Onward and Upward

I can’t be my true self around my husband.  I can’t say whatever I want, do whatever I want, or act however I want.

And that’s a really good thing.

Because my true self is selfish and way too worried about schedules and spreadsheets (I would have made an excellent railroad operator).  My true self doesn’t think about the fact that she’s living with another human being who may not want to get dumped on about the day’s littlest details the moment she walks in the door.  My true self has sky-high expectations for her husband’s every word, thought, and action without holding herself to that same standard.  My true self is careless about feelings, quick to offend, and slow to forgive.

So thank goodness that my husband draws out the best in me and challenges me to be my better self instead of my true self.

“But shouldn’t we be able to be vulnerable and open with our spouses?  Shouldn’t our homes be safe places to share our feelings?”

Well, yes.  Of course.  But whether if you’re bound to someone in a marriage covenant or just split a rent check each month; you are no longer an autonomous being.  Our moods and words effect our housemates and spouses.  We should strive to build relationships that encourage truth.  But those beautiful relationships aren’t just the result of throwing all filters out the front door and saying whatever comes to mind.  Sometimes loving your spouse means shutting your mouth.

For me, it means checking my mood when I get home from work. Right before I turn the corner leading towards our studio apartment and right after making a few quick glances into the dark corners of the gardens to make sure our not-so-neighborly skunk isn’t waiting to sabotage me, I think “would I want to greet myself in this mood after a long day’s work?” If the answer is no (and it usually is, because even the best days at work end with a commute in Southern California traffic), then I pause and take a moment to reset my perspective on the day and stop dwelling over the little angsts from the past 8 hours.

My true self still shows up a lot.  I say things that are unkind and worse yet, I really mean them.  I am grateful that my husband and friends continue to shower me with love that appreciates me for where I am but also can see the better me and continually encourages me to become that person.

Marriage | The First Year

As of today, we’ve got 365 days of married bliss under our belts and while that doesn’t quite make us marriage experts, it does give me the authority to comment on the dreaded “First Year of Marriage.” Cue the dark lights and sad faces.

Real confession time: the first year of marriage was great.

I’m 100% speaking only out of my own experience so if you’re first year of marriage was the worst or just so-so, I’m truly sorry & hope things got better. But since I have so many friends that are getting married this summer (as evidenced by the growing number of bridesmaids dresses in my closet), I wanted to share this ray of hope.

The first year of marriage does not have to be horrible. Contrary to what every well-meaning marriage book and article will tell you, the first year of marriage does not HAVE to entail:

  • Fights over money
  • Time battles over friendships
  • Arguments over where you spend the holidays
  • General despair
  • No more fun
  • Battling over how you squeeze the toothpaste tube (does anyone actually fight over that? Buy separate toothpaste tubes people. Problem solved)

Those are the common issues that a quick Google search will show you. Or just read the first chapter of any marriage book. Most of the ones we read started with: “You thought marriage would be great. But it’s actually super difficult and painful. Say goodbye to happiness now.”

That might be a bit of an exaggeration and while I completely appreciate the effort to set realistic expectations, but I fear that going into marriage with this deluge of fear-mongering propaganda about how much you’ll fight, the dark secrets you’ll discover, and just how generally miserable marriage can be won’t exactly set you on the path to success.Thankfully, Luke and I were blessed with great premarital counseling, wise older friends, and an innate love of budgeting. I’d highly encourage you to read those marriage books because they have a lot to offer after the first chapter. Here’s my summary of the advice from books, the Bible, and mentors that helped us have an awesome first year of marriage:

  • Discuss as many unspoken rules as you can find before marriage.
  • Embrace the money talk. Budgeting can sound scary, but it also can be super fun to set saving goals and get creative with a food budget.
  • Over-communicate. Girls, we love to get offended when guys can’t read our minds. “But shouldn’t they know exactly what I want to eat for dinner without me telling them?” Or worse: “He should know that xyz would make me upset! By doing it anyway, he clearly doesn’t care for my feelings.” Actually, it’s pretty uncaring to get mad at someone for not being able to read your mind or your hints.
  • Don’t keep score. I learned this one the hard way, which you can read about here.
  • Know which battles to fight. If I wanted to, I could probably get annoyed with Luke about pretty much anything. But I don’t have to. I can choose to take a page out of Queen Elsa’s songbook and simply let. it. go. It’s beautiful. And my out-of-tune warbling rendition of this overplayed mantra always lightens the mood 🙂

I’m beyond excited to witness the many marriages that are forming this summer and have loved learning from the other newlyweds and not-so-newlyweds in my life. As I reflect over this past year and sentimentally sob my way through the many wedding cards, notes, and kind advice given to Luke and I, I mostly want to say: Thank You. Thanks to the family and friends that made our wedding day so special. Thanks to the new friends that helped us move across the country and settle down in the foreign land of California. Thanks to the old friends who have stayed in touch and encouraged us every step of the way.