One day you are falling in love and everything is so new and exciting, and the next you are five years down the road with two children. Sometimes you have to wonder how life seems to go so fast. So many of my friends or family members got married around the same time, and it really only seems like yesterday. Now, here we are five years later.
My longest relationship before my husband was only 7 months, so you would think that it would feel incredibly long to me in that aspect, but it doesn't. If you want to know more about our love story you can read about it here (note that I wrote it some time ago;)
We talk about it frequently, how fast time has gone by. We have also been talking about recently how we had no idea what we were doing back then, how clear that will probably continue to become as the years continue to pass. We met in August of 07 and were married by November of 08, crazy talk. But everyone in our lives that we trusted encouraged us to do so, and we were more than willing to listen!
To celebrate we went to downtown Denver and went to Yard House. For an anniversary gift I found this journal at Barnes & Noble called "Reasons Why I Love You" where it had writing prompts to fill in things I loved about him, our memories, all our firsts, etc. I filled out the first 4 or 5 chapters before I got tired and ran out of time. It was awesome at dinner to give it to him and watch him read it and to my surprise he also answered all the questions about me as well. That was really good for my soul to hear and I highly recommend doing something like that on anniversaries.
So, without letting more time pass without reflecting and thinking through what we have been through,
here are a few things I have learned about marriage in the first 5 years.
1. Marrying the Right Person is Vital
This might seem like a no-brainer, but I have realized as thing have gotten hard, confusing or overwhelming that had I married anyone but Daniel, things would be so much harder. We are really so opposite in so many ways, but it works for us. I tell him a lot that "you are everything I never knew I always wanted". Up until the time I met him I would have rambled off a list of things that I had wanted in a husband, I am not so sure that they would have been the right things for me. I am convinced God intervened in bringing me Daniel, and believe me I gave him LOTS of great suggestions ;)
2. Always Be Willing to Change
We talked about this when we were dating, that one of the most important values to have in a spouse was the willingness to accept responsibility for wrongs, problems, etc and be willing to change. Now sometimes the way that plays out is over months and months, but I think it's really important. Being right for the sake of being right only works in a marriage for so long without causing major problems. If I have learned anything through having depression is that life is a journey and at no point do we reach the end, we are always in process. Both being willing to say that about yourself and recognizing it your spouse is all about grace.
3.Serve One Another
If I were honest I would admit that I am the weaker partner in our marriage. For all the excuses I could list, what I do know is that Daniel has made me a better woman and a better wife. The number one way he has done that is to serve me, constantly, no strings attached, simply because he loves me and wants the best for me. No, he doesn't do it perfectly all the time, but what has happened is that because I feel so loved and taken care of so well by him, it has made me want to love and serve him more as well. I came into the marriage, probably like most single people, thinking in a "tit for tat" kinda thing. A "what have you done for me lately" kind of mentality. But the way my husband functions 80% of the time is that he does what he does for me out of love, not so I will owe him and not because he owes me. I think its taken me a long time to figure that out, but it has started to slowly change the way I even subconsciously love.
4. Love is More Than a Feeling
Again, this is another one that you may hear all the time, but its very true. Fairy tales and romantic comedies don't always do real love justice. Many of those idealize love that is, in the end, shallow at best. Real love is holding hands when your world is falling down all around you. Real love is seeing someone at their weakest or their worst and still seeing something wonderful and beautiful. Real love is challenging one another to be better. Real love is trying, always trying, (longer hugs, meaningful touch, picking up their favorite treat etc) even when you don't feel like jumping each others bones. When you take those vows "for better or for worse, in sickness or in health, for richer or for poorer" I don't think you really grasp what you are vowing anymore than you can know what it's like to be a mother before you are one. It's not always easy to love someone and you won't always feel loving towards them, but when that feeling comes to you again, the depth in which it now stands is something that far outweighs that first crush or butterfly feeling.
5. Decide Who Comes First
This is a fairly new realization for me, even though I would have acknowledged the concept from the get-go, I recently realized I wasn't doing this practically. Depending on our family of origin and our roles and relationships within these we may have a harder or easier time with this decision. And sometimes its just a matter of transitioning or deciding who gets the loudest vote in our lives. I tend to need everyone's approval, especially those in key relation to me. Daniel is super easy going, go with the flow, I pretty much always have his approval so I found myself needing it from my family. I began to notice that their opinions still held more weight than my husbands, and that, essentially we let others lead us as we were focusing outside first rather than inside our home and family. Sometimes other family members are more than willing to tell you how you should or shouldn't live your life, many times simply because you asked or need them (not maliciously intended, most times.) As my depression interspersed with this I realized that I needed to put Daniel and his needs and opinions back in first place and he needed to lead me by sharing what those are. My husband and children come first and if others may be put out because of that, I need not be afraid of that disapproval.
Obviously all of these things are lessons still in process, we certainly haven't mastered them but these are the five that stand out to me most at this point.
What would you add?
Here is to 65+ more!