Relationships/Dating/Marriage are all sticky things to blog about in my world. It's a lot easier for me to engage in a discussion about Christian culture, literature, etc. rather than to divulge into details of the heart. When connecting with other women, we frequently discuss our relationships (whether it be with our children, parents, friends, or boyfriends/spouses). Let's all be honest, when we ladies get together one of the first things we talk about is the presence/absence of a significant other or a significant interest in our lives. Even if there isn't a guy in the picture, we usually seem to bring the conversation to that topic at least briefly.
With that said... being recently married and in that "stage" of life where I have friends on both sides of the fence, I wanted to just share a few of my thoughts from our first 6 months. The truth is, marriage is a journey like none other. Being committed to a person for better or worse, in sickness and health, in happiness and in tragedy, for the rest of one's breathing days is a ridiculously overwhelming covenant to some. And rightly so - it's a big deal. BUT it's also incredibly amazing. So in light of that, I want to share some encouraging lessons I've come to realize in my very few months of marriage. I'm sure the list will only grow as our marriage ages.
1. Marriage is Fun. Folks, here's the thing... all emotions have increased since being married. I've laughed more, cried more, been angrier more, thankful more, apologized more, [fill in the blank with your fav. emotional response] more, etc. But if you marry someone you have FUN with, it really makes a world of difference even in the awkward or difficult times. (Seriously, I don't know how boring people do it.) I really have laughed a TON more since being married - and for those of you who knew me before marriage, you know that I love to laugh, so that's sayin' something.
2. Laughing @ yourself is crucial. While we're on the topic of fun... learning to laugh at yourself is huge. This is important not only in marriage, but in every aspect of life. Here's the deal, we all do dumb things (and some of us do more dumb things than others... it's ok... embrace it, I do). You can either learn to laugh at things that are actually funny or you can get your feelings hurt when folks laugh at you for doing funny things. Since it hurts your feelings worse when its the person who you love most in the world AND since you live with them and they get to see all the dumb stuff you do... I suggest the first rather than the latter.
3. Expectations are only expectations if they're spoken & agreed upon. Otherwise they're pointless ideals that will only cause frustration when not met. Have you ever had an expectation and then verbalized it to a friend only to realize how ridiculous it was? Or have you not verbalized an expectation and then been extremely disappointed at it not being met? Verbalizing and discussing expectations is something that I'm just now learning/working on. I thought I was relatively good at this in life in general prior to marriage, but it's been something I've had to work at in the context of the marriage relationship. Crucial. Crucial. Crucial.
4. Grace is like gold in a marriage (& all aspects of life). I was told that "marriage was sanctifying" at least 1000x's prior to marriage, but holy cow... I am now a believer. The basic understanding in the Christian faith is that the world we live in is tainted with sin since Adam & Eve's choice in the garden. As a result we are all sinners in need of grace. God provided salvation through his Son and as a result, those of us who choose to partake in this salvation are called to be ministers of grace to one other.Why, then, are we shocked when we are hurt by another brother/sister? Why do we have the same reaction when that hurt comes from our spouse/significant other?
When we see each others' flaws and mistakes - especially when it directly affects US - it causes hurt/anger/disappointment/[insert favorite negative emotion] here. This is where grace comes into play. Grace doesn't ignore the problem, rather it addresses it in light of the cross. Marriages/Relationships are transformed when we use gracious words, are quick to forgive, and quick to look for and see the good in our friends/spouses. Grace takes the focus off of our wounds & needs and forces our eyes back to the Gospel. Ben is definitely better at this than me, but I'm learning slowly that grace is gold.
5. Just "doing life" together is way better than any fairytale I've ever read/seen. Ok ladies, this is huge. I love a good chick flick so trust me when I say that I'm not hating on our media... I'm not. But with that said, the stories we see in books/tv/movies aren't real - and even if they are real, they aren't our stories. So often we get so caught up in looking for a magical moment that we miss the beauty of everyday life. We're looking for someone else's stories so much that we miss our own! The mundane of doing life together can become boring, but it is in those ordinary moments where I believe true romance is shown. It's the making dinner together, picking up the house, the lazy days, the running errands, the coming home to each other at night, giving preference to the other, holding your spouse's hand at a funeral, organizing a budget, late nights with a crying child, watching a parent's health decline... these are the moments "done together" that can be the most ordinary, but can also be the most rewarding. They are also more difficult to do consistently than throwing together a fancy romantic moment. I love nights when Ben takes me out on the town and I feel "romanced" and special, but my favorite moments are the ordinary ones. After looking at my parents, in-laws, & other friends further along in their marriages, I am convinced that the love shown in the ordinary moments is a key ingredient in making a marriage last. So thrive in the beauty of your own story, don't strive for the glam of another's.
6. Did I mention that marriage is fun (see #1 if you've already forgotten)? Seriously it is... As in every relationship, you're going to have your difficult times, but overall marriage is really fun. For some reason, until meeting Ben I viewed marriage as a ball & chain, something that ties you down, and something you did AFTER you accomplished all your goals. How wrong was I? I'm so thankful to have people who showed me otherwise. I'm so thankful to know that marriage is all things opposite that I described. I love having a best friend to explore the world with. If you're like I once was, let me encourage you to surround yourself with healthy marriages, perhaps even talk to a counselor. I really benefited from having godly counsel in my life in this specific area.
Alright yall... those are my 6 thoughts on our first 6 months of marriage. My guess is if you're married, you have a lot more time and as a result... a ton more wisdom! So I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter! Also single ladies... what are your thoughts on this list? Are these things that you already know/expected? What are other thoughts you have on the topic?
Sidenote: Yes, I did finally put our wedding pictures in frames... also I might have ordered a HUGE canvas pic of the photo above to place above our bed frame. Pretty excited. Also... shameless shout out and promo for Braun-Photography. I heart them.
Much love on this Wednesday... we're halfway there...