I Still Do: 9 Years On

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Couples in their 20s are the most likely group to divorce so, as we got married in our early twenties the stats were firmly against us but, here... we... are! Today's the day! Nine years on and my wife and I celebrate nine roller coaster years of marriage. A lot has happened since we first met as teenagers all those years ago. We've experienced a lot over the years but the one thing that I've learned is that falling in love was easy, however, staying in love is where we've had to really put the work in. Here are 5 honest lessons I've learned (and still learning) over the last nine years of marriage.


We Love In Different Ways

Before I got married I read a book called "The 5 love languages" by Gary Chapman and it was very interesting because it helped me understand the different ways we can express or receive love. The languages are Receiving Gifts, Spending Quality Time, Physical Touch, Acts of Service, and Words of Affirmation. Most men and women come to the table with very different love languages. Men are typically receptive to the physical touch and words of affirmation, however, we often make the mistake of assuming that our partner would feel love in the same way. The opposite tends to be true. It's hard to communicate with someone when you don't speak their language and this is something that I'm still not fluent in as it's not my default language. Learning a love language is not a million miles away from learning to speak French. You start with a few basic words to get by, but, then you have to push the limits by trying to converse. Sometimes that means getting a few words wrong and looking a bit of a fool but at least your goal is to get better and more fluent. The more time you spend not practising that language, the more you forget and you then become rusty. It's no different to speaking your wife's language of love. I suck at foreign languages and none could be more foreign than my wife's language of love, however, I'm committed to learning but for now... je parle un peu.


Touch Is Important

One thing I've found is that I can forget about almost anything we're arguing about once her hand touches mine. My wife has this thing of coming up to me without word to give me a warm hug. Whether it's a hug, a touch of the hair, holding hands or a head leaning on the shoulder, that tangible connection between a man and a woman can often express the unspoken. That touch can say "I forgive you". It can say "you're an idiot but I still love you". It can even express an apology! Our touch is important because it's an action that is hard to ignore. It reminds us what really matters and gives us a chance to see and hear and feel the other person’s heart. Our touch is an action that often speaks far louder than our words.


It's ok to argue

While I don’t think screaming and yelling is okay, I do think it’s okay for couples to get upset, angry and disagreeing with each other every now and then after all anyone married long enough will tell you that marriage isn’t about always agreeing or getting along. I use to try and avoid arguments by simply agreeing with whatever my wife said (just to get along and keep the peace) however, this would only add fuel to the fire. Not arguing out of passivity only displays weakness and a lack of passion, to fight for something you believe in. Having an argument is not a problem with me, however, HOW you argue can be. As much as we may like to think we are all fully capable of arguing like intelligent adults, sometimes name calling can happen and that's when it's not cool! I've learned that if you ever have to resort to name calling then you should forfeit your right to argue responsibly. They say that your kids shouldn't see you disagree with each other however, I tend not to agree with that notion. I've found that it's actually in some of our disagreements that have helped to contribute to a well-rounded opinion of marriage. I'm not saying you should air out your dirty laundry in front of the kids, however, I am ok with my daughter knowing that sometimes Daddy does winds mummy up and vice versa. When she gets married and experiences times like that in her own home, she will have been provided with a realistic picture of marriage and relationships. I want my kids to see those things but most important of all I want them to see how we work through our differences and resolve any issue with a love at the core of it all.


Hang With Married Couples*

*Happily married couples that is! Research has shown that men and women with close friends or siblings who are divorced are more likely to break up in their own marriages than if they had happily married friends. This would seem to be common sense. If you hang out with people who are nonchalant about cheating on their partners, you'll eventually become desensitised to this issue and find nothing wrong or maybe even sympathise. You become the company you keep. On the other hand when your social circle mainly consists of long-term, happily married couples, then it helps to provide a more positive view of marriage and even help positively influence your own union. When we first got married a lot of the guys I hung out with were friends from when I was either single or in my teens, but, now I find that I have very few single friends as most of the guys I tend to hang out with are happily married. This is a very intentional decision as I find them to be a great source of inspiration and also it's great to know that you have genuine friends that are backing you in your corner, against a world that does everything in its power to separate us from our vows.


Marriage Has Purpose

Goals, visions and dreams are vital to the growth of a marriage but in truth, my only goal and purpose of getting married was, originally to get a house, have a wife and a few kids but beyond that... nothing! I never really knew what my purpose was and therefore never had a clue about the greater purpose of our union! This could have caused some massive problems if left unchecked because we would just end up sharing one bed at night whilst having two separate dreams. Lack of purpose, joint vision and goals can only end in separation because we would both end up wanting different things out of life.

Everything changed the day my wife and I went for a drive and parked outside a beautiful house that we found near a river. It's sounds really superficial but at that time in my life seeing was believing and this house helped to trigger a spark off in my mind. The house looked great however, it was the milestone it represented that was most important to us. The house isn't the goal but simply a byproduct of what could be achieved as we fulfil our purpose in life.

You will always see me using my social media reach to share a positive reflection of families and great marriages. This is what's important to me and it has now become the very thing that we live by as a family unit! My wife and I have a purpose! Not just to be happily married but to be impactful to our family and our community whilst we live on this Earth. Finding our purpose, to change perceptions and create a culture that strengthens marriages, families and communities is what we now live for. Knowing that our marriage serves a purpose far greater than ourselves is a marriage that is always worth fighting for.

This is why after nine-year of trying to figure it all out... I still do! To have and to hold, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until we kick that bucket. I did nine years ago and I still do nine years on.



What do you believe are the honest lessons in marriage, that need to be shared? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments box below.


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