A few days ago, I was having dinner with a friend and she asked me how our first year of marriage has been.
I told her, “I LOVE being married. I think marriage is the greatest thing.”
At first, she looked surprised…Then, she asked, “What’s Your Secret?” She mentioned that some of her married friends make marriage seem miserable. And as a single girl, she felt like maybe she should be afraid to get married. That it might be full of frustrating moments, and a lot of hard. Hard days, weeks, months, conversations…
I can totally relate. Not to marriage, but to the idea of becoming a parent. Hopefully, in the future, Kyle and I will have some kiddos and when that time comes, I hope we can approach it with joy and hope! However, sometimes comments or things that I read on Facebook make me feel scared. Scared of change, scared of the unknown, scared because of their experiences.
I get it. Sometimes everyone needs to “vent”, to get something off their chest. And I know fully that parenting can be full of sleepless nights & sick babies. But I think sometimes, we all need to be reminded how much our words affect and impact the people around us.
If we are so willing to share the negative aspects of life, we need to be even MORE willing to share the positive aspects. Because there are people who are watching. I watch parents, hoping that one day, I will be one. And my single friends watch my marriage, hoping that one day they will be married. And they want to hear firsthand how it really is.
And by only sharing one side of the story, we are doing the people around us a disservice. We are proclaiming that marriage/parenthood/college/singleness/engagement is HARD. And if you’ve read any of my other blogs, you know that I think taking something as complicated as those and defining it by just one word is impossible. I understand that ANY change has an element of hard. Let’s be real! But I would venture to say that every change also has an element of growth and some good days too.
But, back to my main point. The Secret.
It took me a minute to respond, because I really wanted to think about what it is that makes me love marriage.
The secret is my words. And understanding that what comes out of my mouth will determine how the days of our marriage will be.
Before Kyle & I were married we went through a process of getting to know each other through Courtship. Before you tell me to put my bonnet back on, hear me out…Basically, we were intentional about getting to know each other and took some time to put in some work. We read a few books on communication and I would say that they have been lifesavers. From me learning how men like to process through a problem, to Kyle learning that sometimes I don’t want any advice as much as I want a listening ear, it has helped us learn how to be better communicators to each other.
I have heard people argue that making sure you are sexually compatible before marriage is a necessity. “You need to test drive the car before you buy it.” And while I’m not going to get into that right now, I am going to offer a different viewpoint. Yes, sex is important in marriage, but I would guess that most couples spend at least 10x more time communicating than they do having sex. Let’s just be real.
So wouldn’t making sure that you can effectively communicate be MORE important that being sexually compatible? My answer : yes. It’s just not that glamourous. It’s not something that they put in movies. Because learning how to apologize, effectively listen, not attack in an argument are all things that take a lot of work.
But it produces SO many benefits in a marriage.
…which brings me to my next point…
.Learning that our words last longer than our conversations.
I am a passionate person. I have big feelings and strong emotions. Growing up, sometimes I had trouble communicating gracefully and would result to raising my voice and sometimes yelling to get my point across. After a while, I found that how loud I talked/shouted did not make my point any more clear, or the person listening any more willing to hear my point. I would say that most times, it does the opposite. The louder I got, the LESS people wanted to hear what I had to say.
Kyle and I decided early in our relationship that we weren’t going to yell at each other. It might sound strange, but when you are frustrated, having to communicate at a normal volume sometimes makes it easier to think before you speak. It takes more self-control which then allows me to better control the words that sometimes come flying out of my mouth like bullets.
So here’s the honest truth. We DON’T always agree on everything. We DON’T always treat each other kindly. We DO sometimes piss each other off. It’s gonna happen. In any marriage, and in most relationships. But here’s what we also have learned.
That saying something rude or cutting in the moment of being hurt will never be beneficial.
Because attacking each other is something that will not easily be forgotten. It’s true, right? That even if someone apologizes and you forgive them, it doesn’t mean that you magically forget everything that hurt you. You just choose to move past it.
And I think that when a husband and wife start attacking one another, yes, forgiveness can come and the relationship can be restored, but sometimes, we remember the attacks.
Just because I might have had a moment where I was rude or sharp doesn’t mean that I am a rude person. And if Kyle told me I was, I probably would have a hard time forgetting it. If Kyle and I started telling each other, “You ARE rude/mean/selfish/ugly/stupid/etc.” Those are words that would leave imprints. They would last much longer than the 4 seconds it would take to say them.
And with the person who I am supposed to be closest to, attacks can stack up like bricks. And with enough bricks, walls are built. Walls that make it harder to connect, harder to be honest, harder to love, and harder to be loved.
In other aspects, what I say to others ABOUT my marriage and about my husband are also just as important. Painting Kyle in a negative light to people who don’t even know him will NEVER be beneficial. And there is a good chance, that my complaints will wind up being spread. So we have decided to work through disagreements with each other first. Yes, sometimes we might be the LAST person that we want to talk to in the moment of frustration, but it allows the issue to stay where it needs to be, and not become something that grows and grows with each person I complain to.
So…There you go.
A lot more practical than romantic. I’ve found that the practical things are the foundation of our relationship. They are the things that happen DAILY. So that all of the other stuff is extra and comes easily. It’s so much fun to go on dates, or to snuggle up on the couch, or to feel loved when there aren’t unresolved frustrations or hurts hanging over our heads.
Peace out, friends. I’d love to hear your thoughts!