How swiftly one year can go by! I can’t believe it has been one year since we have gotten married! (well, it’s a little bit more than a year since I’m posting this late…but sometimes that’s life). It honestly seems just like yesterday I was getting beautified and feeling about to burst with anticipation for our first look and then walking down the aisle. It is my fondest memory of my life to date as we pledged to love each other for all time in front of our Savior and the people whom we love. This first year has been filled with blessings and wonderful times, but has also been filled with many moments in which to learn and grow. Here are five of the biggest lessons that I have learned within this first year.
1. Love is a choice
This is a lesson I began learning in our dating relationship, but over the past year the understanding of this principle has grown. Before I go on, please don’t think it take me all of my efforts to love my husband! That is far from the truth! I am more in love with my husband today than the day we got married; however, there are days where the “feeling” part just doesn’t come as easy. It could be because it was a long day at work, I didn’t get enough sleep, I was stressed thinking about all that had to be done, or because of a misunderstanding/miscommunication. It is during these occasions when the feeling of love doesn’t come as easily where one must make a conscious decision to love and actively show love through actions and words.
On the occasions where I was struggling in feeling loving I found that making the active effort to show love to Jose led to then feeling love. For example, some days coming home from a day of work where I have dealt with complaints and upset clients I come home not in a good mood…I don’t feel very loving towards anyone in those moments and struggle in wanting to do anything around the home. When I chose to act out love by making dinner, receiving Jose home with a kiss, and asking how his day went then my mood would be lifted by his loving reaction and thankfulness for my caring for his needs even after a long day. I would then feel loving once again and it would actually be strengthened in those moments. In contrast, I had days where I would come home and put together a dinner just because I had to, I wouldn’t receive him with a kiss or hardly any acknowledgement, or ask how he was…..in these cases it normally didn’t result in such a great outcome. It would cause him to be upset or discouraged, which in turn made my mood worse and then it just goes downhill from there. Friends, take advice from someone who has learned the hard way…it is so much better when your choose to love even when it “feels” hard. Those decisions only lead to blessing!
2. Communication is key
This is a continuous point of growth for me as communication has never been my strong point. I feel like I have definitely improved over the last year, but I still do struggle. Here the key take away that I believe I have learned the past year…ladies, please don’t ever assume your husband can read your every thought! It’s just going to lead to problems and misunderstandings. If you are upset and your husband has noticed please enlighten him with the reason why…they don’t particularly enjoy this guessing game. Especially if they are thinking it was something they might have said or done and in all reality it’s just because it’s that time of the month and you’re not feeling yourself or you had a difficult issue come up at work or with a friend. It will be a relief to them to know what the problem is….and it will be a relief to you because then they will know how to help you feel better. Also, if the problem is with something that hubby did or said, how is he going to know unless you mention it (in a loving way, of course!)…the problem will never be resolved if it is not talked about because you will stew like a pressure cooker and the burst one day, which will most likely not be a positive experience for your marriage.
The other aspect to this is communicate your expectations. This might be things you expect of your spouse personally or just expectations your u have in general. A small example from my personal life is that I generally have all these expectations of what we will do together on the weekend….and then the weekend comes and we don’t do any of those things I was hoping to because hubby had made plans to work or to do something else. I would get upset or grumpy because the weekend was not going how I imagined and it was not poor Jose’s fault…I failed to communicate my expectations of what I though we could do to get things done around the house or do for fun and he had no idea, so other plans were made. You will do both a favor when you make clear your expectations and then you can discuss them and come to an agreement.
