Aside from “How are you?”- the most frequent question I’ve been asked this year is “How’s married life?”
Short answer: it’s really good.
Long answer: I’m learning a lot. I’m learning tons about myself, about my husband, and about my Heavenly Father.
Prior to marriage I had spent almost four years living by myself. It would have been an adjustment sharing a space with anyone, much less a guy.
I’m trying to take the time to remember what this year has taught me. I tend to do this at the end of every journal as well as at the start of a transition or the conclusion of a year. I make a giant list.
GIANT LIST OF WHAT I’VE LEARNED DURING ONE YEAR OF MARRIAGE:
1. Loving someone isn’t a sentiment. It’s a daily choice. It is a repeated action. In the first few months of marriage I found myself withholding love and affection at my most selfish points. Imagine this: I wake up on a Saturday morning excited to spend the morning making breakfast, enjoying the open windows, and just being. Someone else (who will remain nameless) wakes up with a list of chores and activities to accomplish immediately. An hour later I’m dirty and sweaty from rearranging the garage and finding myself close to tears because this isn’t my idea of being together. My attitude is awful and my responses are short. I knew I was in the wrong. I hadn’t expressed my desire for what I wanted to do that morning, I was simply expecting my husband to figure it out by osmosis, I suppose. I walked inside for a moment, took a deep breath, said a prayer that God would teach me how to love, and actively redirected the course of my attitude for the rest of the day. When I stopped thinking about how I wasn’t feeling “loved” by the Saturday activity and started purposely loving my husband, I found myself thoroughly enjoying our time together. I have a lot to learn in this area.
2. GRACE! Rather than assuming the worst, I’ve learned to assume the best about my spouse. This was a huge light-bulb moment for all of my friendships and relationships. Just because someone doesn’t behave or respond the way that I think they should doesn’t mean they don’t love or care about me. I have yet to benefit in the long run by getting all huffy and bothered. Giving a strong dose of grace to a situation can do wonders in keeping a small thing like giving me advice on how to brown onions from exploding into, “YOU DON’T THINK I CAN COOK?” Simmer down there, Chef.
3. I’m so much more emotional than I even thought possible. I had this picture in my head that I was this strong, independent woman who moved to the desert all by her bad self. I can’t tell you how many times my husband has found me crying this year. 8 times out of 10 I’m usually tired, overwhelmed, or my feelings have been hurt. There. I said it. The other two times I really do have NO IDEA WHY I AM CRYING. We’ve worked out a system where I can’t use “I don’t know why I’m crying” and not mean it. I’m coming to terms with my tears.
4. People give and receive love in different ways. This shouldn’t have surprised me. I’ve spent time studying the Five Love Languages. We’ve each talked about our love languages. But this is where grace comes into play yet again. (Catching that theme?) I will have a really unhappy marriage if I decided that I ONLY receive love through written words of affirmation. When we were dating I was in anguish over this. I sent e-mails, texts, and even snail mail all the time. What I failed to realize was that D didn’t have a work schedule that allowed for him to even read everything that I was sending his way, much less respond to everything that I was sending. I had to stop and think of the HUNDREDS of other ways that he shows love and care. I also have to keep myself from only showing love through written words. Learning another language was more challenging than I expected – but totally worth it.
5. Prayer is powerful. (Big surprise?) Praying together is something I treasure. I’m thankful for tearful and joyful moments speaking together with our Father. But I’ll be honest, it doesn’t happen every day. But that doesn’t mean that I stop praying for us and for him when we aren’t together. Praying FOR my husband is precious and something that I don’t want to ever take for granted.
6. My favorite moments from this year have involved EXPERIENCES rather than buying things or receiving gifts. I hope this never changes. As much as I would like a bathroom door or grass in our backyard, I wouldn’t trade Saturdays of rollerblading together or mornings making breakfast together for all the bathroom makeovers in the world.
7. I expected to enjoy parts of this year, but I was also wary of the many comments that came with the first year of marriage. “The first year is the hardest.” Maybe. But it’s not going to be the rule for every marriage. If this was the hardest year of marriage then I can’t wait for the rest. I love spending time with my husband. In the words of the illustrious Jack Johnson, “It’s always better when we’re together.”
Ok. That’s enough for today. I promise this isn’t becoming a marriage blog. I’m just continuing to share what God is teaching me through all of the arenas of life. Come back tomorrow for more thoughts on what this date-less girl learned from her longest dating relationship.