In March, it will be my husband's 50th birthday. In 2015, it will be mine. In April of this year, we will celebrate our 27th wedding anniversary. We have been married more than half of our lives.
You could say we know each other pretty well.
Over the years, I have read my share of marriage help books, books on communication, and books about relationships. Advice, counsel, and suggestions galore for married women is abundant, even at our fingertips, and on our cellphones. I would imagine that if I was a younger married woman looking for some advice, I would feel my head spinning at where to go and whom to ask.
I figure since I've been married as long as I have, I actually have a wee bit of credibility when it comes to having marriage advice. For example there is this: ladies, when you say "no" to his question "Are you mad?" he's going to take you at your word, so be honest. Or, there is this: if you approach him with your emotions raining down, he's not going to hear the words, he's only going to hear drama. I have learned this the hard way, of course.
Little bits and pieces of advice are good, but sometimes, looking at the bigger picture is much more helpful; at least to me it has been. By far the greatest lesson I've learned in almost 27 years of marriage is this: I need to humble myself. Sounds too simple to believe, doesn't it?
4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil. 2:4-8)
Methods for better communication abound. Strategies for being more intentional about our marriages there are plenty. People waiting to tell you how to do it are everywhere, and no matter how well-meaning they are, none of those things will amount to a hill of beans if you can't humble yourself.
In our 26+ years together, we have had some conflict. Resolution has only ever come because God gave me the grace and ability to humble myself, whether it was in submission to my husband or in submission to God's will with regard to my attitude and actions. Now, don't get me wrong here. I am not saying I am the only one who has done this. My husband has had to humble himself, too.
The books we read about marriage are good and helpful, but the principles they suggest, as good as they are, won't be as meaningful (or maybe totally ineffective) if we don't first humble ourselves. Before you spend your money on a marriage book or partake of the massive number of marriage blogs, first ask yourself if you're humbling yourself. It's a hard thing, but it's the necessary thing.