June 30th, 2006 Joey and I were married in San Antonio, Texas.
It was hot, but a coastal storm rolled in that evening and knocked the flower arrangements off my reception tables, cooling off our happy guests.
Joey’s dad performed the ceremony and it was personal yet powerful.
Our sacred vows were witnessed by 350 of the most influential people in our lives. I didn’t sleep much the night before from excitement and my eyes felt puffy. There was no real drama, catastrophe or anxiety that day. I was marrying my best friend, someone who felt like “home” to me.
Now, a decade later, our love is standing taller, battered by a few storms and it’s maturing like a good wine. We’re friends; we like each other most of the time, and more importantly, we choose each other. Every. Single. Day.
We’ve been asked many times how we’ve maintained a healthy marriage. “What’s the secret to staying happily married for 10 years and beyond?” The answer is nothing fashionable, shocking or dramatic. In fact, you may find it boring.
Daily, (seemingly) insignificant good choices. Today. Tomorrow. The next day…
“…They [successful people] achieve these dramatic results in their lives through making choices that are the very antithesis of drama–mundane, simple, seemingly insignificant choices.” -Jeff Olson, The Slight Edge
I apply this principle to my personal training career, my own physical fitness, parenting, my Arbonne business, my spiritual life and marriage.
*Before I go any further, I must say, our marriage is far from perfect. In fact, this past year has probably been the hardest of our ten. But we are working on it, praying through it, and fighting for it.*
In the moment, these good choices seem inconsequential, but compounded over time, they yield massive results. (I’m obsessed with books, The Compound Effect, The Slight Edge, The Power of Habit these days.) The trouble is that these small, simple choices are just as easy not to do as they are to do. Kissing each other goodbye in the mornings won’t save or ruin your marriage that day—but done (or not done) for hundreds of days over time just might. Daily bad choices (or perhaps the absence of good choices) have the same effect over time: destruction, divorce, obesity, bankruptcy.
Some simple choices Joey and I have made, by the grace of God:
We go to bed at the same time every night. This causes us to be on the same schedule. One person is not more tired than the other, we pray/talk a little together in bed, and it allows for physical intimacy. No kids in bed either, unless it’s May in Oklahoma and they are afraid of the storms.
We are a team. This is tough when you feel like you’re playing a different game altogether, not seeing eye-to-eye. But like any sport, we practice and we get better.
We go out on dates regularly. With no kids around, we can give each other our undivided attention, we can listen and get to know each other, we can flirt, try new restaurants, hold hands.
We put the kids to bed early. No brainer: more time for us. Structure and sleep for them. High five.
We put toothpaste on each others’ toothbrushes at night. Silly, but sweet.
We don’t make close friendships with people of the opposite sex. This is just smart; he is the only man I should be “emotional” with.
We work out together on Fridays. He rarely lets me train him, but I love including him in something that is so important to me–physical fitness. We think it’s important to stay fit (aka: HOT) for each other. 🙂
We appreciate delicious, healthy food and black coffee. Oftentimes, we cook together. Chemex pour-over coffee every morning.
We play together and we play with our kids. Dance party every night; Justin Timberlake on repeat. Our kids remind us not to take ourselves too seriously.
We travel together (minus kids) at least once a year. It’s a true break in routine, scenery and responsibility. We invest in each other this way and create memories to think back to when “normal life” gets tough. If anyone has an excuse NOT to travel, it’s us. Two full-ish time jobs, I actually lose money when I go on vacation, two kids–one of which is disabled and has a potentially life-threatening condition. But it’s THAT important to us. Albeit, we have incredible parents that we trust to watch our kids.
We speak highly of each other. We chose early on not to make fun of marriage or put each other down, even in jest. We respect marriage and each other too much.
We apologize and try to fight fair. Even when we don’t feel like it. Ugh; this one’s hard.
We kiss each other every morning.
We value friendship outside of one another. Life is more fun with friends. I think this is partly why our marriage has been hard this year–we’re lacking consistent friendships with other couples.
We take turns doing household chores and getting up with the kids. As a working mom, this is such a blessing to me. Joey is so helpful (acts of service is my love language).
We make time and energy for sex. I’m blushing just typing that…we are really private about our sex life. It’s the part of us that’s just for us.
We share our calendars. This means less surprises for me.
We support each others’ careers by asking questions and allowing time for personal growth and study. Joey pushes me to achieve my goals and I’m so grateful.
Joint bank account.
We read. Less screen time is my struggle, but I’m working on it. Currently reading The Slight Edge by Olson and up next are Niequist’s new Present Over Perfect, Maxwell’s 12 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, and the new Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
And finally…We individually seek to know Jesus more and work on improving ourselves. This is, without question, the most important element. The secret sauce. Because without Him, our love for each other is incomplete, shallow and self-serving.
I believe God made marriage a sacred covenant, binding unto death, because He knew that at some point, we’d want to get out.
“So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Matthew 19:6
It seems easier at times just to give up, do our own thing, or try someone new. But I said “I do,” to Joey on June 30th. Then again on July 1st. And July 2nd…And I’m saying “I do” today.
A healthy marriage isn’t fancy and it doesn’t make you famous. There’s no one event that changes everything. It’s the boring, mundane, good choices over time that lead to renewed vows when you’re 75 and wrinkled.
To the singles: are you the person that the person you’re looking for would want to marry?
To the married and healthy: thank you for your example! We’re watching and inspired.
To the married and struggling: dig in your heels and fight for your family. It takes two to make it work, yes. But pray for your marriage like it’s your full-time job. Go to counseling. And work on you. Let God work on them.
To the married and abused or neglected: Get help. In some cases, get out.
To the divorced: there is redemption. I’ve seen it and it’s beautiful.
To Joey: thank you for choosing me then and choosing me now. Happy TEN YEARS, my Love.