The Three Biggest Things I’ve Learned from Being Married for 33 Years

Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary. We’ve come so far considering we could have been a “statistic” based on the factors we had: only teenagers when we married, we only had a high school education, we had our first child within the first year of our marriage, my parents were divorced, we only knew each other for a few months before getting married, we had a long distance relationship (me in California, and he in Florida), and we had terrible conflict and communication skills.

We had our “ups” and “downs” over the years, and I was even on the verge of getting a divorce earlier in our marriage. Yes, we saw a counselor and took marriage enrichment classes/seminars, but the turning point of our marriage was when we turned everything over to God. I’ve learned so much these past 33 years, and these are the three biggest things that I learned:

  1. I learned that I had to stop trying to be “right,” and to realize that no one is perfect so I had to be more forgiving.

It seemed that I was in a competition with my husband all the time. I wanted to always prove that I was right to a point where I would get angry about it. I spent more time arguing my case that I never really listened. When my husband did something wrong, I would use it against him and bring it up when we had arguments.

No one is perfect (especially me). If I don’t want people to expect perfection from me, then I shouldn’t expect it from other people, most especially my husband. Since I make mistakes all the time, I know that my husband will make mistakes too so I have to forgive him, just as I would want him to forgive me. I’m not always right; I had to listen more and talk less, and I had to realize that just because he did things differently that it doesn’t mean that my way is “right.”

  1. I learned to “pick my battles,” to let the “little things” go, and to choose my words carefully when there is a real issue.

I remember arguing about how the toilet paper should be placed on the holder, and how that argument would expand into other issues from the past. Does it really matter how the toilet paper is put into the holder? No! I realized that there are more serious issues. When these issues arise then that’s when I have to say something, but I had to choose my words (and tone of voice) carefully so that my words can be received.

  1. I learned to truly love my husband, to appreciate him, and to build him up as often as I can.

It used to make me so jealous that my husband had a photographic memory. He breezed through the doctoral program and graduated with a large dissertation after four years, while I struggled and nearly dropped out. The two years that followed his graduation were extremely difficult for me, but he encouraged me when I felt like giving up, he proof read my work several times, and he picked up the slack at home. I graduated after six years of being in the program, and I could not have done it without him.

I’ve come to appreciate how much smarter he is compared to me; and even though he is smarter, he never rubs it in my face. He brings out the best in me, so I try to bring out the best in him. I encourage him by pointing out the positive things about him, or about the positive things he has done or is doing. I am there if he is having a bad day and he needs someone to listen to him. When he gets a migraine, I massage his head until it goes away. I also tell him that I love him every day (they say action speaks louder than words, but words are still important).

Thirty-three years seems like such a long time, but I still have a lot to learn. I don’t think we ever get to that point in our marriage where we can stop trying to love, to support, and to serve our spouse.

Most of all, I continually thank God for His intervention in my marriage, and thank Him for the wonderful man He has given to me to be my husband.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights… Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger… No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need… serve one another through love… And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ” (James 1:17, 19, Eph 4:28, Gal 5:16, Eph 4:32, CSB).

Copyright © 2017 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

“One Thing” For All Marriages

I’ve been married for almost 32 years. There was a time when I didn’t think we would celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary. My marriage had a rough start. Not only were we teenagers when we got married, but we came from different backgrounds and we had varying views of what marriage should look like. For instance, my husband was somewhat of a “traditionalist”— he wanted me to take his last name yet he wanted me to work outside of the home; I was a little less traditional and wanted to keep my last name, but I wanted to stay at home with any of my future children. The way we each handled conflict was not very healthy— we mimicked our parents in what they did when they encountered conflict in their own marriages (i.e., yelling, throwing dishes, storming out of the house, punching walls, etc.).

