Different is not Dumb: A few lessons from 13 months

As you learned last month, the mister and I have officially been married for over a year!! Wahooooo!  In honor of this I wanted to create a list of practical lessons learned to document a few of our successes/failures and give you a little glimpse into our marital life. We are by no means perfect people (our moms are shouting loud Amens! as they read this) and as a result we just want to open up our lives to our readers to encourage those who are married and those who are single alike. Also, as a side note, I hope this post doesn't come off as "We know what we're doing we've been married a whole 13 months!" It's quite the opposite. We recognize that we've made many mistakes and will continue to do so and just want to share what we've learned thus far.

So without further adieu, a few lessons learned in our first year:

1. Different is not Dumb. Say it with me now, "Different is not Dumb. Different is not Dumb." Then write it 100 x's on your heart. Here's the truth, when two people... (with 2 different sets of parents, 2 different upbringings, 2 different educational experiences, 2 different sets of siblings, 2 different ways of handling money, 2 different sets of expectations, 2 different life goals, etc. you get the point) ... when these 2 individuals get married, you're bound to figure out that you both approach things differently. And when you do figure this out (especially if you think you're SO much alike)... it could get interesting! ;) Trust me even if prior to living together you think you're a lot alike, you WILL eventually run into differences (minor and major) later in your marriage!

The key is recognizing 3 things (a) it's ok to disagree, (b) your way may or may not be the best approach, and (c) their way of doing it is not dumb... it's just different. Regardless of how you've done it before you must now figure out how YOU (the plural you) as a couple are going to do it now together.  And ladies, saying things like "Well that's dumb, my family does it differently" doesn't really help the situation. (you can thank me later for this one).

Bottomline: Different is not Dumb.

2. Serving one another is actually important. People told us repeatedly before marriage "It's important to serve one another" and I was like, "Ok... OKAY! I got it. Of course I want to serve and love my husband!" The idea of serving one another was romanticized in my head, and then as time set in and we stepped off of the plane from our honeymoon life happened, that romantic idea just wasn't as practical.

Our main Scripture passage during our wedding ceremony was Philipians 2 and I wish that I had reminded myself of those verses more often throughout our first year. Looking back I can see that when I was more focused on myself, I was much more selfish, cranky, upset, (insert bratty adjective here) with the Mister because he wasn't meeting my needs. But when we were both focused on loving Jesus and as a result valuing others above ourselves, we both would win. I'm currently rememorizing the first 11 verses in hopes that it'll infiltrate my mind and then my heart.

Also ladies, it can be easy to put the needs of others as a priority, but then as a result forget to do the same with your spouse's. If we put the whole world's needs before the person we love most, we've missed the point. The bottom line is... Valuing others above yourself is vital in the Christian life, and it's equally important to the Christian marriage.

3. Resolving your issues before the sun goes down is a lie. Yep, I said it. That whole don't go to bed angry thing does have some truth to it... BUT... I would say it's overdone and overrated. We had some friends tell us this pre-wedding and now post-wedding we totally agree with them and are so thankful that we don't feel the weight of resolving everything during one late night, exhausted discussion. For some people sleep must happen before resolution.

Now hear me out before you start throwing stones at me. Sometimes it is best to agree to discuss it the next day when everyone is a bit more removed and rested. For example, a fun saying in our household that we stole from another family (thanks N & A!) is "When Brittany is sleepy, she gets weepy." Truth. If I am exhausted, it's probably not the best time to work it out. And then there are times when it's not that I'm tired, but we've both discussed the item and we're not making any headway on the issue. Sometimes it's better to let it simmer rather than pushing one another to a point of exhaustion or frustration. So my advice is, if it's past 10 pm and you've discussed something for more than 45 minutes... it's best to call it quits and pick back up once you're both removed and rested. And for the record this doesn't mean that you have to go to bed angry or upset (although sometimes this will happen), but it means that you resolve to work it out when the both of you are in your best frame of mind and emotions.

4. Laughter does the heart good. Amen? Amen. I love laughing with my husband, atmy husband, at myself, and at my husband laughing at me. Seriously... we Salmons love to laugh. And let's be honest, there is lots to laugh at. Not because we're funny people naturally, nope. It's because we do dumb stuff all the time. Gotta learn to not take yourselves too seriously in marriage life - truth.

