Friday, April 12, 2013

Love & Marriage: For Better or For Worse...

I had so much fun on the last Love & Marriage Link Up, I'm at it again!! This week we are discussing the not so pretty parts of married life, the hard stuff... You know that part where you say "For better or for worse..." Well, it's time to get real - marriage isn't always rainbows and butterflies, and this week I'm going to tell you about a few of the issues Brandon and I have dealt with in the last year and a half.

This post is a tricky one for me to write, but not in the same way that it is hard for most of the people whose links I've clicked on. To be completely honest our marriage has been full of overwhelming blessings...

We haven't struggled with infertility or family problems or deployment or sick kids or the death of loved ones or financial hardships. Our first year of marriage has been pretty storybook-esque... BUT  even when everything is going right, even when there are no nightmares on the horizon, no major trauma to deal with, and life just feels like it's pretty darn good, it doesn't mean it's always easy.

Nevertheless, please, please, please don't think that I don't realize how very small our troubles are. I do! I realize that our difficulties have been so trivial compared to the things so many others have faced. I get it that my "problems" dim in comparison to the problems of others and I in no way, shape or form, am implying that my hard stuff is even comparable to the tough stuff others are facing because it doesn't. And I am so thankful. Brandon and I know, and refuse to take for granted, the fact that we are blessed. (NOTE: I specifically and intentionally did not say we are "lucky," luck has not a thing in the world to do with this. We have been blessed. Big difference.)

Brandon during his intern year...
This is the closest thing to an action shot I could take that didn't violate HIPAA.
In our one and a half year tenure, we've had a few bumps in the road - there is this pesky thing called residency that steals away my husband's time, energy and focus. Now to be fair it gives a lot back to us as well, like a steady paycheck, an opportunity for growth and learning, some wonderful friends, and a whole heck of a lot of stress. BUT, we made it work - I took everything I could take off of his plate and he took care of the hospital and himself and we got through it! We are now polishing off his second year and are about to head into the last leg of this race. There is light at the end of the tunnel and our lives as resident/resident's spouse got much better! We have been blessed.

Not fun medicine that knocked out my clot!
And then there was this teeny-tiny super scary thing called a blood clot that decided to make it's home in my leg after we went on our first snow skiing trip together. (You can read about that drama here.) BUT, we (and many, many others!) did a whole lot of praying and my husband did some really good doctorin' and I got all better! We have been blessed.

There have been other things, stuff everyone faces as some point or another: I switched jobs and took on a whole lot more responsibility at work which inevitably meant less time to take care of things at home. We adjusted, worked together and it all worked out! We had to learn how to maneuver around having wonderful, adoring families who all wanted us home for the holidays, which of course isn't possible. We adjusted, EVERYONE worked together, and it all worked out too! And occasionally, we still hit some other unexpected, unforeseen bumps in the road that cause us to adjust and work together...

So, I thought it might be helpful to share some things that Brandon and I really, really, really try hard to do when the inevitable hard stuff falls in our lap... Heaven knows we aren't experts, so please don't think that we are claiming to be! These are merely things that have helped us.

#1. Couples who pray together, stay together.
This is not an original thought by any means, actually our pastor Craig Groeschel did an entire marriage series last year called From This Day Forward (you can check it out for free on iTunes podcast!) and this was one of the sermons that really stuck with us. From the minute we got engaged (literally), Brandon has made it a point that we pray together. Sometimes it's just a quick prayer before dinner and other times we sit in bed and just have long conversations with God. I can't tell you how special this time is for our little family. For one, there is nothing quite as precious as hearing your husband ask God to help him be the husband God desires him to be... or even better, when your husband prays for you! Hearing your spouse pour out their heart to God truly helps you understand their thoughts, fears and frustrations. Time and time again, this has proven to be the most valuable thing that we can do for our marriage.

#2. Every day try to out love the other.
My wise daddy gave us this advice when we first got married. He explained that if we both tried to out love each other, there would always be enough love to make whatever problems we faced seem small. My daddy is a wise, wise man. Brandon and I have implemented this into our daily life... if I see that there is an opportunity to show him love by helping him somehow or writing him a note of encouragement or just letting him eat the last Popsicle, I try to do it every time. And it's easy to give him my best and not be selfish because I know that he's looking for ways to love me too. Now there are days when one of us clearly out-loved the other, but that just leaves us feeling challenged to do better. An easy example happened while I was sick, sick, sick during our first trimester. Typically, I'm in charge of laundry. Honestly, I much prefer Brandon steer clear of the laundry because I'm OCD and like things done a certain way. Well this was not the case while I was fighting the morning sickness bug. I didn't want to ask for help (because I'm prideful, admittedly) and Brandon didn't make me... he just did the laundry. He did the laundry, he put up the Christmas trees, he washed the dishes and he cooked for himself because he saw an opportunity to love me. He didn't expect a "thanks" or a "good job" or a Best Husband Ever Award, although he was most deserving of them all! He just did it out of love, knowing that when I had the opportunity, when I had just a hint of energy and wasn't losing my lunch, I would try to out-love him back. If both parties play the game, everybody is a winner.
#3. Give each other the benefit of the doubt.
This is something that seems obvious but is sometimes so hard to do! We make an effort to not go look for a reason to get our feelings hurt. Always try your hardest to assume your spouse has your best interest in mind. If he or she says something that hurts your feelings or makes you angry, tell them... but don't tell them with anger or bitterness! Tell them with humility and love. It's very easy to start this conversation with a slightly raised voice and a "Well you said..." when, I promise, it'll go much smoother if you take a deep breath (in my case this typically takes upwards of around thirty minutes) and say with a calm voice, "It hurt my feelings when you said ... because I felt like you were implying..." Nine times out of ten, hurt feelings are caused by miscommunication. Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt and talk about it. [We do our very best argument resolutions while walking. Hold hands even if you don't want to and just walk until you can say what you want to say without being angry... Plus even if you get angry at some point during the conversation, chances are good you won't let yourself raise your voice for fear that the neighbors will think you're crazy! Works out great!]
Again, I don't claim to be an expert on marriage. I realize, and am very thankful, that I have been blessed with an incredibly supportive husband who tries so, so hard to love me the very best he knows how. Together, we make a pretty good team, and the best part is that it's just going to get better and better! I can't wait!
Be Blessed!

1 comment:

  1. Fabulous tips! I really loved reading through this post. It's nice to read about other's honest marriage experiences and how they are making it work, so that I can remember it when I'm married in the future. Xoxo