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5 Things I’ve Learned in Seven Months of Marriage [Part One]

 

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photo credit goes to the lovely Faith Linell. Check out her amazing work at faithlinell.com!

Seth and I were married about seven months ago, on June 3, 2016. It was a beautiful day, planned largely by my mom — she has so much talent for planning lovely events! It was amazing to see how God worked all the details out! I found my dream dress and it didn’t cost an arm and a leg, Seth’s whole family (missionaries in Africa) got to be there, and so many other things were just a dream come true. My mom worked SO hard, and a lot of people pitched in to help. It was a very blessed and blissful day.

Since our wedding, Seth and I were able to spend two months in Israel. Part of that trip was a personal, DIY tour of the Bible lands, and several weeks were also spent working with Project Nehemiah, a great Christian organization that uses donations to purchase staple groceries and blankets for needy Israelis and Jewish immigrants from Russia, Estonia, Ukraine, etc.

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After returning from Israel, we came home to continue working on remodeling our house and finishing our last year of Bible college. And then to top it all off, we were happily surprised in September to find out that we’re expecting our first baby!

Our marriage so far has been packed with adventure, laughter, sweetness, and romance; but it has also had its share of challenges, tears, and lessons. And those are the things I really want to talk to you about in this blog. Because marriage is a little bit like sand– beautiful, glistening in the sunlight, and soft, but also gritty, rough, and with the potential to rub you the wrong way. So here are five things I’ve learned/am learning from my new-ish role as Seth’s wife.

Marriage is easier than I thought it would be. In the days and weeks and months leading up to the wedding, several people wanted to make sure I experienced the reality check. “Marriage is very hard,” they told me. “You won’t believe how much work it takes,” cautioned well-intentioned people. “The things you find so cute and sweet now will make you sick as soon as you get married!” “Enjoy your honeymoon because it sure doesn’t last long!” Statements like these did not dampen my eagerness to get married. But they did, in some ways, cause me to expect the worst. I envisioned toil and bickering, a lost spark, and fading romance. But… it hasn’t been like that! I know, I know– I’m still a “newlywed” so my perspective is inexperienced. But really, it doesn’t have to be as bad as people say! And so far, for us, it hasn’t been. We never want our spark to die, and we find practical ways all the time to still enjoy romance despite our often conflicting schedules and busy lives.

  1. We have a date night almost every week. Sometimes we go out for dinner; sometimes we enjoy a night in with a movie. But we do our best to have a purposeful, just-the-two-of-us evening every week.
  2. We still write each other love letters. No, not nearly as often as we did when we were dating; but we still do it. Those little gestures are so important!
  3. We cuddle. Whenever we can. Even if it’s only for a moment on our way to our next pressing matter, we love to stop for a quick hug and smooch, for a pinch on the bum. 😉
  4. We go to bed together almost every night. Our bedtime, while fluctuating, is normally in sync. We get into bed, read a chapter from the Bible together, and pray before going to sleep.

Marriage certainly takes work, but it’s not as “bad” as some people might lead you to believe! So if you’re reading this and you’re engaged or dating, have hope, not discouragement.

Marriage is harder than I thought it would be. Men and women are different. WAY different… and definitely in more ways and to a larger degree than I had thought! I grew up in a family of four girls and one boy, so relating to girls is easy. I never knew that it would be more difficult to relate to a man on an intimate level! I never knew I was this emotional before we got married! To me, I was just normal. But lo and behold, I can be very emotional! and without any girls who think the same way, I can feel misunderstood or even slightly alone. Men don’t communicate on an emotional level– not naturally anyway. They don’t consider how something makes them feel, but on how they think. They don’t understand how something could feel right or wrong, they just know how it is. It can be very frustrating when you feel like you’re speaking different languages! Seth and I have both had to learn– and certainly haven’t finished learning– how we need to communicate with each other. I’m (slowly) learning to tell him what’s on my mind or to voice my feelings and opinions instead of hoping he’ll catch the hints. And he’s learning to give me details when we talk, and not the skeleton outline he’d normally offer to another guy.

Another obstacle we face is our cultural differences. I’m totally American; Seth, on the other hand, is a TCK (Third Culture Kid) who grew up in West Africa.  It’s pretty safe to assume that our backgrounds are very different. We have different perspectives on the value of money, time and punctuality, social life, etc. These areas and more have required us both to TRY to be understanding, patient, and open-minded not about typical husband-wife differences, but about differences I had never expected to have. We have both had to rely on God to teach us to be patient and to really learn each other’s heart. It is an ongoing process.

Love is a powerful motivator. But the question has been, “whom do I love?” In our little house, I can choose myself or I can choose him. Sounds pretty straight forward. But– plot twist!– sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between loving my husband and loving myself. how-to-love-myselfSaying “I love you,” cooking meals, and keeping house seemed at first like I was loving my husband. After all, I work hard to make food he’ll like and to keep the house semi-decent amidst college and remodeling. I was doing it for him… wasn’t that love? But then I realized– he needs more help than that, and I’m only doing the minimum. I was trying to love without sacrifice, which is a total impossibility! Loving myself is a powerful motivator to do less and be complacent; loving my husband is a powerful motivator to really try to be his help-meet. Choosing to put more effort and determination into loving Seth more than loving myself helps me to do more with my day, and to think of ways to make him happy that I would not have considered otherwise. There is a two-way benefit to loving others more than you love yourself: both of you receive the blessing.

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{Part Two coming soon.}

7 thoughts on “5 Things I’ve Learned in Seven Months of Marriage [Part One]

  1. I enjoyed reading your article! I like how you ignored the negative comments said to you about marriage. Marriage is a wonderful journey!
    Keeping that “spark” alive takes both husband and wife.
    Since your family is growing by one, I advise you (when things settle down) to make time for yourself and keep the romance alive. Congrats and blessings to you both!
    Check out my blog for Christian married women:
    Loftforum.wordpress.com

    1. Hi there! Thank you for taking the time to read, and the encouraging feedback! When Baby is born, it will be interesting to figure out new ways to have time for ourselves, but I’m looking forward to it. Thank you for the advice! I’ll certainly check out your site. 🙂

  2. Reading this like looking into a mirror and seeing myself! Love your thoughts! I’ve been married a year and a half and can say it’s still wonderful and not has horribly horrific as those well-meaning naysayers said it would be! Not perfect, not whole, but wonderful and FULL of growing love and memories!

    1. Thank you for taking time to read and leave a comment! I love interacting with readers! Congratulations on your year and a half. That’s wonderful!
      Marriage is really what we make of it– so approaching it with a negative view is very nearly dooming it to misery! Marriage is worth the fight to keep it beautiful.

  3. Interesting and yes I honestly laughed a little when you said marriage isn’t hard. You know what I am learning again that life is what you choose to make it. We always have a choice and that’s not always easy to see. You two are blessed and the way that you write to is clearly the way of the lord. You live with pure love and that makes us vulnerable because we must trust and set ourselves aside as Jesus did. As for the naysayers well I say when you marry the right person who cares about the petty stuff. Congrats I wish you the best. What’s great is that you guys are great and you will get even better. Thanks for sharing.

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