Let me tell you, this is not an advice/how to blog. Lord knows, I'm 25 years old and have been married for almost 3 years so I know that I don't have even close to all of the answers, but I just wanted to share the way that I approach my marriage. I also am very blessed with a man of God who leads me in that way. I know there are SO many circumstances when the way I view things would not really apply but I wanted to share.
Yesterday, Tanner said "I love how our marriage is just ..... strong."
I think that's a good way to describe it. I will explain what we mean. When we decided to get married after only dating for 5 months, and we got engaged, we had a conversation. We talked about how if we were going to do this, we needed to be sure. This was fast and if we really felt the calling that our engagement was to happen so soon, there could be no doubts. We talked about how once it was done, it was done. It didn't matter what happened. It didn't matter the circumstances. We were together always, forever, and ever.....and ever.
After all the engagement to wedding excitement died down and we were settled in Raleigh, I remember having a minor freak out. This had nothing to do with my love for Tanner, but I was like "Oh my gosh, this is forever....and ever." I knew though that God had led me to this man that I was deeply in love with so that feeling faded quickly.
We like to describe our relationship almost like you would your mom or dad or brother. It's hard to explain but the point of that is to say that it does not matter at the end of the day what happens, your love for them is never ending. Family is forever, and so is marriage in our eyes.
Don't get me wrong, I think that we are lucky in the fact that we don't really fight much. He annoys me with how loud he chews, and I annoy him that I lose my keys every day but for the most part, it's minor things. We laugh because the more time that goes on, the further we fall in love, and the less we argue. We have learned over time that marriage a lot of times means acceptance. There is no changing of the other person, but you just have to love those qualities that may cause you to nit pick at one another after spending so much time getting to know each other so deeply.
I feel like that our marriage as of right now sounds very formal and that's not what I want to portray. The point that I want to get across is that even when it's not passionate, even when it's not Valentine's Day, and even when we go weeks at a time that we are so busy that we can't see straight and hardly even speak to one another, it's an understood fact that "I love you with all of my being. You are one with me, and that will never change."
Valentine's Day is so cliche, but it's also a really great time to reflect. Just like the New Year is cliche, but it also gives you new perspective. I love all of these holidays. We were able to just take the day to be with one another and talk about our marriage. We talked about how we really have begun to think as one. When I hurt, he hurts. When he is stressed, I begin to feel myself getting stressed. We have found that we really bounce off of one another's emotions (which can be dangerous at times), and it's pretty phenomenal to watch that happen to yourself after being married for just a short time. It makes me excited for what 10 years will look like.
Obviously, faith is a huge part of our marriage and Christian marriage is always described as keeping God at the center. What does that even mean for your day to day life though? Let's be real here. That's hard.
It takes conscious and sometimes awkward effort.
Awkward? Yes. When we get in the heat of a moment, after much counsel in bible studies and friendships within the past 6 months, I'm able to consciously make the decision to back down. He does the same. It's a mutual agreement that somebody has to and so we both end up doing it. And it sometimes ends in these weird moments where one person is really jacked up and the other has backed down, and so you feel almost like "okayyyyy now I feel dumb because I'm flipping out and you're not."
We did a foot washing at our service. We wanted to portray John 13:1-17 in our marriage. Jesus washes the feet of His disciples to symbolize service and humility. That's how we wanted to model our marriage. (And side note on the subject of awkward: people thought this would be awkward but we did it anyway)
I've been doing a bible study with my girls for the past little while called Love and Respect. If the man loves you, you will want to give him respect. If you respect your man, then he will love you. This is somewhat how we are calculated (please don't get all feminist on me here as I think we can agree that's how things are most of the time). However, neither one of you can expect the other one to do it first. If Tanner is making me feel a certain way, then it does not matter. I do not "deserve" his love, and I will still give him respect. The same goes for him. If I'm not giving him respect, he must still love me. Conscious, daily efforts.
This takes work that then becomes more natural, and it has been so worth it in our marriage. We have never had anything but a strong marriage but this just makes every day wonderful. We have visibly been able to see a change in the love that we feel for one another. It's even deeper than ever. I like to think of it as we have emptied ourselves out to one another, we let the Holy Spirit pour into us, and with that we are able to pour that out into one another.
I love him so much. I love him beyond words. I also know that he feels the same and he expresses that often. He tells me I'm beautiful like too much (okay not too much haha). However, I think that we both know that marriage is something that you have to make efforts towards or it won't be as wonderful to go through every single day together.
With love and marriage,
All photography by: SaraJane Case