It seems like just a few weeks ago when my husband sent me a message saying he was considering applying for a secondment program at his office. If chosen, he would have the privilege to work at the Netherlands office for a brief period. I told him, "Go for it!". Six months later and we are indeed in Amsterdam right in the middle of winter.
Just because I had lived in the United States for five years and visited eight states during that time, I didn't think going to Europe would be a big deal. I had experienced winters before in the States, even travelled to Denver, Colorado one time and since we were headed to Amsterdam and not Iceland, I thought living here would be a piece of cake. Well, it isn't. Amsterdam is different from anything I have ever experienced. Not just in terms of the weather but in a bunch of ways.
I have learned a few things about life that I believe can be adapted to marriage as well.
Lesson # 1
Just like seasons change and winter isn't the same everywhere or every year, seasons also change in marriage. I brought my winter jacket with me to Amsterdam but the cold wind made a mockery of my jacket. I have had this jacket for years and it served me well but this time, it just felt like a spring jacket. I was forced to buy a new and warmer jacket right in the middle of winter. Staying warm was that important. In marriage, there are different seasons and just because certain "jackets" worked for you in the past doesn't mean they always will. You have to be wise to know when to change your approach or do things differently to make your relationship thrive.
There's the honeymoon season when everything is new and fresh. There is the season when the honeymoon is over and you both settle into your new lives with your career and all. There is also the season when the babies arrive and your life seems to revolve around baby formulas and diapers. Then there is the season where you watch them grow and blossom and gradually become independent.
As these seasons unfold, your routine changes and things don't stay the same. You can be so wrapped up in your career and expect your marriage to thrive by default, afterall you both love each other and love is what matters. You can easily become wrapped up in the children God has blessed you with and focus all your attention on them, they are young and they need you but your husband is an adult and can take care of himself right?
Marriage doesn't thrive by default. It needs the attention of both partners to thrive. You have to actively build on the relationship for it to get better. As a married woman (or man), your spouse should be the most important person in your life (next to God ofcourse) and should be treated as such. Not your career, not your children and definitely not your friends. Career, children and good friends make a marriage richer but they don't form the core or foundation of a good marriage. A Christ-centered relationship between a man and a woman who are committed to each other is the core of a great marriage.
Always remember that there would come that season when the children have to leave the nest and go build there own lives. It would be you and your spouse left in the nest then. Will you still be great friends or will you suddenly realize that the "warm winter jacket" you thought you had all these years is nothing but a thin fabric due to years of un-intended neglect?
I was able to go to the store and get myself a new jacket that is indeed warm but unfortunately, it's not that easy in marriage. You can't simply "get a new jacket" and make it alright by a simple trip to the store. Even if you do, you are still left with the cold scars of the bitter wind that you have exposed yourself too.
I hope my little parable wasn't too complicated and boring? If you got confused, here is the central message; You need to continually build on your relationship with your spouse no matter what season of marriage you are in. Don't focus on other relationships, (with your kids, friends etc) at the expense of your marriage because it will bite you in the end.
Stay tuned for Lesson # 2
What Did You Think?
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Ronke Alao is a writer who gives time-tested and simple principles to help women enjoy their relationships and marriages. Her methods teach women how to get past the confusion of dating and getting to the place where they really have fulfilling relationships and marriage.
She is known for her ‘up-close and personal’ style of getting her message across and drawing lessons from her personal experience. She is married to her best friend, Wale, who is her biggest cheerleader. Her online newsletter,EveryWoman’s Heart,is read in over 90 countries.