Everyone says that year 7 is the hardest.
For some reason I’ve always bristled at the thought that something has to be a certain way. Sure, marriage is hard; but why all the cryptic sentiments about year 7?
Now that Joel and I have celebrated this seemingly unlucky anniversary, I’ve started to piece together the premise for all the hype.
I think the presumption is that by the time you’ve exchanged paper, cotton, leather, fruit, wood, and candy and now wool, you’ve probably also exchanged a couple “looks”, a few harsh words, and possibly the honeymoon for a package (or 19) of Huggies.
We are in the thick of year 7 and both of us have the dark under eye circles to prove it.
Loving little ones and leading a ministry has appropriately taken priority to the sole pursuit of each other. And while this time-tested covenant feels like the most comfortable corner of Heaven on earth, there are lots of ways we’ve fallen short of Romans 12, and the other ideals we had when our vows were freshly made.
Even just this week we’ve had hard conversations that have produced baby steps toward holiness. Those wounds and disappointments have forced the release of unrealistic expectations and the gracious acceptance of each other. It’s been hard, really hard, but the good kind of hard. (The kind described in this sermon from our church on Sunday…clearly Pastor JD was eavesdropping on our conversations!)
Wedded bliss comes on the heels of repentance and faith.
So here we are in all our “we are going to have to count getting new tires put on the car as a date this week” glory.
We’ve definitely been seen on more field trips than date nights and the state of this union is tired, but the knot is still tight.
Because we’ve gone to a few marriage conferences? Because we are in full-time ministry? Because the personalities of an engineer and a journalist are so similar and we basically see eye-to-eye on everything? (Humor me.)
Rather because of who tied the knot and who is (literally!) holding us together.
It’s all Him.
Now to him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever . Amen. Jude 24-25
Our culture (and oftentimes, my heart) says if you’re marriage is challenging you should withdraw, self-protect and self-medicate, but I love the contrast a friend who has ridden the waves of marriage recently shared with me,
“It took about 7-9 years for things in our lives that had gone undealt with to come to a head. Trends that have affected us are not really communicating about hard things. Not dating each other & taking each other for granted. We have been the most connected when we are regularly intimate. That has been the biggest difference. When we connect intimately, we communicate better, are more patient & understanding with each other. It all falls into place.”
Our culture says that people are lucky to even make it 7 years, but I love the contrast my friend Bri offers,
“I think the year 7 mark is where you decide to let go of unrealistic expectations of your spouse and choose to love the many way. It’s where you stop trying to change the other person and you start working to change yourself instead. The other spouse starts to do the same and you both are more free to offer grace.”
(Guys, the nuptial norms that my she and her husband practice are so FREAKING GENIUS!!! Oh ehem, I mean practical and helpful–1. A weekly at home date night, 2. A monthly “fancy” date out with a sitter 3. Twice annual out of town trips for a change of scenery and kid-free time.)
So for Table Talk today, try out the weekly “State of the Union” practice our premarital counselor helped us begin 7 years ago. Though a bit rusty at the moment, simply asking the question “In your opinion, how are we?” has been a helpful tool for true table talk in the Hurdle household. This open-ended question has surfaced great places of great encouragement and honest areas of significant needed development.
Another couple I know meet on Sunday nights to talk through their top 5 questions:
1. How did you feel loved this past week?
2. What does your upcoming week look like?
3. How would you feel most loved & encouraged in the days ahead?
4. How would you best feel pursued in sex / intimacy this week?
5. How can I pray for you this week?
What questions do you come back to in times of marital bliss or marital blah? Do tell! I’d love to hear more of your story.
Also, I want you to know that if you are single, or single again, I’ve set aside time to pray for you today. You are on my heart and you are not overlooked by the only wise God.