince are exhausted and everything else a busy life brings. So how in the world have we held a marriage together with 3 little boys, busy schedules, and the world we live in today? The comments that people say make me incredibly happy to hear….people can see our love and that makes me THRILLED but people don’t see the WORK WE put in..YES WE…both Russell and I put WORK in our marriage. Our story has rough patches and bumps but it is OUR REAL LIFE story. I don’t look at other people and dream of having what they have because I create it for myself. If I looked at my best friend and was jealous that her husband and her did a date night once a week then gosh almighty I would make us a date night! I am not going to sit here and wish for a life but do nothing to create that life. Every SINGLE day we BOTH (because this is a two part relationship) wake up and try to make the other one feel special, know we love them, and do something for them. If I have a crazy day he helps wash dishes and  sometimes he goes to his desk at work and sees a tiny post it note telling him how much I love him! We do little things that don’t cost us anything at all to show the other person how much we care. I know he is tired just as much as me so when he stops what he is doing to massage my feet I know that he is putting me first instead of himself and that is what love is all about! We ARE FAR FROM PERFECT BUT our marriage looks like a fairy-tale because of all the work we put in behind the scenes. You don’t see the countless unselfish things we do for one another. We are a team. I don’t leave my teammate behind, I don’t look at other teams and envy them, I work on making my team the best team it can be!

He can throw diamond rings at me everyday (okay I wouldn’t hate that by the way) he can give me expensive item after expensive item but that isn’t what I REALLY WANT OR NEED IN THIS LIFE. I need a teammate….a partner who doesn’t quit, who gives to me even when he doesn’t have a lot left to give and who would do anything for me…..THAT my friends is better than a diamond ring any damn day! Diamond rings and shiny things fade……but his love for me will continue on even when we are long gone. See….. our story is OUR STORY…that story will never die…it is carried on through your children and in the particles in the air. If we close our eyes and listen very carefully we can feel the stories that are floating in the air beside us tickling our ear, quietly whispering the past to us….but only if you are still and quiet and ready to imagine the history around you will you hear it.

Do you often look at others and envy their marriage? Well if you do…. STOP! It isn’t always what you see that tells you the truth…sometimes those marriages really aren’t what you think they are. So look at that marriage and look at what you LIKE about their marriage. What is it that they do that you could add to yours? What could you do to make yours better? What do you NEED from your marriage? You loved your spouse when you married them….so what makes things different now…if they are different? You may have changed I understand all of that but what I don’t understand is both teammates not working on making a stronger marriage. In marriages resentment tends to grow and build slowly until one day the person just explodes BUT if your partner is doing everything they absolutely can then a lot of times that resentment cannot grow because it is hard to be mad at someone when they are doing their best! That resentment that tries to sneak in will create a crack and that crack will spread if it isn’t taken care of. So be sure you are GIVING as MUCH as you can in your relationship and be completely with honest with yourself…..Can you do more?

I am challenging you to give your marriage your all….every little piece of you for this week. Then when next week comes I challenge you to do the same. And the next week the same and it will become a habit of you giving your all each and every week. Start off this week by doing a few of the following or get creative yourself and do something your spouse would like!

Write a small note and leave it for your partner telling them them how much you appreciate and love them

Help do chores around the house…cleaning the garage out, washing dishes or clothes…anything JUST HELP.

Turn off the TV or cellphone and talk!

Don’t know what to talk about? Read a book together and start conversing about it. Play a game together. Find something to make you connect.

Have a date night! Eating out, bowling, cooking a new meal together, the movies, etc..

Attend church with your spouse, read the bible together, or pray together. Russell and I both have our own spiritual relationships with God and then we go to church united and worship together. Having God on your side is extremely important.

Take a cup of coffee or a favorite treat to your spouse at work.

Text them with a message that lets them know you are thinking of them during the day.

Make time for them! Stop going out on the town and to events 24/7, stop working on your laptop or looking at your phone all day and GIVE your spouse TIME AND ATTENTION. When you are gone from your home and not with your partner most of the time then what do you expect…you are choosing other things over your partner.

Listen! What does your partner NEED. Listen to what your partner needs. Look at them and try to understand what all they need from this marriage. It may be that she needs a hug everyday, help bathing the kids or washing dishes, or he may need more of a physical connection every other day. What is the NEED? Then go FILL those needs. Just like a cow or horse….if you aren’t meeting their needs they will break out and go elsewhere looking to fill those needs. When a partner isn’t getting their needs met they tend to wander and roam and look elsewhere. So fill those needs up that way they stay in your pasture happy and content.

Whatever you do just be thoughtful and think of them and I promise the outcome is only good! If you are scared that you are giving too much and the other spouse isn’t then sit down with them. Talk about making your marriage stronger and better and that you both need to give more and work harder. If you don’t communicate then you can go ahead and prepare yourself for a terrible marriage. Marriage isn’t a one way street. One partner can’t give and give because eventually that partner gets burned out and gives up…..if you both are working and giving what the partner needs and it is a two way street then CONGRATULATE yourself and keep working harder!

Take some time this week to let your partner know just how special they are!