It’s amazing the pleasant flood of emotions and nostalgia that comes with an anniversary. Suddenly you are reminded of your wedding day and the beautifully written vows and the friends and family that have supported and affirmed your marriage. You don’t remember the fight you had last weekend or the times you disagreed on which cabinet the dishes should go in and struggled to understand why your significant other felt the need to keep their wet towel on the floor instead of hanging in the bathroom. All of those “come to Jesus” moments are smothered by anniversary love and celebration.
For us, this past year has been a wonderful, bat-crazy, wild ride of transition, learning, growth and trust. We both had lots of habits to learn and un-learn and together, have had to filter through the way we were raised and the traditions and values we wanted our new family to reflect. I won’t bore you with some of the simple things we learned (like how to make amazing stuffed peppers or how to burn chicken). I will, however, share 5 things we have learned during this first year that we have found valuable. Like rock your world, change your life valuable.
- We are on the same team. For the first few months, we would bicker about so many small things. After all, we were told at our wedding to “Have enough passion to have a good heated debate every once in a while, but say ‘I’m sorry’ quickly and often.” (Thanks Dad). Looking back, we would add to that; “Save your passion for something bigger than not making the bed or leaving dirty dishes on the table.” Every time we disagree, we try and talk it through without pretending we have no opinion or without getting mad and staying silent. When we feel we are in the midst of a discussion becoming a fight, one of us reminds the other “we are on the same team”. That phrase seems to dismantle any unhelpful comments that could cause division in the team.
- There is value in saying “no”. We are both people that value the opinions of others and being married has only escaladed this value. We never wanted to be the newly married people that fell off the face of the planet. We wanted to be present, engaged, and available. But by saying “yes” to every birthday celebration and every family meal and every invitation from friends, we burnt ourselves out. Our time together as a couple always became secondary to the schedule of others and it was an unhealthy balance. Our new system first starts with assessing how we are doing and what our needs are as a family. Are we feeling tired, overworked, or simply peopled-out? Have we spent time in some kind of Sabbath? Do we need to get out of the house and interact with other human beings? The answer to these questions helped dictate how we would spend our time. Sometimes, saying “no” was the best thing we could do for our immediate family unit.
- Sometimes laundry can wait till tomorrow. Self-explanatory. There is a reason someone invented febreez. Clean pants for the sake of time with your spouse is not always a necessity. Pick your battles.
- Family Walks. During our first year of marriage, we have gone on probably 100 or more walks together. Shauna Neiquist put it best when she wrote, “When the day feels a little wild around the edges, we’re learning to circle up even more tightly as the day turns to night.” When Dillon and I walk together, we tend to both process the hopes, dreams, ideas, and fears that have made their way to the back of our minds. As we walk, we become more vulnerable with what we say, and more attentive with how we listen. There are no screens to distract us, no people or obligations vying for our attention. We are fully present with one another. And regardless of how we feel when we begin our walks, we always finish them feeling like a team, ready to conquer whatever challenges or aspirations are before us. My advice to other married people (newly or well-seasoned) is to find your “thing”. Figure out what makes you as a family, as a couple, feel like you are on the same team. What type of activity or outing or practice resets the routine you have found yourself in, and re-centers you? For us, its walks together. And if somewhere along the way we stop for ice cream, well that’s an added bonus.
- Our family is a two-calling family. This was one of our most recent decisions/learning experiences. Recently I was offered a job in my field of master’s study, at an institution that I absolutely love. However, stepping into this new season requires a lot of flex and sacrifice in our family. While I will start a new job in Pennsylvania, Dillon will need to continue living and working in Canada until we’ve received green card approval. We never entered into marriage with the desire to live apart or in separate countries, but we’ve decided our family needs to make space for two-callings. God has given both Dillon and myself interests and passions and dreams that thrill us and drive us. This requires both of us to remain flexible and be willing to sacrifice for the sake of the other, knowing we both benefit from having a fulfilled spouse. We are on the same team. We believe it is worth the hard work of figuring out the logistics and practicalities for the sake of pursuing our passions. In our marriage vows we promised each other “to support one another’s dreams, even if they don’t always align with mine” and to “be a part of the work God is doing in one another, wherever that may be”. Never have those promises felt so real to us than in the midst of this season.
So those are some of the things we've learned in our first year of married life, with many more life lessons to come. A special shout-out to my rainy-day-lover. Thanks for being my person and my co-adventurer. Life would be much less colorful without you. I love you something crazy.
And thanks to all who have journeyed with us throughout this first year of lovin’ and learnin’. We welcome you to be a part of the #adventuresofdillandash as we begin year two!