Thursday, May 7, 2015

ten things I've learned about my own marriage

We're still babies. Little tiny babies who are still learning & relearning everything constantly, but God has already taught us more than I imagined through this really big deal. This is what I have learned about my very-own marriage. (Sounds much more grown up than it is in reality, I promise).

1. Marriage is magic.

I really never felt inseparable/head-over-heels before we got married (which caused some freaking out...), but getting married instantly created a bond which I never bargained on. Being completely vulnerable with and committed to someone is a crazy, crazy thing. Coming in the door from whatever stressful not-at-home thing that occurred, getting beneath about seven puffy white comforters to cuddle and talk/fall asleep is, bar none, one of the greatest earthly joys imaginable. I never, ever, ever imagined how incredible being married to my favorite person could be. But not in the dancing-the-tango way--there is a sturdy amount of watching the Food Network on Netflix, eating pizza four days in a row, and laughing fits regarding bodily functions. And you know? It's a hundred times more romantic than any of that sappy stuff. 

2. Being best friends is ridiculously fun. 

We're especially lucky because we enjoy doing almost all of the same things. Some things to greater/lesser degrees, but we definitely scored in the "shared interests" category (for example: photography, lol. see also: Parks & Recreation). I didn't anticipate being so excited about just hanging out with the same person as much as humanly possible, day after day. I honestly figured I'd get pretty sick of whoever I married. Peter and I pretty much do everything together. Working, playing, socializing, shopping, fighting, and we still are really big fans of each other. It's weird.

3. Laughing is vital.

You know what's better than bursting into tears because I completely ruined the soup I'd been slaving over? Laughing really hard and then making out. Peter has the gift of not taking himself too seriously. And bringing some humorous perspective to silly arguments/freezers that won't %@$# close.

4. Playing cards is the bomb.

It's our secret power. Peter, like a lot of men, likes to bond over doing something instead of always just sitting and talking. I, like a lot of all? women, bond over talking. Cards is a win-win, because we're doing something and we can talk easily. Unless it spirals into a competitive tantrum from one of us me. Canasta is also great practice for anger management.

4. He's different than me. 

Also different than he was yesterday, or will be tomorrow, or will be after he's had a snack. As I get to know him more and more, I find out more ways that he's just designed differently, and how he communicates/processes/hears/learns might be different in a way that I don't understand because (duh), I'm not that way. It's scary how much I assume people think the same way I do, and how often I should just shut up and actually hear someone explain how they feel/think about something, instead of being bossy, judgmental, and controlling. Also, newsflash: men & women are astonishingly different in a million ways, but not always in the ways you'd expect. And my particular husband isn't like anybody else's husband, and my job is to learn him & love him, instead of saying "wait a second! the books I read said you were supposed to respond THIS way!"

5. God puts two different people on the same team for good old sanctification and for getting stuff DONE.  

Pretty much every time Peter excitedly suggests something that sounds a bit iffy to me (examples: putting a huge mirror in front of the kitchen sink, spontaneous sleep-in-the-car-parked-down-an-unmarked-road camping trip), and I decide to try and see where it goes, it's basically the best-ever. The mirror in our kitchen literally makes rainbows all over the place at the right time of day. I mean, how explicit can you get?? I tend to get excited about things, but quickly get cynical/lazy, whereas not only does Peter have a literally endless supply of seemingly far-fetched dreams and ideas, he has the guts to back it up with hard work. There are so many ways our differences make us so much more useful. Proofreading, brainstorming, good cop/bad cop in our business, etc.

6. Marriage changes who you are.

We're on a team now--we're kind of one person (crazy). I got married to someone I'd technically known my whole life, moved only an hour away--but I went from being in one family to starting a brand new one, from being single to being a wife, from living in the country to living in town, switched churches, moved away from my family's business and got two new jobs, had my own home to take care of for the first time ever, and just had a complete restructure of every single part of my daily life. It kind of threw me for a loop--a happy loop, but a kind of confusing one. I absolutely loved every new thing, but it gets confusing identity-wise. Of course, my fundamental identity isn't in my roles, location, or work anyway--it's in Jesus. So thankful for a husband who reminds me of that and who kicks me out the door to do the things that restore order and clarity to my soul (reading, writing in moleskines, typing useless, yet therapeutic things on my laptop, etc).

7. Marriage doesn't fix who you were.

Not even a little bit. I can't count how many times since we've been married I've been knee-deep in some kind of sin (pettiness, irresponsibility, laziness, pride...) and slowly realized "dagnabit--this is something God has been working on for years". And something that it would have been handy to get better at before inflicting myself so fully on another human being. I firmly believe that you don't wait until you have it all together to get married (hello, you'd never get married), but also that marriage will not magically erase your sin. Problems are problems, and they might come out in different ways, or the same ways, but they'll definitely still come out. (p.s. mama you were right about a lot of things.)

8. Eating food will solve all manner of ills.

For real. I don't think we have a single quarrel on record that has not been influenced by a lack of food. I have a habit (instead of maturely making a healthy breakfast) of wandering around lashing out and feeling like the world is coming to an end, until eventually I realize I should probably eat something. Which leads to an alarmingly quick restoration, body and soul. Pro-tip: healthy smoothies are the best for this problem. They are MY LIFE right now. And if you know me in real life, I have probably shouted that to you at least a couple times.

9. Marriage is distracting.

I'd always been a little snobby about the part in the Bible that basically talks about how a married woman is more distracted, but it's true! I've been pretty appalled by how easily I idolize Peter, and not in a "you're so perfect" kind of way, but just in a "you are MY LIFE" kind of way. It's terrifyingly easy to pretty much make him the functional idol/priority of my life, and to let other things slip. And, of course, if I'm expecting him to give me all the love, security, and joy I need, we're going to end up with a royal mess. I turn into a nasty vacuum-sucky-needy girl, with a slew of ridiculous expectations. I feel like marriage has made a lot of "temporal" things simply so delightful, that it's easier to be very content in them. When circumstances surrounding us have been the hardest (for example, Peter's tangle with gout, parasites, and being laid up in bed for over a month with increasing and terrifying ailments), it's redirected me from depending too much on him, a comfortable life, etc, and pointed me toward the only One who is worthy of worship.

10. I'm a selfish brat, and holy cow, he's a good man.

I get pouty and standoffish, he's honest and works through things. I cross my arms and shrink, he squeezes me and kisses me. I get mired in self-pitying anger, and he is gentle and loving until I feel okay again. I run away, he chases me. I clam up, he talks it out. I get lazy and fitful, and he invariably buckles down and works his butt off. 99.9% of our "fights" are me being a brat and him calmly and rationally working through it. If my bodily reaction against just admitting "I was wrong, I'm sorry" isn't a clear indicator of how incapable I am of doing anything "good" on my own, I don't know what is. Marriage has been the clearest tangible picture of God's unconditional love for me, as he blesses me continuously through an impossibly amazing man who doesn't treat me a bit like I deserve. I am indescribably thankful for his unwavering faithfulness through every stage of life, including this one.

(all photos by the incredible Lucia from our first-anniversary photo shoot, which was an embarrassingly long time ago).