Matt and I have been married for five months today. Five months. On one hand, it feels like the wedding was FOREVER ago, especially now that the winter weather advisory has kicked in and the balmy July days feel like they were ages ago. On the other hand, it's hard to believe it's already been five months. I remember being so excited on the honeymoon for Christmas (haha) and now here we are, 20-something days out, 5 months later. Time is weird! In the spirit of my 2014 goal of authenticity, I wanted to share some things I've learned in these 5 months. I know I've definitely struggled with the transition to newlywed life. And it feels like that's taboo to say. If you're in your young 20s and married and your response to "how is newlywed life" is anything but "ohmygosh, SOOO perfect!" people automatically assume you jumped in too quick, were too young, and are getting divorced. It seems like everyone is trying to propagate this image that newlywed life (or really, any phase of life) is picture perfect, totally blissful, Pinterest-come-to-life. I'm guilty of creating that illusion myself, what with my carefully selected Instagrams and Facebook posts of "perfectly" styled dinners, "perfectly" decorated apartment and "perfect" cute dates together. I was having a conversation recently about the role social media plays in our lives, and it was pretty alarming to me, how much we're putting a whole lot of illusion out there onto the internet, and how we're all eagerly lapping up each other's illusions and convincing ourselves that our lives, our beautiful, wonderful, blessed lives, are not enough. So, you'll probably be seeing less posts from me. And more real-life reflections, like this one. Here goes.
Five Things I've Learned in Five Months of Marriage
1. A prioritized pet-peeve list is helpful for everybody :: Write it out and stick it on the fridge. Because when you say "ohmigod that is LITERALLY my BIGGEST pet peeve!" What you really mean is: a) figuratively and b) it's really your fourth biggest pet peeve, so if your spouse has to choose between leaving the toilet seat up after using the bathroom, leaving dirty socks on common surfaces like the coffee table, throwing trash in an overflowing trash can or storing bread in the microwave, he should pick the socks, the trash or the microwave, because the toilet seat is FOR SURE the biggest, which he would know by consulting the fridge-list. Not that my husband is guilty of any of these, of course ;)
2. Your marriage is not anyone else's marriage :: And yours will probably look nothing like theirs. And that's great, because you are not them. And God loves you. And them. But there's no reason for you to be like them. And it's really harmful when you start thinking because your marriage doesn't look like theirs, you're doing something wrong. Maybe you are doing something wrong. Or, maybe you're not. Maybe you're just different people and therefore your life looks different. Marriage is under attack by society on so many levels, you can't let yourself start attacking it from the inside, too. Which brings me to number three...
3. Put your relationship first :: I always heard this advice, but never understand why it would be hard to follow. Oh man, is it hard to follow. When you're young and newly married, and have lots of friends and family who want to spend time with you, and you're trying to work as much as possible to pay off debt and get your finances in order, there is precious little time to invest into your relationship. There are weeks (lots of them!) where it feels like Matt and I go five straight days without a substantial conversation. And there's pressure (lots of it!) to continue to make time for our friends and family, and rightfully so. But at the end of the day, when there's only so much time to split between so many people, your marriage has to come first. It has to.
4. Talk. Really talk. :: On Sundays, we try to ask each other the same five questions. Sometimes (more so in the beginning of "real life" after the honeymoon) it's over a long dinner. Most weeks, especially lately, it's at 11 p.m. on Sunday night right before we fall asleep when one of us remembers. These are the questions we ask each other: How did you feel loved this week? What does your week look like? How can I pray for you this week? How can I love you better this week (specifically in your love language?) How will you best feel pursued in intimacy this week? Those are my favorite conversations. So much of our conversing is filled with "did you see what so-and-so posted on Facebook?" or "oh my gosh, I saw the funniest thing on Twitter!" that it's super important and truly necessary to talk about what's on our hearts, what we're feeling, and to listen to each other too. It's hard, but when we make the choice to put the iPhone down and tune in to each other, it's so rewarding.
5. "Pray without ceasing" :: This verse in the Bible (1 Thessalonians 5:17) is perhaps my favorite of all. It's just so…common sense. Like if there was no other advice or direction from God, this could be it. And it's been SO important in our marriage. One thing that was heavily emphasized to us during our marriage prep, and ceremony, is that a marriage isn't just between two people. It's not just me and Matt against the world. There's three of us here in Casa Keinsley--Me, Matt, and God. It's not just Matt and I making decisions together about how to spend our time or how to invest our money. God's at the center of it all, and I couldn't imagine a life or a marriage where He wasn't. It's just too hard! The stresses of life are seriously too much for me to handle on my own, even with Matt by my side. Between the job search for Matt that feels endless, the financial decisions, trying to figure out decisions for our future and our future family, it just gets overwhelming! But when we take it back to prayer, it all evens out. After all, I truly believe that my marriage isn't about me, or Matt. I didn't marry Matt so I could live happily ever after. I married Matt because I saw a wonderful, Christ-like spirit, and I knew that God was calling me to build His kingdom with this guy. Maybe that means traveling the world and doing mission trips, or maybe it just means that we raise a family of God-like kids and be good people and parents and make the world a better place in that way. I think marriage is a vocation, just like being a priest or a nun is a vocation. They're called to serve the Lord by serving through their church position, I'm called to serve the Lord through my marriage. And at the heart of that service, without a doubt, is prayer.
I'm so grateful for this guy and the patience, love, forgiveness and happiness he shows me everyday. It's been a beautiful, wonderful, HARD and sanctifying first few months. I'm so humbled to be sharing life with him.
Happy Thursday! XO.