Although we attended church, we never really grew as a couple. Even while attending seminary together, we still “butted heads” and we had poor communication skills (at least when we spoke to each other). We took a “marriage enrichment” course, an elective for both of our degree tracks, and after a few weeks we spoke to the teacher, Dr. Cutrer (Dr. C.), and his wife. The discussion with them helped us to realize that we had a lot of work ahead of us; and even though we were more aware of how we were speaking to each other, there was still something missing in our marriage and there was still an underlying tension in our relationship.

It wasn’t until several years later that our marriage actually took a turn for the positive. I was a doctoral student at that point, and my dissertation was on long term marriages that were on the verge of a divorce and how marriage mentoring helped their marriages (https://oatd.org/oatd/record?record=handle\%3A10392\%2F3736). The focus of the study was on marriage mentoring, but there was something other than marriage mentoring that every couple said changed their marriage; and it was that one thing (technically, two things) that changed our own marriage.

That “one thing” was reading the Bible together as a couple then praying with and for each other after reading. The first time we read together felt a little awkward to me, and praying aloud was “different.” We pressed forward though, and now after nearly five years of reading the Bible and praying together, our marriage is stronger and more God-centered than it has ever been. When we have a conflict, we are no longer trying to “win” the argument, nor are we expressing our emotions in a negative way— instead, we readily apologize to one another and we find a solution to the issue.

Our marriage is not perfect, but it is more forgiving— it exemplifies Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” It is also less selfish than what it was—“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others [your spouse] above yourselves” (Phil 2:3).

Whenever we have the opportunity, we tell couples in our church that they should read the Bible together and pray for one another because to actively worship God through their marriage supernaturally changes the marriage and it changes the way they interact with one another. So, if you are married, and you want a more fulfilling marriage, then start reading the Bible together, and then sincerely pray for one another—you will not regret it.

Copyright © 2016 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

30th Anniversary

It’s about 12:30 am and I just realized that it’s now November 24th and it’s my 30th wedding anniversary. Who would have thought that the marriage of two 19-year-olds would last this long? I just can’t believe how God has blessed me.

US-80sI love the guy that God gave to me—he’s funny and always makes me laugh

ForPost10 He’s a loving father and grandfather For Post1 For Post3 For Post2

He loves God For Post6

Finally, he loves me, despite my imperfections For Post9 For Post7

Happy 30th Anniversary to my best friend and husband. I look forward to spending many more years with you! I love you!

for Post8Matthew 19:5-6, “…a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.”

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

My worst run ever!

A couple nights ago I was in a half marathon. It was part of a “coast to coast” event where the first leg of the competition was to run a half marathon in Disneyland, California then the second part, to run in a half marathon at Disney World, Florida in the same year.

I had several concerns going into this last half marathon— it started at 10 pm (going past my bed time), I was diagnosed with a UTI the day before, and the weather was supposed to be cold and rainy throughout the whole event.

Our night started out with us driving to EPCOT at 7:15 pm to catch a shuttle to the ESPN complex.

IMG_20141108_193344313We arrived at the starting line area at around 8 pm. They had a DJ playing music, so we danced a little, used the bathroom a couple of times, and took pictures. At around 9:45 pm, we headed to our corrals (I was assigned to “E” and my husband was in “F”). I took off at about 10:10 pm.

IMG_20141108_221104486Even though it had started to rain while I was waiting in the corral, I did well on the first six miles or so.

http://youtu.be/WgleTVDI0ww

The rain became steadier and large puddles started to form in the streets. I stepped on a couple of them, making my feet soaking wet. I was drenched from the constant rain, and I became extremely cold.

Both my legs and feet muscles started to cramp and I panicked because that had never happened to me before. I fumbled with my phone to call my husband; I only got his voice mail so I left him a message.

I slowed my pace, hoping that my husband would catch up to me. For the first time, I walked during a run— I felt defeated and I wanted to quit. After a couple of miles, I saw my husband. I was so relieved. He walked with me.

As we walked a little, he would encourage me to run. I would run until my muscles became tight again then we would slow our pace. As we arrived in Hollywood Studios, we decided to get our pictures taken— it gave me a chance to rest.

