I'm sure at one point or another we have all heard that "the first year of marriage is the hardest." Well, that is one way to perceive our unique adventure.
Mike and I met when we were 21. We were young, wild, and free - as cliché as the sun setting on the third day of a Disney movie. What was not cliché were the following eight years. I have written snippets before about our love story, but none can articulate this first year of marriage.
Being together for over a third of your life, you think that you have experienced the majority of your “firsts.” We all know the signature firsts you learn about when starting a relationship; their hopes, dreams, fears, flatulence. But we have found that there are some firsts that you learn later; the first time you witness their forgiving heart, the first time you become aware of how you have grown through the trials, and the first time you learn how to never lose hope, even in the darkest of days.
As we sat in the back of the red lit room where we had stood a year before with family and friends, dressed in our best and savoring the sweet moments that passed so quickly, we tried to take in all the changes that had surpassed us within a year; new life, unforeseen death, unexpected promotions, the blessing of opportunities, new careers, scary surgeries, and so much more.
There were definitely days when we wanted to throw in the towel, call it quits. I am convinced that if any couple ever tells you differently, they’re lying. Because change is hard. It is usually unexpected and almost always unwelcome. We, in our human nature, like comfort and stability. But change is inevitable and irrevocable.
So how did we survive? We never gave up – actually, we have never given up. In almost eight years of dating and struggles, breakups, infidelity – we never gave up. For us, quitting is not an option. But the world doesn’t view love and life that way. We are currently in a culture that would (and sometimes did) tell us to let go and move on. So why didn’t we? I mean, there were many times we tried – I, sometimes harder than Mike – but we always came back to each other (usually me stalking by and getting caught in alleyways – I am really a terrible stalker).
We thankfully have been blessed with direction. It is not the direction you get from your aunt whose been married twice and can give you great advice about life, it is not direction you can receive from friends over wine and tears, no – this direction is humble, its sweet and sacred, and it is honestly – I believe – the difference between marriages of the past and marriages today.
We found direction in the Bible. 1 Corinthians 13 is one of those Bible verses that many have heard but most may not know (I heard it for the first time watching A Walk to Remember when I was in 6th grade and thought it was just great writing). In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul is explaining “the way of love” – one of the greatest commandments we as Christians are to follow. This isn’t a worldly love song love. This is LOVE – the love that saved us, love that was exemplified and perfected in Jesus. It is this very love that gave us direction in our own marriage to persevere through that first year. And I am going to tell you exactly how.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13 1-4, ESV
Love is Patient and Kind
When we find ourselves being stubborn, we (most of the time) remind each other to be kind and patient. Like when I put the dishes in the sink and don’t rinse them off. Or when Mike leaves the house with both sets of house keys. Sometimes being patient and kind is not something left for big moments, but should be considered in even the mundane and seemingly unimportant moments.
Love does not envy or boast
Mike is the provider of this family, but he never acts as if my job as a stay at home mom isn’t just as important as his (depending on the day and amount of sleep, I may argue this). When one of us succeeds, we celebrate the other, because his wins are my wins and vice versa.
Love is not arrogant or rude
Arguments are inevitable. We are working on being better about being intentionally rude. When you know someone as well as we know each other, you know exactly what gets under their skin, exactly how to push the right button at the wrong time. This makes it easy for an argument to turn into a full blown battle. And battle wounds take longer to heal than we sometimes think.
Love does not insist on its own way
Because both Mike and myself are quite stubborn, it is super surprising that this is not a bigger area of improvement in our relationship. Don’t get me wrong – when we start talking home improvements this happens almost every time, which leads to other areas of arguments. We find, however, that to skip the spiral, we have to nip the attitude (this is harder for one of us than the other – my bad) in the bud.
Love is not irritable or resentful
Communication in marriage is key. But after a long day of baby cries, no sleep, hard work, and long days – sometimes communication is the last thing you are concerned about. That is ok, but we have learned, for us, that is where most of our irritabilities begin. We take for granted the length of our relationship and assume that the other always know what we are thinking. Insert resentment. Which is why we try and be proactive and communicate even in the sluggish moments when I don’t want to even look at him (but he is really handsome so that feeling doesn’t last long).
Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
There are times when we much rather sleep in on a Sunday morning than get our butts up and go to church. Especially when the baby slept for an hour, the dog was scared of the rain all night, and you two look like something out of a George Ramiro film. But we have found that on days when we try to skip the week’s teaching, we set ourselves up for an even longer, and harder week ahead. This is not for everyone, but for us, gathering with other believers and rejoicing over Truth stirs something in our hearts and prepares us for the war of the week.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things
Although our relationship is a lengthy one, our marriage is still new, beginning, blossoming. We are ever learning, growing, and conquering change. But we are only human. We are flawed and imperfect. But love is strong. Every love story is different, but when we focus on the guides we have been given, we can endure the race that is set before us, we can bear the battles that this life brings, we can believe that there are better days ahead, and we can stay anchored in the hope that we have. So bring on year two. We’re ready for you.
*Photographs taken by Stacey Muniz of Soul Threading.