But the real fun started after our wedding day. That is when marriage really begins and for my wife Ashley and I, it was the beginning of a year of learning from mistakes, and loving each other no matter what we encountered. I am able to find leadership lessons in everything and in a year of marriage that was easy. Here are some leadership lessons I learned from my first year of marriage:
- Role Modeling – Ashley and I are blessed in that each of us has parents who have been married for over thirty years. Role modeling is an important part of leadership. I have always known the importance of role modeling, but it is in marriage where I have grown to appreciate the leadership lesson even more. Ashley and I only know successful marriages because that is what we have seen. Our parents serve as great examples for us to look to in tough times. Every couple should be able to model their marriage after great examples as we have done.
- Every “Yes” is a “No” – At SOS we teach that every time you say “yes” to something, you are also saying “no” to something or someone else. In my first year of marriage, I have come to really understand this. There are a lot of things I want to do. I want to work, hang out with my friends, play golf, watch sports, etc. But when I say “yes” to something, I realize that I am saying “no” to my wife. This doesn’t mean I cannot do fun things with friends or that I have to spend every minute with her, but she is my number one priority and I do not want to say “no” to her.
- Empathy – This perhaps has been my biggest challenge in my first year of marriage. Empathy is an important characteristic of a leader, especially a servant leader. It is a characteristic I struggle with. People need to be accepted and recognized for their uniqueness. I wonder whether I always recognize my wife’s amazing uniqueness? The most successful leaders are those who have become skilled empathetic listeners. I have trouble doing this in my marriage. I do not always empathize with my wife and I certainly could be a more empathetic listener. On that note, I probably could be more sympathetic as well. I do not always need to offer a solution. Sometimes my wife just needs me to be there. This is not easy for me, but I am working to get better.
My first year of marriage was not easy. We had some bumps along the way, but I am happy to say that our love is stronger than ever. We continue to learn about each other. We continue to work to get better at marriage. We know it will take time, but we have the rest of our lives to work on it. SOS founder, Bill Moyer, who is also my dad, always says “even if your marriage was made in heaven, you are responsible for the maintenance.”