Two days ago Ryan and I celebrated three years of marriage. Looking back on our time together, marriage has been so much more than I expected. There have been a few ‘warnings’ that I was given that I have found to be untrue, and there have been a few other things that no one warned me about. I suppose we can never be fully prepared for such a commitment as marriage. It’s a unique path that each couple forges on their own.
Many people warn that children strain a marriage, and though I can see where this comes from, I don’t believe it’s all true. The truth is marriage is difficult with or without them. Our relationship has become more intentional because of them, which leads me to believe the exact opposite of what people warned. Kids elevate the marriage.
I have learned more about Ryan while watching him interact with our kids then I could have otherwise. I have seen his gentler more playful side, his stern disciplinarian side, and his caretaker side. We have stepped outside of ourselves into uncharted territory, and we have done it together. Kids have pushed us to learn, laugh, cry, and dream in new ways.
They have sealed our marriage with a stamp of importance. It’s no longer him and I, it’s all of us. Working through hard things is no longer an option but a necessity for the upkeep of our entire family. They make it more vital to forgive one another quickly and side step any negativity. Also, have you ever seen your spouse holding a newborn or playing pretend with a toddler? There is nothing more attractive.
Don’t buy into the myth that kids are a burden when in fact they are a great blessing. There is financial stress, nights of worry, many many sacrifices, and countless other hardships that we encounter. But we should stop warning couples how kids put a strain on marriage and show them how kids bless the marriage.
In the moments that I just don’t feel like it – don’t feel like being nice, loving, gentle, forgiving – I have found a force way greater than I that is capable of extending love to my husband.
This supernatural grace has stopped me in my tracks more than once. Without a doubt I know I am incapable of fully loving him in the way he deserves. A little prayer murmured at the right time springs forth more graces than I could have ever imagined.
When I’m feeling angry, sad, or overwhelmed I have found the grace to share it and ask for help. It is a dark force that convinces you your spouse isn’t helpful or loving enough. It is the light that shows you how to reach out and speak, so that you both can grow and move forward.
Doing life with someone else is fun, even when we are called to make great sacrifices and compromise. My job, house, dreams, and time are all things I now share with another person. The life I had envisioned has a special flare because it is mixing with the life that Ryan had envisioned, and it is a beautiful blend. The dream house, dream job, and dream everything look a little different and that’s okay.
Sometimes we have the blessing of giving up something so that we may better serve our family. Sometimes we have the blessing of chasing after something because it will better serve our family. All these decisions are evaluated beneath the lens of joint interest. It is not always easy, but it is more exciting and rewarding having had to make the compromise together than if we went our own way.
Maybe the most important lesson is that it’s okay to let it go. We don’t have to hold grudges or count wrongs. We can confidently overlook small hurts and missteps because at the end of the day we know that we have each other’s best interest at heart. We are often quick to let things build up in our minds and become worse then they really are, but there’s not much that a little communication can’t solve. Forgive, move forward, try again.
If there is any one area of you life that you should be all in on it should be your marriage. Choose romance and forgiveness, choose joy and patience, choose fun and service. They all go hand in hand. Push through the hard, let your marriage be polished by the fires, let it come out the other side a little bit stronger. Being all in means never giving up.
Marriage is never perfect, not on this side anyway, but that doesn’t meant that it can’t be pretty dang wonderful.