"A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person".
Roman and I met 15 years ago at a "Russian" Starbucks...well it's not literally only for Slavic people but that's what we called it growing up. Everyone would come to that Starbucks after church, and the employees would always laugh how we all ordered caramel frappuccino's. Anyways, the first time I saw Roman, I could still remember him walking in with his white sweater and I thought to myself "damn that boy is FINE". Mind me I was 17...Long story short, we started chatting, well I did most of the talking. Roman was super shy and I was like a tomboy, couldn't stop chatting, and we fell in love after a few months. Roman says the first time he saw me, he knew I was his wife....me not so much. But his love won me over. We got married 18 months later, April 30th, 2005. Our marriage is a refection of the redeeming love of Jesus. Looking back at everything we have been through I can see the hand of God guiding our family. I can honestly say I love my man today more then I ever have...the way Roman loves me and the kids is beautiful and I'm so grateful to write this post and brag on him. Well kinda share the juicy details of my character and what I've learned being married for 13 years.
I am not a marriage expert, simply sharing what I've learned in 13 years. Our marriage is not perfect, but we have learned how to love with action. Today I wanted to share 13 lessons I've learned through lots of pain; on how to have a lasting beautiful marriage. Let's be real.... having a loving and solid marriage takes work, lots of work. For people that say their marriage is perfect and easy...they are lying, because that's simply not true. We are all sinful and kinda selfish! In order to have a good marriage, we need to put our spouses needs first. Let's get to the good stuff! I am writing from a Biblical perspective on marriage, if you are not a believer it's okay I hope you can still find this post encouraging and helpful.
The grass is greener where you water it. We have heard this quote many times, and it can be applied to marriage. I often hear people say they are so different from their spouse and have nothing in common. It is really hard for me to believe that because when they were dating they did a lot of fun things together. The reality is, carving out the time to get to know each other has to be intentional. Life is really busy, Roman has to come before my girl friends and family members.
You can change your marriage by changing yourself. When we first got married I thought it was my job to "FIX" my husband. I thought I knew it all, and if only Roman began to think like me... then our marriage would be perfect. Seriously, how dumb can I be to think I can change Roman into a image I had in my head?! First of all, God designed my husband and He knows what is better for me...It is NOT my job to change him, but rather compliment my man. In a world where the feminist movement tries to define a women's role in a marriage, I find it so encouraging to know who I am, and not try to be defined my today's worldly perspective. The moment I realized I can only change myself, my perspective on marriage changed. I no longer try to fix Roman but rather work on my own character and how I can love him better.
Happiness is not the most important thing. It will come and go, our feeling change, the key is focusing on the happy moments you had together, and doing more of that to remain happy. I know everyone will define happiness completely differently. Some will search to find the perfect partner that can make them feel happy but I've realized my feelings change. When we moved to Houston five years ago, I was kinda mad at Roman because he took me away from all my favorite things. My family, friends, and place I grew up. I began to foster negative thoughts about our move and how Roman was being selfish by moving us. When I was in that place of anger and resentment I didn't feel happy. My feeling were controlling my life! At that moment I wasn't looking at the entire picture of why Roman decided to move our family. After the first year I began to start working on my heart and asking God to heal me and allow me to see what our purpose was for our move. After I began to get closer to God my feelings began to change. My love for Roman began to deepen and my feeling that were once filled with confusion and anger, now turned to respect and gratitude. If I remained living by my feelings, I don't think we would stay married, because I'm an emotional wreck. Roman is able to bring clarity into my life and I love him more now then ever before because LOVE is not a feeling, and happiness is not always the most important thing! Being happy is a choice we make, to create a beautiful, yet messy life together!
