We missed it!

Monday was a special day. It marked something important for us. Monday was September 10th– six months after the day we were married. But we missed it.

We’ve been crazy busy. I guess with the OK trip this past weekend and all the nutty work stuff, it just slipped our minds. But in true female fashion, I will now make sure we mark it 😉 (A girl’s gotta do what she can to sneak in a date night every now and then…)

So, on Saturday, my handsome husband will be taking me to the scene of the crime– to the place he took me the night I got this sparkly ring and he got down on one knee. I’m pretty excited. I love me some sushi and some romance.

Six months. Sigh. We made it half a year. Half a whole year. It feels pretty epic right now. You veterans are laughing, I’m sure, but it’s big for us. Half a whole year!

For half a whole year we’ve lived side by side, day in and day out. We’ve learned each other’s habits and eccentricities. We’ve experienced a myriad of the other’s moods, highs, lows, struggles, and victories. We’ve been to a beach, some hospitals, the Big Apple, parties, dinners, sermons, conferences, and on errands. We both changed jobs. We both made mistakes.

And every day, one of us sits down to write about it.

Thank you for hanging out with us for the first half a whole year. Stick around. I feel like the adventure may only just be beginning…

 

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Rocking chairs

We’re spending a lot of time together lately. A lot.

With me on my summer break and Brian working from home a great deal of the time, we are together a lot. We often have two, sometimes three meals together a day. It’s a lot of togetherness. And you know what it has made me realize?

Brian is my best friend.

Really. Brian is my closest, dearest, most favorite friend. And I love spending time with him. We talk or sit in silence, read our own books or watch a show together, study the Bible together, run errands– and in all of it I realize over and over how much I enjoy him.

I’m reading ‘Real Marriage’ by Mark and Grace Driscoll right now, and I’m sure I’ll post a review when I’m done, but the very first thing they talk about is the necessity of friendship in marriage.

We respect each other and genuinely like spending time together. We know each other’s likes and dislikes– Brian likes sweets late at night and Lindsey likes to eat breakfast right when she wakes up. Brian does not like a post-it note to-do list and Lindsey does not like hearing the person next to her chew their food. Brian is versed in my personality quirks (the myriad of them) and I am versed in Brian’s dreams for the future.

Knowing these things about each other, trusting each other, and just generally liking the other person make us stronger as a couple. It may sound obvious to say that you should be friends with your spouse, but many couples lose sight of the friendship, let it go by the wayside, or do not take steps to cultivate it. Right now, I’m daily blessed by my best friend and the chance to hang out with him and get to know him better. I can’t help but think that the time we’re putting in now is helping to build the foundation we want for the years to come.

Let’s face it– in 50 years when the looks have gone, the bodies are wrinkly, and the kids have left the house, B and I will spend hours rocking back and forth on the front porch. When that day comes, I want sip my lemonade, adjust my dentures, and rock next to my very best friend.

 

Why I don’t recommend marriage

On March 10th everything changed, and Brian became my husband. It’s been amazing. I love being married. So, logically it would follow that I would recommend marriage to a single person. I would not.

Here is what I would recommend…

Marriage is incredible and incredibly difficult. You need to find someone you can share your “crazy” with. If you don’t know what that means, then you don’t know yourself very well. We’ve all got it (though, some hide it and some where it on their shirtsleeve). You need to be okay with their crazy, and they need to be okay with your crazy.

Once you see that it’s a crazy that you can live with, then you need to make sure– darn sure– that this is the person you want to argue with for the rest of your life. Gasp! You argue in marriage?! Yes, dear ones, you argue. You argue, you disagree, and you get frustrated.

Once you have found crazy that works for you and decided you can argue with this person until you’re 80, then you should make sure that they understand marriage is for life– like, really truly understand that it is for life. Husband has a mid-life crisis– you stick with him. Wife cheats on husband– you stick with her. You decide you are no longer “attracted” to this person and just don’t “feel connected”– you stick with them.

I would really like to whole-heartedly recommend marriage to my friends, but after being in it– even just this short amount of time– I can see that this would be wretchedly difficult and nearly impossible if Brian and I weren’t confident with the three things I just mentioned.    So, I don’t recommend marriage, but instead, I recommend waiting for a partner that you really want for life– for good, for bad, and for crazy.

I can deal with his “crazy”, I can argue with him for life, and we’re in it forever. I recommend one of these.

Marriage is a War

Yesterday Lindsey posted about the marriage conference we attended last weekend. The idea I walked away with, and have been thinking about all week is this: Marriage is a war.

No really it is.

Paul Tripp stated this truth and I have not stopped thinking about it since. He said, “Marriage is always a war between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of self.” Now, I know I may have lost some of you with that kingdom of God bit, but hang with me and I think you will see the value in it.

