Last weekend, Ian and I celebrated our seven-year anniversary. Now, seven years doesn’t seem like a long time to be married, but when you’re in a marriage, every year has its own difficulties as well as joys. Whether you’ve been married for a couple of years or have been together for decades, there will be times you won’t even remember how life was before you tied the knot. As years progress, there comes a point where you start thinking about the deeper meaning of marriage. Indeed it may be a beautiful thing, but it’s not just about rainbows and unicorns or living happily ever after. Have you ever caught yourself asking if it’s really possible for someone to love just one person forever?
As a wedding website founder, you might be thinking how I could ask such a thing! But when I reflected on some things that have happened in our marriage so far, I realized some things that led me to ask that.
No matter how much time you spend together or claim to know your spouse, change is inevitable. Sure, there are preferences, habits, or characteristics that remain the same. But the truth is, the person you married on your wedding day will not be the same person year after year. Why? People change. They grow and experience life. Hobbies, food preferences, and yup, even a person’s love language can change!
When I got married, I didn’t really care for words. I felt most loved when my husband helped me out or spent quality time with me (my love languages then were acts of service and quality time). I didn’t look for much affection in the things he would say. Fast forward to today, I find that I long for verbal affirmation from Ian. When he tells me that I am doing a good job at home or at work, I feel appreciated. Whenever he says I look beautiful (I used to find those things cheesy!), it makes me realize I married such a kind and encouraging man. My point is, I’ve changed. And this example is just one of the many things that have evolved in my personality. But this shouldn’t scare anyone! In marriage, we need to embrace change so we can grow together, not wake up one morning wondering, “Who in the world did I marry?”
It may be true that you can never “fully know” your spouse. But you can get to know them constantly! It’s one of the greatest things about growing old together.
I have no patience for traffic. However, when Ian and I were dating, I actually welcomed the idea of being stuck in traffic because it meant we got to be together longer. Today, I still like being with my husband but preferably not inside a car crawling through EDSA. So, what happened to the romantic notion of being together a few more extra hours? Well, for one, living under one roof sort of takes away the charm of it.
As the years go by, real life sets in, and it’s not all butterflies and roses. Again, this isn’t a bad thing. I realized it’s not always about the quantity of time together, but the quality of conversations that we have. When I say the romance fizzles, I don’t mean that we have a loveless relationship. In fact, in a healthy relationship, I would say something replaces it—a more selfless kind of love.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
It doesn’t get any more real than this. Yes, there are days when I feel impatient and days when I’m not so kind. There are moments when he is easily angered, or when both of us are too proud to say sorry. Thankfully, through a relationship with God, we are constantly reminded to work hard on our relationship as husband and wife. That means loving even if it doesn’t feel romantic, and loving even if it means we have to be painfully humble ourselves and to one another.
The “romance” can fade. But selfless love can grow and reignite it as well.
When you hear other people give relationship advice about communication, it almost always means you have to talk about an issue with your partner. But problems aren’t the only thing you should be talking about.
As cliché as it may sound, I realized that you need to talk about each other’s dreams, fears, and passions. When talking, pour your heart into the conversation and become vulnerable. Skip the usual “How is your day?” and slowly transition to “How is your heart?” Let down your walls and you’ll find that connection you had when you first fell in love.
But let’s face it, in a world full of responsibilities, the only way to really talk to each other is to spend time with each other and set aside the responsibilities once in a while. Which leads me to my next point…
Most couples get caught up in the cycle of responsibilities (work, kids, bills, etc.) that the marriage doesn’t have enough time for growth. And while responsibilities can make you stronger individuals, it can also breed less connected partners.
Just last year, we had some rough bumps in our marriage. Most of you know that we work together, and we’re so dedicated to our work that stopping was really hard. We suddenly found ourselves talking about work 24/7… even during date nights! This definitely took a toll on our relationship. It was slow and unnoticeable, but it definitely started damaging us. It wasn’t like we were constantly arguing—in fact, I think it was silently sinister, since we still kept going about our daily tasks and performing our duties as parents, entrepreneurs, and partners. But somehow we felt disconnected, and I started feeling frustrated.
One day, we had a long and hard talk so we could figure out what the root of the problem was. In this case, it was hard to pinpoint, since it wasn’t necessarily a “bad” habit or issue. Work isn’t a bad thing, but all work wasn’t a good thing either.
Here’s the thing about marriage, guys. There will always be sneaky little things that can chip at it. Sometimes, we think that responsibilities aren’t really damaging to our relationship, but they can be if we let them take over our lives. Yes, responsibilities exist. But they don’t make up your marriage.
Some of the most painful stories for me to hear are failed marriages or marriages in danger of going in that direction. Falling out of love, affairs, or just realizing that the love story you once thought you had isn’t that great after all. Fights getting bigger, annoyance settling in, and couples feeling more disconnected than ever. Yes, any marriage is susceptible to this.
I can only speak from experience when I say that the greatest thing I know that has allowed our marriage to thrive is our personal relationship with Jesus. One might think this is such a religious answer; but truth be told, more than the spiritual notion of it, I think it is also logical as well as practical.
I know my husband’s love for God has always been the driving force of him being able to love me when I was least lovable. His commitment to our marriage is founded on his desire to love me unconditionally, like Jesus does. I know this is one of the strongest reasons why we are able to weather storms up to this point. It’s only logical that if our standard of love is Christ, then it does push us to love our spouses more. And when we feel our vows are impossible to keep, we look to a figure who has kept all of His promises and strive to be like Him.
So, my conclusion is…
Yes, you can be in love with one person forever, but love alone won’t carry your relationship.
In these past seven years, I have learned to forgive, love when it is difficult, choose to laugh rather than get annoyed, serve him even if it’s not convenient, and say sorry even if I don’t need to. And I can say he has done the same for me, being gracious towards my faults and encouraging towards my mistakes. It has been a difficult yet lesson-filled journey of protecting and growing our marriage.
I can say that my marriage has its really amazing days, but it also has its not-so-good days, but I thank God every day that though it is flawed, it is beautiful.