There we stood beaten and bruised in the kitchen of our Austin home. Hearts bleeding and vulnerable, minds scattered, but we had made it. One year of marriage. As we looked at one another in silence that morning before going our separate ways to work, we knew it was a day to celebrate but what were we celebrating? The past year had been full of aimlessness, meaningless fights, wounding, and poor communication, abundant stress and uncertainty. We stood in the dissonance of knowing it was a milestone to celebrate but wondering if we could go on another year, had we made a mistake?
Into the silence came an unexpected gift of God’s mercy into our marriage. I couldn’t tell you who raised their hand first, who cracked the first smile, or what exactly caused the outburst of freeing laughter, but I can tell you that in a moment of small celebration came transformational healing and freedom. God revealed His heart for victory in our marriage through a shared moment of recognizing the pain but seeing the heart of the one we love. Witnessing that we both still deeply desired to show up for one another, to pursue one another, to love one another. What was this merciful gesture that ripped through the silence and shame to bring reprieve? A simple high-five.
Standing right there in our kitchen, we learned the power of celebrating moments in marriage, always. Celebrate the big moments, the seemingly small moments, the personal joys, the exceptionally sweet days shared, the great conversations. Celebrating always, has taught us to appreciate the journey and walk with our eyes wide open together through where He is growing us and leading us as man and wife.
Celebrating regularly with my husband has worked in our marriage a variety of ways but three main ways which have brought forth such blessing to us have been in our intimacy, security, and trust.
Celebrating Fosters Intimacy
Sharing parts of our days or lives that make us feel proud and in desire to celebrate can be an intimidating and vulnerable practice. Sometimes we are not met with an understanding of why something means so much to us or maybe our pasts contain moments that have fallen short of experiencing shared joy because of jealousy or pride. As my husband and I began sharing moments to celebrate, we began to experience the feeling of being seen by one another. We were being introduced to the deeper desires of one another’s heart. Emotional, physical, spiritual, and intellectual intimacy began to grow from a flame to a fire. Our intimacy which was one measured by only physical touch expanded into the true fullness of intimacy that God desires for a husband and wife to share Song of Solomon 4:7. My husband is allowed into the places of my heart, mind, and soul where no one else but God enters, this kind of intimacy is beautiful and sacred. Sharing with him encouraging words I received from friends or co-workers fall on his ears differently than a friend because he is intimately familiar with what my heart celebrates as good and meaningful.
Celebrating Builds Security
Celebrating together led to genuinely feeling seen and known, a security that we sometimes lose in our marriages as the duties and responsibilities of running a home, raising children, long work hours, and schedules seem to take captive. Through the regular practice of celebrating moments in our marriage, we maintain the security of being known by one another even when our lives become chaotic, stress ensues, or our marriage enters a challenging season. Despite the days of difficulty, in the moments of celebrations my heart is seen and loved in a way that seals the cracks that come through the wear and tear of daily life. Recently, I finished a demanding 8-weeks of school, it had been a long day and my body could not physically produce sound to form words. Beau, seeing and knowing me, offered a beautiful celebration by running me a bath and bringing me one of my favorite cookies along with the freeing words of, “I’m so proud of you, take your time and relax.” In the middle of my chaos, he knew what would make me feel celebrated, seen and known, and took part in the celebration by serving me with acts of kindness.
Celebrating Grows Trust
Shared vulnerability and security grow deep roots of trust. Trust that protects my mind from filling the gap in moments of disappointment where my expectations are not met by actions. Marriages are made through uniting a broken man and a broken woman in a fallen world, disappointment is inevitable. Fights and breakdown in communication, misunderstandings, and frustrations are around every corner. But waiting there in the gap between a moments experience and a lifetime of celebrations is a deeply rooted trust that we are for one another, we are not against one another. Trust that was grown through our hearts celebrating moments together. Infertility brought many challenges into our marriage, one specific challenge came when we did not initially see eye-to-eye on progression through treatment options. Fortunately, we had years of open-heart honesty and shared vulnerability between us, so instead of falling into the unfortunate trap that many couples facing infertility treatment do, we trusted the intention of one another’s hearts and united on a plan. Instead of pointing the finger of blame or selfishness, we relied on what we had seen in each other’s hearts, pure love and respect for each other.
Celebration is a Gift
God delights in our celebrations, and He uses them to bring glory to His name as marriages are strengthened, healed, and freed from the lies of guilt and shame. Scripture says, “Christ has come so that we may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). This abundant life with Christ includes the gift of celebrations. Celebrations do not have to or need to be extravagant or expensive. Sometimes celebrating together looks like a short walk around the block holding hands and speaking encouragement over one another. Other times it could be sharing a favorite dessert or cooking one of our favorite meals in the kitchen together. We’ve been known to celebrate over one-on-one games, praying thankfulness to God together, or writing notes of love and affirmation. If you open our pantry door, in 2019 I made up the “H” award which I called the Husband Award and I cut out an H then wrote why my husband is the recipient of such esteem. Two years later, I put a sticky note next to the taped H that read, “you still are every bit worthy of this award and more” after he accepted a new job that he believed would be best for our family. The right celebration for you and your spouse is any act of love or encouragement that brings honor and unity to your marriage.
I look at my husband and think back to our cold kitchen where together we almost lost heart, and I smile at the high-five that uncovered the transformational power of celebrating, always.