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J and I will celebrate 5 years of wedded craziness on Friday. So I decided to write a list of 5 things I’ve learned in the past 5 years that didn’t come from textbooks. I have learned way more than the 5 things I will list here. But one blog could not possibly contain everything. So I figured one thing for each year of marriage would be a great summary. Enjoy.

I have had the most fun, frustrating, amazing, horrible, grace-filled, adventurous 5 years of my life with this man who loves me more than I deserve. We have moved 6x in 5 years of marriage (J says the hotel doesn’t count, but it totally does. Plus, we started moving all of our stuff into a place that wreaked of cat urine once in KS – so combine the hotel with that experience and we’ll call it an even 6. Yes, I said hotel and place that wreaked of cat urine. Don’t lie. You wish you could be us.). We have 2 terribly, awesome dogs that we love to hate some days. We have an almost 3-year-old kid that brings us continuous joy and laughter and frustration and exhaustion. We have had super incredible times and we have had ridiculously awful times. (Yes. I said ridiculously awful times. Those not married, come to me and I will be honest with you about married life. It is not the picture perfect life you are envisioning. I promise. Those who are married, come to me and I will show you that you are lying to yourselves if you think marriage is amazing and wonderful all the time. It is incredibly wonderful, but sometimes it just sucks. Let’s just be honest for 6.3 seconds, folks.) We are best friends with crazy and chaotic. We live in a perpetual state of “you suck. You suck worse. I’m sorry, I’m crazy hormonal and Jud was terrible today. I’m sorry too, you’re amazing and super hot. Let’s pretend to love each other again.” If you need a good dose of crazy mixed with a whole lot of love and grace, come to our home. We are drenched in it.

1. Celebrate each other’s differences.

During our home study, our social worker asked, “What would you change about Jason and why?” I looked at her puzzled for a moment. Was she really asking me to trash talk my husband? And then I said something that surprised her. Let’s be honest, it even surprised me. I mean, here was my moment. I could get off my chest the list of things I wish he did or didn’t do. And I said, “I wouldn’t change anything. Jason and I are very different people in a lot of ways and I think that’s a good thing. Sure, there are things that frustrate me at times. Like his extreme disdain for spending money. But let’s be honest, if were in charge of the finances, we would be living in a cardboard box. We balance each other out.”  Gwen Stefani said it perfectly,

He and she, two different people

With two separate lives

Then you put the two together

And get a spectacular surprise

‘Cause one can teach the other one

What she doesn’t know

True. Story. It is amazing to me how well we complement each other. I love the line that says, “Then you put the two together/And get a spectacular surprise.” And that is exactly what God has done. He has made something wonderful out of 2 broken, sinful humans. Nothing less than a spectacular surprise.

2. Pick your battles.

If you’re a mom or you’ve been around moms, you’ve heard this said about your sweet angels. But it is just as true in marriage. You have to decide if putting the toilet lid down is the hill you’re willing to die on. Luckily, I didn’t have to. I have an amazing man who has chosen not to drive his already crazy wife completely insane by leaving it up. Thanks, babe. But there have been many other things where both of us have just had to lay down our weapons and sometimes when we didn’t and we suffered the consequences. But seriously, don’t let the end of your marital bliss be toothpaste. You know what I’m talking about. The age-old marital match-up of “squeeze from the bottom v. squeeze from wherever your hand hits.” I think I could totally dominate that game at the Olympics. I would pull a Kerri Walsh/Destinee Hooker combo and own that game. I may be a little too involved in the Olympics. Anyway. I tried really hard to convert to a “squeeze from the bottom” girl. But then I would be half-awake one morning and I would back-slide faster than a back-row Baptist. And the argument would start all over. Let me tell you a secret that will revolutionize your married life. Are you ready? You do not have to share everything when you join your lives forever and ever, including the toothpaste. Get. Your. Own. Tube. Now. Run to the store and buy your own. It’s ok. No one will ever know. But your sanity will be restored and you won’t have to die on the hill of toothpaste. You’re welcome.

3. Learn to say, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”

I mean, honestly. This is elementary. This is what we teach our kids. Well. I don’t know about you kind folks, but for me and the hubs it is way harder to say that to each other than anyone else. Who really ever likes to admit that they’ve screwed up? Humans are prideful and we like to be right. Please do not enjoy being right at your spouse’s expense. It will kill your marriage. No one is perfect. We all screw up. We all want to be forgiven when we do screw up. If you can’t forgive your spouse when they screw up, then you shouldn’t expect forgiveness from them when you do. It’s that simple.

4. Don’t let other people trash talk your spouse.

This is super important. Especially when you and your spouse aren’t on the greatest of terms. The quickest way to build resentment towards your spouse is to surround yourself with people who say nothing but negative things about them. Because you will eventually start to believe them. If you need to vent about some crazy thing your spouse did, talk to someone who knows and loves them and will still love them after your vent session. Find someone who will speak truth to you when you are being a ridiculous bad word. Find someone who will remind you of all the amazing things your spouse does for you on a daily basis instead of focusing on the thing they didn’t do perfectly this week. This world is mean and cruel and nasty some times. You need to know that you have each other’s backs if there’s ever a bar fight. I mean, Bruno Mars would catch a grenade for some girl he barely knows. We should love our spouse enough to at least defend him against haters.

5. Love really is a choice.

I know, I know. We’ve all heard that one before. But how many of us actually believed it? Sometimes, loving your spouse requires a daily, minute-by-minute choice. Of course, it’s super easy to choose love when everything is going your way. But the greater challenge is choosing to love your spouse even when they do something you don’t like. Or, greater still, when they hurt you. If you’ve never been hurt by your spouse, either you’ve been married for 10.87 seconds or you are delusional. The question is not, “Will my spouse hurt me or make me mad or drive me crazy?” That answer is easy. Yes, of course they will. They are human. You are human. When you put 2 selfish, prideful humans together in small quarters til death parts them, you will eventually get hurt, frustration, and craziness. The better question is, “How will I respond when my spouse hurts me or makes me mad, or drives me crazy?” Your response is the more important answer. Your response, in large part, will determine whether or not you live in a cycle of hurt with your spouse. Because the human response when someone hurts you, is to fight back – to hurt them back, defend ourselves. But let me assure you, this will only bring a perpetual state of hurt to your marriage. which will cause wounds and scars so deep you will need a surgeon to recover. When you scrape your knee and you continue to pick at the wound, what happens? It eventually produces a scar. But if you apply Neosporin and a Band-aid, what happens? It eventually heals. A loving response is the Neosporin and Band-aids to the hurt in your marriage.

There you have it, folks. I could go on and on and on. But I promised I would stop at 5. I am amazingly blessed to have a guy that has seen me at my worst and still kind of likes me. Thanks for another crazy good year, babe. Let’s pretend to love each other for another 105.