On 21 February, 2016, my wonderful husband and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. Between our civil marriage in November 2014, and this first anniversary from our official Christian ceremony, so much has happened. We have had the most incredible, crazy, whirlwind of a year, not only giving us wonderful memories from epic travels, but also inaugurating us into the worlds of both wedded bliss, and parenthood as well. In honor of all that, I thought I would itemize 5 useful learnings for me as a wife/us as a couple, in our first year of marriage:
#1: BE KIND. A lot can be accomplished with kindness as a vehicle. Constructive criticism, loving praise, and offers/requests of/for assistance are all more valuable when done kindly without unnecessary pressure or entitled expectation.
#2: JUST LIKE ANY OTHER RELATIONSHIP, MARRIAGE IS A LOT ABOUT GIVE & TAKE. In marriage it pays to:
- Give time. One of my key love languages is Quality Time, and it means a lot being able to both receive precious time spent together from my husband even when he’s busy, as well as being able to give my own time to him when I’m busy too.
- Give of yourself. Just like giving time, time spent together is not quality time unless you are fully present. So give of yourself, and be fully present when making all those memories together. This is so precious every year, but I found it to be extra precious this first year as we experienced many firsts as “One.”
…But also to:
- Take the initiative to do things – to surprise one another, to reach out, to forgive, to apologize, to plan vacations, to do the chores, to give without being asked.
- Take your time. Don’t rush through every experience – take stock of even the smallest moments. Enjoy all the lovely little things – sneaking kisses at the theater, sharing a bowl of your favorite chips and guac, spending an afternoon in bed with a book and each other, sleeping late and long in each other’s arms, laughing at bad puns. It’s the lovely little things that make a life.
#3: BE JOYFUL. Be generous with your joy and laughter. Just as in #2, make the most of the little moments, and find every opportunity to see the good and the light in every situation, and in each other. I’d also like to include this prayer here, which I received on the 21st from my Unveiled Wife subscription and found to be so fitting for the day:
#4: BE HONEST & ACCOUNTABLE. Being married gives you an automatic accountability partner, so it’s good to be honest and accountable to one another at all times. It doesn’t hurt to introduce some structure into your marriage: be accountable to each other, to a budget you set together, to a healthy lifestyle you can commit to together, to a parenting style you can subscribe to together. I know it’s saved us plenty of unnecessary grief and disagreement having taken the time out to agree on certain plans and boundaries for ourselves to help set us up for success as a unit (and a growing family). Beyond that, it also helps to find a group to be accountable to. For us, that’s our church, and our Life Group – with whom we can pray, commiserate, learn, and share life with as we all grow as young, married couples.
#5: BE BLESSED TO BE A BLESSING. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this first year of marriage, it’s that – just like in single life, married life is filled with adventures, surprises, and challenges. You may experience times of plenty, and you may experience moments of struggle too. One of the greatest things being with my husband has taught me is that it is our job to find the blessing in each situation, maximize it, and share it with those around us. There will be times we question ourselves, are we good enough? I know I have asked myself, am I a good enough wife? And now even, am I really truly fit to be a mother?? But the constant reminder that my marriage and motherhood are both blessings keeps me grounded in the truth that God’s plans are perfect. He ordained my marriage because He knew I would be the right match for this man and vice versa, and He blessed our baby knowing we were exactly the right parents for him too. God has blessed us with these things, and it’s our responsibility to make the most of the blessings, honor God through them, and make them blessings to others too.