Here are ten things we’ve learned in 10 years of marriage. We hope you will be encouraged by this post!
By Erin and Will Odom
Today, in a tiny village in The-Middle-of-Nowhere, Costa Rica, we celebrate our 10th anniversary.
These 10 years have not come without a fight. We’ve had to fight hard for our marriage. In fact, during this very week six years ago, our marriage was all but over.
In the past 10 years, we’ve been through marriage counseling (with more than one counselor), gone to marriage conferences and retreats, participated in many marriage Bible studies, read a ton of marriage books, had mentors speak truth into our lives, and we continue to meet with our pastor to discuss ways we can improve our marriage.
We will be the first to admit our failures in marriage. We don’t write about marriage often because it’s an area where we most definitely feel humbled.
We know some of your reading this are in difficult positions. You may be in the middle of a divorce. You and your spouse may be at each other’s throats. We do not write to ignore your plight or minimize your pain.
If you are struggling right now, know you are not alone. The good news is that marriage can be a picture of mercy, forgiveness, and grace, and, ultimately, Christ and the Church–if we let it.
10+ Things We’ve Learned in 10 Years of Marriage
1. You will disagree and will sometimes have to agree to disagree.
This actually happened in the middle of writing this post–no joke! We had a disagreement over disciplining our daughter for something, and, in the end, we had to agree to disagree. We will more than likely come back around to the discussion and determine how to handle it.
We are both firstborns and can be strong-willed. That means that our natural tendency is to want the last word. Sometimes it’s best to let those last words be: Let’s just agree to disagree and move on.
2. Differences, though difficult, balance your marriage and play into each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
In fact, this particular personality test puts us as one of the worst matches!
However, we’ve learned that differences can allow us to play into each others’ strengths and weaknesses and become stronger together.
It is pretty awesome to watch how Will picks up the slack in the areas where Erin is weak and vice versa.
Also, what may look like a flaw in your spouse in the beginning might actually turn into something you can learn from them.
For example, Will is the spender and Erin is the saver in our relationship. When we first got married, we disagreed about this a lot (and we still do sometimes), but Will has taught Erin to give more, and Erin has taught him that taking the time to look for sales, etc. is totally worth it.
3. Communication, listening and not just speaking, is the key to making marriage work.
This is definitely something we are still working on. Communication is probably the biggest struggle we have in our marriage right now. But it’s something worth working through. We are learning that it’s better to over-communicate than to under-communicate.
4. Text message is not a place to have any serious discussion.
We cannot tell you the number of times intense fellowship erupted because we refused to wait to talk about something in person.
We are slowly learning that conversations of any depth–especially when bringing up some kind of confrontation–are best had in person.
This can go for any relationship. Erin has had some friendships nearly severed because of misunderstandings over text messages.
5. You can’t expect to go to bed at different times and get up at different times and still have a sex life.
We are both night owls, but there have been many seasons where Will has gone to bed early since he has to be at work in the mornings, and Erin has stayed up late working since she runs a business from home.
We have learned that going to bed and getting up at different times is horrible for your sex life.
If you want to have this intimacy together, you have to be in the bed (and awake!) at the same time.
6. Learning each other’s love languages can make a world of difference.
Early in our marriage, we took a class based on the book The Five Love Languages. We laughed when we discovered that our love languages are completely opposite of each other!
Will’s love languages are gifts and acts of service; Erin’s are words and physical touch.
We’ve had to work hard to show each other love in each other’s love languages.
7. Parenting can make you fall in deeper love.
Will is a wonderful daddy. The funny thing is that neither of us had seen each other interact with kids a whole lot before we got married, so I really had no idea what kind of dad he would be. It turns out I couldn’t have asked for a better dad for my girls.
He is super hands on, and while we sometimes disagree on how to discipline our girls, the vast majority of the time we are 100% on board with the choices we make concerning our kids.
Watching your spouse parent can be super attractive and make you love them in an even deeper way than before.
8. Your spouse is not your enemy (although sometimes it might feel like it!).
You and your spouse have a common Enemy; His name is Satan. Spiritual warfare in marriage is for real. Satan wants to steal your joy and destroy your marriage.
Even in the midst of challenges or full-out fights, it’s important to remember that your spouse is not your enemy. You need to remind him (and yourself) that you are on the same side and want unity for your marriage.
9. Your spouse is God’s perfect provision for you, even though sometimes it doesn’t feel like it.
If Will and I believe what we say we believe–and that is that God is Sovereign–then we can know that we are God’s perfect provision for each other.
It’s important to see how God uses your spouse–flaws and all–to work in your life and bring your closer to Him.
10. You will have to forgive. (Maybe over and over and over again.)
You are going to offend each other. You are going to hurt each other–sometimes really, really bad.
Your spouse has the power to hurt you more than anyone else in the world, and after 10 years of marriage, both of us can say we’ve been there.
But we’ve also been on the other side.
We’ve experienced the beauty of forgiveness and have had the opportunity to love like Christ loves, for what a great forgiveness He had to bestow on us to bring us into relationship with Himself!
Forgiveness can be a process; for some things, you might need to forgive over and over again. But it’s worth it.
Bonus: Marriage is really, really, really hard work.
In case you don’t already know this (and if you don’t, then you might not be married yet!), or haven’t been able to tell from the previous list of 10 things we’ve learned in 10 years of marriage, marriage is very hard work. It’s not going to be easy, but nothing worth fighting for is.
Marriage has been the most sanctifying tool God has used in our lives.
It would have been very easy to have given up a few years ago (or even now sometimes!), but allowing God to work in our lives through our marriage has been 100 percent worth it.
Marriage Books and Resources We Recommend
Love and Respect (Will’s pick.)
The Power of a Praying Wife (Erin’s pick.)
Two Becoming One: This is the best marriage study we have ever been through; in fact, we have gone through the material at least three or four times!
Christian Family Life : Will does some volunteer work with this ministry and our good friend directs it. Will went on a marriage-building mission trip to Cuba a few years back with CFL. They are the producers of the Two Becoming One materials.