Lessons Learned in the First Year (and a half!) of Marriage

Hi friends! I hope you all have had a lovely Thanksgiving! I am currently in full detox mode. I ate so much over the course of the last two days! But that’s what the holidays are for, right? 🙂 Now all I want are fresh, steamed veggies and brown rice! No. more. dairy. (I’m a vegan 95% of the year, haha). I hope that you had great time with family and friends, and that not only your bellies are full, but your hearts are also 🙂

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time. My husband and I have been married for a year and a half, and I believe it is true when they say ‘When you marry, you marry a stranger’. The first year of marriage has been amazing, but I find that I am learning more and more about who my husband is and the role that I play in his life. I have learned some great lessons in what it means to be a wife to my husband, and I wanted to share some of those, sometimes hard-earned, lessons with you in the hopes that it will help your marriage…or maybe at the end of this you will see your role differently. Take what you want from this post! Every marriage is different 🙂 Let’s begin, shall we?

couple

(These are listed in no particular order)

 

1. Never assume anything about your spouse. 

What they are thinking, their intentions behind their actions, what they are doing when they aren’t home – assume. nothing. You have no idea what is going on in your spouse’s brain. And I can bet you that half of the time when you think your husband is thinking of something deep, he is probably thinking of football or a project that needs to be done around the house 😀 For me, this came in the form of housework. My husband likes to sit a dirty dish on top of the dishwasher instead of in the dishwasher. This drove me crazy for months! Whenever I would witness this, the assumptions would begin:

“He doesn’t care about helping me keep the house clean.” “He just sits it there and thinks I’ll do it later.” “He doesn’t value me and what I do for our house.” <– do you see how quickly that escalated?! Calm down, Stacey.

Because this was a topic that I kept bringing to my husband (along with other small habits that drove me crazy), and because nothing was changing, I decided to take it to God. And I found that the prayer I used for these minor issues in our marriage is now a prayer that I turn to for many things.

“Lord, you know these things are annoying me. If this is something that I should not be getting upset over, then please change my heart. Let me see it differently. If it is something that needs to change, then change my husbands heart. I don’t want to waste any more time or brain power getting aggravated over something so small.”

I can promise you, the next day my mood was completely different. I witnessed my husband put his cereal bowl on top of the dishwasher and my first thought was “Eh, what’s one more dish to throw in there?”. BOOM. CHANGE. But the reason that I was able to let it roll off so quickly (without out the assumptions flooding in) was because I realized…

2. My husband just doesn’t think. 

And I mean this in the sweetest way possible. My man kept a perfect 4.0 throughout college, was in the Honors Society, and is a genius when it comes to Engineering, but he doesn’t think about little things like putting a dish where it actually goes. It isn’t that he is intentionally trying to hurt my feelings or that he doesn’t value me, he really just doesn’t think about it! And unlike women, men actually have the capacity to not think of anything. It’s pretty amazing! This means that, ladies, when you ask your man what he’s thinking and he replies “Nothing, really”, he’s being completely honest! It isn’t because he doesn’t want to share his deepest thoughts with you, it’s because he knows how to turn the think-tank off. I am so jealous of this ability!

I think the Lord immediately changed my view of this behavior because He knew there was no ill-intention behind it, it is just a male thing. And now I’m thankful that I can look back and laugh about how frustrated this made me 🙂 And maybe it isn’t dishes for you, maybe your husband leaves his clothes everywhere, or maybe he leaves his shaven chin hairs on the sink (not that I speak from experience 😉 ) …but I can almost promise you that cleaning it isn’t something that just crosses his mind, and not because he doesn’t love or value you, but because he is a man. And I guess, honestly, I would rather have my guys brain power being used for more useful things like work, or problem-solving, than thinking of every single action he does in our home. Amen. So pick up the dish and move on.

3. Let your spouse serve you.

It’s okay to ask for help. Better yet, it’s okay to accept help. This was probably one of the hardest lessons I learned. I grew up quickly and was very independent from my early teens on until…well, recently. I have always provided for myself financially -living on my own, paying my own bills, working hard for myself, etc. My husband works about 70 hours a week. Sometimes we go through whole weeks only having seen each other twice, and not having had dinner together at all. In our marriage, we both serve each other in different ways. My husband serves me by working and providing for us. I serve him by taking care of our house and animals, and running errands for him when he doesn’t have time. I learned to accept our different roles early on, but what I had trouble with was accepting help when my husband wasn’t  at work.

