DANIEL and I will be celebrating our 10th year anniversary in March. So many things have happened since we tied the knot: we finished our degrees, moved 3 times within the U.S., moved and lived in Germany for roughly 2 years, had 3 kids, and bought our first home. It has definitely been a very challenging but wonderful adventure.
The 10 years were not easy, as marriage has a way of surfacing imperfections and differences as we face life’s challenges, so that love has taken on a new meaning.
Love means forgiveness. Personality differences which I thought would make us a perfect match are actually used by God to refine our rough edges that require a lot of patience and forgiving love. The differences in our culture or the way we do things on a daily basis, like how you squeeze the toothpaste or wearing outside shoes inside, even the way you drive or when you put the gas can become issues. When all these nitty-gritty details about living together 24/7 started surfacing, it was time to pull-up the sleeves and work towards a lasting marriage.
Love means staying through with life’s challenges. We started our life together with just barely enough in the bank. We were both international students, not allowed to work full-time anywhere in the U.S. We started with nothing and expecting our first child. Daniel started getting occupied with finishing up his 2 degrees and looking for income for the family. I was occupied with all the adjustments being a wife, a pregnancy that had me feeling so lethargic, and preparing for a newborn. All these slowly pulled us apart just at the beginning of our marriage. Then our 3 wonderful children arrived one after the other that required a lot of attention, so our relationship quickly went to the backseat. It was a phase we had to stick through.
Love means learning to speak it in a way the other feels loved. In those early challenging years, there were several fights that could have easily led us to live our lives apart. But we chose to stay and work through our relationship. Having different love languages (touch and time vs. gifts and words of encouragement) meant having to know each other’s love language and express love in the way the other feels loved. This takes effort and constant practice. It’s easy for me to show Daniel I love him in my love language, but for him to feel loved, it takes practice on my part to give him words of encouragement every now and then.
Love means carving out time for us even when impossible. A chunk of my time in the evening would be spent cleaning up the kitchen and getting the house in order for the next day. I would end up exhausted and just ready for bed at night and that is definitely not a good routine. At times Daniel would help me get some chores done so we can both have a few hours to ourselves before bed. I don’t always get this down every night, but it’s something I strive for: securing a couple of hours at night just for me and Daniel to reconnect and just be us.
They say God has a funny way of using our children to show us our imperfections. I believe marriage does the same. We are two imperfect people brought together to become one. Without God, I don’t know how we would even survive or could have lasted this long. God has a way of showing us our areas of weakness through our spouse and use them to help us work through those imperfections so we can be better people, just the way God designed us to be. Romance may be out the window for this season of our lives, but true love has come to stay!
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