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 17

How can you be sure you’re good enough to get into heaven? What’s the scale? Mother Theresa, Billy Graham, and Tim Tebow are known for their goodness. They must be at the top, but what about the bottom? Serial killers, rapists, terrorists, and child molesters. Those are the world-class sinners; heaven surely won’t be filled with those people. Right?

But conversely, the Bible is very clear that none of us are perfectly good. None of us measure up, make the cut, or force God’s hand into letting us in. We’ve all turned away and done our own thing. We’ve all lived selfishly and cut someone off on the freeway. And the more we learn about God’s standards of goodness, the more we become conscious of our sin.

Today, let’s not point our fingers. Let’s refuse to judge other people, their sin, their struggle, because we have our own sin and our own struggles to deal with. God is offering grace to every one of us today, but it’s a matter of humbling ourselves before him and recognizing just how much we actually need him. When we do, we’ll experience nothing but peace-loving kindness and gentle grace from our good, good God.

SCRIPTURE: Romans 3:9-20

All People Are Sinners

9 Well then, should we conclude that we Jews are better than others? No, not at all, for we have already shown that all people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin. 10 As the Scriptures say,

“No one is righteous—
not even one.
11 No one is truly wise;
no one is seeking God.
12 All have turned away;
all have become useless.
No one does good,
not a single one.”
13 “Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.
Their tongues are filled with lies.”
“Snake venom drips from their lips.”
14     “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “They rush to commit murder.
16     Destruction and misery always follow them.
17 They don’t know where to find peace.”
18     “They have no fear of God at all.”

19 Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. 20 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.