I can’t believe I’m writing this post as a newlywed who has now been married for an entire YEAR!! I know you older, wiser married folk are probably chuckling a little to yourselves as you read my excited emphasis on the “year” part :) I know it is a little crazy for a 23 years old who has only been married for a year and a couple of days to be sharing any sort of “lesson” about marriage. However, I know that even though it’s only been a year of us living together, we had been doing LIFE together for almost 7 years prior to that and I believe we learned a lot about each other and our relationship before we even got married. Living together after the wedding just took everything to a new level in more ways than one! It was like I had seen glimpses of what married life would look like, but didn’t fully get to experience and understand the bond between me and Justin until we became husband and wife. Above all else, it is such a beautiful thing and I am so thankful for the gift of Justin’s companionship in my every day life. That is my favorite part of marriage before anything else!
As much as it’s been so fun to be married (if you ask me how’s married life to this day I can’t stop the smile from beaming across my face and gushing about how much I love Justin and our life together), I realize that being a wife to somebody and supporting them and being a part of his life in that way is a huge responsibility. If I just walked around all the time saying how great everything is and didn’t try to learn Justin’s needs and adapt to them, that would be a recipe for disaster. Reality is, we are two imperfect people living in close quarters with each other every day for the rest of our lives. Can you think of a time you traveled with a best friend and by day 3 you were about ready to strangle each other? Single friends, don’t worry, marriage is not to that level!! At least for us it isn’t! But it’s a good example of how challenging it can be to live with somebody and constantly put the other before yourself! After all, that’s what love does… Love is patient, kind, isn’t proud, and it isn’t self-seeking. It’s selfless, gentle, compassionate, pure-hearted, and always seeks to put others first. Doing that every day is the hard part of marriage!
To give you a better idea of what that looks like in practical terms… here are a few of our “oopsies” moments from over the past year that probably weren’t the BEST decisions looking back… (but they sure taught us a lot)!
- Our first married argument was about dishes in the sink… one of us hates seeing them piled up (and preventing hand OR dish washing from even happening), so the other one of us had to learn to accommodate to that by not using so many dishes while cooking and working as a team to get the dishes done after dinner :)
- One of us likes to wind down by reading in bed before turning the lights off to go to sleep… and can’t fall asleep without tossing and turning if that doesn’t happen. So there is now a mutual understanding that the lights are allowed to stay on for a certain amount of time so that everyone can have their “wind down” moment and we learned quickly that we should really be getting into bed 30 minutes before we want to turn the lights out so that we can have that time!
- One of us is a planner (guess who…) and likes to adhere to times when they are set… and when a time isn’t set, it ends up being set in that person’s head anyway, even if this imaginary time is never communicated. We had to learn that times aren’t necessary for everything :) but when there should be a time set, that time needs to be clearly communicated and not assumed. For example, dinner will be ready at 6:30, so please be home from the gym by then. Or, I really want to get my coffee & donuts before lunch on Sunday, so let’s make sure we wake up before noon! :)
These all seem so simple but they are the things that can really get under our skin at the same time. It’s all these little things that we might tell ourselves in the moment, “Ugh, it’s not a big deal.” But when 24 “no big deals” start to pile up, that’s when resentment and bitterness start to take root and can really destroy our feelings towards one another!! And that is not good!!
Over the past year there are many things we’ve learned and that is just one of them! I wanted to go ahead and briefly share a few more for anyone who is wondering what married life is like, what they can expect, what they might be able to prepare themselves for, or what they can possibly re-evaluate in their own marriage!!
1. We are learning to love each other the way each of us wants/needs to be loved, not just how we default to showing love! Let me explain. There is a book I glanced through back in high school called The 5 Love Languages. One thing that really stuck out to me is that we tend to show love in the way that we feel most loved, but that isn’t always how someone else feels loved! (Cue the lightbulb/“ohhh” moment!) There are 5 “languages” and they are Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, Gifts, and Quality Time. I personally feel most loved through gifts and words of affirmation (and I think that might be because those are the ways my mom and dad most showed love to me when I was growing up)! On the other hand, Justin isn’t so big on words of affirmation! He loves physical touch and quality time. (It really makes sense when I think about his relationship with his parents and how they have loved Justin over the years!) But I have to remember this when I wake up in the morning and turn over and start wanting to talk to Justin immediately after waking up, or when I’m adding 12 different gifts to my online shopping cart when Justin would probably appreciate an experience or date night a lot more (quality time)! It’s something I am just starting to scratch the surface with, but if you’re interested in checking out the book, you can do so here!
