Equally Yoked: The Marriage of Everyone's Dreams.

PSA: This is a post in which marital advice is given from a 26 year old who has only been married for two years. If you have no interest in reading about marriage from a 26 year old who has only been married for two years, I completely understand. I do. No hurt feelings. Just move right along.

Allow me to get sappy for a moment. We all know “that feeling.” You know, “that” feeling when “he” calls you that first night- the butterfly in your stomach feeling when you answer and way your dreams seem sweeter as you sleep. The feeling when he finally gets the courage or feels confident enough in his decision to say the words, “I love you.” It’s breathtaking... It takes everything in you not to blurt out, “I love you more!!! Please just marry me!” No? Just me? The feeling when he gets down on one knee and the world stops... When everything you ever hoped and prayed for seems to fall into place and you feel the safety and security of your future like never before. The feeling when you are pronounced husband and wife, and you actually cannot believe this is your life as YOUR HUSBAND swoops you into his arms and kisses you in a room full of loved ones. It's magic.

You may have only experienced one or two of those feelings at this point in your life, or maybe you’ve felt the magical high of each one! I just wanted to write this to tell you something incredible.

That. Never. Dies. Two years later (... and 98% of the time), I fall asleep and wake up with that same feeling. My God, how could You ever love me enough to bless me with this perfect man?! Let me just add real quick that the 2% has nothing to do with him- just me acting like a woman- because, let’s be honest, I married a man who makes the bed when he wakes up last and turns my coffee pot on when he wakes up first every morning. He's a rare specimen.

MARRIAGE IS INCREDIBLE. It is everything good that anyone ever told me! From the silly lines like, “It’s like a never ending sleepover with your best friend,” to the powerful ones like, “It will be the closest thing you will feel to God’s love for you until you have a child of your own.” Thank you to everyone who encouraged me and prepped me for this wonderful experience- I wanted to let you know, you were right!

Now, with that wonder and magic of marriage in the background of your mind, I also wanted to write to you to warn you of something: This world is rooting for your relationship to utterly fail and your marriage to die. I know... Magic gone. I promise it’ll get good again- but first, I need to tell you some things.

*Before I delve into this next section- allow me to preface this with saying it was not ALL bad. There was much good that came from my previous work environments, and I was able to meet and grow close with some amazing individuals.*

Although I am blessed to now work 100% for the church, completely surrounded by people who love the Lord, their spouse and their family (and MY spouse and family), I am also blessed (I can now say) to have the experience (and maybe just a little bit of wisdom) that came from working in a (very) secular environment for several years before this blessing. It helped mold me into who I am, learn how to/how to not behave as a wife, and appreciate what I now have.

Before I had a ring of my own, I spent years working alongside people who took it as a challenge when a woman wore a wedding ring, with many married women taking it as a compliment.

I spent (literally) hundreds of hours with people who warned me out of genuine concern to get a pre-nup, because I had “no idea what I was getting into marrying a man who I have never lived with, let alone in the same state as.”

I spent countless days sitting in a tiny break room for lunch with people who let hate spew from their hearts and mouths about the man they once said, “Until death do us part” with.

Before I married the love of my life, I watched literal affairs unfold before my horrified, unprepared eyes.

I know what it’s like to have people root for your marriage, and I have felt the sting of people rooting against it.

I want to warn (married, engaged, dating) you. Stand guard. Protect your heart. Prepare yourself for the all out war that is this world vs. your marriage. My father in law (and pastor) once said, “Ladies, do not take it as a compliment when a man flirts with you, knowing you are married. If he feels the liberty to do so, it is one of the greatest insults to your character.” STANDING OVATION. Wives, take heed! Stay on guard! Protect your marriage and your character above all!

Before my job transition this past year, after throwing in a (probably annoying and definitely intentional) compliment to my husband between passive jabs and open insults among others regarding their spouses in the break room, I had a coworker roll their eyes at me across the lunch table and jokingly say, “Kelli, I want you to say one bad thing about Anthony. Just tell us one.” To her, it was a lighthearted moment, a meaningless joke, but in that moment I felt tears begin to sting the back of my eyes. My response? “There’s not one bad thing I could say.”

Please, PLEASE understand me. I am not saying my husband is perfect (even though he’s pretty close) or our marriage is perfect. But also understand me- neither you nor ANYONE else (aside from needing Godly counsel or joking with his sister on occasion- ha) will EVER hear me say a negative word about Anthony. I am armed and ready to fight this war against marriage with every ounce of determination in my being.

