As of June 4th, I have officially been married to my wonderful wife Jamie for one year. The transition and our multiple moves in that time along with our challenging first year of grad school have been incredibly difficult and often physically, emotionally, and mentally draining. Yet, this last year has been, by far, the best of my life. As all couples do, we found out that marriage isn’t perfect all the time. We also learned that each of us is married to our best friend, that we selflessly care for the other, and we (attempt to) point each other to Christ daily. Without further ado, I’d like to give you all a few observations that I’ve made in my first twelve months of wedded bliss.
There are times when I just sit and ponder the future, think about projects I want to work on, or about books I want to read. In addition, my wife and I more than occasionally worry about money, work, school, and a cornucopia of other things. Sometimes we worry so much that we forget to just take a breath and enjoy each other.
I’ve learned I can’t just wallow in my worries constantly. While planning for or wondering about the future is not inherently bad, if I do so at the cost of enjoying the blessings in my life right now–like Jamie—then I run the risk of not appreciating the time I have with her. Sometimes I just have to take a step back, get out of my head, and drink in every moment I have with my soulmate. Next time you start to fret about tomorrow, hold your spouse a little tighter, look in her/his eyes a little longer, and stop and smell the roses. As Jesus said, “ do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. ”
Conflict: Resolution > Victory
If you think that winning is the goal in marital conflict, then you may find yourself in a constant emotional and psychological battle in your own home. The goal should be bringing you and your spouse back to a place of right relationship. If you’re trying to win, you’re going to lose.
My wife and I have been really good at avoiding this. A big part of our success has been Jamie’s studies in relational communication. The other part is that we both come from families of divorce. We saw first-hand as our parents wanted to win arguments with superior logic or the louder voice. Neither of us wants to experience that again. We make conscious efforts to take a breath or stop talking for a minute when we feel defensive. We always try to remember that we aren’t enemies. This is the person I care about the most. She is not trying to intentionally hurt me. With that frame of mind, our arguments almost always bring us closer together. Each one of us knows that the other is trying to resolve the conflict, not win it.
Just because times are hard doesn’t mean they’re bad
Of all the things on this list, this has arguably been the most important for my wife and I this year. Jamie and I moved all of our worldly possessions twice in six weeks last summer. We came to Winston-Salem where we knew exactly no one. All the while, we were trying to learn how to be good spouses and do well in school at the same time. It was possibly the hardest time of our lives. However, it was also the best time of our lives. We had been dating since we were 15 and we finally got to be husband and wife. It was the culmination of our entire relationship to that point.
Even though we were going through major hardships (existential angst, feeling like it was just us in Winston, grad school grinding us into a fine powder, etc.), we got to enjoy each other the way God intended. I wouldn’t change anything about those days. In the hard times we learned that we could count on each other to be there no matter what.
Go the extra mile—Division of labor
This one may not be too popular. Fellas, do the dishes. And the laundry. And vacuum. When you do these things, don’t do them expecting to have praise showered upon you when your wife sees it. You’re not doing her a special favor when you do household chores. You’re being her husband. Serving each other is the modus operandus of a good marriage. If each person goes in with the mind set of equal work, then two things happen: 1) You are more likely to put in the effort because you know your partner is pulling his/her weight around the house and 2) you come to appreciate each other more for the hard work you put in.
This year has been the best of my life. I’ve been in love with Jamie for a long time but now we are even closer than before. I am so joyful that I get to be with my favorite person on earth for the rest of my life. I hope that some of my observations can help some of you as you begin/continue your journeys through marriage.