2. We are learning to “press pause” during disagreements before they blow up into arguments! It is okay to walk away from a conversation if we both realize that taking some time to think about what we’re disagreeing on will benefit the conversation in the future. A lot of the times, our arguments are over something little (like Justin waking up later than I expected him to or dishes piling up in the sink). It is silly to let our emotions dictate and control an adult conversation we are having, so we are learning that oftentimes the most responsible thing when emotions are running high is to just press pause on that conversation and come back to it later!
3. We are learning to see through the other person’s eyes. We are realizing more and more that we need to think about the other person’s intentions, not just dwell on his or her actions. When we look past the surface we can see much clearer where the problem is rooted, not just where it’s poking into our life. On a practical level, for us this might look like relaying back in a conversation, “So heard you say THIS, and I’m interpreting it in THIS way… is that right?” When we show that we’re genuinely just trying to understand each other better, it eases tension and it also shows respect for each other. Justin can see that I really am just trying to understand as best as I can even though we are so different. When we try to look deeper and not get caught up on the surface, it benefits us in the long run!
4. We are learning to communicate and communicate often, not make assumptions!! Even with the little things! This is actually one lesson that we began to learn a long time ago and I still find myself guilty of it…! Honestly, I think sometimes it is just an accident when I don’t share certain details or keep Justin in the loop, but sometimes it’s also just laziness in a really damaging form. When I put something on the calendar or when I “make a plan” either in my head or on paper, I need to let Justin know just out of courtesy and respect. When I learn something that might at ALL affect us as a unit, I need to share that with Justin by default, and do it soon! A lot of the time I’m thinking, “ok, gotta let Justin know about that…” and then it gets stored away in long-term memory and doesn’t resurface! Oops. In this day and age, a text is so easy that there really isn’t an excuse for our lack of communication anymore! When a plan gets set in motion, changes, or a piece of news is shared… we need to keep each other up to date! We owe that to our spouse!!
5. We are learning every day how to balance our independent desires with our married life together. Our marriage always comes first – we realize that! But in practice, that’s where it becomes a challenge! I love seeing London as often as I can. I love traveling to California to visit my best friend! I love spending money on experiences like traveling and I would wear the same thrift store clothes for the rest of my life if I could! But it is not okay for me to just book a cheap plane ticket whenever the opportunity arrives just because I can…! Even if the amount of money isn’t in question, it’s again the principle of including someone else in my decisions and communicating the major as well as the minor. We don’t keep tabs on every transaction we make, but when there’s something we want to do, see, or buy, we just know that it’s best to talk about it with each other first. Sure, there might be a little debate involved, but that’s much better than the argument (or bitterness or resentment) that would arise from not going to each other at the very beginning. This is one tough lesson for sure… but it’s one that has such a beautiful affect on our marriage that it is worth learning and learning well.
There are so many other lessons, big and small, that we’ve learned over our first year of marriage. These are just the ones that came to mind first… probably because they are the most prominent at this point in our lives! As the years go on, I’m sure that we will encounter different pieces of our relationship that need the most work as we continue to refine each other into the absolute best versions of ourselves that we can be. As we change and adapt throughout our lives, it’s just so good to know that through it all, we have each other. That our intentions are good because we love each other and the Lord above all else and that as long as that remains true, we can make it through anything. Here’s to many more years of learning many more lessons… and experiencing so, so much life together. I love you Justin, and I love being married to you! I hope our life together only gets better as the years go on!!!
“A gentle answer deflects anger,
but harsh words make tempers flare.”
“People may be pure in their own eyes,
but the Lord examines their motives.”
“Those who listen to instruction will prosper;
those who trust the Lord will be joyful.”
“We may throw the dice,
but the Lord determines how they fall.”