Today my wife and I celebrate 5 years of marriage.
Here’s one (of many) lessons I’ve learned about staying together, getting through hard times, and growing closer.
Three words: Serve and survive.
Let’s take a brief look at each one:
To serve is to think about the other person’s needs and how you can help satisfy them. It means being willing to get creative in order to add to your partner’s quality of life. It means being willing to push yourself beyond convenience and comfort zones to help them during times of need. This isn’t always easy, but it’s always rewarding even if it doesn’t feel like it in the moment.
To survive is to refuse to make a god out of service. It means maintaining a respect for self-care, solitude, personal hobbies, and individuality no matter how much you love someone. If everything you think, say, and do is about your significant other, you’re on the fast track to becoming a boring, uninspiring, bitter, and burned out version of yourself. The best way to add spice and fire to your love life is by continuing to invest in your own interests and your own personal development. Your spouse doesn’t just want someone who can serve them. They also want someone who has a unique world to bring them into. Don’t lose that.
The two big enemies are laziness and guilt.
On some days laziness will make it hard to serve. The little devil on your shoulder will remind you of how easy and stress-free it was when you were single. It’ll bring up warm and fuzzy memories of the “good ole days” when all you had to do was think about yourself. When this happens, kill that voice, remember that life’s blessings take work to sustain, get off your butt, and go fight for your family.
On other days guilt will make it hard to survive. Even though you know (in theory) that you need to have time just for yourself, the little devil on your shoulder will tell you that it’s always selfish to say “no” unless you’re saying it to yourself. It will try to trick you into thinking that love is only about selflessness and sacrifice. When this happens, kill that voice, recognize that few things are more loving than becoming more lovable, and do what you have to do to preserve your health, peace of mind, and zest for life. Besides, no one needs a grumpy and self-righteous spouse who thinks of themselves as a martyr just for being married.
Be ready to work for your lover and work equally hard at maintaining a healthy sense of independence.
If you don’t survive, you won’t be around long enough to serve. If you don’t serve, there won’t be much to stick around for.
At least that’s the way I see it.
Off to continue my anniversary celebration. I’ll catch ya later.