First, I meant to reflect on 2011. Then when I missed the New Year moment, I thought I’d look back on one year of marriage after our anniversary. Well, now it’s almost May and I have yet to do that either. So forget the date – here’s a random sampling of thoughts after one year of marriage:
1. My husband is wonderful.
Now, before you throw up a little in your mouth, don’t get me wrong. He’s a total sinner (of which I am the foremost!). But as I told my sister shortly before Jordan and I were engaged, it’s like God made him just for me. And it’s not just that he’s sexy, though he most certainly is. It’s that he clings to what is true and he leads our family there. He gets up at 6 every morning so that he has time to study the Bible and pray before going to work. Then, he comes home from a long day at work to a wife and daughter who talk incessantly and a baby who may very well be screaming, and he takes it all in stride. He kisses the talking wife, takes his turn with the screaming baby, and settles in for what has been named “Hadley-Daddy time.” He can fix anything. And he builds things. He is the designated spider killer. And he dishes our bowls of ice cream (almost) every night. He’ll eat anything I make, even if I totally botched it. And as we work through conflict, he is quick to forgive and quick to confess. Did I mention that he’s sexy? My husband is a MAN. And he’s my man.
I was reminiscing the other day about the moment I knew I was going to marry this man. We went to a UND/NDSU basketball game. It was subzero temperatures yet Jordan decided we should park at Appareo and walk the few blocks to the game. (He later admitted that he didn’t have any cash for parking.) I was wearing totally impractical shoes, and I’m pretty sure a winter coat did not go with my outfit. Let’s just say, it was cold. So we ran. And as we ran, he reached back and took my hand. Sigh. It was reassuring and sweet, considering that I was starting to wonder if this guy even liked me.
While we were at the game, he said, “Part of a man’s responsibility is to help a woman feel confident and secure in where their relationship is going, and I haven’t done a good job of that.” I wasn’t necessarily going to disagree, but I was anxious about where it was going. He continued, “The truth is, I’m really excited about you and I would marry you tomorrow.”
After years of relationships with scared-to-commit and take-what-I-want men, I didn’t know what to do in the presence of a real man. So I sat there stunned. Likely beaming. And totally avoiding eye contact.
After he took me home, I did what any normal girl would do – walked in the door to my two visiting sisters and screamed with glee. The rest is history.
2. Every couple should take a two-week road trip after they’ve been married a few months.
Seriously. A honeymoon doesn’t cut it. You’re too happy and can see no faults. But the vacation we went on this fall was the best decision we could have made. While we had a relatively pleasant (and moderately stressful) first several months of marriage, there were lots of little things that were getting harder and harder. We didn’t communicate well. There were lots of lingering assumptions about one another. Jordan often felt disrespected and I often felt unloved. But the thing about daily life is that there’s no TIME. So you resolve what you can and you cling to Jesus and what you know is true and you kiss each other goodbye as you part ways for the day. The problem is, while it may be pleasant or even wonderful again, there are those underlying things that didn’t totally get dealt with and will likely show their ugly faces once again.
Well, they showed up on the road, in the middle of a full day of driving.
What do you do when you’re trapped in the car and just ticked at each other? You pray a lot. And then you talk. A lot.
We learned things about each other that we would never have known. Like that Jordan is really forgiving when I forget his birthday.
No really, (well that is actually true, but seriously) there were some things we had avoided discussing because we were certain that we disagreed and didn’t have the time to totally resolve. Well, we hunkered down and entered in and – gasp – totally agreed with each other. It was hilarious. In the middle of a heated “debate,” Jordan asked, “Are we saying the same thing?” We both burst out laughing. Then moved onto the many assumptions that had creeped in over the past months about how we viewed each other, our roles, our family, our future. It cleared the air. It instilled confidence in my husband that I had been (sinfully) withholding. It reminded us that we were on the same team, and made us excited to be there.
This is not to say that life has been totally blissful ever since without a single conflict. We have plenty of conflict. And we are constantly learning and being challenged in how we communicate with each other. But that time on the road allowed us to dream and challenge and pray and just enjoy each other in a way that has us in conflict a better way, if that makes any sense.
3. Even the crazy thoughts will come out sometime. Better to share than to be surprised.
Maybe I should say especially the crazy thoughts.
