By: Nathan Osmond
This year my wife Sarah and I are celebrating 17 years of marriage. We were sealed together for time and for all eternity on March 7, 2002 in the LDS Salt Lake City Temple. We made lasting covenants with each other that day which we are fully committed to keeping with the upmost exactness. With confidence, I can say that I am more in love with her today than ever before.
With that said, I must also say that life with Sarah has not always been a walk in the park. With fancy filters and well thought-out Instagram posts, it may appear like we never have a difficult day. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s not that I try to portray a perfect life, because frankly, nobody’s life is perfect. I just don’t like hanging my dirty laundry out for all to see. Like my father taught me as a child, “If it stinks, don’t stir it.”
With four sons of our own, two of which are teenagers, It’s an understatement when my wife and I say, “We have our hands full!” Our oldest son, Zachary (15 1/2 yrs old), is a sophomore in high school and will be getting his driver’s license and glasses this year. Corbin (13 yrs old), our number two son, and Samuel (12 yrs old), our third oldest son, are each attending separate junior high schools and love playing their video games while talking to their friends, in real time, on their fancy headsets and microphones. Our youngest son, Beckham (6 yrs old) just started first grade. He’s like his dad and needs constant validation. Needless to say; life is busy!
Being a parent is the greatest blessing in the world. With that said, each time my beautiful wife became pregnant, she would also go through severe bouts of postpartum depression. It got so bad that she even had suicidal thoughts. That was a terrifying time in our marriage. I am so grateful that she and I both recognized the dark signs of depression and sought help. We have done all we can do to ensure that she gets the help she so desperately needs. Depression is a very real thing and I will be inviting her to talk about it on my podcast soon. It has taken 17 years to try and get her hormone levels back to a healthy level. She still has good and bad days but it’s been an answer to prayer to see her find balance hormonally. She is a champ!
I also struggle with several challenges. One of them is not being able to focus for long periods of time. Although I have never been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (A.D.D.), my doctor said it’s much worse…He said, “You have A.D.O.L.S.T.” I asked, “What’s that?!” He said, “Attention Deficit…Oh, Look…Shiny Things!” 😉 I also struggle with math therefore my wife handles most of our finances. I’ve also had a lifelong battle with my weight, which is very frustrating when you’re in a business as fickle as the music business.
During these past 17 years our children have also given us a few scares. Our oldest son, Zachary, was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (P.D.D.N.O.S.) which was on the Autism spectrum at the time. We also thought our second oldest son, Corbin, had Leukemia. It turns out it was something called I.T.P. (I jokingly say it stands for, “Intense Torture for Parents”) and what should’ve taken a year to heal was miraculously healed in a week’s time. I will share that miracle story in another post sometime. Corbin also gave us a scare when he was in a car accident. I literally had to hold my sons face together until the ambulance got there. Oh, we’ve got some stories to tell! Our third oldest son, Samuel, is lactose intolerant (That’s an easy one) and our youngest son, Beckham, well, he’s just perfect! Ha! He calls himself our “Little Big Man.”
Now that you know more about our family’s imperfections than you probably care to know, I thought it would be fun to share the five things I wish I would’ve known before getting married. Perhaps these insights will help you as you weather the daily storms as a married couple. If you’re contemplating getting married, congratulations, I highly recommend it. This article is not intended to discourage your matrimonial plans, rather, I hope it helps you commit to the adventures that come with what we call “the greatest adventure of all; marriage”
1. There will be days when, well…you just won’t like the person you married (Oh yeah, she won’t like you either) – If you’re like us, you probably remember your first argument or fight as a married couple. I definitely remember our first fight! If you’re not married yet, just know that every couple has their disagreements and from time to time you won’t see things eye to eye. Believe it or not, our first argument was all about interior design. I know…right?! We were driving in my car and Sarah began to claim the right to any and all decorating decisions in our home. Knowing how her mother decorated, I put my big size-16 foot down and demanded that I too have a say in how we decorated our future home. Sarah was so upset that I even cared about how our house looked like and felt that this area of our lives should be left up to her and her alone. Looking back on this ridiculous fight and other such similar arguments, we laugh. We’ve learned that communication is the key to any good relationship. Here’s what has worked for us: Let the other person talk. Let them explain why they feel the way that they feel. Don’t ever pretend to know what the other person is thinking. Remember, you are not a mindreader, so please don’t pretend to be one. Once you’ve heard your spouse’s point of view, take a moment to repeat back to him or her what you’ve heard and what you understand. This will take the edge off of things and the other person will at least feel respected and heard. If you’ve missed a detail or two, allow them to repeat it until they feel you fully understand their point of view. Do not interrupt him or her just to make your point. Bite your tongue and let them talk. This is more easily said than done. This one secret has taken years for me to learn and I am still not perfect in this area. I am still a work in progress.
2. Don’t sweat the small stuff…Oh, that’s right…It’s ALL small stuff – After 17 years my wife and I have fallen in love with two beautiful words…”Marriage Counseling.” We’ve had our share of therapy sessions where we’ve worked-out our frustrations in front of trained professionals. This investment has helped us to iron out our differences and frustrations we’ve had with one another. We’ve also sat with ecclesiastical leaders, like our bishop, to discuss why Sarah just can’t see things the way that I do. At first, I was embarrassed at the thought of needing professional help in my marriage, that was until I found out how common it is for couples to get professional help. Anything worth lasting is worth investing in. Your marriage should be considered one of your most prized possessions. It’s also like an empty box; you only get out of it what you put into it.
