I still remember it like it was yesterday. There I was, standing in the front of the church as Hillsong United’s “Hosanna” echoed throughout the building. As if it were rehearsed, the entire congregation turned in unison to face the doors of the entrance, and I waited in anxious anticipation, staring down that long aisle. As the song built up to the chorus, the doors flung open, and there she was, the most beautiful woman in the world in her long white dress. This was my bride, my soon-to-be wife. As she slowly paced toward the front of the church, our eyes remained locked the whole time, and it became very clear to me.
This wasn’t something that was just special. It was sacred.
Alissa and I got married 5 years ago. We said our vows. We made our grand entrance at the reception. We danced to Peter Cetera’s “Glory of Love.” And while we knew we had said yes to this sacrament called marriage, we didn’t fully understand what that meant. With five years under our belts, we’ve gained a few insights, although we anticipate there will be more to come. Here are five lessons I’ve learned as a husband since that momentous day in January 2011.
- Marriage is more than a feeling. Relationships tend to start because of a feeling. I know ours did. But feelings are only temporary. They come, and they go. Once we got married, this became clear. When I spend an hour in traffic after work, I don’t exactly feel like a loving husband when I get home. And when the morning comes, Alissa doesn’t feel like a loving wife after waking six times during the night to comfort our baby boy. Feelings vary, and when they do, it can be tempting to wonder what went wrong. But love and marriage aren’t about feelings. Loving my wife is a choice. And it’s a choice I make every day.
- Extraordinary marriages embrace the ordinary. I love being married, but the majority of it entails dealing with the mundane. From laundry, to yard work, to taking out the trash, there are plenty of things within marriage that you don’t see in the latest Jennifer Lopez movie. But that’s just fine. Alissa and I have learned to embrace the ordinary. After all, it was easy to love each other on our romantic honeymoon in Costa Rica. But our marriage went to a whole new depth when we could still enjoy each other while crunching the numbers in our monthly budget meeting.
- Good communication is the key, but it takes practice. I was a communication major in college, where I graduated summa cum laude, and I work on the Communications team here at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). Alissa too was a communication major in college, so we should be good at this, right? Unfortunately, there are still times when I fail to listen, bottle up my emotions, or say something out of spite. Each year, we’ve gotten better at this, but it’s taken a lot of practice … and a lot of patience.
- Our children are a reflection of our marriage. We have two boys, a 3-year-old and a 5-month-old. Every time I’m out with my 3-year-old, we inevitably run into people who can’t get over how much he looks like me, acts like me, and talks like me. That’s true. He does. And it’s probably genetic. But genetics alone will not determine the man that he’ll one day become. The fact is, the marriage between Alissa and me plays a crucial role in the development of our children. And it’s not just in how we raise them. It’s in how we relate to each other. Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said, “…(t)he greatest gift a father can give his children is to love their mother.” When our children see the ways we love each other, they reflect that in the way they treat others.
- Marriage is our future. This isn’t just a cute tagline we’ve put together at ADF. Marriage ensures that more children are raised in loving, stable homes by both their mother and father—something that every child instinctively needs and deserves. Alissa, as a woman, brings unique value to our children, just as I bring unique value to them as a man. When we unite together and focus on building a stronger marriage, it makes our children stronger. This makes for a stronger family. When more and more families do this, we get a stronger society. This means one thing: marriage is our best hope for the future.
Alissa and I have been married for five glorious years. And while we are far from perfect, we hope that our marriage has played a small role in God’s divine plan for the world. After all, a culture that is inspired by the marriages of others will understand its beauty. And when that happens, our society can truly thrive.
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