This weekend I attended quite possibly the most beautiful wedding I have ever attended. (Second only to my own, of course)
Obviously, it was beautifully decorated and the bride was gorgeous and the church was lovely, but it was particularly beautiful because of the overwhelming love involved. I, as a person with way too many emotions to pack into my short little self, sobbed to a fairly embarrassing extent. Yes, the Bride and Groom were excited to start their marriage, but holy cow was that a ceremony packed full of love from others.
They had a huge wedding party – an amazing testament to how admired they are. The parents were beaming with pride, and the church was nearly full to capacity with folks just thrilled to be a part of the excitement. These are two people who are so incredibly loved and loving that the joy present was full to overflowing. The warmth of affection was palpable. What a testimony.
The reason I write this post is not to wax eloquent on how much of an inspiration the bride and groom are to me (making that many friends means you have to be nice, something I’m working on), but instead to think back, as a not-so-newlywed, and consider all the things I’ve learned. Sure, everyone has their favorite nugget of wisdom they love to pass on to a young couple in love. Happy wife, happy life is my absolute LEAST favorite trite saying of all times, but I will save that rant for another post. Like, I’m not some kind of monster you have to placate in order to not be miserable. Make me happy sure, just like I need to make you happy. This is a partnership, not the Little Shop of Horrors. Oh look, I ranted here anyway. Sorry, not sorry.
Anyway here are two of my own marriage nuggets – the things I think every newlywed needs to hear, even if it takes some real life struggles to truly internalize them.
1. No matter how prepared you are coming into this thing, you will still find that marriage is not what you think it is.
Kai and I read books, went to pre-marital counseling, listened to podcasts, talked to married couples, read the Bible, and talked to each other until it was exhausting in preparation for marriage. All those things were fantastic and 10/10 I would recommend this level of prep and more. (In case anyone was wondering I sobbed my way through pre-marital counseling too. Literally we sat at the desk and before I said a word I started crying and did not stop until the drive home. I’m not kidding when I say I have more emotions than a human should reasonably be responsible for).
While it was good to have all that as a reference, and much of the wisdom we gained before marriage has helped us to structure our relationship in a Godly and responsible way, there have still been surprises. A lot of them. I don’t think there is anyone on this earth that will tell you marriage is easy. But you can’t truly understand what that means until you’re in it.
Kai is the most peaceful person I know – he doesn’t ever raise his voice. So when we “fight”, it’s more like talking. While I now can cry just thinking about how incredibly blessed I am to have such a level-headed husband (oh look she’s crying again), it used to make me so angry. I wanted to fight for real. Of course I never wanted to physically fight, but when I was angry, I wanted to yell. I wanted to slam doors and release some of my endless emotion. Nobody told me that the things I love the most about my husband would be the things that made me the most upset.
Yes, marriage will always be more difficult, more challenging, and more work than you could have imagined, but it is also so so much more rewarding and life-bringing.
Just by having to work hard at a relationship, I am a better person. Marriage and commitment aren’t just things you can give up on. (I know a lot of people do, but hey, don’t.) You have to bust your butt sometimes to keep the marriage strong. You have to be a better person in order to be a better spouse. Selfishness is no longer an option. When I got married, I knew there were issues I was going to need to deal with. Now that I’ve been at this a little while, I recognize that I hadn’t even scratched the surface of things I needed to improve. And every little change I make to improve myself improves my marriage.
I am a better person now than I have ever been, and it’s because God, Kai, and I are constantly working at it together.
People who have strong marriages will tell you that they are more in love now than they were when they got married. I used to wonder how that could be true, since beauty and youthful energy fade so quickly. But now I get it. I am more in love with Kai today than I was 4 years ago because I understand him and myself so much more. I understand how hard I can be to love sometimes. I understand how many sacrifices he has made for us. I understand what an amazing person God has blessed me with. I understand how hard marriage is and I am in constant admiration for this man who is working so hard to not only honor his commitment to God and me, but constantly improve on it.
Read: Come Together.
2. You have to be honest and clear with your expectations and desires.
What I mean by this is simple; nobody can read minds. STORY TIME: After Asher was born, we moved in with my parents. Kai was working full-time and going to school full-time, and I was working full-time. I had failed at breastfeeding. We nursed for three miserable months in which I pumped in the car to and from work, and I never produced enough milk to sustain my ravenous child. Kai came home from work and immediately had to start on school work, often not finishing until late into the night. Since I had to be up so early, and Asher was still waking several times a night, I went to bed early. It felt like I hardly ever saw Kai. When we did finally spend time together, we were too tired to really enjoy it.
Looking back it was all kind of a blur, but I do remember a crushing sense of loneliness and defeat.
I felt like a failure as a mother, since I only saw Asher for a couple of hours a day after work and couldn’t even do the thing my body was designed for. Since the baby woke up so much, I was getting only a couple of hours of sleep at a time, and I definitely had postpartum depression, which I vehemently denied. I felt like a failure as a wife, since I told Kai to prioritize school but then resented him for doing so.
I wanted to be low-key, not needing anything from him since he was busy as heck, but I needed him, and I needed him hard. The way I expressed that was by being cold and hurt. In my mind, my needs were obvious. The reasons for my pain were something that should have been clear to him. He should have been able to easily fix it. But, as wonderful as he is, he’s only human.
He couldn’t meet an expectation that he didn’t even know I had for him.
I never said to him “hey, I’m lonely, let’s figure out a way to reconnect”. Not even “hey, I feel really bad about myself and my body since having a baby. Help me feel better.” I instead chose to feel sorry for myself and internalize all of the things he was supposedly doing on purpose to hurt me. At one point, I was convinced I was living in a loveless marriage and it would never improve. How dramatic right? Of course hindsight is 20/20, but so much of that pain was self-inflicted and unnecessary. All I had to do was be honest and be explicit with my needs. It isn’t easy, but it is so important. This level of vulnerability is pretty uncomfortable at first, but it is so freeing.
There are of course, a lot of other things you need to make a marriage successful. These just happen to be the two things I personally find most helpful to remember.
Oh and also, especially for the grooms, a lot of people will tell you marriage is game over. Those are not people you need in your life. Marriage is fantastic and the most fun I’ve ever had. Kai and I have a blast together. We also still have fun with our friends. Our lives didn’t end with marriage. They got so much better.
Anyway I love being married.
Congratulations, Eliot and Tanner ♥
That is all.