I started reading this book before I got married that planted some pretty crazy fears and insecurities in my mind: “Don’t nag; your husband will divorce you.” “Don’t be too opinionated; your husband will divorce you.” “Don’t (fill in the blank); your husband will divorce you.” It left me feeling like I couldn’t express my thoughts, fears, and questions to Jordan in the name of “submission.” It’s not that I really feared Jordan was going to up and leave, but I was afraid to be the dripping faucet who would send her husband to the rooftop (one pastor I listened to asked, “What do you do on a rooftop? You jump!”).
So imagine my terror when only a few days into married life, the crazy thoughts emerged. Years of insecurities came rushing in, and I feared they would hurt Jordan or he would misunderstand them so I held them in. Instead, he was hurt and confused by my silence. I can remember this beautiful night where I told him what was going on and he held me and prayed for me as I cried and cried. You don’t experience that kind of intimate restoration without full-fledged honesty.
I wish I could say that solved the insecurities, but they stayed, showing themselves at different times and in different scenarios. It was really on our road trip (see point #2) when we started to root them out, and it has been a constant battle for me to fight to believe truth about God, myself, and my husband. But as I’ve let Jordan in, I allow his strength to enter in where I am completely weak, and that, I believe, is true complementarity.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The Bible makes it very clear that a fool gives full vent to her spirit; a wife is to hope fully in the Lord and out of that flows a gentle, quiet, and submissive spirit; self-control is a fruit of the spirit, as well as love and gentleness; and in our anger we should not sin. So I think when I go on a verbal rampage in the name of being “honest” I am totally sinning against God and my husband. But. There’s something sweet and intimate and (dare I say) submissive about being totally honest in a loving, gentle, I’m-not-saying-these-thoughts-are-okay-but-I-need-you-to-pull-me-out-of-them way.
Here’s where the pray-without-ceasing mandate comes in, because let’s face it, my impulse is to rage in anger, not calmly and rationally invite my husband into the mess to help me see the light. I do believe that it is good and healthy to bring my junk before the Lord and allow Him to lead me to truth. But I think God can receive much glory as he, in his grace, trains my spirit to pray and wait and pray and wait and then open up in messy vulnerability to a man who has vowed to lead me in obedience to God’s will and to an ever deepening satisfaction in Christ and not in him.
I guess to sum that up I would say that whether I tell Jordan what’s going on in my head or not, it’s bound to come out somewhere else. I’m learning that I’d rather let it come out openly then surprise us in some unrelated meltdown.
4. Gratitude is the best medicine.
Jordan and I have both realized that we have to fight for joy. It’s not something that just comes naturally. We’re both overly serious and rather boring. For awhile, we started singing, “This is the Day” every morning in an effort to spark a little enthusiasm. We’re growing, but slowly.
One of the reasons I blog is to foster gratitude. I think that’s where joy comes from. As we count each blessing in each moment we are lead to a place of deep gratitude for the God who gives wonderful gifts even in the midst of pain and messes. And that’s where true, heartfelt, soul-filling joy comes from. I started reading One Thousand Gifts and have only been encouraged that this is true.
It’s so easy to complain. And it’s so easy to not complain but allow inner-grumbling to have free reign. So I started making a list of things I appreciate about my husband. Moments, attributes, little mannerisms that remind me why I married this man. And as I wrote I realized I was practically laughing out loud recounting all the fun we’ve had this past year. It’s amazing how the good far outweighs the bad, yet how often I focus on what is hard or frustrating. I think that reality makes gratitude a discipline. As a wife I have to choose to trust my husband and follow him, and I would rather do it celebrating the work of God in his life and praying for him and encouraging him than as just dead weight. I hope to add to this list for the rest of my life. Maybe someday I’ll even let him see it. And that day, I hope it won’t be a big surprise what a blessing he is to me.
5. One year of marriage makes me very far from being an expert.
I am so thankful for my parents and Jordan’s parents who have been married 30-ish years and have so much to teach us. I’m so thankful for the wonderful married friends we are surrounded by who continually ask us hard questions and share from their wealth of experience and wisdom. I hope I never consider myself a marriage expert and will always humbly consider the advice of those further along on this journey. We have a long way t o go.
So. The verdict after this year: Jordan and I tell couples that marriage is sanctifying – that it isn’t ultimately to make us happy but to make us more like Jesus. But even in the midst of all that hard stuff, marriage is awesome. Totally recommend it. 🙂