What he means is that everyday, in the small normal moments of life, there is a constant struggle within us between our selfishness and living our marriage as God intends. We are called to serve one another in love. Each. Both of us. This means that for Lindsey and I our primary calling is to serve the other and put them first.1

So, the skirmishes that Lindsey and I, or any married couple, have on a daily basis are simply a part of this war. When each of us choose ourselves over the other person, there will be conflict. But as Lindsey said yesterday, if she chooses to be selfish this does not give me an excuse to just be selfish back. In fact, if I have the proper view of things, it gives me even more reason to put her needs ahead of mine.

But this is not easy, in fact it is impossible to do on a daily basis. If you look at my daily choices anyone will see that I choose myself and my desires more than I choose Lindsey’s good. If I am honest I would admit that most of the time I pursue what is good for her the same thing happens to be good for me too. But I’d only admit that if I were honest.

If you are married, my guess is that you know what I am talking about. I bet you have seen this play out in your marriage whether you are a Christian or not. This is the inescapable fact of the human condition, we are selfish. Plain and simple.

So, where does this leave us? Well, if we do not have a marriage that is full of grace towards each other we are left in a very bad spot. If you live for yourself enough there will soon be no living for the other person, and eventually you will erect walls to protect yourself from one another. A very bad spot indeed.

This is why we need Jesus. Only through the grace that he provides can we possibly hope to love our spouse more than ourselves. Only through the overflow of His grace in light of my failures can I be equipped to then show someone else that same grace. That is the the kingdom of God in my marriage, and I desperately want it to defeat the kingdom of myself.

  1. I know that some of my friends and readers may not believe this given current conceptions regarding what the Bible says about marriage. Trust me, this is what the Bible says: that we are to love and serve each other ahead of ourselves.  If this is shocking or unbelievable to you, leave a comment. I’d love to share our perspective. 

That’s the goal

Last weekend, we went to a marriage conference at church. The speaker, Paul Tripp, a very engaging and intelligent man, said so much of value that I have pages and pages of notes from the two sessions with him. MUCH of what he said has been flashing through my mind this week, but today there was one thing in particular.

Tripp started out by telling us that the “little” moments are important. Those mundane, day to day moments are important because that is what our lives are made up of, “that is the address where you live.” And in those little moments, we cannot allow the actions of our spouses to dictate our own actions, because our words and behavior are more formed by what is inside of us than what is outside of us.

We looked at Luke 6:43-45— about how your words and actions are a result of what is in your heart. All marriage problems have roots in the heart. I have a million great quotes and more Scripture on this, but the gist of it is that I cannot use anything Brian does or says to justify not loving him. No matter what, I have to show him love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control– but ultimately, that is the purpose that God has for me.

I have to put Brian before myself, even though it goes against everything in my selfish, sinful nature. I have to put Brian first, even when I don’t feel good, I’m hungry, and I just want to go home. I have to put Brian first when he snaps at me or upsets me. This is SO contrary to our natures, but that’s because we’re corrupted by sin. But I have to look at Brian through God’s eyes and value the creation, even when that creation is annoying or doesn’t pay attention to me or doesn’t treat me the way I think I deserve to be treated.

So, this is what I’ve been struggling with today. When I perceive Brian to be choosing his iPhone over me, I can’t decide to ignore him. That’s the patience. When he says something about my driving, I can’t start screaming. That’s the peace.

I’m not trying to pick on my husband here, I’m just being honest. I assure you that he has to display MUCH more of these characteristics on a regular basis in this marriage than I. I just happen to be the one writing this post.

If they aren’t familiar to you, those characteristics in paragraph three are called the fruits of the Spirit. They’re the characteristics that grow in you when you’re really focused on God– they’re what He wants for our lives. I need to repeat them to myself ALL the time these days– like a mantra. They’re the goal.

A huge shift

This is the fourth part of our series about our experience in pre-marital counseling. We’ve learned that you need to plan for the marriage at least as much as you plan for the wedding, and in this series we will explore what that means.

Series: Introduction | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

One of the greatest “take-aways” from pre-marital counseling was the day we talked about our parents. We talked about the types of conversations we currently have with them and how much of our lives we share. Then, we discussed what may change in those relationships when we are married.

I am freakishly close to my mother. I share a lot with her and I always have. In recent years, she went from being my mother to one of my closest friends.

I love to call my mom in the mornings, on my way to work. She’s on her way, too. We’ll chat as we sit in traffic. I love to “treasure hunt” with my mother at garage sales and thrift stores. I love to stand around the kitchen island when I’m home and tell stories. My mom is an amazing woman. She is always there for me, and I am who I am today because of her love.

Prior to marriage, I would also run to my mother. I would run to her when someone hurt me, when something bad happened, or when I was ill. She has always taken great care of me and would be the first person who popped into my head in times of strife.

