I’ve been married for almost 16 years… total.
The first ten years were spent with my late husband Jason, and the last six years (officially in April) have been with Ryan. Having loved and lost at a younger age (33) has granted me a unique perspective on marriage. My first marriage was good. We were young – early twenties. We had valuable time to spend together before building a family and focusing on our careers. We possessed a deep love and commitment towards one another. One of our strengths as a married couple was being able to fight through the numerous battles sent our way in life; two of the biggest battles being our unborn son’s terminal diagnosis and later Jason’s three year battle with brain cancer; both of these faith journeys portrayed in my memoir, Sunlight Burning at Midnight. Through all of the upheaval and stress, we managed to stay unwaveringly committed and in love with one another, but in hindsight, as a wife I could have been more productively diligent in making my husband feel loved and appreciated – especially during those periods of intense hardship.
In my second marriage to Ryan I have valiantly attempted to right the wrongs that I naively produced in the first marital relationship. They say “ignorance is bliss,” and I suppose that I was ignorant the first time around; however, having my eyes wide open through a second opportunity has changed my perspective on life and love. A few of my initial struggles were cemented in my identity as a strong willed, first born, young wife, and often included a lack of respect towards my husband (I knew best, of course!), and one that goes hand in hand with the respect issue, a lack of grace. I usually assumed the worst if he did something that I felt was unwarranted or unjust. Maybe I was just emotional, maybe I was hormonal, maybe I was just being a brat, but I assumed he was intentionally trying to hurt me or make my life difficult if circumstances weren’t exactly as I felt they should have been in that moment. This isn’t to say that he was perfect; no, this is just to say that although our marriage was positive in many aspects, we could have worked harder in other ways, and I have taken ownership of mending many of those ignorant mishaps in my present situation.
Enter the second marriage in 2011. Ryan and I married each other with HEAPS of baggage: grief, seven children, a handicapped child, grieving children, a blended family, loads of new family and in laws, and opinions on how we were doing anything and everything right or wrong but mainly wrong, you name it, we probably had it, but – and this has made a big difference in the marriage from the beginning – we had both loved and lost and had learned, the hard way, that a lot of the petty issues that can be so irritating and oftentimes such joy stealers in a marriage are just that – petty – and not really worth the stress that they so often create or are allowed to create.
I recently had the opportunity to “meet” a new author on social media, Jen Weaver. As she and I became acquainted through our pictures and words, my interest was piqued about her upcoming book, A Wife’s Secret to Happiness which was scheduled to launch in March, actually today, March 14th to be exact. When her agency offered an opportunity for bloggers to review the book, I jumped at the chance! I am consistently drawn to self-help books, particularly faith based books on marriage and family life. In my situation with a blended family, eight children, some adopted, one special needs, a few teenagers and a toddler, dogs, chickens, cats, and on and on and on…., we need all the wisdom we can get. I love to study most books on marriage and family life, and any insights or wisdom I am able to glean from another’s experience is always appreciated.
A Wife’s Secret to Happiness is a quick, easy, interactive read. The Lord has used Jen’s experiences and her writing ability to outline and explain many prevalent truths for wives – especially married women who are still trying to figure out their role as a wife and how exactly this role shapes their identity as a woman, a helpmate, and as a follower of Jesus.
One section that particularly hit home for me included these words in regards to our husbands: “Reflect upon your beloved. Where is he in this season of life, in his career, ministry, and walk of faith? Contemplate what he enjoys, where he falters, and who God created him to be” (161).
I never did this well in my first marriage. Although Jason and I communicated about life in general, our dreams and goals for the marriage and the family, I was much more me centered, “How was the marriage serving me? Or meeting my needs?” I have come a long way from this me centered attitude through love and loss. I’m not perfect, but I do take inventory of Ryan’s needs often. I reflect on him. I ask him deeply personal questions about his faith and ways that I can better serve him or pray for him. Jen’s book will take you there as a wife and hold your hand through the process as you begin to seek out ways to gain a deeper intimacy with your husband.
Honestly, reviewing another author’s book is a brave new world for me, but this was a fun opportunity and not only for my own personal gain (free books, yay!) but y’all are going to benefit as well! Jen has graciously given me a second copy to give away to one of my readers. To enter, simply comment on this post, either here or on one of my social media sites, with a truth that you feel is important for a healthy marriage. For example, the word communication. Or something like, “not neglecting intimacy.” Simple enough. I’ll draw a winner Sunday evening – March 19. In the meantime, get yourself a copy of this book! Or check her out at www.thejenweaver.com. You won’t be disappointed.
Just keep livin!