6 Lessons from 6 Months of Marriage
Updated: May 22, 2019
Today we celebrate six full SWEET SWEET months as husband and wife. In many ways the months feel like years and we cannot imagine life before being married, and in other ways it feels like our wedding day was just yesterday. Time is ticking, for 6 months we have knitted our minds, bodies and souls together into a beautiful blanket of oneness, learning the art of being one in everyday life, while maintaining our individuality and uniqueness. Dreaming God-sized dreams together of cities to visit, aspirations to realise, prayers to be answered. The simple nights where we settle in after dinner ready to dissect the next episode of Dexter. For 6 months we have enjoyed making our house, our home piece by piece. Similarly, piecing together the puzzle that is marriage, the mystery and messiness that is marriage, the gift that is marriage, the privilege that is marriage. Together as a team figuring out the intricacies of finances, small-apartment living, meal planning, chores, juggling new demands. On the darker days, we are learning to embrace what is unfamiliar, what is imperfect, what is a fault, in exchange for a deep knowing of and love for one another. For each room in our hearts is embellished with the beautiful trimmings of vulnerability, yearnings, fears, desires, passions. Our story is being woven together so intricately and uniquely by the One who created us, and who wrote our love story from the beginning.
I look at Drew today, and feel such overwhelming love and tenderness for this man. The man I am blessed to call my husband. A man of his word, he leads me, loves me, and honours me. Our marriage is not perfect, individually we are not perfect, but for sure he is the perfect man for me. What a gift to have been the lady chosen to hold his hand and his heart in mine. (And seriously is it possible that he just gets sexier the longer we are married?)
I believe in the power of reflection - it is a humbling process. It is a gift to yourself, a request to pause, to appreciate the journey, to turn the lemons of life into lessons, knowing by grace we have made it this far and by grace we will make it for another 60 years. For marriage is our calling and we will answer I do every time.
In this spirit of reflection and gratitude, I want to share with you my 6 Lessons from 6 Months of Marriage
1. There is still so much to learn
I knew that living together after we got married would bring its own learnings that only living in a small space, experiencing so many firsts together can bring, but after 10 years of dating I was sure these would be mostly limited to the bedroom 😉
Well I was very mistaken. I learn something new about Drew every day and feel I know him better in 6 months of marriage than I did in 10 years of dating. Familiarity is very seductive, but it is also very destructive. From the beginning we were committed to guarding against the stagnation that familiarity can bring, and in its place commit to embracing curiosity! Drew has changed and evolved since we got engaged almost 2 years ago, let alone evolved and changed since we met 10 years ago. I don’t want him to be the same at 35 years old as he was at 25 years old, I want him to grow, to dream, to pursue, to evolve as we evolve, knowing he wants the same for me.
Already in just 6 months I have seen how quickly we can fall into the trap of routine, and how easily it sucks the relationship of aliveness and fullness. Remain curious about your partner, of their highs and lows for their day, their opinions and feelings have a place in your home, celebrate change and make space for growth of new interests, new passions, new purposes, new desires.
2. Unspoken needs leads to unmet expectations
Unconsciously we enter into contracts with our partners, that they don’t even know they are party to. These contracts spell out our desires, needs and expectations. If these contracts remain unspoken, and thus unfulfilled and unmet, we are left disappointed and disconnected.
Though I tell my clients this frequently, in my own life I seem to forget that Drew is not a mind reader. On one very dark and rainy weekday morning in our 6 months of marriage my emotions poured out and I was a big puddle of uncontrollable tears, welling up from deep inside my soul. It took me 4 years to cry in front of Drew, and while he embraces and accepts my emotions, this particularly morning was the messiest of all. Dysregulated himself, Drew was at a loss on how to contain me. The less he did to console me, the more I cried. No words, no amount of tissues seemed enough.
In that moment, there is only one thing that would help me. For him to hold me, tight, to let me cry, and not to let go. I could have let him guess that, and then been disappointed if it didn’t play out the way I had imagined… orrrr I could just tell him. So in between the sniffles, and tears I told him exactly what I needed from him in that moment. He responded to my needs, and what started as a messy morning, turned into a beautiful experience of connection, empathy and understanding. It starts with me knowing what it is I need firstly, mustering up some courage to ask for it and patiently giving Drew the space to respond to my need.
3. Its in the small things
Small apartment, small acts of kindness, small pockets of connection, small changes that have big impacts, it’s the small things that count.
It’s appreciating him IN WORDS for making our bed despite me being the last one to get out, it’s the thank you SMS I received because I still made his lunch to take to work despite us being in the middle of an argument. It’s embracing the small space in our home because it forces us to seek each other out no matter what, it’s serving the other’s needs and asking for nothing in return, it’s noticing these small acts of kindness and returning the favour, it’s your night time routine and the final words spoken between you before you sleep, it’s the dinner time prayers, it’s the unexpected shows of affection, it’s the comfortable silence as you prepare for the next day.
It’s the simple, it’s the trivial, it’s the small habits – that make the biggest differences.
4. Wedding Vows are Marriage Vows
Remaining curious in our marriage is more than just a nice sentiment, it’s a Vow I made to Drew on our wedding day.
