It seems only fitting that since this blog was started in preparation for our wedding, that I would post something celebrating that particular day in history. It was hard for me to write this post, I feel there were many directions I could go as I reflected on my first full year as a married woman. So, I’m giving myself permission, (hopefully I have yours too!) to re-visit first-year-of-marriage themes in the future, and will talk more specifically about our anniversary in this post. So here we go….
Working on your marriage starts by working on you. If there is one thing I have learned in this first year of marriage, it is that being partnered with someone brings out your very best or your very worst qualities on any given day. I have also learned that the more I focus on what I need from my spouse, the less happy I am. Instead I am learning to find my contentment and my happiness in my relationship with God and myself. Then anything I get from my spouse is a bonus!
Especially on our anniversary I had to really wrestle with the
expectation of getting something from my spouse. We as a society have made a gift giving occasion out of just about anything. Now if you like to give gifts, or you like to get gifts there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Gift giving is a tried-and-true way of showing affection. However it is not the only way to show affection and the lack of gift giving or dinner reservations should not reflect on the health and wellness of a relationship. This was very hard for me to accept at first because I spend too much time on Facebook, seeing all the status updates from my friends who would receive roses, a card and dinner at the nearest steakhouse for any and all special occasions. Through much conversation I have learned how my spouse feels he is able to show love to me, and in his mind it looks very different than the typical Kay Jewelry commercial.
So I had to decide if I was going to be okay with that, or make myself miserable by comparing our relationship and my spouse’s love-overtures to every other 20-something married couple in our non-denominational Christian-ease hipster society. So in honor of my spouse, who does love me devotedly, here are some ways he shows me his love all the time not just on special occasions, (he does these of his own volition btw!):
- Paying the bills
- Doing the dishes
- Putting my health first
- Working me out at the gym
- Serenading me
- Dancing with me
- Laughing when I spend too much money
- Complementing me profusely when I roll out of bed in the mornings
- Keeping himself informed, in-shape, and spiritually growing
How did we actually spend our anniversary? Well, my maid of honor was in town, so my bride-groom took us to the gun-range to teach us how to shoot. (He loved teaching us, and apparently I’m a pretty good shot.) Then, the MOH took us to lunch before heading to the airport. Good food, lots of laughs, and reflections on life made for a lovely time. Finally alone, my hubby and I spent some time kanoodling, cleaning, and wrapped up the day with a trip to the movies. Dracula Untold is not really romantic, but prompted interesting discussion about love, sacrifice, good, and evil. All in all, a pretty good day for Team RZ – I felt connected to my husband, gained fresh insight and understanding, and learned something new with him. Isn’t that what marriage is all about?
Getting back to my previous point about working on the self, some days it is a struggle to find my peace and happiness and contentment apart from the person that I have to do life with, however I also know that I can be demanding, selfish, prideful, needy, achievement-oriented, and by turns over emotional, or not in touch with my emotions at all. That’s why I feel that prayer and meditation, (journaling for me), is even MORE essential when it comes to marriage vs all the other things we spend time stressing about. After all, your marriage is the commitment that affects you each and every day, and will be with you until the day you die. It can be, and should be, the most life-altering decision you make. What is more worthy of your time and consideration? After all, by calling on the Big Guy’s help, and working through your baggage SO THAT your marriage becomes healthier…you are really doing yourself a favor.
We are big fans of affirmations. We really appreciate when the other takes notice of something that we’ve done or something great about us in general. We try and make it a practice to affirm each other each night before we say prayers and go to bed. Some nights it is easier to come up with something than others but the practice of doing so forces us to look for the best in each other even if it’s been a hard day.
The #1 thing that I’ve learned about marriage is that every day is a choice. You may fall in love but deciding to stay there is made up of little choices each and every day. I can either choose to withdraw when I’m upset and pout, or I can lean into our relationship. I can try to understand the other point of view, I can opt to compromise. Obviously I don’t do it right 90 percent of the time, but with a lot of grace, forgiveness, and God’s help we’ve made it this far, and are looking forward to the rest of Forever.