I will fight it with prayer and speaking life OUT LOUD over my husband and our marriage, and yes, I will fight it with “annoying” public posts about him and “mushy” statuses bragging on him. I will fight it with showing up to church every time the door is open and equipping myself with The Word of God. I will fight it with counsel and carefully choosing who I mirror myself after as a wife. I know that faith and obedience to the Word of God in combination with my vocabulary unlocks the power of heaven. I am equipped and I am confident in this battle.

There have been thousands upon thousands of brilliant books written on marriage, by some of the wisest people in this world. This is simply a small blog post from the heart of someone who does not claim in the least to be a writer. But, if you’re unsure how well you are protecting your marriage, here are some tips/gaurdrails that I have learned/observed. I pray you feel genuine love in the advice I am about to give, even if some of it seems harsh.

-If you find yourself posting pictures or statuses on social media, consciously (or subconsciously) hoping another man that is not your husband takes notice, or finding a small amount of pleasure when they do, you need to delete your social media.

-If you find yourself secretly pleased if another man notices you, or looks at you a few seconds too long at the gym, you need to cancel your membership.

-If you find yourself wishing your husband was different or did things like the men you read about in your Nicholas Sparks (or any other) book, you need to throw every one of those books away.

-If you find yourself bad mouthing your husband to your friends, or listening to them degrade theirs when you are together, you need to remove yourself from that friendship.

-If you find yourself spending more time on your hobbies than you do with your husband, or wishing you were doing the things you “love” instead of spending time with him, you need to drop those hobbies.

-If you find that your complaints outweigh your compliments to your husband, you need to check yourself, repent, and pray for a grateful heart.

I found a note I wrote down in 2013- “Your present will become your past, and your past has a way of following you and showing back up in your future. If you want to invest in your future, protect your present.” A memory came to me at 4AM this morning- I couldn’t sleep and was up writing these thoughts down. I wish I could remember who said this so I could give them credit. Doing my best to paraphrase, “I hear so often people say, ‘He’s just not who I thought he was.’ or ‘I think I married the wrong man.” If you are wondering if you are married to the ‘right’ man or not, go get your marriage license. If the name on your license matches the man with whom you share a last name, then you are married to the ‘right’ man.” End of discussion.

Yes, I am young, and no, I don’t know know everything about having “the marriage of everyone’s dreams”, but I have learned a few things about being having a really, really good equally yoked marriage.

Proverbs 31:10 says, “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.” Synonyms for precious include; adored, beloved, prized, treasured, just to name a few. Imagine feeling like all of these things by the one you love most. It’s incredible.

I have learned that when I act as an “exceptional” wife, it comes more naturally for Anthony to treat me as cherished as I desire to be treated. When he does something that makes me feel treasured, I desire nothing more than to go above and beyond in every way for him. It’s a constant domino effect of giving and receiving- not material things, but better. Giving and receiving love.

I have learned that every action creates a reaction. Every motion creates an emotion. Anthony and I do our best each day to top the words of affirmation or acts of kindness we left each other with the evening before. This creates a marriage of peace and harmony.

I have learned if The Lord wakes you from your sleep to pray over your husband, pray over him. If The Lord wakes you in the middle of the night to get up and write something down about your husband, don’t roll over and fall back asleep. Wake up and write it down. You may need it one day. He may need it.

I have this precious piece of advice written down from our first marriage retreat- “If you want something to last forever, you cherish it. You protect it. You hide it from the elements. It becomes more precious and more valuable as time goes by.”

Colossians 3:12-14 says, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

LOVE binds everything together in perfect harmony.

I will leave you with a simple prayer I pray over my husband daily; I encourage you to do the same.

“Jesus, thank you for my husband. Thank You for this precious gift and provider You have blessed me with. Thank You for loving me enough to bless me with someone who loves YOU the most. I pray a hedge of protection around him, and around our marriage. I pray You give him the desires of his heart. Bless his ministry, Lord. I pray Your anointing flows through him and Your inspiration comes easy to him. Let our home continue to be our refuge and safe haven. I pray for peace and joy to continuously flow here. God, loose angels around my husband each and every moment of every day. Protect him physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Help mold me into the wife and companion that he needs. Above all, make our ministry as a team what You need.”