Reflecting on 10 Years of Marriage

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By Amanda Nephew

My husband, Jasper, and I will soon be celebrating our 10-year wedding anniversary. We have been together since we were teenagers, but these 10 years of marriage have been really special—set apart from the other years. It’s just in my personality to get sentimental and reflective when a milestone comes and this anniversary has been no different.

As I have been reflecting, I’ve asked myself one main question: What have I learned since Aug. 6, 2005? My answer is simple yet challenging: Life will probably not turn out the way I originally planned. But, the only way to ride out the waves of change and difficulties while not sinking is to first pursue God and his commands and then love Jasper the best I can.

I understand that the advice, “In your marriage, put God first and your spouse second,” is often a casual or flippant answer. But, I am saying it with all sincerity and seriousness. I’ve come to realize that when I am connected to the Lord by reading the Bible, being mindful of Him throughout my day and guarding against sin, I can guarantee that I am loving Jasper the best I can. I am more patient, more willing to partner with him and less concerned with myself. This does not take away our differences or our vulnerabilities, but it helps me handle them much better. We can spend more time doing important things and less time in unnecessary conflict.

One way that we have kept this “God first” structure fresh in our relationship is to remember we are a cord of three strands. The message at our wedding ceremony came from Ecclesiastes 4:12: “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

This has been an important verse for us over the last 10 years. During that time, we have experienced over-the-top wonderful times and many seasons of calm. But, there have also been challenging circumstances like new jobs, graduate school, ongoing health issues, changes in housing, and extended periods of time apart due to Jasper’s music tour schedule. It’s not always been easy and there are some moments we fail, but we have been bonded to the Lord and bonded to each other. Therefore, more times than not we have success.

Terry Real, a therapist and author of The New Rules of Marriage says it beautifully when he writes, “Life’s stressors rarely determine a couple’s dynamic. Your relationship’s dynamic will determine how well, or how poorly, you’ll handle life’s stressors.” As a therapist and as a wife, I can give a resounding YES to what Dr. Real is saying. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it. My prayer for the next 10 years of our marriage, and for each one of yours, is that we stay intentionally connected to God and to each other so we can stay afloat—and even thrive—in the midst of each and every season.

thenephewsAmanda Nephew is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and has a private practice in Lino Lakes. She and Jasper have been married for 10 years. Check out her website amandanephew.com and follow posts on Facebook.

It’s Hard to Believe: Day 21

What do you treasure most? Your close-knit family and large group of friends? The career you’ve worked so hard to achieve? The good chunk of change you’ve hidden away in your retirement fund? Or the health you’ve built through intentional exercise and good nutrition?

The rich man in this parable kept God’s commands, believed Jesus held the key to eternity, but there was something that held him back. It was his treasure, his riches. He could have sold everything, and Jesus himself guaranteed eternal salvation plus a relationship with him on earth. But did this man do it? Nope. He couldn’t release his clutch on money, and instead, he walked away sad and empty.

If Jesus was standing before us today and asked us this very request: to give up all and follow him, how would we answer? Would we hesitate and care more about earthly things? Or would we put eternity above all else?

Today, let’s take an honest look at what we’re clutching and treasuring, and do whatever it takes to value Jesus above all else. He’s given us everything, and as we submit more and more of our lives to him, we’ll experience a grace and freedom that only comes when we make Jesus number one.

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 19:16-26

The Rich Man

16 Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”

17 “Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.”

18 “Which ones?” the man asked.

And Jesus replied: “‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. 19 Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

20 “I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?”

21 Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. 24 I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”

25 The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.

26 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”