Today is our 4th anniversary. 4 years. Gosh.. a lot has happened in 4 years. We've moved from Georgia to Florida to North Carolina and back to Georgia again. We've lived at the ocean, in the city, and now the suburbs. We've watched my stepdaughter blossom into a teenager. We've lost my sister to brain cancer. We've had so many highs and definitely our fair share of lows, but God has been faithful and so kind -not only in our crazy (ever-changing) circumstances, but especially in our marriage.
As I spent this morning reflecting on the last few years I felt compelled to share a little more details about our marriage. Over the last 4 years I have gotten numerous emails and Facebook messages from people inspired by our story or encouraged by our love for each other. Before meeting Zach I promised God that if he gave me a great love story I would share it with others and give him the glory for it. I am so humbled to have that opportunity even though in the scheme of things 4 years is a really short time! We are no experts on love and have written no books on marriage, but I can share what rings true for us and has withstood some seriously challenging days. So... before I do our annual anniversary recap, I'd just like to take a few minutes to celebrate my guy and (in my humble opinion) share the secret to a strong marriage.
1. Spiritual unity
I am sure nothing I will say in this post will be new, earth-shattering information, but being spiritually unified is the foundation of our marriage. Even when we don't understand what God is doing or feel confused by his ways, we always know who we believe in. The core of our belief structure is the same and it is rooted in the life-saving truth of Jesus Christ, his death on the cross, and his power over death through the resurrection. Our purpose in life is the same - to be true, followers of Christ that love God and love people above all.
People say this all the time, but it's so true. Being best friends makes marriage so much fun! If you've gotta spend your life with someone, why wouldn't you want it to be your best friend? Being best friends doesn't mean you share all the same interests and passions, but it does mean you want to spend time together, confide in each other, and generally just enjoy each other's company.
3. Persistent communication
Communication is the key to any relationship, but especially marriage. Zach and I are blessed to be very similar in a lot of ways that makes communication easier. However, we still have moments when one or both of us is upset about something. In those moments, Zach keeps our communication open and issues from piling up by persistently pursuing me. He will know just by a look in my eyes or a slight change in my body language that something is wrong and he won't let up until I tell him why. Most the time it's really annoying because I'm not wanting to talk about it yet, but I need to. His constant barrage of "What's wrong? Something's wrong. ("I'm fine.") Nope. Tell me what's wrong," forces me to open up and keeps issues from piling up in my heart and going unaddressed for long periods of time. It is so freeing to have everything out in the open with no baggage.
I know not everyone is a cuddler. I'm not really a cuddler, but Zach is a major cuddle bug. If cuddling was a sport, he would win a gold medal. He just.. loves to spoon on the couch. So so.. SO much. Ha!! I know I might be quasi revoking his man card for sharing this publicly, BUT - I think it goes a long way to just be close to each other on a frequent basis. I read an article once that said cuddling improves communication, relieves stress, and can actually lead to a longer life. I agree with all those findings. Haha
So often relationships end because of infidelity. Someone (or some thing like porn) has come between a couple and broken their bond. Trust, security, and faithfulness seems to have vanished into thin air. For us, even though we swear we will never be unfaithful to each other, we take some really practical steps to ensure it. For Zach this means he is never ever alone with another woman. Not a co-worker, not a friend, not even a stranger in an elevator. He also does not watch any R rated movies (unless it's a historical film, like something about WW2) and does not watch sexual scenes in PG-13 movies or tv shows. Even if a sexual advertisement pops up on his computer, he immediately closes the window and confesses to me what he saw. He also often tells me when he needs to text a female co-worker about something just so I know it is going on. At first I thought all of this was a bit extreme, but I am so grateful he not only wants to stay above reproach, but is willing to go to such lengths to honor me. I have never once questioned his devotion to me because he's never given me reason to.
6. Sacrifice and service
As followers of Christ and husband and wife, we are called to serve each other selflessly. This is not exactly easy, however we do our best to look for ways to live this out. Sometimes it's in big ways, but often it is the smallest acts of kindness that go the farthest. For instance, I love having my hair brushed so Zach brushes my hair almost every night. It's so relaxing! Haha Embarrassingly, I can be pretty annoying about it, begging for a hair brush like a penniless junkie. Even in the midst of my annoying addiction, Zach (usually) complies even when this is the last thing he wants to do after a long day at work. I know without a doubt he is serving me and putting my wishes above his own.
Even though none of this is a secret per say, it's what keeps us happy, healthy, and having a marriage that gets better and better with each passing day.
I love you Zachary Kale and am so blessed to be your wife! These four years have been the most challenging of my life, but they have also been the best because I've spent them with you. Happy anniversary my love.