IMG_20141109_241448841IMG_20141109_243757771IMG_20141109_243847283Afterwards, we picked up the pace again. This pattern of slowing down and picking up the pace continued for a few more miles.  Then finally, we were at EPCOT. We knew we were getting closer to the finish line so we ran the last 1.1 mile. We crossed it together. My husband could have completed his first half marathon with a good finishing time, but he sacrificed that to help me cross the finish line.

RunFinishAs we ended the run and had our pictures taken with our metals, I thought about Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer…” (NLT). I am so thankful for my husband, but most especially for God— I wouldn’t have my husband if it wasn’t for Him, “…Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken” (Ecc 4:12).

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

The guy

As a young teenager I made a list of the characteristics I wanted in a future husband—he had to love me for who I was, he had to be a family man, a good provider, a hard worker, and he had to be 5’7” (since I’m only 5 feet tall, I didn’t want to marry someone who would tower over me). I also wanted to marry an Italian.

I was attracted to different guys, but none of them really fit my criteria. I got engaged to this one guy because I didn’t think the guy I wanted really existed. Then one day he stood in front of me and I knew that it was him. How did I know? Because a thousand voices said, “It’s him!” I had goose bumps and I was at a loss for words.

I ended my engagement and I did everything I could to be where this new guy would be— I wanted him to notice me, and he did! Seven months later we were married.

Today marks his birthday. It’s hard to believe that I have celebrated 31 birthdays with him. We met a few months before his 19th birthday; in fact, this is a picture of him when we celebrated his 19th birthday.

ImageI realize now that our meeting was not “by chance,” it was God’s plan for me to be at the exact time and at the very place where my future husband would be.

Through our nearly 30 years of marriage, we have grown stronger together. He truly is my best friend— he’s the person I talk to when I am sad, happy, or mad.

I am so thankful that God has blessed me with this wonderful guy that I call my husband. Happy birthday, cutie! I love you!

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

 

Words from a “toe”

I have to admit that for most of my marriage I competed with my husband. Even though we were supposed to be a “team” and people saw us as a team, we really were not a team. It wasn’t until a couple decades later that one of my professors noted, “You need to work as a team and I’m not sure you’re doing that.”

I was always competitive and I always felt like I had to “prove” myself. I suppose it was because of my low self-esteem and terrible upbringing—in order to get any attention or recognition, I had to do well but even then my “good” wasn’t good enough.

In the back of my mind I kept thinking that my husband really didn’t love me—that he wanted me to be someone I wasn’t, and that I was a disappointment to him. These self-defeating thoughts had put an invisible wedge between us and it prevented me from truly loving him.

When we were working on our doctoral degree, my husband made better grades and he didn’t have to really study, people also liked him more. I resented him for it. Then when he had finished writing his dissertation and he graduated before me, I was upset. Yes, I was glad that he graduated, but I was angry that I didn’t graduate before him or with him. I felt like he won and I lost.

It seemed that nothing was going “right” for me after that—I didn’t have good guidance from my advisor and I didn’t really have a passion for what I was studying; most of the time I wondered why I was even in school.

Looking back, I realized that the problem was in my heart. I was being envious and jealous when I really should have been joyous and happy for my husband; yes, he is much smarter than me, and he is much more extraverted than I am. I felt that my attitude reflected the principles found in 1 Corinthians 12—basically, I was a toe who thought I should have been a hand.

Then I thought about Romans 9:20-21 which says, “…Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?” When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into?” (NLT).  I took this to mean that I wanted to be as smart as my husband and as outgoing as he but I wasn’t, and instead of being resentful about it and thinking of him as “my competition,” I needed to find peace with who I am.

It is true that I am not as smart or as outgoing as my husband, and whether that’s a result of “nurture” or “nature” (how I was raised or what my genetic makeup is), it doesn’t matter. I need to find the positive things that God has created within me.