3. It’s okay to not have everything under control
Whew! This was a big one for me. I am a perfectionist…I like to have everything organized and I want no less the success for every task or goal I have for myself. This is so much stress to place on you unselfish as a new wife! Realize that this is a growing process and it won’t stop until our life here on earth is done. There are so many hats you wear as a wife and even more are added when you become a mom, so don’t give yourself ulcers by trying to be perfect in every single area…it will only cause burnout and discouragement. Take heart, it’s okay if dinner was burnt, if your husband has run out of clean underwear, or if the house hasn’t been cleaned in while. The is a learning process. It takes time to learn how to juggle work and all the tasks that need to be done at home. As time goes on you’ll learn how to prioritize, organize, and…even delegate 😉 Plus, never be afraid to ask for help. This can be from ladies who have been married for years, or even from your hubby! Jose has been so good at helping me out at home. We both work full time jobs so he actively seeks out ways to help me at home so we are both contributing…it is such a blessing when he offers to throw in a load of laundry or tells me we can wait until Saturday to both work on cleaning the house together. So, give yourselves grace…you will feel much more at peace and in a better frame of mind to get everything done.
4. You are a team
I feel like I covered a bit of this in the previous point but honestly this is such a great truth! Many sports are played by teams comprised of various players, each one playing a specific position depending on their strengths and weaknesses…together, combining their strengths they can accomplish their goal (win the game!). As husband and wife you bring together a different set of strengths that compliment one another and allow you to win at this game called life. For example, I am an introvert, highly organized and tend to be…to put it nicely, a realist. My hubby is an extrovert, likes to have everything in order (but things like planning/time management are not his strengths), and is ever the optimist. These personal characteristics of ours mesh together perfectly allowing us to balance one another out and give encouragement where needed. A more practical side of teamwork could be something such as cleaning the house. Since the beginning Jose and I agreed that we should share responsibilities at home as we both work full time. This has been such a relief for me…as much as I would love to take care of all the things to do at home it just isn’t possible while working full time. Some examples of how this has worked for us: I do the cooking/grocery shopping and Jose usually does laundry. Saturday we work together to clean the house in which I get to clean bathrooms/kitchen (which Jose hates to do) and Jose sweeps/mops (which I hate to do)…so it works out perfectly!! Of course this teamwork will look different for every couple, but for us this has helped to strengthen our marriage and keep everything running smoothly.
5. You are a team, but also are still your own selves
Continuing the illustration of a sports team…they have to work together to be successful, but when you break it down it is each player’s individual strengths that contribute to the whole. So it is with married life…yes, together you are a team…but, you can’t forget that you work together well because of your individual characteristics. Most likely those characteristics are why you love your spouse (although sometimes as time goes on perhaps they are what drive you crazy!). Take Jose and I…we figured out this past year that we need to allow each other to have and embrace those differences. Sometimes, I just need some down time to myself to sit, be quiet and recharge so that I can be completely there for Jose when he needs me. Or, perhaps it’s me learning to be patient and embrace the Hispanic culture of arriving politely late to functions 😉 Of course character differences are a big deal, but personal likes/dislikes influence your relationship as well. For example, I did not grow up with soccer, while that was Jose’s life growing up. I have learned to embrace this difference, it is what makes my hubby…well, him. His enjoyment of watching a soccer game with me might not be my first choice of entertainment, but I love to do it because I know it encourages him and makes him feel loved. I also do love to go watch him play soccer and cheer him on…slowly but surely I’m gaining a better knowledge of the game and it’s crazy how something so “unimportant” such as showing an interest in your spouse’s favorite sport can strengthen your relationship. It’s different for each couple, perhaps there is a hobby your spouse loves: a particular sport, hiking, reading, or even video games…embracing that part of their character and showing interest in that hobby truly goes a long way towards strengthening your bond. Also, a short side note, it is certainly important that you spend time together as a married couple, but it is never healthy to forget about your other relationships with family or friends. Jose and I love to spend time with those we care about, even if that means I have a “girls night” and am away from home for a while. These times that you have to spend investing in others are not only beneficial for those you care about, but you personally. You know what they say…absence makes the heart grow fonder!
These are just a few of many lessons I learned during this past year. By no means have I learned it all! There is just so much to learn and grow in…especially for us as we head into this new phase of parenthood. We absolutely can’t wait to meet our little boy! I’m sure there will be even more growth and learning during this new stage, but I have my best friend by my side and get the privilege to share this time with him. Hopefully these lessons that I have learned might help you out as you start on your own marriage journey or perhaps it can just be an encouragement to read that someone else is walking the same road learning the same things! Every part of this journey is a blessing!