5 Lessons From My First Year of Marriage

I can’t believe it- I’ve been married for a year already!?IMG_7981

This has seriously been the fastest year of my whole life.
Older married couples have told me that time doesn’t slow down from here- it actually speeds up!  What!? That’s so crazy to think about!
Time together is such a precious gift, and I don’t want to take a single day for granted.

For the past 365 days, God has used this amazing thing called marriage to shape my heart and smooth the rougher edges of my character. One year down, one lifetime of learning to go! I’m so thankful for God’s grace and my husband’s patience as I continue to grow into the person God desires for me to be. If I wrote out every lesson I’ve learned from this first year of marriage, it would probably turn into a whole book! So, upon further reflection, I’ve condensed my list down to the top 5 lessons that marriage has taught me in this first year.

If you’re single, I hope that this post is an encouragement to continue seeking God first, and to find the joy amidst the ‘growing pains’ of life! If you’re currently dating, I hope you will consider this to be a helpful glance into what being a newlywed is like. And if you’re married, I hope this encourages you as you find similarities in the lessons you’re learning as well! I believe we can all learn so much from one another; regardless which phase of life we are in. We’re always learning, so there’s always something valuable to share!

Okay, here we go- 5 lessons I’ve learned during my first year of marriage:

1.) Perspective > Circumstances

In marriage, just like in singleness, every day is what you make it. Circumstances only play as big of a role in your attitude as you allow them to. Even on a tough day, you can decide to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and choose a healthy perspective. Circumstances are temporary, but God’s grace is forever! A healthy perspective takes work and maintenance. It doesn’t just ‘happen’. Think about it; we work hard to take care of our physical bodies- practicing good hygiene, getting exercise, eating good food- but how much time do we really spend taking care of our minds? A healthy perspective is a whole lot more difficult to maintain when I’m not taking the necessary steps to keep my mind and spirit in a healthy place.  Circumstances matter, but perspective matters so much more.

2.) Nothing will bring out your inner selfishness like marriage does.

I thought I was a pretty decent person… until I got married.

*cue dramatic music*dun dun DUUUUN!*

On a serious note, it really is true that marriage brings out your rough edges- even ones that you didn’t even know were there!
As a single person, I genuinely worked hard to put God first in my life, but my own desires and priorities were a close ‘second’. Now that I’m married,  I have someone else‘s perspective to consider before making a decision. I have someone else’s goals to merge with mine. I have someone else‘s love language to learn. I have someone else‘s dreams to cherish as they become my dreams too.

It’s not always been a simple process, but it’s been a beautiful one.

3.) Don’t sweat the small stuff. 

(The truth is…99% of what I worry about is “small stuff”.)  It’s okay if you plan something and it doesn’t happen the way you wanted it to. It’s okay if you accidentally burn dinner while learning to make new foods; that doesn’t mean you failed as a spouse. (Yes, that sounds dramatic, but you’d be surprised by the amount of pressure I put on myself to be a 5 star chef from my first time cooking in our new home. It’s almost comical in hindsight, but at the moment I felt like I was ‘failing’ just because I made a few common mistakes.)
It’s important to train yourself NOT to sweat the small stuff, so that when the ‘big stuff’ comes along you will have the confidence and trust to know that God uses ALL things for His glory and your good.

Once of the BEST pieces of marriage advice I received from a former mentor of mine was “Girl-sometimes you just gotta roll with it. Stay lighthearted!”
In other words: don’t sweat the small stuff.

4.) Keep a ‘Record of Rights’.

1 Corinthians 13 tells us that love ‘does not keep a record of wrongs’. So, do the opposite!  When your spouse does something right, take a mental note, write it down, do whatever you need to do to store those moments up in your heart. Instead of digging up dirt from previous ‘wrongs‘, you’ll be frequently adding to your list of ‘rights‘!  Then, in the heat of an intense moment, your heart won’t be blinded to the big picture. A grudge will turn into gratitude. It’s amazing how much easier it is to “overlook an offense” (Prov. 19:11) when you’ve got a direct memory of so many GOOD and loving things your spouse has done.

Take a step back and remember the whole picture.
You’ll be delighted to have a constant reminder that the positive far outweighs the negative!

5.) The best gift you can give your spouse is a heart fully dedicated to the Lord.

Who doesn’t love a nice gift?
Gifts are fun! It’s exciting to plan something special for someone you love.

Ultimately, however, the greatest gift you can give your spouse doesn’t have a price tag. You can’t find it in a store, gift wrap it, or stick it under a Christmas tree.
It’s a gift that comes as a direct result of pursuing Jesus as your first love- learning more about his character and dedicating yourself to follow in his footsteps.  The most steadfast foundation of marriage happens in an environment where two people are committed to love one another selflessly as Christ loved the church. Putting the Lord first allows us to cultivate a healthy perspective of God, and our spouse is a direct recipient of that overflow of grace.  In this way, we can encourage and challenge one another in our personal growth.

Here’s an example of what this concept might look like: Kevin made the decision to wake up before dawn every day so that he can spent time in God’s word and in prayer before anything else. He’s not naturally a ‘morning person’- it isn’t always easy for him, but he is still consistent. He doesn’t ever complain.  This was a spiritual discipline that Kevin observed in his Dad’s life as he grew up, and now he is following that example as the head of our household. By the time I wake up in the morning,  I know that my husband has already invested the first hour of his day pursuing God’s truth.  He is storing up wisdom, and equipping himself as a man after God’s own heart.  There are hundreds of reasons why I’m proud of my husband, but this one is pretty high up on that list. It is such a treasure to me as his wife to know that Kevin is growing closer to the Lord, while providing me with a constant example of spiritual leadership.
You can’t put a price tag on that.

If you’ve read this far, thank you so much for your time! This post was a bit longer than usual, so thanks for sticking around. 🙂

Whether you’re married, dating, single, or anywhere in between, I would love to hear the relational lessons you’re learning as well: Observations, personal experiences, or anything of value that you are willing to share.
Please send me a message or leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

(Photography by Nicole @ SavedXGrace Photography)
collage***

 

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6 thoughts on “5 Lessons From My First Year of Marriage

  1. What a beautiful post and YES! to all five of your lessons you mentioned! Marriage has been such a blessing for us, even through the hard days when we are made fully aware of how prideful, selfish, and hurtful we can be. It is a mirror that has taught us to forgive, love even when it’s difficult, and to continually lean on God for the wisdom and strength. I am constantly in awe of how much my heart continues to grow for Greg when I feel like it couldn’t possibly get any bigger.

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  2. Heather Kelley says:

    love it ! that first point is awesome. you took something that can be said in a pretty cliche’ way, and made it fresh. Made me look at the way I view my days, a little differently:)

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  3. Ahhh, the inner selfishness. I’ve been in a long-term relationship, and though we’re not married, I have definitely felt that inner selfishness pop out sometimes. It’s incredibly difficult to merge someone else’s dreams, desires, and life with your own; I can’t imagine how tough it is to live together and work through these things all day, every day.

    Best of luck to you. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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  4. We’ve just celebrated 7 years of marriage and this is great stuff. Love number one of perspective so huge. Fully relate to number 2 in terms of constantly having to check self and look to serve my wife although i find that fairly easyish for the most part – when things are good – when you’re fighting or having a bad day then continuing to serve is a huge plus…

    And i really liked your number 4 – really easy to keep a record of wrongs and reminders of mess ups but that is a great encouragement to build into your marriage – thanks a lot and all the best for year two and beyond!

    love brett fish

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