But I was getting married.

Brian and I had to commit to solving problems ourselves. I couldn’t run to my mother because he hurt my feelings or when I was mad at him. And when things were tough, I had to commit to go to Brian with my fears, troubles, and struggles.

Now, don’t get me wrong– I still talk to my mom all the time and probably still tell her way too much. I will always seek her advice in certain things and will always want to share what is going on in my life. But, when Brian and I fight, as much as I want to call my mom and tell her all about it and ask her to fix it, I can’t. I made a commitment to Brian and to God, and I have to go to them. When Brian and I need to make a big decision for our life together– I need to go to Brian and not to my mother. When I am sick and need someone to go to the hospital with me, I need to ask Brian first. This was a HUGE shift for me, in thought and in action.

There are two important aspects I have to keep in mind when deciding what to tell and what to keep to myself (probably to be told after the issues are resolved):

  1. No one knows the truth of what is happening in a relationship other than the two people in it. As much as you want to explain it to a friend or loved one, they will never have the full picture. So, even if I tried to tell my mom what Brian and I were dealing with, she still wouldn’t have a complete picture.
  2. My mother will always take my side. She should. I’m hers and she’s hard-wired to protect and love me. This is not fair to my husband, who will undoubtedly assure you that though I would like to think so, I am not always right about everything. If I talk to my mom about something, chances are, she’s going to side with me and because of both of these reasons (the incomplete picture and the loyal hard-wiring), I may not be right.

Brian and I are a team now. I need to work things out with my husband. I need to turn to my husband. I need to trust my husband.

My relationship with my mother has not suffered at all because of this lesson. We may talk a little less, but I get to understand her on a new level now– the married one. I will still seek her wisdom and I still need her love. And when the balance is in place– my relationship with my husband and my relationship with my mother– then both are strengthened and both can flourish.

The educator wife

A message left by an adorable student, before the name change 🙂

I am an educator. I specialize in the 6th grade variety of adolescent. Every day, I walk into this building where no one calls me by my first name. I talk to 11 and 12 year olds all day long. I attempt to teach them the skills they need to read and think critically, to write grammatically and fluidly, and to be decent human beings with manners. I hardly speak to any other adults. I am highly criticized by parents who have never met me and take the word of their self preservationist children rather than asking a grown adult what actually happened. I respond to every need, every whine, every complaint, every bully, and hold every hand. I stand before a captive audience every day and pray that I have some sort of impact, that they learn something that day. I dance and sing and joke and yell. To the untrained eye, I am a bipolar, somewhat unstable, one-woman show. I am an educator.

Then I go home.

I drive 1-2 hours, depending on traffic, and walk into my house. My husband usually stands at the stove cooking away. He knows how hungry and exhausted I am when I walk in the door. And he’s had a full day of his own.

I’ve been thinking lately about how my career affects my marriage. It even came up this weekend in conversation.

Brian will tell you that when I come home, I am so eager to speak to an adult that it’s not even funny. I’m also eager to vent frustrations and to share how I didn’t smack a kid upside the head, even though I considered it a time or two. They frown on beating the children these days 😉

I’m also physically beaten when I come home. I’ve been standing up all day walking around my room. Some days it’s up and down the stairs all day taking classes back and forth to the library or computer lab. And I’m drained. I often don’t have the requisite emotions to accurately respond to Brian’s own work stories. And then I have to to grade and plan. This takes up evenings, weekends, and even holidays. It must be done– it’s part of the job.

But then there’s the good stuff. Sometimes my kids excite me and a day of teaching (though still draining) is so fulfilling and the knowledge that I made a difference changes my entire mindset. I come home ready to throw my arms around my husband and be an amazing wife to him, the way I was an amazing teacher to my kiddos.

I’ve also learned a lot about parenting from my job. I’ve seen great parenting, average parenting, poor parenting, and terrible, heart-wrenching parenting. Brian and I talk about this a lot. I now know the difference between an involved parent and a helicopter parent (think hovering over your head at all times). I see what happens when a parent does a child’s work for them and then they have to take a test on their own. I see the difference in a student that reads with their parents from one that says there are no books in their home. And I tell Brian about some of the most incredible students who love to learn, who are their own people, and who I’m pretty sure will impact this world in their lifetimes. I want to raise those kids 😉

And then there is summer break. We do not know yet how this aspect of being an educator affect our marriage. But we will in 13 days…

I love my job and I love my husband. The way he loves be and builds me up makes me a better teacher. When I feel that I’ve impacted the life of a child, I am a better wife. Some days I’m good at one or the other, and some days bad at both. Some days either or both roles will drive me crazy. And there are some days when I’m tired of being a teacher… but I’ve never had a day when I’ve been tired of being Brian’s wife.