1. There Is Joy Amidst The Storm:
OK, we all know down really deep that once you get past all the Instagram filtered pictures on social media, people aren’t always as happy as they seem. This goes for marriage too. And I’m not talking about the fighting or the disagreements. Those can be ‘stormy’ times but the storms I’m referring to challenging times that you really cannot control. Death, illness, injury, hopelessness, and sudden misfortune, are all things that cause stress in a marriage. For me these storms are so hard because of the uncertainty they create. There’s no guarantee that everything will turn out OK and all you can do is roll with the punches. I’ve learned though, that when things are particularly stressful, there is a certain joy to be found amidst the chaos. This joy comes from the honest, affectionate, and funny relationship Michael and I have. We lift one another up in the worst of times. We make each other laugh and stay positive Even when we aren’t in tip top shape, or we’re mourning the loss of a loved one, or we lose at life, the one thing that is certain: the love of my spouse.
2. The Little Things Really Do Count:This isn’t necessarily a lesson only for marriage as it definitely applies to every part of my life and is an attitude that important to staying happy. Michael and I have always done small things for each other to say, ‘I love you.’ It’s just always been a thing we did. Sometimes it’s washing the dishes, giving a hug or surprising each other with a sweet treat and although these things are small, they have a huge impact on our marriage. Looking back at the last year, I can say they have a big impact because small acts of love and kindness make us both feel deeply appreciated by the other. It’s particularly effective when neither of us expects it, but really needs it. I can’t tell you how many times my heart melted when Michael asked me ‘What can I do to make your day better?’ and then, when I’m not looking, puts little pieces of chocolate on my desk to lift my spirits. I’m not sure if he realizes it but all it takes is that simple question to make my day better. Even if he couldn’t do anything, it’s enough to know he cares and would try to lift me up. We don’t have a lot and we don’t make a lot of money, but we find creative ways to say I love you and try to support one another. It’s those little things, like hugs, smiles, and the reassurance of our dedication that keep us in love.
3. Balancing Family Activities:
If you thought your family was busy, imaging having two families. Double the birthdays, double the holidays, and double the travel. In the first year Michael and I did A LOT and let me tell you it was definitely tough to balance family activities and our own schedules. Each of us feels a certain preference towards our own families and rightly so. They are the people who raised us, the people we grew up with, the people we love. But there comes a point where you have to find a balance between the amounts of time spent with each family and the time you spend doing your own thing as a married couple. Michael and I learned very quickly that this can be harder than it seems since family activities (particularly holidays) are more frequent. For instance, Michael and I went through a couple of months where every weekend was completely booked with visits, travel, and plans with family. It was enjoyable, but it really was too much. Every week was booked solid since there wasn’t any time on the weekend to work on things like household chores, meal prep for the week, not to mention projects for work. It came to a point where all we did was work all week and then travel. It left us exhausted and totally drained. There really wasn’t any leisure time for us to spend just with one another and that was frustrating. We know now, that it’s OK to say ‘no, were not coming up this weekend’ even when we know our parents would REALLY like to see us. Yes, family is so important, but so is our sanity, work and our own relationship.
4. Your Marriage Is Priority #1:
The Lesson of All lessons, this one is an amalgamation of all the previous things I’ve learned. To keep our marriage as priority numero-uno, we’ve had to just be who we are and make the decisions that are best for us. Everyone has an opinion on how you should do things, where you should live, and how soon you should have kids. But in the end, we have to put our relationship first despite others opinions. Now, if we were doing something morally wrong I’d want my friends and family to step in and help us arrive at the right decision. But knowing that we rely on God to guide us, I can firmly say those decisions are up to us. Next putting your marriage first means saying ‘NO’ to family visits/activities, extra work and events especially when they overwhelm your personal life. It’s perfectly fine to take time for you and your spouse to be alone and say ‘We’re not doing anything this weekend!’ Part of putting your marriage first is spending quality time together like going on dates and talking to one another without tons of distractions. Finally, I’ve learned that putting my marriage first means keeping a healthy prayer life. I don’t care if we sit on the couch all day or if we go do something fun, we need to be home! Work, events, friends, kids (ok not there yet, but I can see how it kind of distracts from the attention you would usually give you spouse!)
5. An Active Faith = Synchronized Minds:
Probably one of the most interesting things I’ve learned in this past year is that my spiritual life and my marriage are deeply connected. So connected, in fact, that when one is neglected it affects the other significantly. To me this makes sense since my spiritual life and marriage are both rooted in Christ. But, when I examine this connection a bit deeper, I realize that when my prayer life or my relationship with God is lacking, the interactions I have with Michael on a daily basis also lack something. We’re more irritable, impatient, and less merciful toward one another when one (or both) of us neglect our conversations with God. I can always tell I need to pray more or that I need to reorient myself towards Jesus when Michael and I don’t communicate well. For instance, I can remember many times trying to communicate thoughts and ideas to one another and getting frustrated because neither of us was on the same page. During these moments it felt like we were speaking different languages and that was so weird! Then we’d go to confession, start praying more and all of a sudden our brains were totally in sync. Thinking the exact same things, understanding one another instantly and feeling less stressed. Maybe I’m crazy, but I’ve learned not to neglect my spiritual/prayer life or our marriage so that we can stay on the right track.
I hope you've enjoyed this reflective and personal post! every relationship is different so I hope maybe one or two of these lessons has shed some light on what newly married couples learn in the first year.