The morning light playfully casts its shadows on my husband’s face. I ask myself, once again, in my half slumber, if this is really my life. My mornings are filled with “I love you’s” and kisses (morning breath and all) and an alarm set purposely to snooze so we can cozy up to each other before the real world starts knocking. I never pictured something so imperfect feeling so perfect. Our marriage has its flaws like any other relationship, but we’ve used them as reminders of our humanity and mile markers of where we can grow.
This first year of marriage has been a beautiful mess.
Filled with chaos calmed by Tyler’s deep voice and aptitude to forgive and apologize without hesitation, but also with humility. This has been a year of learning to do old things a new way, learning to let go and let loose, and learning even more so, how to love with a reckless abandon. How to love unconditionally even through some harsh conditions. We weathered the storm of my losing a parent and we also learned to be okay with not being able to be everything the other person needs. I needed my husband through that tragedy, but I also needed my best friends and my sisters to help me process what happened in a different way.
This dreamy relationship of ours isn’t clouded by rose-colored glasses. We are very aware of the gift of newness and the romance it inspires and of the brokenness and falling short we have already done and will continue to do. It’s all a part of it. We have said things that hurt each other. We’ve stayed up late searching for resolutions to issues that we could have prevented if we had communicated our expectations sooner.
If I’ve learned anything in my first year of marriage, it’s that marriage itself is a state of becoming.
It’s active, not passive. Our relationship as spouses doesn’t get the luxury of the title “Married” solving our problems, having the hard conversations magically disappear, or the sense of accomplishment you feel when you reach a finish line. Marriage is a state of becoming. Becoming closer, more honest (and more tactful), more humble, more loving, more forgiving, more adaptable, and more intentional.
Our wedding day was the beginning of a public commitment, but we spent almost seven years curating and pruning the best parts of ourselves while revealing our weaknesses. Tyler’s way better at apologizing than I am and I’m better at communicating my feelings on a whim. We get to hold each other accountable—and if we don’t, we miss the potential for our relationship to flourish. It can be tempting to assume you know what your spouse is thinking and feeling on the basis of you knowing them better than anyone else knows them. If we live in a state of assumptions, we miss the chance to get to know each other more intimately.
We aren’t off the hook now that we have some pretty circles around our fingers. If anything, it has never been more important to press in and run from the idea of getting comfortable. Your lifelong commitment is an active one. It’s not an “I do” to say I already did.
I’ve learned marriage is a pursuit. Though we may be within a few walls, we still need to go out of our way for each other like we did when we had opposite schedules or were long distance. For us, that may look like sacrificing a night out with a friend if it’s the only night he and I could spend quality time together. Being married means considering each other first; plans don’t just affect you anymore—they affect both of you.
As humans, we are constantly changing, balancing on a tightrope of circumstances in flux—some we don’t have any control over (pandemic anyone?). I don’t fear the tightrope or my lack of balance sometimes because I know my spouse is my safety net. Tyler is there to catch me when I fall—not only there to, but wants to be there to catch me. In this state of becoming, we both are challenged to pursue each other. It looks like keeping our conversations real and curious, flirting just because, and being quick to admit when we’re wrong.
- Marriage is a daily, active commitment to each other.
- You have to pursue each other to have a worthwhile marriage.
- Acknowledging you and your spouse’s humanity helps set realistic expectations.
Questions to ask each other:
- How can we continue pursuing each other? What does that look like for us? (i.e., writing each other notes, texting each other during the day just because, planning a weekly date night, etc.)
- Talk about each other’s strengths and weaknesses and how you can be a team.
- Do we have a plan to handle conflict/hard situations? If so, revisit it. If not, come up with one.