Monday, April 4, 2011

counting blessings & marital advice

Before we got married, we were very naive about the difficulties in marriage. Yes, we knew there would be fights and dark spots, but we never really understood the depth of some of the struggles we would face. I don't think anyone can understand until they've experienced it. And while we've been married less than a year, I believe we have faced some pretty intense problems (and will undoubtedly face many more awful ones in the years to come). We've had vicious fights. But we've worked through them. We were blessed in that we both had lived on our own and supported ourselves prior to getting married. That taught us what we needed to understand what it meant to pay bills (and a lot of them) and therefore to budget ourselves, even if that meant not always having the newest/most fashionable clothes or going out with our friends to the movies. It wasn't always fun, but we figured out how to take a monthly income of $850ish dollars and turn it into $600 rent, utilities, and groceries. Lots of Ramen and Ragu was consumed. Somehow Jon lost weight while I saw my waistline grow (naturally). But we were at least prepared for cohabitation in that we knew what sort of finances would be allotted for bills and what we desired to put into savings for (hopefully) an eventual down payment on a house. We still struggle with that, but we more often than not can talk ourselves out of that shiny new purchase we want, but don't need, to make. 

We were also blessed in that entering marriage, neither of us wanted children right away. Well, that changed pretty much once we said "I do" but reason was able to prevail above desire until my heart reverted to wanting to wait. We have desperately needed the past 10 months together as husband and wife without needing to worry about mom & dad titles. It's gotten to the point where we can wait to have kids simply because we love the way our relationship is now, just the 2 of us. We love being able to drop everything and run to the grocery store or go for a bike ride without thinking twice. We love the way we laugh together and relate to one another without the worries associated with raising a tiny human. And we love being able to sleep through the entire night. If my initial motherly desires had prevailed in the beginning of our marriage, I can assure you our relationship would be a complete and utter wreck right now. I am confident that while we would have overcome many obstacles eventually, we wouldn't have been able to grow in our marriage as we currently have because of the interference of an obviously needy baby would create. All our energy would have been focused on making our child's life better above making our marriage better. And while I so greatly look forward to the day that we try to and find out we're pregnant, I know that the past ten months (and hopefully several more to come) were for the best.

I just wish I could emphasize to engaged couples what a drastic change marriage is. Living together can be exceptionally rough. Heck, living on your own can be exceptionally rough. You need to fully address your concerns, desires, and expectations (including cooking, cleaning, laundry, sex, family, etc.) with your future spouse to even attempt to prepare for the inevitable future disagreements you will have. You need to feel comfortable communicating all of your feelings with one another, even if you risk hurting the other person (such as correcting them, in love, if you know that they were wrong about something). It really IS a learning process. And I could write blog after blog about the rough waters ahead and it still wouldn't sink in because it just can't. You will always have that naive "well, we know it will be hard but we're prepared for anything" stance until you find your fatigue and frustrations high and communication skills low and watch the trainwreck of an argument unfold in front of you. So the only advice I can give is to prepare yourself. Don't let your desires overrun your rationale. God gave us wonderful brainpower. Use it. If you know certain decisions could [significantly] negatively impact your marriage, make the ones that you know are in its best interest, regardless of whether or not that's what you want.

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