A short list of some of just a handful of the things I've learned being married this year.
On December 30, my husband Juan and I celebrated our very first year wedding anniversary. By celebrated, I mean we took our kids and nephews sightseeing in DC to explore our new city. Since the first year traditional anniversary gift is supposed to be paper, my plan was to write this blog post (because, you know, it's basically like paper, only digital!) to surprise Juan with on our day. But, hence the move, my computer was packed up, we didn't have Wifi yet, and it just didn't happen. So here we are, three weeks later! Better late than never, right?
Some people might say we are too new or inexperienced as a couple to be giving advice on marriage, but I’d say our whirlwind of a first year together has brought with it plenty of lessons in its first 365 days.
Since our wedding, we’ve technically been tenants of five different apartments total (it’s a long story...) and residents of three different cities. We’ve trained a new puppy, only to have to give him up. We went through a hormonal roller coaster of a pregnancy, followed by a surgical birth and long recovery. We’ve had health scares and sicknesses. We lived off of only one person's income. We’ve walked through a changing custody situation. We’ve adjusted to the family dynamic of a blended/step family. We’ve visited multiple churches, but have yet to become official members of any.
Talk about whirlwind, right? It's been a lot. But. All of that said, here are five lessons I’ve learned from our wild, unexpected, beautiful, blessed first year of marriage :
Core values are crucial.
On a superficial level, my husband and I don’t have much in common. He likes motorcycles and cars and triathlons and sports and news and journalism. I like... well, online shopping, random research, school, music and overpriced skincare products. Yet we get along so well, in spite of seeming to have so few things in common.
The reason for this? Our core values are in alignment. Spiritually, theologically, philosophically, religiously, politically - our world-views and priorities are darn near the same (In fact, I’ve never met anyone else whose sync so homogeneously with my own!). At the end of the day, the surface level stuff comes and goes, but your core beliefs about life and the world and what’s important are key to who you are, thus very important in a marriage.
Honesty is built upon grace.
People always talk about how honesty is so important in a marriage, but rarely do you hear practical solutions for HOW to be honest in your relationship. One thing I’ve learned is that one person’s reactions or responses to the actions or words of the others can often determine whether or not that person continues to be honest with the other. For example, I have never felt the need to lie to my husband. I’ve messed up and made mistakes and said or done things I shouldn’t have, but I’ve never felt like I had to hide any of that from him.
But my ability to be honest with him is rooted in his ability to respond to all things gracefully. When I confess my shortcomings to him, he has yet to react with quarrel, strife, anger, or bitterness. His response is always that of grace and love and forgiveness. Because of that, we have cultivated within our marriage a safe space to be fully honest with one another.
Iron sharpens iron.
They said that over time, we start to look/act/think/talk like the people we spend most of our time around. For most people, that ends up being their spouse. Therefore, if you want your spouse to talk to you in a respectful way or treat you well, it starts with you. Be the kind of person you’d want to be married to! Relationships have reflective tendencies; it’s up to you as an individual to choose to be the best version of yourself you can be to have a positive influence on your spouse and, in turn, your marriage.
The little things are important.
Small acts of kindness go a long way.
It’s funny how after we get married and/or settle down we tend to stop treating one another quite so gingerly. But those little things that new relationships are billowing with are important for maintaining the spark on down the road (especially when things get rocky!). Things like greeting one another with a hug and kiss, even after a long grueling day, surprising the other with a small treat or meal or gift, or simply sitting with them side by side, phone down, just being there, fully present, make a huge impact on keeping the love alive.
A servant’s attitude is important to make a marriage work.
Okay- I'll admit it. My husband is much more of the giver in our relationship. What can I say? I'm a little spoiled. BUT. This is still a lesson I've learned.
One thing about having a servant’s heart towards a marriage is the notion of anticipating the other’s needs before they even have to ask. To be honest, most days my husband anticipates my needs before I even realize them! Small acknowledgments of this, like having coffee (or celery juice, or pancakes, or whatever they like) ready for your spouse to wake up to after a long or late night, or bringing a glass of water to the bedside table, or giving a shoulder rub when they’ve had a headache, are equally important parts of intimacy in a marriage. They show that you’re thinking of one another, respect one another, and care enough to actively demonstrate that love.
Photography by Torrance Saunders
So there you have it. Five (of the many) things I've learned during this first year of marriage. Cheers to a new year and (prayerfully) many more years to come!
Click the images below to check out some of my favorite resources on preparing for marriage: