4 Lessons in 4 Years of Marriage
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Four years ago today I married my very best friend. And I know that is a cliché that is easy to type up and sounds nice and cute, but I truly mean it. Before we even started dating or got engaged or got married or had a beautiful baby boy, he was first just a good friend. He was my favorite person to spend hours at coffee shops with. My favorite person to carpool with to church. I am so thankful that before any of the love began to form, that God was knitting a friendship between our hearts that was built on His perfect love. This bond built on our shared love of good coffee, running, God, and poetry began in coffee shops as friends. It began with carpooling to church. It began with editing each other’s poems for Maclay’s class.
Marriage is beautiful, but it also is a lot of hard work. It takes intentionality, dedication, sacrifice, and humility. And becoming parents only makes it harder. In a lot of ways, becoming parents has brought us closer than we ever have been, but I would be absolutely not telling the truth if I were to say it was all roses the entire first year with Hudson. In those early days with Hudson, I was not myself. I cried, yelled, and fought. It wasn’t Lance I was mad at it, but he was the one that was right there to take it. The truth is when you both are living on very minimal sleep and most of your time is dedicated to nursing and worrying about your little one, your marriage will likely take a back seat. I am thankful that pretty early on in Hudson’s life, we realized that we needed to be even more intentional about putting our marriage first in this particular season. That is where the phrase: I love you more than Hudson, less than God; was born. I am no marriage expert, but I would have to think that part of the reason certain marriages end after all the kids have moved out is because the loves got reordered. Somewhere along the way the love for the child outweighed the love for the spouse. And through this reordering, love for God, also seemed to fall in ranking. As I type this, I am praying right now, that the loves in my heart can stay in order. I pray to first and foremost, love God the most. Then, Lance. And then, sweet Hudson Boy and any other future children we may have.
Even though we are just a few years in, these past years have taught me a lot. Again, our marriage is by no means perfect, but I am proud of who we are becoming and this team we have become. I look forward to (God Willing) the many, many years ahead and the lessons that will come with it. I would love to be still writing this blog in 46 years and be able to share a “50 lessons in 50 Years of Marriage” post, but for now we are at 4. So here are my four major lessons I have learned in our first four years of marriage:
1. Prioritize Time Together
It was our three year anniversary that we began a new Friday tradition of sharing our rose, bud, and thorn of the week. While it has not always been on Friday, we have been very consistent with carving out this weekly time and for us, it has been incredibly helpful. As life continues to get more full and busy, it is essential to have a time every week where we can hit pause and stop and talk about the good, the hopeful, and the hard. I feel so thankful that we started this weekly rhythm because while it’s sad to admit, I think if we didn’t start this, I would have missed out on knowing the heart of my husband. I would have missed out on knowing how the small things that happened that week, like a day at the beach, was the rose of his entire week. I would have missed out on knowing why he came home so tired and the true reason we seemed to keep fighting. I would have missed out on knowing his dreams, ambitions and hopes. While I am sure some of this stuff would have come up over dinners or outings, I don’t think it would have been as clear. It would have been paired with Hudson throwing food everywhere or with other people and noises and distractions. If you don’t intentionally set a weekly and monthly time for just the two of you, it is likely not going to happen. Just like all good things, it takes planning and prioritizing.
2. Be Clear with Expectations
It was just a few months after our first anniversary that we had one of our major fights that revolved around cheap wine. My parents had given Lance and I a pizza cooking lesson. I was really excited for this date and had all these expectations of how the evening would go in my head. In this cooking lesson you were able to bring your own bottle of wine to sip on as you flipped pizzas in the air and knotted garlic knots. I asked Lance to pick up a bottle of wine for us at Trader Joe’s for us to bring. I didn’t tell him about any of the expectations I had. I didn’t tell him type or price tag or that I was expecting something a little bit nicer than normal. I just said wine and like the good husband Lance is, he did just that. He bought wine: 2 buck chuck. Absolutely nothing wrong with 2 buck chuck, but it was not in line with my expectations for that night. To me, that pizza lesson was a special night for us and I wanted something a bit more special. I also was much more immature back then and cared about how people would perceive us if we brought cheap wine to a fancy cooking lesson. It’s sad, but this wine fiasco made me cry and fight with him basically the entire day leading up to the lesson. I can still remember showing up to the kitchen with red rings around my eyes from crying all day. Thinking back, this feels so small and stupid, but I think if a lot of us our honest, the bulk of our fights are over the small and stupid. If I had just clearly told Lance, my expectations I had for the wine he bought, none of the 2 buck chuck drama would have occurred. Sometimes all it takes is being incredibly clear. Can you please pick up a bottle of wine that is in-between the 15-30 dollar mark, preferably a Cabernet and if it has a cute label that made you think of me, that would also be a nice touch. Be clear. He can’t read your mind.
3. Cheer Each Other On
One of the many reasons I love the sport of cross-country is because it is such a team sport. I love how the 5th runner is just as important as the first. I also love that you can set goals for the whole team, but you also have your own individual goals of place and time. I think in a lot of ways, a good marriage functions like a cross-country team. As a team, Lance and I have a lot of major, shared goals: kids, travel, home, running. Individually, we also have our own goals. We have our own passions and career goals. This is so important and healthy! When Lance started his first company, I wish I could say I was the most supportive wife, but unfortunately I was not. I was resentful that he got to pursue his passion, while I was left dealing with the stressful job of teaching and was knee deep in essays to grade and behavior issues. I did not do a very good job at cheering him on. And I regret this. Part of the reason I struggled to fully cheer on my husband was because I was fully consumed with work and was not pursuing any of my own passions. Currently, our marriage feels super healthy and I think that is largely to do with the fact that we both are pursuing our passions outside of work. Not only do we each have our own side projects we are working on, we also just wrapped up training for a marathon together. This shared goal of completing our first marathon and qualifying for Boston definitely brought us closer together. As I mentioned in my last post on the marathon, it was an amazing feeling to literally be cheering each other on as we passed each other on the bridge.
4. Pray Together (Even When You Don’t Feel Like It)
They say you shouldn’t go to sleep mad at each other. I can see the benefit in this, but to be fully honest, sometimes sleep is what is needed for us to resolve an argument the next morning. We have found that when we do try to resolve something before bed, it often just becomes worse. For us, the phrase that makes more sense is don’t go to sleep without praying together. Lance prays aloud for us every single night. We have done this from the very beginning of our marriage. The key here is to do this regardless of how you are feeling. If it was up to me and my heart, there would have been many nights where praying together would not have happened due to my own pride and selfishness. When I am mad, my gut reaction is to turn my back and disengage. When I am mad, praying together is the last thing I want to do. The Lord knew what He was doing when he gave me Lance as a husband. Lance has this amazing ability to do the right thing even when his emotions tell him otherwise. Even on the nights when I turn my back and give him the silent treatment, he flips me over, takes my hand out of my firm angry, arm cross and prays for us. How thankful I am for a husband that ignores my stubbornness and still is persistent in prayer.
Happy 4 years, LMC! I am so thankful for our marriage and this beautiful life we are building together.