What I'd Say to My Recently Married Self

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The Royal Wedding occurs on our eleventh wedding anniversary – thanks Harry and Meghan! – and guess what we're planning to do? We're going to be watching it. Okay, it is more my wife's preference, but it highlights what she says is the biggest improvement in me as a husband looking back from Year 11 to Year 1.

Being one to ask incisive questions (too much at times), I said to her, 'What single facet of me as a husband has most improved over the past ten years?'

Her answer was simple and profound … 'It's your willingness to serve me.'

Given all the things we've focused on over the years and what I've developed in most is something so simple. Yet, as my wife alluded, it's not simply about doing more or being there, but a willingness to serve her comes about as a heart change.

Heart changes can take years to nurture. And we would appeal that all the hard work of marriage, or the true giving of ourselves to anything really, is about the heart – actually wanting to do what we need to do.

the work of the heart is doing what we need to do in such a way that we want to do it.

Think of the amount of times we're bound by some sort of contract to do what we find difficult to do. The heart is not in it when we know it needs to be. I've lost friends, jobs and careers because my heart was not in it. And marriages need plenty of heart if they're to prosper.

Husbands and wives who are still striding down struggle street may sense it's the heart that needs to change – in them both. If one will not change, why would the other? Never is it right that one one change. Both partners need to be prepared to give their whole hearts sacrificial towards the marriage and the other, and ironically, not being covering on the other doing same.

Both hearts must change, but both must own their own heart.

As I step back to our first wedding anniversary (as you can read from my journal) I felt like I'd learned so much already. The truth is though, I still had so much to learn, and indeed, the next nearly two years would be harder that I could have imagined as we committed to the defect work of the marriage counseling we needed.

What I'd like to say to my recently married self, from the safer vantage point of a decade's experience, is do the heart work. Work out what you want from what is needed, be honest about the gap, and do what is needed for the right reasons.

Marriage works out best when we want to be married, when we want our partner, and when we're prepared to do anything for the marriage to succeed.

The marriage must come first. It must be ministry-numero-uno.

If we wish to be successful in any endeavor in life, and we're married, every endeavour in life will be enhanced when there is mutual happiness in the marriage.

True and mutual happiness in marriage is dependent on mutuality of heart, one for the other.

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