Rachel and I completed ten years of knowing each other and eight years of marriage last year, and I’m glad to honestly be able to say we are doing great. The guys I know don’t really talk about their marriages with one another, and so I have no reference point; I just have learned that putting my wife’s needs first is what I am called to do and what I must do. Meanwhile, Rachel strives to put my needs first. This is our story, every day. We’re not perfect at it, but we’ve both grown in selflessness and thoughtfulness and, of course, patience and grace. Feel free to review what I’ve learned at my  six monthone yeartwo yearthree yearfour yearfive year, six year, and seven year anniversaries, and let me know what resonates with you the most.

Remember that they weren’t raised in the same household.

Rachel’s family did a lot of things differently than my family while we were growing up. I don’t mean they did things wrongly; it was just not the same as in my home. Because of how I was raised, I have a preferred way of how things should be. And understandably, Rachel does too. And I don’t need to demand my way most of the time, even if it frustrates me. Here’s an example.

When I sit down at the dinner table, I prefer to have everything I might possibly need already set up within arm’s reach. This includes paper napkins. In fact, I am of the firm opinion that those should always be on the table because the primary purpose for that table is dining. However, Rachel grew up in a household where all of those things were picked up after every meal, so the table is completely bare. So, the napkins end up on our countertop prior to the next meal. This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it is to me when I’m in the middle of my meal, and there is gravy dribbling down my chin, and I reach for a napkin in a panic-stricken state but there is none to be found. In my mind, this is a catastrophe. One that could have been prevented if we could just KEEP THE NAPKINS ON THE DINNER TABLE AT ALL TIMES!!!!

Here’s the thing: Rachel is not at fault. She was raised to completely clear the dining table. That was her custom. I need to respect that. It is on me, and not her, to make sure that I move the napkins from the countertop to the tabletop before I sit down to eat because their presence there is a priority to me. It’s not a priority to her, and that’s okay.

There are other things she does that differ from how I would do them, simply based on what was done in our family of origin. And there are many things I do because of my family customs that I’m sure really frustrate Rachel (although she doesn’t reveal it). Yes, we do communicate often, but we realize we shouldn’t try to change the other person into a clone of ourselves. That’s not healthy, and that will invariably lead to resentment and blame as we feel our true selves slowly but surely disappearing.

sameer rachel rocks


Let them live life at their own pace.

Some people are tightly wound. Others are laid back. Some are very excitable. Others are super mellow. Some are performance-driven. Others can more easily relax and chill. Each person should have the freedom and encouragement to live their life the way they want to. And I’ve found that if you’re expecting or prodding or manipulating your partner to live their life like you live your life, you’re not loving them unconditionally.

As an example, I do try to live at a certain pace each day. I’m kind of a hard charger, and especially on weekdays when I get into “work-mode” where I’m laser focused on my tasks and seek to move through them as efficiently as possible. But this is *my* pace. Not Rachel’s. Do I want her to tackle her days like I tackle my days? Well, maybe if I want to cross off more items on our to-do lists, but that’s not what I want. I want to have a joyful home and a faith-filled family. Ultimately, that is everything to me. Plus, I don’t want to quench her spirit or wound her soul by always telling her what to do and how to do it. I know we don’t use words like spirit or soul too often these days but my goal in life is to help her continually unveil her beauty and to fulfill God’s calling on her life. Plus, maybe I’m actually the problem; maybe I’m slightly neurotic and just need to calm down. I do think it’s okay that I have a standard for how I use my hours and minutes, but it’s my standard that should not be applied to anyone else, directly or indirectly (through tone, body language, passive-aggressiveness, silent treatment, etc.).

Patience and grace must be my modus operandi, and I try to keep both top of mind when I’m interacting with Rachel or my kids or actually anyone else. We are all different. We need our loved ones to give us the freedom to be different (I talk about this in my six year recap as well). It’s interesting that we give that freedom to our friends, but sometimes struggle in doing so with our family members. I have learned to let others live how they want to live, much like I need others to let me live how I want to live.

In closing, I wouldn’t write about these unless I feel really good about where I’m at. Sure, there is always more progress to be made, but growth in this area is eminently possible. And totally worth it. Remember who you fell in love with. Remember why you wanted to build a life with them. Remember that they are a gift to you. Remember that if both of you were basically the same person, it would be very weird and would quickly implode. And remember that you have your own flaws and baffling idiosyncrasies that others have to live with. Your way is not the right way, it’s just a way. Their way is not the right way, it’s just a way. Just let patience and grace lead the way – and things will work out.