In writing this I feel as if I’m writing a love letter of sorts to my husband. Marriage can be hard, but what good thing doesn’t take time and effort? Marriage has been without a doubt the best decision of my life. It is not an end as so many people claim, but a door into the greatest adventure of your life. Within the first year of my marriage many hardships have arisen, but within these hardships I have witnessed and experienced more beauty and love than I ever thought I could. If I had to impart what I have learned in this short span of a year of marriage, I would narrow it down to this list of reminders. Remembering these five lessons has kept my husband and I strong in both the trying, and beautiful times.
1) Christian Marriage is Unpopular
I have learned that Catholic marriages are countercultural. By simply being Catholic we are a witness to those around us of what a Christian marriage should be. For some we have met, it was other-worldly to realize that my husband doesn’t watch porn, that divorce is not an option, that we are chaste with one another within marriage (or that there are any “rules” at all). We are countercultural. The modern world labels purity within marriage as oppressive- but it’s so freeing. We have the freedom to live without fear of being used and later discarded because we trust one another’s self control and refuse to objectify one another.
2) Remember who you married and be grateful for that person.
Sometimes we feel distant from one another. It is just something that happens in marriage as in any relationship. There are dryer patches. And most of the time in these dry patches couples will argue- about silly small things, or big. It is hard to feel united when there is disagreement and bickering, but when this happens we have found it is critical to remember who the other person is – the one who stood next to you on the altar, your best friend, your lover. When we remind ourselves of this it creates gratitude. Our minds clear and the fighting eases. Ingratitude kills marriage. Period.
3) Set Everything Aside and Have Date Nights
Date nights! Another related point is that even when fighting, it is a top priority to enjoy each other. In the turmoil of life it’s easy to let stressors dominate your time. But there will always be something to stress about. Life is not about money or tomorrow. Life is about now. It’s about the joy you can share with your family. It’s about getting to Heaven and having fun doing it. So every night, we are intentional about leaving behind our worries to rest in each other. Your spouse is your first priority – over children, money, and everything else.
4) Don’t take yourself too seriously.
You can pressure yourself to be perfect in so many areas of your marriage: sexually, religiously, etc… There are so many ideals you can enter marriage with. If you’re not careful, perfectionism can rob your ability to enjoy the messy life you share here and now.
5) We’re capable of more love (and self-sacrifice) than we knew.
My last point is one that I delight in: I did not know that I was capable of loving so deeply and so well. I thought I had known my heart’s capacity to love another. My marriage has proven me wrong. In pouring myself out for my beloved and the fruit of our love (my baby girl Maeve) I have experienced a selflessness and devotion within me that I marvel in – I can see God’s heart in my own!
Walk through life together. The beauty of the gift of having someone by your side forever and always is unparalleled. There is nothing that can fill your heart more than to love and live by the side of your best friend walking into heaven together. And THAT is the end goal. As much as I love him, marriage is a foretaste of that Love at the source of every other love, grace, and blessing.