I think sometimes bitterness happens when we want something that we don’t have— “What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have… You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them… Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you” (James 4:1-2, Hebrews 12:15).

That one statement from my professor made me realize that my marriage would never be truly peaceful and loving as long as I allowed myself to be jealous of the gifts my husband had. I may not get recognition for the things that I do (and often my husband gets the recognition for them), but I’m OK with that—that’s what it means to be a “helpmate” (Genesis 2:18). I can honestly say that I am very proud of the man my husband is today, and I am happy that my talents and abilities support him.

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

The 29 things I love about my husband

My husband and I will be celebrating our 29th wedding anniversary in two days (November 24th) so I thought it would be fitting to share 29 things that I love about him (they’re not in any particular order).

  1. I love eating breakfast with my husband (actually eating any meal with him is wonderful).
  2. I love going grocery shopping with him—I love how we have good conversations on our way there and back.
  3. I love how my husband tells jokes (I love his humor).
  4. I love it when he says, “I love you” to me.
  5. I love looking into his eyes.
  6. I love looking at his face especially when he’s asleep.
  7. I love watching him with our granddaughters.
  8. I love how patient he is.
  9. I love how he washes the dishes even when he’s busy.
  10. I love how he drops everything to help me.
  11. I love how he encourages and supports me.
  12. I love how he helped me get into the doctorate program, and how he cheered me on for six years.
  13. I love how he loves God and how he tells others about Him.
  14. I love how he loves our children and grandchildren.
  15. I love how he loves having family dinners.
  16. I love how he looks in a nice suit, and I love how tanned his skin is when he wears a white shirt with it.
  17. I love how he is willing to run even though he doesn’t like to run, and that he participates in 5Ks.
  18. I love that he wants to spend time with me.
  19. I love it when he hugs me.
  20. I love it when he scratches my back even when he’s ready to fall asleep.
  21. I love his smile.
  22. I love when he holds my hand in public.
  23. I love the way he looks at me.
  24. I love that he’s a hard worker.
  25. I love that he loves me just the way I am.
  26. I love tickling him and hearing him laugh.
  27. I love that he’s smart (much smarter than me), but he doesn’t flaunt it.
  28. I love the way he talks about historical things or explains complicated ideas to me.
  29. I love that he wants to spend the rest of his life with me.

Bonus: I love that he’s my husband, and I love that God brought us together!

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Opposites

For many years now, I’ve noticed that my husband and I are “opposites.” For example, he’s an “extravert” and I’m an “introvert.”

This morning, while in the bathroom, I noticed the towels we hung after we used them—his was neatly folded, while mine was just thrown over the holder.

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He’s also very meticulous when he puts away the dishes or groceries, while I put them away wherever they will fit. I used to notice how other married couples tended to be opposites of one another too—some were only slightly opposite while others were “polar” opposites (one was really loud and the other was very quiet).

My theory for why “opposites” attracted was that the other person had characteristics we lacked— like two puzzle pieces, when two opposites married, then they became one, complete, person.

The idea of opposites made me think about how opposite we are to God—He is righteous, and we are not; He is loving, and we are unloving; He is sinless, and we are sinful.

I thought about how the Bible describes our relationship with God as a marriage— “For your Creator will be your husband; the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name…” (Isaiah 54:5), “When that day comes,” says the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband…’” (Hosea 2:16).

We are extreme “polar opposites” of God, yet He loves us and wants to have a relationship with us—there is nothing we can give to God but He can give us so much. Those that believe and follow Him become a “new person.”

My husband’s extroversion and neatness has influenced me to be a little more vocal and to be a little neater. My relationship with God has influenced me to stand up for what is right, to be more loving, and to be more conscious of temptations and to ask Him for forgiveness when I commit sins.  

Our marriage should help us to be a better person. I may never be a “perfect” wife, but I am a better person than before I got married (before my marriage, the towel would have been thrown on the floor and the dishes would have remained in the dishwasher).