For example, Jason would offer to make me tea in the morning and I’d tell him that I’d make it. Why? Because my mindset is: “If I have the ability to do it, then I should do it. I don’t want to bother anybody…he’s got enough on his plate.” Or after dinner, I would quickly get up and take our plates so he wouldn’t have to.

Maybe your spouse offers to do small things for you that you decline because you can “do it yourself”. But what if, after working all week, this is the only extra help/show-of-affection that your spouse has to offer you? What if my husband asking me if I’d like some tea is his way of showing appreciation for me? Why would I want to deprive him of that opportunity? These small offers come from a place of love, so freely accept them and thank God for a loving spouse.

4. Your spouse’s dreams should become your dreams.

One night, Jason and I sat down to talk about the dreams/goals each of us wants to accomplish in our lifetimes, either individually or as a married couple. You guys, having this conversation with your spouse will unlock doors to your marriage. It took my husband a minute, but eventually he began listing off things that he’s always wanted to do. And some of the things he said, I never would’ve guessed! I felt like I learned so much about him that night! The more he talked about the things he wanted to do in life, the more my mind was all “Yes! I want to help you do that! That’d be so fun for you!!”.

You and your spouse are now living life together. For better or worse, til death do you part, this man/woman is who you picked for the rest of your life- through adventure, struggle, life, death, new hobbies- everything. If my husband is “stuck” with me (tehe 🙂 ) for the rest of his life, I want to make that life as enjoyable as possible. Little did I know that as we sat and talked about his dreams, I would soon be tested in just how much I really meant what I was thinking.

One of Jason’s dreams was to go deep-sea fishing in the Gulf Stream. This is something I am not interested in in the least, I knew that one of his buddies would have to invite him for him to go. Anywho, about two weeks after this conversation we had a mini-getaway weekend of camping in the mountains planned. We hadn’t camped all summer, so I was dying to get out of the house and sleep under the stars before cold weather took over and the season passed us. We planned to leave on a Friday and stay two nights at our favorite family-owned campground in Sparta, NC. The Wednesday before we were scheduled to go, my husband received an e-mail from his boss inviting him to go on a Gulf Stream fishing trip! For two nights. I could tell when Jason mentioned it that he was a little worried that I would say ‘No, what about our plans?’, and honestly, my heart was a little broken. Not because of the camping, but because we wouldn’t be getting our much-needed getaway together. I would be without my husband for those two nights. I would be here alone, as I am all the time, when we were supposed to be soaking up quality time around a campfire. But I knew that it was a great opportunity for him. So he went. And I’m glad he did. He can now cross that off of his list. We didn’t camp this year, but that’s OK. There is next year, we can always go camping! My husband won’t always have the opportunity to go deep sea fishing!

And I didn’t whine or complain, I sent him off with kisses, extremely happy that he was getting the opportunity. And then I snuggled with my dog all weekend

I don’t think he knows this, but I keep a list of his dreams/goals in the ‘Notes’ section on my phone so I can have them at hand in case an opportunity presents itself. Also- it’s good for birthday/vacation ideas!

A happy husband makes for a happy wife. And a happy life. Encourage each others dreams!

5. Sacrifice.

I don’t think the previous point can be made without making another point on ‘Sacrificing’. At the beginning of our marriage, or especially when I finished school, I found myself saying to the Lord:

“Lord, I feel like I sacrifice in this marriage all the time. I feel as if I am only giving. I can’t give anymore. I’m tired. I just want to be. I don’t want to worry about anyone else’s happiness…what about me?”

You can’t have a balanced marriage without sacrifice- and I know how crazy and backwards that sounds, but it’s true!

I had to sacrifice a weekend getaway so my husband could live out one of his dreams. I have to sacrifice what I think marriage should be, or what society tells me it should be, in order to be present in the one I have. I’m not sure I have more to say on this point, except that if you find yourself in a place of “What is he doing for me? Why should I do so-and-so for him if he doesn’t even [fill in the blank]?” Then you need to read this post on dying to self. What will help you and your marriage more than anything else is going from a ‘me’ mentality to a ‘we’ mentality. Dare I say, even a ‘he’ mentality – one in which you are not the forefront of every thought, and your husbands/spouses needs are?

