Thursday, July 14, 2016

A New Perspective on Marriage and Anniversaries

Fourteen years. Fourteen moons have shown since we stood in front of God and everyone and said, “I do”….when we didn’t have a clue what we were really doing! But here we are, fourteen years later, and I can honestly say our love has grown into one that is steady, mature, and sweetly strong.

Yes, John and I celebrated our 14th anniversary this year(on May 25th), and my amazing husband completely pulled out all the stops and planned the sweetest, most thoughtful anniversary trip ever. This is the stuff of sappy chick flicks, y’all. ‘Cept it really happened, to us. It was perfect and absolutely the most relaxing and fun trip I’ve ever been on.  Of course, I chronicled our adventures on Instagram—how he planned our whole trip and kept all the details a secret. The only thing he let me in on was that we were going zip lining in the mountains of Gatlinburg, TN (so that I could acquire appropriate modest attire for such an activity). Other than that, I was completely clueless, up until the point that we actually pulled into our second destination—the Shaker Village in Harrodsburg, Ky. He also planned a surprise meeting for me and a friend I met through this blog, around ten years ago. We had grown to be great friends through texting, email and Instagram, but never met in person. I had no idea until she walked up to us while we were eating a picnic lunch (well, I had hoped, but was pretty sure it wasn’t going to happen). I almost choked on my chicken salad sandwich and had to stop and chew it up before I even said, “Hi”, but it was an awesome moment anyway!

I was not the only one blown away by John’s thoughtfulness. I can’t tell you how many women have asked, “Can he give my husband lessons?” or “Why can’t my husband do things like that for me?” I want to say, “If you only knew…it hasn’t always been like this.”  And I can hear myself asking the same question, even a year ago.  Rewind to last year’s anniversary, when John took 6 boys from our youth group on a camping trip on our anniversary weekend. I was NOT a happy camper (in a tent or otherwise). I moped and pouted and complained. I cried on a friend’s shoulder, “How could he be so thoughtless?” Well, this (very wise) friend looks at me and says, “Amy, John loves you and shows you all year long. He is faithful to you, provides for you, and loves you and your children with his whole heart. Why do you need him to perform one weekend out of the year to prove that he loves you?” Needless to say, I felt a little abashed and sheepish about my childish griping. She was right, and I knew it.

That little encounter got my attention and got me to thinking, why do we women put so much pressure and emphasis on our husbands to shower us with gifts, dinner, and attention on anniversaries and Valentine’s Day? Not that we don’t deserve it, but why do we deserve it any more than our husbands? Society has turned these events into elaborate displays of over spending and unrealistic expectations. Our husbands (in most cases—I am aware that many women hold jobs outside the home as well) carry the weight of responsibility for the leadership and financial well-being of their families, on a daily basis. A man like mine, who gets up every morning and goes to work, whether he feels like it or not, so his wife can enjoy the privilege of being at home with her children, certainly deserves to be honored and respected. Do we realize how much our men crave special attention and appreciation from us? Attention that goes beyond the basic, every day meals and honey-dos? How might our marriages grow and change for the better if we took the initiative to do special things for our husbands, instead of sitting and waiting for them to do it for us?  Ladies, I know for a fact you would be blown away by the change in your husband!

Believe me, I am fully aware that there is that ever-present issue of funds and finances. If you’re like me and have no source of income other than what your husband brings home, you may find an obstacle when it comes to finding the means to fund that special occasion. For me, it just doesn’t make sense to spend the money he earned on his own (even though I know it is our money) on a gift/event that is for him. Well, ladies, God made us to be creative creatures, and now is the perfect opportunity to blow your husband’s mind with how creative and fun you can be! Don’t have the money to go out to eat? Send the kids to their grandparents (or aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, etc) for the evening. Dress up your back porch with Christmas lights and a pretty table, whip up a yummy meal, and create an evening that he will never forget! A certain friend of mine built a romantic “fort” in her living room with blankets, Christmas lights, and a mattress. Her husband was blown away!  

This past Valentine’s Day was a special one for us. We had came through a tough trial in our marriage, one that we fought and won together, through lots of prayer and dedication. This situation brought us closer together than ever before, and I wanted to really shower John with a special Valentine’s Day, to celebrate that we had made it to through the valley, to the top of the mountain. So I got my husband’s permission to spend a certain amount of money on a special weekend. Surprisingly, he was thrilled with the idea and told me to go for it (I about fainted!). I can’t tell you how much fun I had sneaking around and planning things. I ordered an Edible Arrangements bouquet and had it delivered to his office, picked him up from work and took him to a high-end steakhouse in our area (that required reservations), bought him a personal gift, and finished the night off with a stay at our favorite local hotel. So if you have the means to fund such a weekend, go for it. He deserves it! He might be so pleased that he turns around and takes you on the anniversary trip of your dreams ;).

Let’s not take our marriages for granted, ladies. Let’s not forget that a good marriage takes a lot of hard work, on both our parts. But we can’t just sit around and wait for our husbands to be the one doing all the work. A little spontaneity every now and then can turn a good marriage into an extraordinary marriage. You never know what God has in store. Go for it!