Saturday marked six months since I said I do. I am no veteran to marriage by any means, but I've grown and learned worlds about myself, about my husband, about God and about life in the past six months. Marriage is wonderful. It seriously is fun. Its laughter and its adventures and fun. Its also grace, forgiveness, and I'm sorrys. I don't know if I just got lucky in the husband department, but I am not someone who would say our first six months of marriage have been hard. They've had their challenges, of course, but more than anything, the word I'd use is wonderful. There are always ups and downs in every aspect of life, so I thought I'd share share six simple things I've learned in marriage during the last six months of marriage.
1. Laughter is the BEST medicine. I know-such a cliche but I can't tell you how many times that a fight or argument has been avoided because one of us has made a joke or laughed off a snarky comment instead of getting offended. My husband is especially good at this, because lets face it, I'm usually the one with the snarky comment and he usually does something that makes me laugh. Laughing together covers much and I am glad I have someone who can make me laugh even when I want to be mad.
2. Defined gender roles aren't our thing-and thats okay. When I first got married, I felt really pressured to be the typical, perfect Proverbs 31 Wife. I felt pressure to be providing home cooked, healthy quality ingredients for my husband every evening, scrubbing the bathrooms, folding all the laundry, and baking cookies on Sunday afternoons. This pressure was an expectation I put on myself, not at all from my husband. I quickly felt overwhelmed and burdened with all these things I thought I should be doing because I am a WIFE. We both work full-time, and we quickly figured out that our marriage would look more like an "egalitarian" marriage. We split things like cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, and laundry pretty equally. When Ronnie beats me home, he cooks dinner a lot. Sometimes he does grocery shopping and sometimes he packs MY lunch. Sometimes, I put on my domestic hat, but sometimes, I don't. And that works for us. Someday, if I ever have the privilege to stay home with future babies I will probably do more house work and prepare more meals. (But I still don't take out the trash, okay).
3. Spending time apart is healthy. I've talked about this before, but both of us enjoy the time we spend without each other. WHAT?! I know. Crazy. The time we spend with our friends or pursuing our individual interests is good for our marriage. I treasure the time I get to hang out with my girlfriends, and also enjoy nights home alone when I can watch Gossip Girl in my most comfortable pjs and wrinkle cream on my face. We love hanging out together and I crave time with my husband and thats why I am comfortable saying that we enjoy our time apart too. In the past six months, my husband even has started to ask me when I start getting cranky "Do you need some alone time?" Our time apart makes us enjoy time together even more.
4. My husband isn't a mind reader. One of the things that has made all the difference is learning to just ask Ronnie what I need instead of expecting him to just know. As a woman, its okay to want our husbands to show us they love us in specific ways. Those are desires and they are normal. What can easily happen though is those desires turn into expectations, and when our expectations aren't met, we can be left feeling hurt and resentful. One of the best things we have done is have our Saturday Morning Checkups and share with each other what would make us feel more loved. If I am feeling overwhelmed with all the chores/responsibilities at home, instead of just wishing Ronnie would take care of them for me, I now can just ask. If I really want to spend some quality one-on-one with him, I tell him I really need a date night. It has made a world of difference for our marriage communicating our needs and desires instead of expecting the other person to just read our minds and know what we need.
5. Our marriage doesn't have to look like ____'s marriage to be right. I have found myself comparing myself and my marriage to other people's marriages. I've found myself thinking "Suzie does this for her marriage, so I should do that too." I've done this in so many areas: finances, home maintenance/care, cooking, date nights, etc. The list goes on and on. But, just like every person is different, every marriage is unique as well. I don't know where I (and a lot of society) got the ideas in our heads that there is one right way to do marriage and life, but I know know, that is not the case. I have realized that if we are submitting our lives and our marriage to Christ and obedient to what He is calling us too, it is okay if our marriage doesn't look like my friends marriage, or my cousins marriage or my neighbors marriage. We might choose to split up chores, or save money or spend our free time differently, and that is okay.
6. Grace, Forgiveness and Prayer are the lifelines of our marriage. I've become so much more aware of my own sinful tendencies since being married, but I've never experienced more grace and forgiveness from another human. If theres anything that I think keeps our marriage strong day in and day out, its offering grace and forgiveness to each other when we fall short, and continual prayer. I make an effort to pray for my husband every single day and for our marriage, and it really makes all the difference in the world. Reality is is that we are both two sinners who are at times, going to let each other down. But how we respond to that give us the opportunity to show each other Christ's unconditional love when we offer each other grace, even when its hard.