Love Through the Years
Growing Together in Marriage
by Joanne Troppello
My husband and I celebrated our 17th anniversary this weekend. We enjoyed a nice dinner and a movie at our local theater. Thinking back over the years of our marriage, brought to mind how both my husband and I have significantly changed. Obviously, we’ve both aged and gained some weight. Yet the most important change has been in our emotional and spiritual health.
“Marriage is not 50-50; divorce is 50-50. Marriage has to be 100-100. It isn’t dividing everything in half, but giving everything you’ve got.” – Dave Willis
I can attest to the fact that we’ve given each other 100% through the years. Sure, we faltered many times—especially in the beginning of our marriage. We definitely had a lot to learn. We got married when I was 30 and he was 36. We were both very set in our ways and clashed often.
One main factor in helping me navigate our different personalities and needs was writing love notes to my husband daily. I still do it to this day. You can read more about that in my article, How Writing Love Notes to My Husband Enhanced Our Marriage.
Our Marriage Journey
“…When I found the one I love. I held him and would not let him go…” (Song of Solomon 3:4, NKJV)
In the New American Standard Bible, this verse says “when I found him whom my soul loves.” That perfectly describes how I love my husband, even more after all these years. He’s the one my soul loves—my soul mate.
When I was 19, I prayed that God would guide me to the right person. I dated only a few times. I didn’t have a lot of long-term relationships. I didn’t want to waste time. I wanted to wait for the right person to invest my love, life, and time into.
At the age of 28, I got involved in a dysfunctional relationship. Thankfully, it only last five months—and even that was too long. It took me time to heal after that. Even after all these years, there are still scars from that abusive relationship.
My family is close. My parents were moving to a new town. My sister was still living at home and planned to move with them. I had been renting my own place, a small ranch house. My year lease expired, and I’d been month to month for a while. I prayed about it and decided to move with them.
It was an adjustment moving back in with my parents for a few months. I found another job and got an apartment. My sister decided to move out too and we became roommates.
We started attending another church. That’s where I met my ex-boyfriend (the abusive relationship), but also later on, where I met my husband. If I’d never moved down with my parents, I wouldn’t have met my husband.
True, I wouldn’t have been in that abusive relationship either. However, God brought beauty into my life from the ashes it had become.
To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:3, NKJV)
I truly had felt unworthy at that time. I thought the abuse that happened to me was my fault. I had been twisted up in painful emotions for a while after that breakup.
I remember seeing my husband for the first time as he sat up in one of the front pews. During that service, I felt God revealing to me that I was going to marry him. I couldn’t believe it. I even disregarded that revelation for a while.
Then I attended a Sharing My Faith class, and he was there. When we had to go around the circle to introduce ourselves during the first class I bumbled like a fool and repeated my name twice during the introduction. He was gracious through my embarrassment.
We hung out with friends in the singles group. Attended many functions together. We would meet up before church in the coffee shop there to talk for a while before Sunday and Wednesday night services. Our friendship grew and we eventually dated for a bit and then got engaged for a year before getting married in 2004.
Lessons Learned in Our Marriage
We’ve learned a lot through the years. Our major emotional and spiritual growth spurts occurred after we started reading The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman.
I highly recommend that book. Even if you aren’t married, it can help you maneuver through your relationships with people in a more spiritually and emotionally mature way.
The following are some lessons we’ve learned:
Never go to bed angry. (Eph 4:26, paraphrased)
Respond maturely, don’t react immaturely. (Eph 4:31-32, paraphrased)
Understand personalities better. (Read Love Languages book)
Listen, listen, and don’t get angry. (James 1:19, paraphrased)
Prayer is powerful. (James 5:16, paraphrased)
Never give up on doing the right thing. (Galatians 6:9, paraphrased)
“The happiness of married life depends upon making small sacrifices with readiness and cheerfulness.” – John Selden
I won’t sugarcoat it. Marriage takes hard work. However, when you’re married to the right person for you, it makes things a bit easier than if you’d married the wrong person. Growing as an individual both spiritually and emotionally will help you to become a better spouse.
Don’t pray for your spouse and give God a laundry list of what you think he or she needs to do to be a better person. That won’t work. Sure, you can and should pray for your spouse. Yet, you must pray for God to work on your own heart first. Spend time in Bible reading, prayer, and worship—both individually, and as a couple.
Trust God to guide you both into all the plans He has for your life.
About the Author
Joanne Troppello is an author, writer, and poet. She is the publisher of the online Christian lifestyle magazine, Mustard Seed Sentinel. Connect with Joanne on Twitter. You can find Joanne on these social media channels—Twitter, Facebook, Parler, Spreely, and Clouthub—with the same username, @JoanneTroppello—and @joannetroppello.mseedsentinel on Instagram. Visit the Mustard Seed Sentinel YouTube Channel. Check out MSS Live Well Corner.