Laugh more. I know it seems so simple, and it is and laughter really is the best medicine. I love how Roman can make me laugh! The way he tries to repeat some of the stupid stuff I say in his tone, is hilarious. He makes fun of my jokes and it makes me laugh even harder. Right now as I am writing this blog post, so many memories are coming up in my mind of all the times we laughed together. We have had some challenging things in our marriage, and because we are able to see the humor in them it makes our marriage fun and alive! When I am having a hard day with the kids or at work, Roman is able to make me laugh like no one else. He gets how ridiculous I can be and laughs at my jokes, which I must say are always funny! :)
Don't let the opinions of others dictate your marriage. This one I can talk and write about forever. I am so blessed to have a husband who is confident and knows who he is. For the longest time I was insecure and thought I needed the opinions of others to control my life. There have been many times where family and a few friends had to say their opinion about our life, and what we should do. Especially with our move to Houston. Some relatives thought they knew better, even had the nerve to say "God told them, we shouldn't move". Roman and I were speechless when we heard these hurtful words. Honestly, it took me a few years to heal from the hurtful things people have said to us. Today, I only have a few close friends in Houston, because I still have a hard time trusting people, and don't want to feel that pain again. My husband has always been my rock, and having someone who knows what's best for our family takes off a lot of pressure from me as his wife. There is nothing more beautiful then a strong bond in a marriage that can't be rocked or broken by the pressures of society and opinions of others.
Every love story is beautiful, but ours is my favorite!
"I want my life and my marriage to look less like the world and more like Christ".
Go out on dates. As we have added more kids to our family, it has been a struggle carving out the time to go on dates. Especially after we started our foster to adopt journey with our son. We can't just leave him with a close friend or someone from church. They have to go through the process of getting a background check, and a few other things in order to be approved to watch Mason. I am so grateful for our church, they recently starting allowing foster families to go on dates and they watch,entertain and feed the kids. That has been such a blessing for our family because we know our kids are in great hands and Roman and I can have a few hours of alone time. Honestly, we have had to get creative with our dates. We do a lot of date nights at home, when the kids go to bed and we can open up a bottle of wine and connect. We can't wait til' Martin and Mila get older so they can become our go to baby sitters! :)
Your attitude does matter. Being right doesn't really matter. The first few years of our marriage were tough! I always felt like my opinion was right and I had to prove to Roman my point. It only drove us apart! I wish I could take back all those times that I said stupid and hurtful things to my husband. It was all out of insecurity and lack of self-control. My attitude towards our marriage completely changed! We have learned how to work together and not fight over stupid things. It doesn't matter if I won the argument and in the process hurt the person who is supposed to be the closest to me. It hurts me to think about some of my mistakes but by the grace of God it is possible to change and become more like Jesus. I am living proof that if you are willing to work on your attitude, you are able to reverse the direction of your marriage. How sad would it be if we remained married, but didn't respect each others opinion. Being wise and respectful is so much more important then being right.
Allow your husband to lead. Y'all I live in so much freedom not having to control our marriage and allow my husband to be the leader. I honestly believe that being a submissive wife to my amazing husband has saved our marriage. I love the fact that he makes the important decisions for our family and it takes off a lot of pressure from me. I know he leads with love and integrity. We communicate about everything; big and small but if we are disagreeing on something I allow Roman to make the final decision. Let's be real, there are a lot of times I want my way and Roman listens to my opinion but he will always do what's best for us and not just me. It was so hard for me the first years of marriage, understanding what my role looks like. When I began to study God's Word on marriage, and the role of a wife my entire attitude changed. The pressure of trying to control someone is exhausting and filled with anxiety. I know everyone has a different opinion of a modern day marriage, but I encourage you to pray and allow God to guide your marriage.
Become best-friends. This is everything y'all! A marriage built on friendship is beautiful! I trust Roman with all of me, being able to pour out my heart and connect as friends is what makes me love him so much more. I believe our spouse should be someone we can share everything with. I know a lot of ladies have girl-friends that they can share all their struggles, fears, etc with and they can't do that with their spouse. It makes me sad because the closest human relationship you will ever have here is your spouse, so why not be best-friends. When I realized Roman likes me to take interest in some of his favorite things; like sports I began to watch football and not complain for him to change the channel because all I want to watch is romantic Hallmark movies. Trust me ladies, half of the time I have no idea what is going on but I watch because I know he likes sports. I love that regardless of how hard my day has been, Roman will always take the time to listen and give me wise advice. I don't call anyone before Roman to ask what I need to do in a certain situation because I know he has my back and we can chat about our day.
