Last year on January 9th I woke up and realized my life truly was starting to enter into uncharted territories. My wedding day was wonderful with family and friends gathered, picture perfect snapshots taken as fluffy snow touched the ground, and laughter and tears filled up the room as stories and speeches were told.
I think back to that day and the days leading up to it, and thought about my nerves. “ The 1st year is always the hardest.”
Well, now a year later I smile at my nerves surrounding that phrase, not because we did not experience any of those growing pains. I smile at the memories of those hardships, and although the transition into married life was not at all “easy”. What I can say is we are so much better for it, and thankful to God that as our trials came, he continued to mold our hearts more and more into his beautiful image. I have learned a lot this past year on what it means to be a wife, a friend, a servant, a helper, and ultimately a woman of God. Those moments of growth were so very painful, and I have come to see that there is a huge difference between heart transformation and behavior modification.
By the grace of God I can walk away from this year and say I have a few more tools in my marriage toolkit, and some new habits I can put into action. ( a FEW, not ALL of the tools there is more growth coming for this year!)
Here are my 5 takeaways from marriage year one: ANNND GO.
#1 – Close that yapper and listen up.
As women we are often categorized as the talkers, the relational ones, and at least for me the interruption prone. I often find myself in conversation with my husband and 10 minutes have gone by, and I am thinking “ Oh did he have something to say?” I have found that if my husband is initiating conversation and wants to sit down and catch up. I really should sit back zip my lips for a few and be thankful that he is taking steps forward in letting me into his head. When I do speak I have learned to ask questions, ask how that made him feel, and if the opportunity arises ask if he needs any help. This has helped me a ton in really being present in our conversation, and helps him know that I genuinely want to be in tune with him.
#2 Reign in those emotions girl. ( this one is a bit long )
I have friends of mine that are not the emotional type, I am not one of those people. I really wear my heart on my sleeve, and my facial expressions often do the talking for me. For awhile I made the excuse that because I am a woman, having mood swings and being emotional was apart of the biological package. This may be TRUE to an EXTENT. We need to get those things in check, especially for the sake of our husbands. Jose and I started to find that he was often becoming the “lightening rod to my storm”. He would walk in and I would be a fast talking, emotional roller coaster, wanting to share all of my thoughts and emotions from the day. The thing is, I did not realize that me strapping Jose into my roller coaster without much of a heads should not be my go to response. I needed to run to God and strap HIM into my emotional roller coaster, because God ENCOURAGES us to strap him in, He wants to be in for the ride.
Matthew 11:28-30 ESV Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Gaining self control with my emotions and having dominion over my thoughts has done wonders for my marriage, when I have put them into action. Taking responsibility of my emotions has also allowed for my husband to better listen and care for me. Which may sound backwards? Many times I thought “ him showing love is accepting where I am at.”, and that thought process is actually incredibly selfish. If we want our husbands to love us through listening, the least we can do is learn how to do some checks and balances when it comes to our emotions so that we don’t completely drain the poor guy. He has probably had a long day too and is dealing with some emotions of his own. Going to God and praying for peace, discernment, or having our rant fest with God FIRST, is us acknowledging that going to him should be our primary response, not our secondary response.
#3 See effective communication as a loving service to your husband. ( and others )
Let me paint a little picture, your hubby is sitting on the couch and he is talking with you. Your attention is a bit divided due to being on your phone, doing the laundry, writing a blog post (hehe), or watching TV. You hear him ask a question and in your head you respond back to him, but in actuality those internal thoughts did not quite make it out alive.
I cannot tell you how many times I have been so adamant that I had responded out loud, and am “waiting on him to respond back to me.” Only to think about it long and hard and realize “Oops..haha…….sorry..” I was not fully listening. These moments reveal to me that effective communication is so crucial in making our husbands, friends, family, co-workers, etc. feel like they are being heard. It’s taking the time to put down what you are doing for a second to listen. Maybe it is communicating this moment is not the best timing, but you would love to figure out a time that does because what is on their mind is important to you. For me, it is making sure my thoughts are thought out and to the point because I am prone to going on and onnnnn. This is not natural for me to think ahead and be clear and concise, but communicating in a way that will help my husband understand is a way I can humbly serve him best. Communication is KEY in marriage/ relationships. Since communicating is so key this is an area that should take EXTRA effort, EXTRA grace, and EXTRA intentionality to master.
#4 Pride is not our ally, but saying I am sorry is.
Have you ever met me? If you haven’t you would come to know that sassy and stubborn are some pretty prominent words in my dictionary. Although, it can be funny at times and when used in the right scenario it can help me to stand up for what is right. The problem comes, when it helps me to stand up when I really should be sitting down. Pride is an infectious disease and when it contaminates it really does some damage. There has been countless times when I have put my foot down and refused to budge. I did not notice at first, but I eventually came to notice bricks stacking up on another. A wall by my hands and at times my husband’s hands began to be built, and walls are only meant for one thing: to divide.
I must admit, that Jose learned this much faster than I did. He really showed me what thinking before speaking looks like, and truly listening to the other person without an agenda. Once we started building better habits and a disagreement would surface because such is life, we would stop and someone would say “do we want to be right, or do we want to be in a relationship?” We found that when we were both fighting to be right, nobody actually wins. We win in our marriage when we are on the same team, and we are fighting for the flourishing and unity of our marriage.
#5 Honor each other’s differences.
Woowee. This was definitely a hard one, especially for little ol me. In my marriage I am the extrovert. I love adventures, talking for hours, and being around people. Now, Jose is the introvert. He prefers one on one meaningful interactions rather than crowds, sitting at home and relaxing, and talking in sprints and not marathons. In college we lived in our separate apartments, so at the end of the day we each went home and did our thing. I would go and talk to my roommates for hours, and he would go and put on his noise cancelling headphones so his roommates wouldn’t talk to him.
When we moved in together this was quite the adjustment, and for a long time I took his tendencies towards silence and solitude personally. I just assumed that if he did not want to talk to me for hours that I was doing something wrong, or at least not that fun to be around. So what did I do? I started to do some investigating and often would try and pop the introvert bubble to see if my thoughts were true. It took me awhile to realize that popping his bubble was interrupting his time that (he personally) needed to recharge and get back to his normally sweet and fun loving self. He would often make jokes that “when the clock strikes 10 he would turn into a pumpkin.” this was not a joke. He is a bit of a grandpa. I started our marriage really resenting the fact he was an introvert at times, because it really changed my everyday routine. I was used to being with people all day and going on spontaneous adventures. Then something happened, watching Jose do his introvert thing really taught me an invaluable lesson. I came to realize I did not know how to be alone! I did not know how to sit and reflect on my own thoughts by myself. Thus, I began to see that my lack of knowing how to have my own reflective and chill time was affecting my prayer life, and my relationship with God. Learning how to be alone and reflect on my day was golden for my personal worship time. We have discovered that our differences for us is what makes us such an awesome team, we learn from our differences and stretch each other to walk into uncharted territories we may not have gone before.
This year has been such an amazing year and I am so thankful for everything we have experienced this year as a couple. We have gone out of our comfort zones, met new people, developed deeper friendships, taken long walks, binged new tv shows, eaten really yummy food, taken a honeymoon, got a new car, worked towards our careers, entered into new ministry opportunities, went to IKEA too many times, and so much more.
Marriage is so worth it, and to be married young is such a blessing for us as we continue to navigate life hand in hand.