In about 6 weeks, my husband and I will have made it to the 2 year marker of our wedding Anniversary. It's hard to believe that 2 years has already gone by but at the same time I can't believe it's only been 2 years!
To sum up the first year of marriage, I'd confidently say "it was hard."
Year #1 was tough.
Along side a bunch of family events and crazy unforeseen life circumstances, there was A LOT of learning. Trial and error, mostly. Justin, my husband, and I learned a lot through our mistakes, which just made things harder.
To name a few: we both learned that our love languages are complete opposite from each other, meaning that my top love language was on the bottom of Justin's love language list (and vice versa).
We ( I ) learned that silence is typically not a negative thing during conversations, but a normal aspect of listening and processing information.
We both learned that I'm NOT a morning person and never will be and that Justin is NOT a night person and never will be. Therefore, deep, deep, deep emotional conversations need to take place between the hours of noon and 7pm.
On top of all of that, I personally felt that we had the pressure of social media on our backs to portray a wonderful, picture perfect image of what the honeymoon phase of marriage should look like. To me, I felt that because we weren't traveling, buying a house, going on crazy adventures or having a baby, that we were doing something wrong.
The truth was, learning to love each other on the deep, deep level that marriage requires of us, the deep, deep level in which God loves us, is a really hard thing to understand and learn. There were so many days where both Justin and I admitted that if we didn't have God, loving the other person would be almost impossible. We sometimes questioned what in the world we were doing and probably even asked if we had done the right thing. Yup, the first year was hard.
Year #2 was worth it.
Now, I sit here, a whole year wiser (hah not really), and finally understand that yes, year one was tough BUT it was also worth it. I'm not sure when we crossed over the line but, I believe we are starting to see just how truly incredible marriage is. God created this institution so that we may show the world an image of what His love for us looks like. I think too often we forget that such a painful and gruesome sacrifice was made FIRST in order for us to truly see and feel what it is like to be loved by our heavenly father. Jesus suffered and suffered greatly before he finally died on the cross and rose from the grave. His resurrection gave us our salvation! Without his sacrifice, how would we truly understand the magnitude in which God loves us and longs to be with us?
With that being said, the same concept can be applied here. Without the toughness of the first year, Justin and I would not have had the intimate and vulnerable conversations we were forced to have, allowing us to build a strong foundation of trust, honesty, and security. Without the toughness of the first year, We would not have been exposed to the moments in which our masks were completely ripped off and we saw each other for the sinful beings we really are. Without the toughness of the first year, we would not have learned how to argue (deal with conflict) and more importantly, how to forgive.
With each struggle, the Lord was building our armor stronger together. Justin and I are no longer independent beings, but ONE unified entity. We fight in this battle against the evil one together, as one unit. The Lord knows, He is our trainer and sustainer. When Justin and I said our vows to each other, we were not only vowing to love each other through sickness and in health, we were vowing to take up our cross together, no matter the cost. I believe the first year of marriage was tough for us because the Lord had a lot of teaching to do. Justin and I are very independent and strong people. In order for us to come together to be even stronger, the Lord had to break down our personal walls so that we could start this journey at the same place.
During the hard moments of the first year, I would read through the journals I kept during the dating season. I remember feeling as if my heart were going to explode from the overflow with love I felt for this boy! I knew I had to do something, so I wrote all my feelings down. Last year, I found myself getting so discouraged because I no longer felt like that anymore. I love Justin, of course, but I missed being so above cloud 9 all the time. I thought there was something wrong with me and essentially blamed myself for the change. I wished I could go back in time and tell myself what I feel now. Because now, I am starting to see the fruits of the pain from last year. I am starting to understand that me feeling that way wasn't my fault, but a season of refinement for what God had lying ahead, Agape love.
In Greek, the word Agape means love at it's ultimate. It is unlike the love we feel for one another and is typically not used to describe the love between individuals. Agape love is used to describe the love between God and his people, a pure and self-sacrificing love. For example, agape is used in John 3:16 "For God so loved (agapao) the world that He gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." In dying on the cross for our sins, Christ displayed the self-sacrificing agape love. As stated above, this love isn't typical for relationships. However, I believe that as the purpose of marriage is to show the world God's agape love for his people, through marriage we are bestowed a glimpse of what this love truly means.
I look at my husband and I don't really get the butterflies like I used too. Instead, I am overwhelmed. I have yet to find a word that accurately describes this feeling better than a mature and divine experience. I feel a love that is continuously being refined and strengthened. I feel protected, secure, loved, cared for, comforted, trusted, encouraged, light-hearted, to name a few off the top of my head. I understand more and more the significant and importance of the covenant made on our wedding day and the value of the promise made to each other in our vows. I have no fear and know that without hesitation, I would do anything for this man and know that he would do anything for me. He is my best friend, who I can laugh and have fun with, and also my rock, who I can lean on when I get weak and tired. He listens to my crazy emotional rants and always ALWAYS leads me back to the cross (no matter how willing I may or may not be to listen).
The first year was tough but the second year was worth it. I am beginning to really understand what it means to be apart of an institution created and purposed by God. By opening our heart to Him and His will, He has worked as the architect and designer for our marriage. During the first year, there was a lot of demo and reconstruction that needed to be done first in order to lay a solid foundation. Now, it is starting to feel as if the beginnings of this foundation have been placed and set.
I know we have a long road ahead with many more bumps and hurdles to go through. But, I also know that it is all with purpose and that I am not alone through any of it.
"In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." -Romans 8:37