6. It’s not a contest.

This means that points are not being totaled. Hurtful arguments, words or actions are kept in the past never to be brought up again. We all say things we don’t mean in the heat of the moment, but to bring your spouses shameful action to light in a new heated discussion is only throwing more fuel onto the fire. In marriage, you are not allowed to keep score on what your spouse does or doesn’t do. Jesus doesn’t do it to us, so why would we do it to our loved one? Can you imagine if the Lord kept score?! We would all be up poop creek without a paddle! There is no way we could ever repay the Lord for what he has done for us. Can you imagine if every time you sinned, the Lord forgave you but also reminded you of how you sinned last time? That is exactly what we do when we bring up old incidences in new arguments. When you do this, you are saying to your spouse “You did this hurtful thing one time, but that is now how I see you. You were hurtful, so that means you are hurtful. Can you believe you acted that way? And here we go again with the way you are being now. This is who you are.”

Does the Lord hurl shame at us? No. We are not to hurl shame at others, much less our spouses.

My husband and I rarely argue, we have more disagreements. But there have been a time or two when we’ve really gotten into a heated argument. With our last heated argument, my husband said something hurtful that I’d done in the past (just being transparent here!) and I calmly said to him “You aren’t allowed to bring that up anymore. You aren’t allowed to carry that, it was in the past, I’m ashamed of it, but it’s done. That isn’t fair.” So now it stays in the past.

We’ve also learned to argue/disagree in a smarter way. We try to keep the disagreement on the actual topic that we’re disagreeing on. We don’t let it stray from the main point. Straying in an argument is dangerous territory- that is when you start bringing all of the old actions into new territory, and this only brings bitterness and resentment to the table.

These three questions help keep me focused on what matters. I don’t ask them aloud, but I silently ask and answer them in my mind..

1. Why are we arguing?

2. What do I want out of this? (i.e. What do I want to happen at the end of this?)

3. Is this overall important?

Most of the time the answer is clear. Move. on.

7. Let your husband lead the household. 

If the answer isn’t clear, and it is about something important that you two just can’t agree on – your husband should ultimately get the final say in the matter. If you have prayed about this concern, asking God to please change your husbands heart on the matter, and it just isn’t happening…then trust that your husband has what is best for you and your family in mind, even if it is the last thing you want. This can be something as life-changing as moving to another city (even another country), having just one more child, going back to school for a higher degree – any of those big life-changing decisions.

Sometimes Jason will come to me asking my opinion on certain things, and I will give it…but I mainly ask him questions to get him talking to trying to work it out himself. For instance, we are thinking of getting a newer car. The car I drive now is an older one, getting up there on miles, but it still is the best car I’ve ever had. He’s been looking at cars, and when he asked me about this I said “Well, eventually we’ll need to get a new one. But do we have the money right now? Is it a pressing need, or more of a want? Is it something we can hold off on?” And the more he answered those questions out loud, the more he came to his own conclusion. I’m happy to help the process 🙂

If it ever came down to moving to another state, away from family, I would pray pray PRAY over it. But ultimately, I would follow my husband wherever he felt to lead us. This gives him confidence as my husband, and I’d like to think it makes him confident in decision-making in other areas of his life as well.

8. The most important thing you can do in marriage is…

…pray for your spouse. You are with them, the most intimate family member they have. You know their need emotionally, spiritually, physically, so use that and pray for them. I’d say this is the one thing that has completely enhanced my marriage. I give it to God. It isn’t mine, it is the Lords union. When my husband is working 15 hour shifts over night, sleeping for 3 hours, and then starting it all over again, I pray for him. I pray for his strength and endurance to get through his tasks. I pray that the Lord will give him a clear mind and a good day to keep him happy. And even if you don’t know your spouses needs, God does. So just pray on his behalf.

I also pray for myself as wife. I ask God to help me be the best ‘help-meet’ I can for my husband. I ask that I can serve him with a joyous heart, and I ask the Lord to show me how best I can help my husband.

God hears this and honors it. He honors God-centered marriage. He wants us to ask him for help. He designed me, the woman and wife, with a specific duty in mind. I want to live that out as best I can. And I want a happy spouse.

I hope that this has helped someone. Jason and I are far from perfect, but we love each other and we love Jesus. And sometimes it feels like that is all we need.

Things I’m still working on: sharing my food.

Don’t. touch. my. plate.

Sharing is not caring 😀

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