Your kids are watching. Y'all kids are always watching. As much as we try to guide them to love Jesus, they are watching us, how we model Him at home. I know we all had different examples of what a Godly marriage should look like and its hard to retrain what you saw growing up, but it is possible. I had a terrible anger problem when we first got married, I had no idea how to control my temper. I'm grateful God got a grip of my heart and starting working on my character before we had kids. I so wanted to have the patience and self-control Roman had so I began to ask him to pray for me. Little by little, the things that used to bother me, no longer did. I began to see how God would soften up my heart and today I am no longer the person I used to be when we got married. It took years for me to break my bad habits, and I'm not perfect today...some days mama gets mad, but I've learned how to control my emotions in a healthy way. I started falling in love with God's Word and begging God to heal me from insecurity and anger. So grateful for the grace of God, He comes for the broken heart-ed people like me, gives us hope and a new life! I could see my kids develop habits just like mine, good or bad they are watching us and will pick up everything we do. It doesn't matter how much I tell them to clean their rooms, if I am not going to model how to have a clean home they will not learn the basic skills. The same model applies to our character and how we treat our spouse. They are watching how we love, forgive and treat them.
Never go to bed angry. Life happens, we are going to have disagreements! Life can be stressful! Being able to work out the problem before going to bed will help you have a thriving marriage. I am so grateful we made the decision early on in our marriage to not go to bed angry. I don't want to wake up and have distance between us and have it be awkward. "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. (Ephesians 4:26). Distance drives marriages apart and one day you can wake up and have nothing in common with that person. I won't allow the stress of this world destroy our solid marriage. Some days its easier to go to bed and talk about it in the morning, but if we are not careful we can become distant and resentful!
Cultivate a Christ-centered Marriage. Really this is my number one tip! When my relationship with the Lord is thriving and I am connected to my Creator my love and respect for Roman is so much more deeper. I am less selfish. I have more patience. I am more forgiving. I am able to serve my husband more. Everything revolves around this one truth. Without Christ I dont think Roman and I would still be married. I know that sounds shocking but it's true. I was not modeled what godly marriage should look like, so everything I base on is God's word. By nature I am incredibly selfish! I want what I want and when I want it. The Lord has literally had to change my heart to love and completely changed my outlook on marriage and life. I would never be the wife I am without Jesus. When I feel like a failure I have someone who understands all of my mess and that's only Christ. He sees all of me and still wants a relationship with me. That is the scandalous Gospel, and the love of God is something I will never truly understand. Jesus is the only ONE that can complete me. All of me! Y'all Roman is AMAZING, but he is human. I can't put all that pressure on him to fix me and be everything for me. That is not his role, only Christ can sustain and heal all of me. One of my favorite qualities about Roman is his love for Jesus. I am the Christian I am today becuase he models what it really is to be a Christ-follower. There are a lot of talkers in the Christian faith, but not a lot of walkers. I see the love of God so evident in my life, by blessings me with a man after God's own heart. Roman's commitment to loving people, having a strong conviction, and leading our family to be involved in a Christ-centered church is what keeps our marriage strong.
Love is a verb, not just a feeling. Just saying you love your man and simply not doing the things that make him happy is not love. My husband loves a home cooked meal, so I make sure regardless of how busy life is there is food at home. He loves his meat. Haha. I know this simple act of kindness will make him happy. He knows that I love chocolate and white wine. I love it when he surprises me with my favorite dark chocolate and bottle of wine. It's simple acts of love that make a beautiful marriage. As our lives have gotten more busier the last year, Roman has been my rock helping me around the house because he knows I simply don't have time to clean the house all the time. Starting my own business is a lot of work and has affected our marriage in different areas, but we are learning to still show love to each other, regardless of how busy life is.
A marriage can not last if we think only what makes us happy and not the other person. Take interest in his hobbies, do things that you used to do when you dated. Take time to listen to your man and engage in his interests. Pray for him and send him flirty text messages... these are some of the things that allowed us to be best-friends.
I would love to know some of your tips on marriage?
All the beautiful Images were taken by my talented friend Tiffany. She is a family photographer from Houston... http://tiffanyharstonphotography.com/