By Gavin Lewis, NOLA Catholic Parenting
When I married my wife nearly 12 years and four kids ago, there was no way I could have been prepared for what God had in store for us.
We sought monthly counsel from our pastor years in advance of our wedding. We consistently spoke with married couples (newlyweds as well as older married couples) and went on pre-marriage retreats, all in an effort to have our process from the date of our wedding until God calls one of us home to be perfect.
Looking back, I would not change our process pre-marriage, but I can proudly say that if we had 10 additional years to seek guidance and prepare for our years together, it would not have been enough time.
We have learned a few things in our time together:
1. Every day is a day to learn something about each other. While nearly 12 years of marriage and additional 12 years of knowing each other seem like more than enough time to learn everything about someone, in our experiences, we have learned that it is not. Do not feel bad or shame your spouse because they do not know something that you felt like they should have known. You probably are still learning about yourself, so how can your spouse know everything about you.
2. Marriage is hard work. Know trouble is awaiting. This is where, I believe, most couples struggle as do we. We can go weeks maybe even months without any major issues then boom (because I’m perfect, well almost … ask my wife she’ll tell you. Lol), the smallest thing puts us in a place where we are disagreeing with each other (to put it nicely).
3. How you respond to every negative and positive situation within your marriage is extremely important. Listen to me well – every marriage has issues, it’s not just yours. Fight through it and use it as a learning experience, but do not feel bad, have regret or second thoughts because you run into marital issues.
4. Father Michael Jacques, our former pastor and marriage guidance counselor for years prior to and during our marriage, made sure he told us every chance he got – “Married people should spend more time with other married couples than they do with single people.” We try our best to hold true to it. This absolutely does not mean that you can not hang out with friends or family members who are not married, but it should not be the norm in your marriage.
5. Your husband is always right (ladies my wife said that not me, just don’t let her read this)! Seriously, though, get used to imperfection within each other. If you go into it or are currently saying to yourself that he/she should know better or how could you not know, remember that we all have deficiencies. Talk it out. If that does get you where you need to be, seek spiritual guidance and or marriage counseling.
Often times, society will place a negative stigma on seeking counseling. The truth is we should be seeking to become a better spouse daily. If that means taking time to really learn more about yourself and how you love, then you should be commended and not ostracized for seeking to better yourself and your marriage.
This is a very short list of things that my wife and I have learned in our time together, and she will proudly tell you I have so much more to learn. I am ok with that. The more I learn the better I can be for our marriage, our kids and myself, which is a win-win for everyone.
In this day of social media, many times, couples see what others “post” or “show-off” and compare that to how they are living as a married couple. This could be a recipe for disaster, because most will only post the good and not really post their struggles, and, rightfully so. We do not look to see people unhappy, it’s just human nature.
So do not use what you see on the exterior from couples and their marriages to determine what is really going on internally.
I want to be clear – this was not written to judge any marriage, tell any couple how perfect we are or that I am all that. It’s more of a reassurance to let couples know that we all have our struggles, and, hopefully, the information shared can help any couple on the quest to strengthen their marriage.
Believe me, I am no marriage perfectionist, but in our vows we made a promise to God to be together until death do us part, and, every day, my wife and I work hard to ensure we are keeping that promise.
Gavin C. Lewis Sr., a native New Orleanian, is married and has four young children. He is a graduate of McDonogh 35 Senior High, earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Holy Cross and is currently a full-time student on track to earn a doctorate in organizational development. Gavin is a certified NFL Agent, owns Spoil Me Too Kids Spa and a consulting firm. He enjoys reading, traveling with his family, going to sporting events with his son, swimming and playing dress-up with his three daughters. A former principal and coach, Gavin still finds time to volunteer at schools and mentor young adults.