What the past 7 years has taught me

In the Spring of 2002, I met this beautiful, brown skinned, God-fearing woman. I actually met her near the elevator as I was on my way to see my girlfriend, at the time. Her roommates and close friends had seen me in her dorm before so they knew who I was and prevented me from “trying anything” with her. So from the beginning, we were forced to be friends.

Throughout the years, she would call me every blue moon and share updates on her life and vice versa. It was so strange though. Whenever I was single, she was not; and vice versa. One day, I was sitting in a restaurant alone, having dinner and she called me in tears. She had a really bad break-up and I was the 1st person she called to listen. So I sat there and let her get it all out and waited for her tears to dry. Finally, I asked,

“So are you going to let me take you out now?”

She huffed loudly and agreed. Looking back, that may not have been the most comforting response but at this point, I knew what I wanted and I didn’t want to waste another opportunity.

What take most folks years to do, we dated, got engaged, and married within a year. We had the luxury of knowing each others past because we talked to each other as friends would; sharing secrets and details that most folks didn’t know about us. It was totally unfiltered because we didn’t think either of us would be available for the other.

On May 23rd of this year, my wife and I will be celebrating our 7th Wedding Anniversary. I wanted to share a few things that I’ve learned over this journey:

 You don’t know someone until you can have a full conversation in the bathroom.
Communication is important.  Timing is necessary.  But conventional lines of privacy can re-evaluated within a strong marriage.  And it’s not weird.

Childbirth is much more amazing with it’s your child. Not a TLC Special.
A lot of folks cringe at the thought of someone giving birth (especially men).  Witnessing 3 of our children being born was absolutely amazing.  Being there for the very millisecond you shift from a husband into a father is life-changing.  Seeing that little person and being reminded that you are solely responsible for them is sobering.  But the joy of seeing those perfect faces is priceless.

Love is Underrated.
Some people realized much to late that they got married for the wrong reasons; primarily because they were in love with the idea of marriage.  Loving and learning to love someone in marriage is so underrated.  No matter what you do or they do, love forgives. There is freedom in loving the imperfections of a person for the rest of your life. Because you are able to be yourself as well; unfiltered. 

You cannot lead a family with cloudy vision.
Most humans can’t see through clouds.  So as a man that desires to lead his family (especially if you’re living a Godly life) has to be grounded in the plans that he’s set out for his family.  If you want your kids to read, read to them.  If you want your wife to feel confident outside of her own self-confidence, compliment her.  You have to and must decide on how you are raising your family.  Within marriage, you realize that co-parenting is amazing and you never have to beat your chest and yell to get your point across.  When Daddy and Mommy are delivering the same message, your bond grows.

Pillow Talk is equally underrated.
Some of the best conversations I’ve had have been laying on my pillow next to my wife.  There is something about the silence in the room, the dull murmur of the TV in the background, that allows us to be transparent and real with each other.  It’s also become our “Forgiveness Territory”.  We often remind ourselves that part of our lives as Christian spouses is to forgive each other before we go to sleep.  How awful would it be to win an argument, fall asleep, and my wife not wake up? I’d have to live with the fact that I’d never be able to apologize.

Equally, marriage has introduced me to the “Bandaid on a Gunshot Wound” analogy.  Once, we got into an argument and because of how I used to be, I wanted to “win” it.  So I said some awful things in hopes of shutting her up.  After I saw how those things affected her, I apologized.  She said, “sometimes, saying I’m sorry later is like putting a bandaid on a gunshot wound.”.  It doesn’t really help. At all.  So now, we both are much more careful about what we say and how we respond to each other.

There is power in agreement.
There is nothing better than having someone to confirm and agree with your plans and vision; or what you’re going to eat for dinner.  There is just something special about having the closest person in the world to you and they know your heart.  This isn’t to sound perfect because obviously, there are times when we disagree.  But we’re able to come into a common understanding with each other. 

Count on God for vision.
If you’re like me, you want to be sure that everything you lay out for your family has come from God.  What an amazing feeling to know that you’re plans ARE His plans! How do we reach that understanding?  Through prayer, fasting, and studying His word.  God has been amazing in our family’s life as we’ve transition and recovered from several different challenges.  But overall, I rely on God to show me how to lead my family.  There is no book manual on how to lead your family.  Very often, we are relaying on what we see or how we were raised.  I’m grateful to have had a Dad that went to work to provide for us.  He raised us well and I will never forget his interactions with us.  How can I? I end up interacting with my kids the same way! Erie..