I think I said this first bit last year, but it’s worth repeating: I met him on a stinky church van. It was stinky in the literal sense; some guy had eaten Long John Silvers for lunch and didn’t finish, so there was actual, maybe not real, seafood sitting under the seat quickly approaching its expiration. My friends and I were headed for a week in the mountains, a week of emotional worship sessions, lumpy bunk bed mattresses, french braid pigtails, and giggling until the wee hours of the morning. I had been before, but that summer there was a different boy in our group, one I didn’t know. He sat quietly, uncomfortable, one of the only ones from his church. They needed a ride, and our youth director had extra seats. I remember my friend Ashley next to me, opening a banana to snack on. I remember him turning around to make a face about it (he still hates bananas). I remember him asking me how old I was. I remember telling him “sixteen”, even though that was a lie. I don’t know if fourteen sounded too babyish or if I was just being stupid. He still remembers this lie and teases me about it.
Today, January 5, 2019, marks eleven years of being married to him, my best friend. This might sound cliche or overdone, but really he was my best friend before we got married and he is still my very favorite person to spend the days and nights with. We were babies when we got married; 21 (me) and 23 (him), and our engagement was short. We couldn’t wait for the time when we didn’t have to whisper goodnight on the phone or go our separate ways after a sweet date. I know there were people in my life thinking, but why? Why so soon? Why now? Why rush? And really, my answer to that was just because I knew. I knew he was someone I didn’t want to say goodbye to, someone I knew would love me for me, someone I wanted to grow up with and experience life and adventures and family with. For me, there was no second guessing or fear. I just knew.
Eleven years sounds like a long time, but they feel like they’ve flown by. In that time, I’ve learned so much, about being a wife, about having a husband, about being an equal part of this sacred partnership. And here are some things I know to be unequivocally true:
- “Thank you” might be even more important to say every day than “I love you”. Expressing and receiving gratitude is one of the greatest blessings of our marriage. It can be for big things like a surprising gift or working a few weekends of overtime to help fund a vacation, but mostly it’s for the little things: a tasty dinner, finishing up the dishes before bed, taking the kids outside so one of us can rest.
- It’s fun to ask questions. We are discovering all the time that there are these crazy vivid childhood memories we have that the other one doesn’t know about. And each time we share one, I feel like we understand each other a little better.
- We have changed (and will continue to change) since the day we said “I do”. He is not the same person I married eleven years ago, and to expect that of him would be unfair. We’ve both matured, experienced things that have changed our perspectives and ideas. But for the most part, we’ve embraced each change and even if there’s been a bit of a painful adjustment period, we’ve been able to come back to center to find that the foundation of our relationship hasn’t changed a bit.
- It’s important to make your spouse your number one priority. I promise, the kids and dogs will be fine if you do this. In fact, they’ll end up witnessing a healthy and loving relationship that will serve them in their later years (I’m basing this on my experience with my own parents and am hopeful that I’m accomplishing this with my own little family).
- Little surprises can be the best. Sometimes I’ll cook a meal or bake a treat he wasn’t expecting, sometimes he’ll bring me a random gift, sometimes he secretly orchestrates a beautiful piece of antique furniture I had my eye on to be delivered and waiting for me when I get home. Just knowing that we thought of each other and did something about it is so sweet.
- Everything is easier with teamwork. And, not to brag, but we have got this one down. Whether it’s cooking and doing the dishes, taking ten-hour road trips to our hometown, or cleaning up vomit, working together has almost become automatic. We don’t even have to speak anymore when doing these things, we just move around each other in a sort of silent dance until it’s all over and we say “thank you” once again.
- Comfort and routine (for me) are not bad things. I hear people say “stuck in a rut” and while I understand the sentiment, most of the time I’m happiest when we are at home, spending time together as a family, sticking to our routine, and in our comfy clothes. It’s predictable and safe and comforting.
- Listening is the best gift you can give. I’m still working on this one, because it turns out listening can be kind of hard with all the other distractions coming in all the time. It’s especially hard to listen when one or more kid is needing something. But, it’s a work in progress. And totally worth it.
- Speaking of kids, they can put strain on a marriage for sure, but also they can reveal some pretty great things. We didn’t argue much or get annoyed with each other before kids; those things just come with sleep deprivation and being unsure of all the parenting things. But also, watching him be a father to our kids is so precious. He’s a really good one.
- Communication is everything. No one is a mind-reader. You have to learn to speak aloud what you feel and what you need so that your partner can support you in whatever way works for you.
- My husband is my favorite. I’d choose him all over again given the chance. He still knows how to make me laugh and my heart still skips a beat when I hear him coming in the door. We aren’t perfect. Our marriage isn’t perfect. But it’s pretty darn good. We make sure that the other one feels seen and heard and loved every day. And that’s really all I could ever ask for.
Becoming by Michelle Obama. I bought this book with a Christmas gift card because I knew it would be amazing and I knew I wanted to own it. Plus the library wait list was like 200 people deep and I needed it like right now. I got THE LAST one at Barnes & Noble that day, feeling very lucky indeed. I’m halfway through and I just cannot gush enough about this book. It is beautifully written, so full of wisdom and grace, and I cannot put it down.
Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. This one was recommended by a woman on a podcast I love, and I thought it would be a great nonfiction read to start the year out with. I was right. It’s all about ditching the diet mentality (which, it turns out, according to research only causes us to gain more weight in the end) and listening to your body’s natural cues. I’m only about 1/4 of the way in, but I feel like they wrote this book especially for me. I’m sure I’ll have more to say about this later…it really could be life-changing I think.
Thanks for reading and until next time, peace and love from my household to yours.
2 thoughts on “On Marriage: 11 Things I Know to be True After 11 Years”
Katie, I really enjoyed this post. You should write self help books. You have insights that we can all profit from. Uncle John