Well guys...we made it! Today is our Anniversary marking our first year of marriage. This weekend we celebrated by spending time together. We decided to do another weekend full of places we've never been in Louisville. (Mostly this revolved around eating). Also, neither of us remembered a phone charger so it really was an adventure trying to find our way around the city. At dinner on Friday night we talked about some of the things we learned in our first year. I wish I could tell you that I am an expert when it comes to being a wife. On the contrary, I still have so much to learn! Below I want to share some of my greatest lessons from this first year of marriage. If we are lucky, maybe Alex will share some too, but this post is all from a wife's perspective.
IT'S OKAY TO SHUT MY MOUTH
You've heard people say choose your battles. I think wiser words were never spoken. Sometimes I get home from work and the trash hasn't been taken out, or the dishes are still piled from breakfast that morning. In my head, it is frustrating, and it seems really important that Alex knows that I do not approve! I learned pretty quickly that there are a lot of things that might make me frustrated, and if I gave in to the instinct to voice my disapproval every single time, I would never shut up. I think it's also fair to assume that there are things I do that frustrate the heck out of Alex as well. For example, the fact that I never know where I put my keys or that I forget something nearly every time I leave the house. When this happens I don't want a lecture, I just want to find my keys. Because I want Alex to give me a little grace, I know that I also need to extend a little grace. Maybe the trash didn't get taken out, but he stocked the fridge full of groceries. Maybe the dishes need put away, but he spent the whole day working on a video for one of our clients. It really is okay to ignore your instincts and keep your mouth shut long enough to notice the good things your spouse is doing.
SLEEPING IN THE SAME BED IS THE MOST SURPRISING STRUGGLE
Seriously guys, the struggle is real! Alex and I did not live together before we were married. We also had never slept in the same bed together. This is by far the hardest thing about marriage that no one warned us about! Not only was it hard for us to get used to, our mattress really struggled with the change too! Our bed had us rolling to the center, smashed together for a while until we wised up forced ourselves to sleep on the edges. Eventually the mattress got used to us, but then we had a whole other set of problems. Snoring. Depending on the night, one of us would be waking the other with our stuffed up noses. Blankets. Alex is always hot and I'm always cold. For the first several months we could not get it together and slept with our own blankets. Touching. I would prefer to be touching all night long even while we sleep. I don't need full on spooning, but maybe just a hand on his arm. Alex, not so much. All of this to say, sleeping together is not all it's cracked up to be. My advice it to download a white noise app, and to have some Tylenol PM handy.
HE DOESN'T NEED TO KNOW HOW I WOULD DO IT
It turns out that my way isn't always the right way. I know for most of us ladies out there this is a hard one to swallow. When my husband cooks, he rarely does it the way I would do it. When he vacuums he doesn't use the hose to get the baseboards like my parents taught me. When my husband folds the laundry he definitely does not fold the shirts right...*eh hmmm* I mean the way I would. Do I really think Alex can't cook spaghetti without my watchful eye? Do I really not trust him to fold some t-shirts without my correcting his every move? Alex has been doing these things on his own for the last 30 years. He doesn't need my "help" or should I say nagging. He just needs me to trust that he's got it. By the way...Hello! I have a husband that cooks and cleans and folds my laundry, among a million other things! The point is not that he does it my way, the point is that he does it at all, and with a smile. Nothing like trading in all that nagging for a little gratitude.
BEING PRESENT IS HARDER THAN YOU THINK
We had a conversation the other night and realized that we both felt like married life was good. We had fun together, we worked well together, we laughed, and spent plenty of time together. However, how many times did we zone out while watching 3 episodes of Big Brother every week? Sometimes at dinner or in bed we would end up on our phones for an embarrassing amount of time. Yes, we were good and content, but we weren't as good as we could be. We forgot that spending time together meant connecting with each other. We forgot that intimacy is so important to us. We've learned that things can feel good and still not be good. As cliche as it sounds, marriage really does take work. We have to work at being present when we are on the couch, or out to dinner. We have to put down the phones, stop editing those photos, and turn off the TV so that we are able to connect. Loving someone well is more than just being in the same room at the same time, and a little eye contact and conversation can go a long way!
GOD REALLY DOES PROVIDE
To say we've had a hard year is an understatement. We have been through some of the big ones this year; Getting married, moving in together, losing a job and therefore losing our community, walking through the hopefulness and rejection of a job search, joining a new church, and starting a business. I know all of these things are hard in a lot of ways. There are a lot of things that could have been really devastating. However, I've never seen God's timing, God's provision, and God's sovereignty more clearly than I have this year. While there have been times of questioning, sadness, and anxiousness over things like finding a job or how to maintain friendships...we have never once doubted that God was in control. He has provided us healed hearts, new friendships, supportive families, and paychecks all along the way. He used hard circumstances to make us better followers. I'm grateful for this season of life even if we are still somewhat in the middle of the struggle. In the Bible, David knew he could slay the giant, because with God's help, he had already killed the lion and the bear. He knew God was strong enough and good enough to be by his side. Now, after tackling a hard year, we have confidence that we can make it through the next hurdle, or the next struggle because we know that God is strong enough and good enough to be by our side.
As you would guess, marriage is both challenging and rewarding. It stretches me to extend grace and gratitude when my instincts are quite the opposite. It reminds me that I am selfish, but teaches me little ways that I can love my husband unselfishly. Marriage makes me more like Jesus when I am humble enough to allow God to change me. Yes of course marriage can be hard...we've heard that...we know that. But dang! Marriage is so so good. Please share your marriage lessons with us! We want to learn from your experiences too :)