Hi friends! Happy New Year!! What a whirlwind these past few weeks have been!! Christmas, New Years, and our anniversary all land within a week of each other, so this time of year is crazy, but fun.
Chris & I just celebrated our *FIRST* year of marriage this past weekend!!! Its hard to believe a year has already come and gone. Chris and I were talking today on the way to the airport about if the first year of marriage few by this fast, it's only going to fly by faster as the years go on. But with everyday that passes, I grow in gratitude for the gift of marriage, given by Jesus. It truly is a wonderful gift, one I feel undeserved to experience. Its super fun being married to your best friend. But marriage is also work. Whatever we neglect will eventually fail. If I stop watering my plants, they will die. If I stop working on my marriage, it will eventually die. Sure, it's work, but it's so much fun.
Going into marriage, I had no idea what to expect. Everything was unfamiliar & unknown. Lots of people gave us advice and tips, so we knew a good bit. But knowing and applying are two different things. I work with a lot of sweet couples & brides, and we often talk for months about the actual wedding day. But rarely do we talk about the marriage. The end result of the wedding day, which is a lifelong commitment to your best friend. I'm obviously not a marriage expert by any means, but I figured I’d share a few things I learned this year in marriage.
- Jesus MUST remain your first love.
Marriage is a reflection of our personal relationship with Jesus. It is not intended to replace it. Over the summer, there was a period of time where I was unhealthily idolizing Chris, looking to him for the main source of love, affection, and security. I was feeling lonely & insecure & wanted to run to him to fill that void. The void that only Jesus can fill. When we put those expectations on our spouse, to do only what Jesus can do, they are going to fail us. Because they weren’t intended to be Jesus. Psalm 63:3 says that the love of the Lord is better than life! That's the kind of love relationship we can have with Jesus. And when He is first in our affections & desires, our marriage will function properly. We will stop placing impossible burdens on our spouses that they need to fulfill, because Jesus will fulfill them. It's so easy to idolize our spouse, but we must fight to keep our relationship with Jesus #1. HE is the Giver, my spouse is just the gift.
- Always look for ways to out serve the other
Selfishness is the root of a lot of sin, conflict, and even marriage problems. Each human being is a selfish sinner, and when 2 of them get married, it could potentially be disastrous. But my husband & I have noticed that the more we try and serve the other, the less conflict there is in our home. The more we are looking out for each other’s needs & desires, the less we are looking out for our own. And you will see that the more you try to please your spouse, the more you will personally find pleasure in pleasing them. If you both have this mindset, then you both will get served. Every morning, Chris wakes up and makes me coffee. And while he's doing that, I make him breakfast. We both get served & both find joy in it. Even Jesus, when He was on this earth, “didn’t come to be served, but to serve & to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matt 20:28) If this was Jesus’ mindset, and my marriage is intended to reflect Jesus, then this should be my mindset too.
(every morning consists of coffee & smoothies at our house)
- Communication is key (seriously)
Everyone who gave us pre-marital advice told us this. And after a while, I was like “yea yea ok.” But really…it's so crutial for a flourishing marriage. My husband is WAY better at this than me, but I am actively working on getting better. There is a new level of closeness you feel with someone when you communicate with them. About any and everything. I have learned (after not being great at this) that Chris feels loved by me when I open up to him and share what's on my heart. Big or small. Important or non important. We love sitting down (every night if possible) at the dinner table and sharing with each other about our day, dreams, struggles, or joys. One night, we talked and talked, and before we knew it, it had been 2 hours! Of us just sitting at the table and communicating with each other. Chris is SO great at asking me questions that prove to me that he cares deeply about me. And knowing that he cares makes me want to communicate with him even more. So maybe communication isn’t so great in your marriage. A start to making it great is asking your spouse questions that show you care. Put your phone down and actually listen. The more caring questions you ask & the more willing you are to listen, the sooner those doors of communication will swing open.
• Go on dates!
People have jokingly told us that every night is date night without kids, which could be true. Yet, plans come up, week nights get filled, the TV gets turned on, and the night is soon over, without really having a quality conversation with your spouse. Sure, it's easy for Chris and I to spend time together, since its just the 2 of us. But it's not always intentional time. One thing Chris & I said we would do every week is get alone together, out of the house if possible, and do something fun. No phones. No one else. Just us. And those nights truly do differ from any other night, even if it looks slightly similar. The difference is we are intentional with our time and conversation. There are no distractions & we can properly pour into each other. This has been so life giving for our marriage & something I look forward to every week. There are a few older, married couples I know who have flourishing marriages. And you know what? They are religious about date night. So before kids come & life gets any crazier, make this a habit. It will then become a natural thing you do every week, even years down the road.
- Marriage is made up of mundane moments
Paul David Tripp said this in a marriage study we did this year, and it couldn't be more true. Our life primarily consists of mundane moments. Sure, there are big milestone moments and special seasons you will go through, but a majority of our lives consist of the mundane. It's easy to bypass those moments, because of social media, which glorifies the big moments and showcases the best of our highlight reel. But the mundane moments should be celebrated, enjoyed, and cherished. Chris and I were talking over our anniversary trip that some of our favorite memories from this year weren't even anything that grand or spectacular. They were times like when Chris came into my office one day, grabbed my hand & told me we were going for a drive. We rode down to my favorite field, walked through the tall green grass, and sat down on a blanket and just talked. Or the time we were coming home from Louisiana, after being in the car together for over 50 hours that week, and we were cracking up and laughing hysterically (I think the reason that was special was because we were surprised we hadn't killed each other yet ;) ) So, what are you doing in the mundane? Most of our marriage (and life!) is spent here, so treasure the small things. Take lots of pictures, keep a journal and write stuff down, because you will forget it! Don't dismiss the mundane, rather, enjoy it and make the most of those moments.
I am thankful for this year & all that I learned, and am looking forward to continuing to learn as the years go on. I talked to a married couple the other day who have probably been married over 20 years, and they said this past year of marriage was the best one yet. However, that didn't come by being passive. That came from actively working, being faithful, enduring hardship, openly communicating, apologizing quickly, and over using "I love you". Im thankful for the couples in my life who model marriage well for me. And since I work in a field where lots of people are getting married, I am passionate about my couples, friends, and even acquaintances experiencing Christ centered, life giving, joyful, and committed marriages. If you would ever like to talk about marriage, being a wife, how I've failed at doing and being both, or if I can help listen or point you to another resource, I would absolutely love to! Lots of love to you all!!