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 16

We’ve built a lot of our world around what seems fair, haven’t we? If your kids eat broccoli, they can have dessert. If your teens clean up their room, they get an allowance. If you get good grades in high school, you can move onto a good college. If you go to a good college, you’ll land a good job. If you do your job well, then you can expect a raise or promotion.

We like how predictable those situations are and how easily we can measure success. But what happens when things in our world aren’t fair? When unexpected things happen and throw you for a loop? Your health nut of a friend is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. A straight-A student with a big future is hit by a drunk driver and instantly becomes immobile. A husband of a 25-year-old marriage decides he’s not in love anymore and signs the divorce papers to call it quits.

Something inside of us halts. We cringe and shake our head. That’s not the way it’s supposed to go. How unfair! The older brother in the Parable of the Lost Son knows the feeling, and by the end of this passage, his blood is just boiling.

But today, let’s especially take note how the father responds—knowing full well who the ultimate Father is this story represents. Because even when it’s not fair, our God will fully celebrate every person who turns to him—no matter what they’ve done or where they came from. That’s grace. That’s salvation. That’s the good character of Jesus.

SCRIPTURE: Luke 15:11-32

Parable of the Lost Son

11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. 12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.

13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.

17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’

20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’

22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on.27 ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’

28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’

31 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”