Three years ago today, we said “I do” in front of roughly two hundred friends and family.
We pledged our lives to each other without having any idea what the next years would bring. Three years later, we still don’t have a clue what the future holds. It’s been a wild ride of moving, travels, making new friends, and LOTS of learning together. And we know this is just the beginning of a lifetime of learning and growing together!
Although I feel like there is still so many ways I need to grow, here are a few of the things I’ve learned so far about marriage:
- Don’t try to force your marriage into some sort of mold of what you think it “should” be like. Early in our marriage, I caused myself and my dear husband a lot of angst by having an image in my mind of what an “ideal” marriage looks like. My whole life I had been listening to the comments people say or write about what a good marriage looks like. What I’ve realized in the past three years is that everybody’s relationship is unique and it’s unfair to hold the same exact standard to all of them. Guiding principles of sacrificial love, mutual trust and respect, etc. are certainly important. Yet so many of our particular conflicts came from this deep-seated pride in my heart. I didn’t want to be the couple who didn’t measure up in that particular issue. Instead of focusing on what my husband needed and how to love him as best as I could, exactly as God made him, I tried to push us both into conforming with my own mental standards.
- Being “real” should never be confused with being lazy. If I would make the effort to talk in a friendly tone of voice to my good friend, even when I’m tired, what makes me think I can speak in an irritated manner to my husband “because I’m so tired”? There are many times I’ve acted out of selfish laziness and then gotten upset at my husband because “I’m just being real with how I’m feeling right now!” Finding a balance somewhere in the middle is probably ideal.
- Marriage is fun! It’s great having someone to eat Saturday morning pancakes with, install an air conditioner with, make the big decisions of life with. It’s wonderful meeting up at the end of the day and knowing you’ve both been working hard towards the same goals together. It’s also a chance to try new things and become interested in things you never thought you would care about, because they matter to the person you love. I hope we never stop doing these things together, because I think this is where you make the decision to either do life together, or become two people living separate lives who simply live in the same house.
- And yet… at the end of the day, each of us are still individuals. Yes, we’re married and that’s a pretty unique and exclusive relationship. But we’re still ourselves, with our own opinions, hopes, dreams, fears, desires, pet peeves, and junk food cravings. This is why it really bothers me when we make such a distinction between “married” and “singles” (especially in church!). And when single people don’t want to hang out with a group of people because they’re the only one not married. At the end of the day, we’re all just people. And we all need each other.
One last thing I just have to throw in here–a shout-out to my amazing husband, who is seriously the best. And to the ladies who have been the best and most encouraging friends–thanks for wearing Target bridesmaid dresses and standing up with me three years ago! I don’t want to image life without any of you.