I met my husband when we were in high school. I was convinced he should date a mutual friend. Instead we hit it off at our church youth group. That night I drove him home, though it was only a block away, because that is what young "love" does. We could not be around each other enough.
We continued dating through college. Still hating to be apart, we had lengthy and frequent phone calls while we were attending different schools. We would drive to see each other a few times a month. When I was able to transfer to the University of Illinois, we saw each other all of the time. There was never enough time to just be together. Our senior year of college, we got married. Finally, we didn't have to be apart any more.
And we weren't often apart. I began working as Greg completed his masters. We still spent most of our time together. It was a wonderful first year of marriage. We thought we had it figured out. I mean - how often do people say that first year is so hard? Instead, for us, it was what we had been waiting for - endless time together.
FOURTEEN YEARS LATER
Fast forward, to now. Married for 10+ years, 4 children, and so much life later.
We have learned a lot from those early years of young love. We chuckle and smile at the innocence of those days. The "perfect-ness" of our marriage. We laugh at the idea of spending endless times with just the two of us. It's hard to even imagine not having at least one child come to sit with us, talk to us, need help from one of us.
Time has grown us quite a bit. We have changed. But time has also made our marriage stronger. It has seen more. It has been through more. And we more fully understand the commitments we made all those years ago.
Please understand I am not saying: that we understand each other more, we are perfectly able to interpret each other's needs more, we are less selfish, or that we have a perfect marriage. Because, honestly, none of that is even remotely true. In fact, when I first thought about writing a post on marriage I thought, "There's no way I can write about this! Even though we have been married for 10 years, I still have no idea what we are doing! Each day we are learning grace for one another and for our children. We are trying be intentional about finding time for one another while giving our children that time they need. We are still learning to fight fair, how to talk to each other, and how to really listen to what the other has to say."
All this said, I have learned a few things. And I would love to share them with you!
THE IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNITY
For so long, Greg was one of the only people I would just talk to. About everything and nothing at the same time. Our lives were in constant transitions between college, summers home, and the "real world." And we were always ahead of where our friends were, relationally. So we stuck together, and honestly, enjoyed the solidarity of each other's constant company. As we got older, and we saw less of each other (due to working, children and life!), this became unhealthy. I became a stay at home mom, and I missed the community. We did not live near our church, and I began to feel more alone. As hard as my sweet and gracious husband tried to talk with me, there just were not enough hours by the end of the day. And in all reality, he couldn't really understand what I felt anymore. Our individual lives became too different, he was working 40+ hours a week and I was staying home taking care of our children. Recently, we moved to be closer to our church and our family. I had finally come to a point of needing community on a consistent basis. And really, more of it.
Now, I have time with a mom group, a women's Bible study group, and a few nights a month out with close friends. And I have become a healthier, better wife for it. My relationship with my husband has deepened. While I still tell him everything and nothing, he isn't my only friend. He is my best friend, but he doesn't have to understand everything happening in my head. He has the benefit of my thoughts being expressed to other moms, me thinking on it all, and then me telling him what I actually think and feel, coherently, without him having to guess at all of my thoughts and feelings. (Please tell me I'm not alone in not always knowing what I actually think or feel!)
I have learned that the differences between myself and my husband are okay! We don't have to think and speak in the same way. I have found other women who do. And because of that, my husband and I can have more meaningful conversations.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PUTTING GOD FIRST
Because our relationship began when we were so young, we or rather, I made a big mistake. I began putting time with Greg before my time with God. I had to see Greg, so God could wait, right? Wrong. It created unrealistic expectations on my relationship with Greg that he would never be able to fulfill. He could not make me eternally joyful. He would try and try, but it was never enough. As we have both grown in the Word, we have both grown in this avenue. He is no longer my first priority. He is my second. We each spend our time with God first (or on weekends, when the kids are busy!), and then we can focus on one another and the kids.
My quiet time with God set my feet on the right path. I'm starting my day with the right heart and mind. I'm not holding onto past frustrations, or unrealistic needs. God is my rock and my strength, not my husband. Instead, Greg and I are walking the same path, together, with one another. And we are supporting each other, holding each other up. While we BOTH are rooted in God's Words and Truth.
Part Two coming next week!
Ashley blogs over at Grace Mountain Diaries. Ashley is a writer, crocheter, mom to 4, and wife to 1. She is passionate about community, honesty, and grace. Ashley writes over at GraceMountainDiaries. Or you can find her on Instagram and Twitter . I am thrilled that she is a part of this community!