Three Years Later

It's hard to believe that three years ago today I became Mrs. Jordan Shirkman. It simultaneously feels like yesterday and a hundred years ago. 

In three years of marriage we have lived in five different places, spent one year overseas, traveled to many different countries together, and made the big decision to move our lives back overseas to Ljubljana, Slovenia for the next five years. 

The teammate I get to do this life with is the most remarkable man on the planet–he is equal parts grace and truth, deep and humorous, organized and spontaneous, wise and generous. Jordan is the most precious earthly gift God has given me, and I treasure him every single day–even though I undoubtedly fail at that more often than I'd care to admit. 

Rather than rambling on about him, I decided to interview Jordan to ask some questions about marriage in general and ours specifically–the good and the bad. Here's what this stud had to say: 

WHAT DO I DO THAT MOST ENCOURAGES YOU–SPIRITUALLY, EMOTIONALLY, ETC.?

You do a really good job of telling me what you love about me, writing me notes and emails, taking an interest in things I enjoy or am pursuing (playing the guitar, blogging, or coffee). The things you do that free me up and make my life easier like grocery shopping, making dinner, meal planning, and laundry.

WHAT DO I DO THAT DISCOURAGES YOU?

You don't really do this, but when I don't feel appreciated for what I've done or when what I do to contribute to our family goes unnoticed.

When something that's not urgent in my opinion, feels like it's been made urgent and has to be done right that second. 

Personally I discourage myself when I feel like I haven't taken care of you or when I'm not loving you well.

HOW CAN A WIFE POINT HER HUSBAND TO THE LORD?

Pray for him. It always means a lot when you pray with me, especially when I'm discouraged or not finding joy in the Lord. Seeing you pray, take steps of faith, modeling a walk with the Lord, loving me like Jesus does even when I don't respond lovingly–all of these things point me to Jesus.

For those married to a non-believer, let your husband see that your identity flows from Christ. Choose not to nag but model for him a faithful walk with Jesus. When your spouse acts in godly ways even if it's not intentional (being merciful, graceful, patient, etc.), thank and affirm your husband for that.

WHAT DO YOU THINK MOST WIVES DO, PERHAPS UNKNOWINGLY, THAT UNDERMINES THEIR HUSBANDS?

Disrespecting your husband in public–talking negatively about him when he's there, gossiping behind his back, or making him look foolish, talking about things that would embarrass him. 

When you attack his character and use "always and never" statements. 

One thing we've had to work on is correcting each other when the other is telling a story. Don't worry when someone says it was 18 and it was 19. It then appears that the wife's trying to show she's smarter or knows more. Even if she does, it puts her husband down.

DO YOU THINK WE'RE MORE ALIKE OR DIFFERENT?

In general I'd say more alike, based on our hobbies and what we enjoy, our preferences, organization habits, music we listen to, designs we like, and books we read. 

We're different in how we think about things (that's in large part because of being a man and a woman), which is probably our biggest difference.

I'm a morning person and you're a slightly later morning person. Some different hobbies we have like you enjoy handwriting and my handwriting sucks. I like technology and you like baking.

HOW HAVE OUR DIFFERENCES GROWN YOU?

I have to constantly remind myself when we disagree that your reasoning for doing something is just as valid, and the way you get to that conclusion is just as valid even if we're on completely different wavelengths. 

Our differences help me appreciate differences about other people as well, realizing God made people uniquely and that people display different aspects of God. Different isn't bad. 

WHAT IS THE BEST MARRIAGE ADVICE YOU'VE RECEIVED?

Philosophically: marriage isn't meant to make you happy, it's meant to make you holy. Being happy is definitely a benefit of a holy marriage. 

Practically: this is so simple but would resolve a lot of conflict–what my stepmom advised us was to "just talk nicely to each other." So much miscommunication happens when someone says something with a certain tone. Be kind and loving towards your spouse. How you say things makes life better.  

WHAT ARE TANGIBLE WAYS A WIFE CAN RESPECT HER HUSBAND?

Stephen Covey says to seek first to understand rather than be understood, and this applies to both spouses. If a wife tries to get to the heart of why her husband thinks a certain way or believes a certain way, especially when they disagree, it means so much.

Being talked highly about or given admiration in front of others.

Thanking him for providing and doing "husbandly" things that a man wants to do to provide for his family, acknowledging ways he does that. 

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE BOOK ON MARRIAGE?
Sacred Marriage (by Gary Thomas) is probably one of my favorites. The premise of the book is the idea of marriage being meant to make you holy, not happy. 

The Meaning of Marriage (by Timothy Keller) is another solid recommendation.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO HUSBANDS + FUTURE HUSBANDS OUT THERE FOR LEADING THEIR FAMILIES SPIRITUALLY?

Good spiritual leadership starts with personal spiritual leadership. Spending time with the Lord on your own, time in the Word and prayer, modeling a faithful walk with Lord.

I've been trying to get better at us reading a devotional at breakfast and dinner together, singing together, and praying together at some point in day. We are starting daily family worship times, which incorporates these and other elements (Here is a great book about starting family worship).

A mentor of mine shared with me how he encourages his son and son-in-law to lead their families in faith, family, fun and finances. So I wrote down tangible ways that I could lead Niki in each of those areas and had her review them and asked what other ways that I could encourage her in those areas. It ensures I'm being intentional to lead our family in these ways.

WHAT IS OUR GREATEST STRENGTH AS A COUPLE?

Encouragement and hospitality. We have a high value of pointing people to the Lord, letting them know we care about them. We love welcoming people into our home, making them feel at peace and restful, that our space is a safe haven.  

WHERE DO WE MOST NEED TO GROW AS A COUPLE?

Being more involved in our community–serving, but also getting to connect with new people and those who aren't believers and have opportunities to point them to Jesus. 

As a couple, help each other play to your strengths. And also be willing to do things you don't love to serve your spouse. 

LASTLY, WHAT GOOD THINGS IS GOD DOING IN OUR MARRIAGE?

We're getting better and better at serving each other, comforting and praying for one another. When one is down, the other comes in and prays with them and encourages them. These are some ways I've really seen the Lord grow us recently. 

Well, there you have it ladies and gentlemen. Am I a lucky gal or what? 

You can stalk the rest of our wedding pictures here | All wedding photos © Gregory Bodwell

What's the best marriage/relationship advice you've heard?