My best friend texted me last week, "Happy 10th anniversary, Jacklyn! Way to cultivate your marriage for a decade - it's clear you love each other more than ever. That's no small thing. Love you both!"

It's true. We do love each other more now than ever. And sometimes I forget that that's no small thing. We're far from perfect and not marriage experts in any way and because of that I would never typically think to offer any sort of marriage advice. Who am I to offer advice? But Emily's text reminded me that a happy marriage is no small thing. And for sure there have been many, many lessons learned in the span of TEN years of marriage so, for the purpose of encouraging other married couples pursuing a healthy marriage I thought that I would share some of the lessons we've learned and maybe save you a few lessons learned "the hard way".

1.  Be slow to speak........Learning this lesson has saved us many an argument.  Don't shoot from the hip. Think long and hard about the words that come out of your mouth before you let them come out of your mouth.  There's a good chance that if you delay that thing you're about to say - the sassy, sarcastic thing that's mostly just reactive - that you'll decide it doesn't need to be said at all. Or you'll figure out a way to say it that's not sassy or sarcastic or reactive but comes from a place of love and transparency. When in doubt, keep your mouth closed and really think about what you want to say and how you want to say it.

2.  Be willing to put in the hard work of communicating........Communication is HARD. I'm not a verbal processor so for me it's even exhausting. In fact, sometimes if an argument comes up late at night I will literally be too tired to talk it out then so I will assure Joey that I love him and then ask if we can re-visit the topic the next day. Here's the key: you actually have to revisit the topic the next day. Lol. Find out how the other one communicates best, respect that as you work out conflict and then stick with the conversation (even if you feel like you're having the same conversation over and over) until eventually it clicks. Sometimes it takes months, even years before something clicks, but when it does it's worth all of the communication and effort that you've put in.

3.  Go on adventures together!......Early in our marriage we decided that we wanted to do some traveling before we had kids to tie us down. :) We put California and Italy in our sights and made both happen within our first three years of marriage. We also took a hot air balloon ride over Charlottesville (so BEAUTIFUL by the way - you should totally add it to your bucket list)!  Those trips were such a good time making memories and building our foundation. We love to look back and reminisce about them and still do our best to take adventures even now with kids!

4.  Think of yourselves as a team.......Your spouse is not the enemy! Sometimes just remembering that simple fact during a disagreement can change the way I approach Joey. It makes me want to figure out how to to get to a place where we're on the same page rather than figure out how to "win." 

5.  Don't argue or disagree with one another over silly things......There will be plenty of legitimate things to argue and disagree over so DON'T devote time or energy to being contentious over silly things.  For example: you think that your friend Kim told you a funny story about an encounter with a bear and your spouse swears it was your friend Cassie that told you the story.  Who cares who's right? Does it really matter in the scheme of things or does remaining in a place of harmony with your spouse matter more? I say just end it with the statement "Hmm...weird. Who knows?!" and just move on to holding hands and enjoying life together.

6.  When in doubt grab a nerf gun......On occasion when we've been in a "heated disagreement" one or the other of us has grabbed a nerf gun and sneak attacked the other person.  Just try to stay legitimately mad at each other while simultaneously having a nerf war. Lol. Sometimes it's just the right amount of comic relief to where you can step back and remember your priorities.

7.  Always, always stay rooted in the Lord because without His ever-flowing fountain of love and mercy to fill you up your cup will run dry.  You could never have enough to offer of yourself in your own strength but let the Spirit fill you with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control and through the spirit you will always have more to give to your spouse.

I thought I'd wrap this up by leaving you with a few pictures from our wedding day 10 years ago! The ceremony took place at Suburban Christian Church and the reception took place at the Botanical Gardens! And I swear, the colors and flowers and decor were trendy 10 years ago!