One particular therapist gave us a book called, “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff (And It’s All Small Stuff)” by: Richard Carlson. This book was very helpful as was one of a more religious nature called, “The Peace Giver: How Christ Offers To Heal Our Hearts And Homes” by: James L. Ferrell. With the exception of the scriptures, I’ve never seen a book have such a positive effect on a marriage as this one had on ours. “The Five Love Languages” by: Gary Chapman is also excellent!
Each and every time that we’d get through the rough or rocky patches of our married-life, we could look back and realize that what used to be so important to us had now come into full perspective. And that’s the point, when you hold a pebble up-close to your eyes, it looks like a mountain. When viewed in its true perspective, it’s only a pebble in the grand scheme of things.
3. Men And Women Are Very Different From Each Other – In February of 1996, I put my musical career on hold to go serve the Lord on a mission. I was called to serve for two years in the Chile, Santiago North Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was single at the time and had long looked forward to the opportunity of serving a full-time mission for my church. While in the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, UT, I studied Spanish for two months. I was put in a companionship with two other missionaries. I was also asked to be the assistant to the president of my branch the very first week I was in the MTC. While visiting one-on-one with my president one day, President Sparks gave me some pretty wise counsel. He said, “During your mission you will have many different missionary companions. Each one of them will be different from the other.” He then paused and said, “No matter how weird or how strange your strangest companion is, he won’t compare to the one that you marry, because she is a member of the opposite sex.” I never forgot his counsel and he was absolutely, 100% correct. If I can add another book suggestion to the list for serious couples, it would be the classic, best-selling book, “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” by: Dr John Gray. This has been a great guide for me as I’ve learned countless other great tips for creating a lasting relationship. I highly recommend it to all couples.
4. There is no place for selfishness in a marriage – There is no “I” in “Team,” but the adjective, “Prosperous” always ends with “Us!” Remember that love is a verb and thus it requires action. You can’t expect to have peace in your marriage if you’re all take and no give. Marriage is a partnership and both sides must be fully committed to the success of the marriage. We’ve had a quote on our refrigerator for years that has really helped us through the difficult times. It’s a quote from President Gordon B. Hinckley who said, “If you will make your first concern the comfort, the well-being, and the happiness of your companion, sublimating any personal concern to that loftier goal, you will be happy, and your marriage will go on though eternity.” This is the key to a long-lasting and a happy marriage.
5. Remember, you’re both on the same team – I read a great billboard the other day that said, “When push comes to shove, Don’t!” I am so grateful for two great parents who never lifted a finger to each other. They never even allowed themselves to argue in front of us kids. They always took their problems behind closed doors. Sarah and I have not been as perfect at hiding our frustrations from our children, however, we have never lifted a finger to one another. There is absolutely no place for abuse in any relationship; verbal, physical, etc. If you are in an abusive relationship right now, there is help out there and you must seek it immediately at all cost. It’s easy, in the heat of an argument, to view the other person as your nemesis. This is not the case. You need to fight for that person, not against them.
I recently watched a funny YouTube video where a football player ended up running in the wrong direction and scoring a touchdown for the opposing team. This is what fighting with your spouse is like. Neither of you score any points on the board when fighting against your own team. Take time to listen, take time to strategize, create a couples playbook and set rules as to how you are going to resolve the conflicts in your marriage. Little eyes are watching and you are training future generations how to treat their spouse. Give yourself a time out and cool down.
A comedian once said, “Don’t go to bed angry, stay up and fight it out.” Although this quote made me laugh, I don’t recommend this advice. Before getting married, our Stake President, Ed Pinegar, told us to make it our rule to pray as a couple each night. He told me that I should take the odd days of the month and that Sarah should take the even days of the month. He said this would give me a few extra days each month to pray, as I needed it more. We have done this faithfully for 17 years and it’s been our saving grace. “A couple that prays together, stays together.”
While on my mission, I was blessed to hear form one of our church’s 12 Apostles; Elder M. Russell Ballard. He mentioned that whenever couples come to him, wanting a divorce or wanting to throw in the towel, he always asks them one question, “When was the last time you prayed together as a couple?” In almost every instance, these couples have stopped praying together. Before giving any more counsel, he gives them a 30-day challenge to go home and pray each day as a couple. He counsels them to kneel before their maker and hold each other’s hands. Pray, he tells them, for their marriage; pray for one another and take turns doing this. He said, each couple that has seriously taken this challenge has returned to him saying, “Elder Ballard, it’s not going to be easy, but we’re going to make it.” Every great team has a great coach. Let God be your coach. Let Him in your marriage to guide your footsteps each day. Marriage is a partnership and requires the effort of both sides. Like a triangle, let God be in the middle of your partnership. As the two of you walk towards Him, you will continue to grow closer and closer together until the perfect day.
I hope that these five discoveries will help bring peace to your marriage each day and if you have any other suggestions, please be sure to share them with me in the comment box.