On Sunday 21 October 2019 I promised the following:
“Drew, I vow to fiercely love you in all your forms… Times will change, our bodies will change, our tastes and interests will change, the places we live will change, one set of vows cannot begin to capture a lifetime of growing and changing, so I vow to choose you through any change and growing that life brings…
I vow to never get so used to you, to see marriage as a journey, not as the destination. To always continue to be curious and learn more of you, to excitedly discover every part of each other, to know and love the good and the bad, to explore the world and all it has to offer, to enjoy you, revel in you, delight in you, be playful and adventurous with you; and celebrate the gift that is marriage.”
From early on in our marriage, experiences reaffirmed that our wedding vows are more than beautiful and heartfelt sentiments on the wedding day. Our vows are real commitments and promises for our marriage. Our wedding vows are MARRIAGE VOWS. By thinking of them only as wedding vows, we are emphasising the wedding day and not the marriage itself.
Numerous times over the past 6 months we have had to consciously recommit to the vows we made on that beautiful sunny day in October. By speaking those words out loud in front of God, each other, your family and friends, you are speaking life into them, you are acknowledging the privilege you have to be the one to make these promises and every day after you commit to asking and allowing God to help you, and lead you in fulfilling your beautiful vows in the daily.
I recommend you print out your vows and place them somewhere easily accessible in your home as a daily reminder and affirmation of the calling on your lives.
5. Shared Activities
I cannot emphasise this one enough! Living in the same house isn’t enough to keep you connected. It was dating that made us decide to spend our lives together, so if we want to stay together for life we need to continue dating. When you date, you go on dates, you spend time doing things together, you spend time together, so why do we allow this to change after marriage.
These are the main activities that Drew and I do together.
A few months ago, we started watching our very first series together, Dexter (we are currently on season 7 and will need to find something else to quench our psychological thriller thirst soon - I want to cry just thinking about the end of this series!). Typically, TV can become a barrier to connection, so to guard against watching series instead of spending time together, we remain intentional. We make tea/ coffee/ get our biscuits/ snacks ready, we are both present in watching the same show, we sit close, afterwards we passionately discuss the episode, what we think will happen next, I use Drew as my human cushion for the kill scenes, you get the point. Because this is the very first series we have watched together, I plan to put it in our memory box once we are finished with it.
Running. We are blessed to live beside a picturesque, sunny spruit (river). On weekends and public holidays, we take it off-road, and run along the spruit and back through our suburb. Drew cheerleads me all the way, speaking words of encouragement, with the occasional bum smack to reignite the inner-engines up the hill, before I beat him home (he lets me win).
Coffee Nights at Exclusive Books. We are coffee-holics. On weekends we plan our day around our coffee stops. A new activity that we have started incorporating into our weekend is spending an evening before or after dinner at a book store (that has a coffee shop!). Sometimes we will take our own books, other times we will page through magazines or new books that have been released. We while away the time immersed in the contemplative, quietness of a bookstore, enjoying each other’s company, over a good cup of coffee.
Church activities. Our other shared activities connect us on a physical and emotional level, but spiritual bonding is what helps us love one another with God’s love. During our engagement, Drew and I decided to join one church, and just before we got married we became official members of Cornerstone Rosebank, our very special spiritual home. Our identity and unity as a couple comes from our commitment and involvement in spiritual activities. Marriage was intended to portray the marriage of Jesus to His Church. His love for His church, reflected, represented and mirrored by the love of a groom for his bride. Every tree needs to be planted in order to grow. Likewise, as we are planted in our local church, invested in the community of faithful friendship and fellowship, serving as a couple, our marriage will flourish as a result.
Sharing activities and hobbies as a couple is incredibly important to the health and longevity of a marriage. Shared activities allow intimacy to flourish (it’s really the anticipation of showering together when we get home that keeps me running up that hill 😉). Spending time together creates memories and a sense of shared accomplishment. Valuing this time deepens our connection which spills over into other areas of our marriage and friendship.
6. Christ-Centred Marriage
Being married, or our marriage itself, won’t always make us happy. As flawed people our marriage is destined to have flaws.
So let us not be foolish, but wise builders:
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27)
We want to build our marriage on solid rock, on which it can stand firm, and will not be easily shaken by the rain, streams and winds that will no doubt come over the years. We commit to loving one another, not to be served but by serving the other, putting the other first, choosing daily to lay our lives down.
Marrying Drew was the biggest, most important, most beautiful, most anticipated choice I have made. By making this decision I commit to knowing him, being known by him, deeply respecting him for all the days of my life. By my own strength I will fail, my selfishness and appeal for living for myself will overpower my intention and ultimately erode the firm ground on which we plough and cultivate our desires to harvest great fruits as husband and wife.
We use Christ as the model for marriage, in order to know HOW TO love. To love one another as He has loved us, to honour and value Drew as a Child of God, His gift to the world, and to me, to pray that my heart attitude is other-centred, to show unwavering commitment first and foremost to pursuing and delighting in our own relationships with the Lord, and then committing prayerfully and earnestly in asking the Lord “how can I love Drew like he has never been loved and never will be loved?”
In case you’re wondering, I highly recommend marriage (to the right person)! Overall, I think we have transitioned well, embracing the season of all that is new and unfamiliar, enjoying all that is sweet and fun, delighting in all that is still to come, ever so aware of the Lord’s favour and faithfulness in bringing us together. His design for marriage is truly something beautiful, and I am excited to learn more, to grow more, to know more, to express more of God’s design as husband and wife.