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 20

Religion can be exhausting, can’t it? Say certain prayers at a certain time, read x amount of verses a day, attend service every weekend, and volunteer until there’s no free time left. But even though that’s religion, that’s not salvation. And it’s important to know the difference.

Religion is an exhausting effort to establish, justify, and prove ourselves. It’s veryme-focused and performance-based. Salvation actually has nothing to do with us and is solely based on grace and Jesus. Religion says you have to be a good Christian. Salvation says nothing we do can earn God’s favor; we just have to receive His gift of grace.

When we finally understand this difference between religion and a relationship, that’s when we experience freedom. Jesus came to liberate us from the weight of performance and having to measure up to a stat line, so today, let’s let Him. Let’s drop the facade that we’re worthy because of what we’ve done, and embrace the fact that we’re only worthy because of what He’s done.

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 7:21-27

True Disciples

21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

Building on a Solid Foundation

24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”