5. Saying I forgive you is equally important to saying I'm sorry. This one is harder for me. Don't get me wrong, I want to be able to forgive the Mister quickly when he offends me, but actually forgiving him instead of stewing for 45 min and then doing so can be a bit of a struggle. I usually need time to process and then I can actually fully forgive him in word and deed - but initially in our marriage I was much slower at forgiving. I needed to "sleep it off." Sad but true! As the year progressed, I've worked on being quick to forgive and realized it's equal importance in the restoration process. All that to say, grudges suck. forgiveness is good.

6. Doing fun things together is, well... fun.  I love old married people at weddings.  You know who I'm talking about, the old old old people who have been married for longer than you and your significant other have been breathing. These folks know whatsup. When it's time for toasts at the rehearsal dinner, I'm less impressed with the crying bff's (I'm not hating, that's usually me) and more impressed with the 85 year old man who just lost his wife of 65 years and has a bit more substantial marriage advice. Seriously, I love these people. I was at a wedding recently where I met a cute old lady who told me she had been married for 60 years! When I asked the secret to her success she said, "Looking back, I don't remember not having fun with him. I think when you stop doing fun things together, life can get too serious, too overwhelming. I remember hard times, but I still remember having fun." I was so encouraged by her testimony to longevity. And I think she was right! Just in the last 13 months, the times that were more stressful were times when we were too busy to have fun with one another.

7. Time is precious. Death has a funny way of putting time back into reality. I had a friend pass away a few years ago... and to be honest about it, she was just too young to die. Sometimes I still wonder why, but then I look around and see tragedy everywhere and remember that this world is not our home. My friend had left behind scribbles in her Bible and in her journal and one quote that was shared at her funeral was "Where will I be in a year?...Life is short, Live for eternity!" So true. You never know what the next year may hold. You don't know who will be in your life or whether or not you will still be breathing. God made us relational creatures for a reason - to encourage one another with brotherly love. To edify one another. Our time with our loved ones is precious! I take it for granted that God has placed me in the Mister's life and him in mine. And we are bound together on this journey in life to push one another towards loving Jesus & others more. Who knows what the Lord has for our future, but shame on me for wasting away precious time.

8. A King Bed is crucial. Go big or go home.  FYI this is my preference - not the Misters. He wanted a queen sized bed, I did not. I'm sure it's every fiance's dream to hear, "Sure let's purchase a bed, but let's get a huge one so you can't be anywhere near me when we sleep." Here's my argument, take it or leave it. I'm a sprawler, coverstealer, roller, flailer, and did I mention that I don't like to be touched when I'm trying to sleep? Put me on a queen sized mattress with anyone and I definitely don't sleep well bc I usually wake up when anyone touches me bc (once again) I can't stand to be touched while sleeping. But in the king bed we can cuddle before sleeping, and then roll to our separate worlds. Hallelujah. So if you're PURCHASING a new bed, I say save up and go big. If you're not purchasing a new bed, use what you got! I have a lot of friends who love to sleep near one another, sadly I'm just not one of them.

9. Community is Key. I've never not (ignore the double negative) had community until this past year. During our first year of marriage I had to work at developing relationships with people that went beyond having fun together and just hanging out - and for the first time in my life, it was a huge struggle for me! It took time, patience, prayer, and lots and lots of frustrating moments. But as I developed relationships with people who could speak into my life, I was able to see the selfishness and pride that I have! It's amazing how doing life with people, allows you to see their junk and they see yours. Having community with folks who are willing to call you out and encourage you to live life more fully has been a huge blessing in our marriage. It's still an area that we need to work on, but I am so encouraged to see how God has used people to speak into our lives and look forward to seeing how He grows those relationships.

10. Marriage is NOT a ball and chain. It's SO much fun. I had a serious fear of marriage before meeting the Mister. I had ZERO intentions on getting married in my 20's and zero intentions on getting married as quickly as we did! I viewed it as something I would do after I had done all of the fun things on my life goals sheet. In my mind, marriage was what you did when it was time to live a boring average life "settle down." Not true. I can honestly say that although there are moments when we have to work at being good partners in life, marriage is the best thing I've ever done. It is SO much fun and I am so thankful that God opened my eyes to how wrong I was about marriage! Marriage is definitely NOT boring and I'm thrilled to conquer old goals and make new ones alongside of my best friend. I can't imagine not having him by my side. Life just wouldn't be nearly as fun! :)

CONGRATULATIONS if you're reading this you've survived my forever LONG post! Obviously, these are just a few things in our marriage that we've learned. They aren't necessarily descriptive of everyone's first year or marriages in general. Anywho, I hope that if you're newly married or about to get engaged or just single and considering the idea of marriage that this list helps or encourages you.

Much love & Happy Friday!

Posted on October 21, 2011 and filed under Marriage, Ordinary Life.