I am definitely a much better person now than I was before I became a believer and follower of Jesus Christ. I am thankful that God has given me these opportunities to become the person that He wants me to be.

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

God answered my prayers

Sometimes I wonder if God heard my prayers before I actually accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

Today I was on Facebook and on the right column it showed names of people who “I might know.” I noticed that one of the names was my ex-boyfriend from high school. I clicked on his profile and saw that he was married about three years ago—this means that he was either a widower or had a divorce because he was married before then.

I thought about what my mother had said when I was dating him, “He’d make a good husband.” I love my mother, but I knew she was wrong about this person; and because of her statement, I knew that she was not a good judge of character.

I remember the first time my mother met my husband (he was not my husband yet). He flew to California from Florida to ask my hand in marriage (he said he wanted to see the Queen Mary so we went there and that’s where he asked me to marry him and I said, “Yes”).

When I came home, I told my mother that he had asked me to marry him. Instead of being happy about it, she was a little upset. She didn’t like my future husband for some reason. The first thing she said was, “He didn’t ask me for permission” (I don’t think that was the “real reason” why she didn’t like him because she didn’t seem to like him even before then). Even though my mother didn’t like my husband, I still married him.

I know that if I had married anyone else, then I think my marriage would have ended with divorce. For some reason, I knew my husband was the right guy even though no one in my family seemed to think so.

Years before, I had prayed for a guy who would love me for who I was (not what he wanted me to be). I prayed for someone who would be a good husband, a good father, and a good provider. I prayed for someone who would be faithful. I prayed for someone who would be supportive of me. I prayed for a guy who would WANT to be with me for the rest of his life.

Even though I was not a believer of Christ at the time, I think that God still heard my prayers because He gave me my husband. On the 24th of this month (November), we will be married 29 years. I thank God for him every day.

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Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Response to Gerald Rogers

My response is long overdue to a post that received wide attention a few months ago, “Beautiful advice from a divorced man after 16 years of marriage” (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151735776813486&set=a.81166678485.79418.696628485&type=1). The post was so popular that it circulated on Facebook numerous times. The words seemed heartfelt as the man shared the twenty things he wished he “would have done different.”

I was left with one glaring question: Why didn’t this man try to reconcile with his wife since he loved her so much? You’d think that after she saw the post that it would convince her that divorce was a mistake and that they needed to give marriage another try.

The truth is, we have no idea what was going on “behind closed doors.” We get an idea from his post that perhaps this man was selfish and self-centered. Maybe this post was just another way to get attention?

He responds, “I hope everyone realizes- I wrote this advice FOR ME. I shared it in the hopes that others might learn from my journey. I don’t pretend that this advice is for everyone, but this is the MAN I CHOOSE TO BE, and these are the lessons I COMMIT to carrying forward into my future relationships. This is what I have observed in common among those rare thriving marriages that seem to endure anything. That is the type of marriage I want to create when I have the chance again.”

Again, I go back to, why not reconcile with the woman that he claims to love? “…may you rejoice in the wife of your youth” (Proverbs 5:18). Why is he looking for someone else to marry to do the right things?

What would be truly awesome is if he won his ex-wife back—if he started anew with his first love. Now that would be the ultimate love story!

Instead we have words from a man who wished he would have done the things he described, and that he is hoping to try with someone else.

It’s easy to start all over with someone new, but I think it takes even more work to get someone back after a breakup/divorce. I’m not sure if this man is willing to put that kind of work into getting his wife back.

Here’s my advice to Gerald Rogers:

“Put your money where your mouth is and reconcile with your wife– put what you have learned into good use.  You said, ‘That is the type of marriage  I want to create [a thriving marriage] when I have the chance again.’ Why not create that type of marriage with your wife? Don’t let your divorce paper stop you from reuniting with your first love, to start all over again and find happiness with her. Show her that you have learned from your mistakes. Try to win her back and don’t give up.”

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti