Six months ago I married the most wonderful man and had the dreamiest day of my life.
Since then, we’ve done a lot of living and learning. Obviously we moved in together, integrated our lives, combined our bank accounts and everything we own, travelled together, and spent way more time together. We’ve had to make so many decisions—some big, some small—that now have to be decided on as a unit rather than on our own. I’ll be the first to tell you that marriage is awesome, but I’ll also be the first to tell you that there’s a huge learning curve that makes it difficult sometimes (but the awesome totally outweighs the difficult!). To celebrate our six months of marriage, I wanted to share six lessons I’ve learned. Trust me, I’m far from a professional! My hope is simply that something from our short six months of marriage so far will relate to you, encourage you, or challenge you in some way. I hope you enjoy!
Lesson #1: Conflict happens.
Believe it or not, we don’t spend all our time dancing around the kitchen, eating candlelit dinners, and laughing at each other’s jokes. We have to talk about serious topics and give each other hard feedback, which often leads to conflicts. Actually, conflicts arise over really non-serious things too.
For instance, when we were engaged we got in a heated argument because I bought a water bottle when I already had a perfectly good one (to me, different water bottles serve different purposes; Chris does not see it that way). I got so frustrated that I left his house. I left! Oh, did I mention this was 3 days before we got married?! Yeah, it was bad. We only lived down the street from each other, so right after I got to my house and cried for a few minutes (anyone else do this?) I made an embarrassing reappearance at his house and we apologized. Sometimes I just need some space, but don’t worry—I do realize that walking out in the middle of an argument isn’t the best move.
ANYWAY, now that you know that embarrassing little story, I repeat: conflict happens. Sometimes it happens when you really don’t want it to. Maybe we’re on a date having really good quality time, and I think it’s a good time to bring up that topic I’ve been wanting to talk about (we’re in a good mood so it’ll go great, right?). Nope, it turns into a conflict and that date that was supposed to be really fun is all of a sudden really tense.
For the first few months of marriage, I thought the sky was falling every time we disagreed. I believed this lie that “this is supposed to be the honeymoon phase, so it’s only going to get worse.” That freaked me out. I finally realized that conflicts will happen and we’ll still be married. We will disagree and still love each other. Conflicts are not the end of the world. As long as we take the opportunity to hear each other out, apologize, and decide to work harder at communicating, loving each other, or whatever we need to do, then we will move on.
If you experience conflict in your relationship or marriage, you are not alone. It happens.
Lesson #2: Always communicate.
I had to learn this one pretty quickly when I was dating Chris, but the need for communication has only increased since getting married. My wise mentor gave me a little tough love one time when she said, “If you want him to do something and you’re going to get upset if he doesn’t do it, you just need to ask him to do it.” I remember thinking “but that’s just sooo unromantic. If he really knows me, shouldn’t he be able to perceive my needs?” Silly me.
You have probably heard this a million times, but men think differently than women. Men have the ability to stay focused, steady, and logical, while women can be thinking several different thoughts at once. As women, we tend to think that our men should be able to notice small hints and gestures that indicate our needs or wants, because we can do that. They think differently, though, and most of the time they can’t read our minds.
If I want Chris to help me with the dishes, I need to ask him. He will always help me. If I want him to write me a sweet letter for my birthday, I should tell him. If I want him to spend some specific quality time with me this weekend, I need to let him know. It may seem unromantic, but if I simply expect him to do these things and he doesn’t, won’t I just end up sad? It’s worth it to make my desires clear because we’ll both end up happy.
It’s absolutely worth it to communicate your needs and wants to your spouse, because he wants to serve you. Give him that chance.
Lesson #3: Think of yourselves as a team.
Being married means that everything you do individually now reflects and affects your spouse. In fact, there is no “individually” anymore, because you are one flesh and unit before God. This has been one of my favorite things about being married, but it’s also one of the hardest. Most of the time, I love that I’m not on my own anymore. I hate being alone, so knowing I have a best friend and teammate for the rest of my life is just awesome! On the other hand, I can be pretty stubborn and selfish. In fact, marriage has taught me just how selfish I am and let me tell you, it’s not pretty. Jesus has a lot of redeeming to do in this heart. Selfishness and stubbornness make it really hard to work as a team.
Being a team means looking out for my husband’s needs above my own. There’s no room for selfishness in a partnership like that. One of the coolest parts about marriage is knowing that my husband is for me, and because he is for me, I don’t have to be for myself. I can fight for his good because I know he’s fighting for mine.
That reminds me so much of a relationship with Jesus. I know that God always has my good at heart and always fights for me. Because of that, I can live in peace. There is no need for worry, fear, or stress when God is fighting my battles. “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord . . . Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:22, 25). Marriage is such a beautiful picture of our relationship with Christ!
Since Chris loves me, I don’t need to worry about myself. I don’t have to fight for my own good because we’re fighting for each other. If you ask me, that’s the ultimate team.
Lesson #4: Finances—enough said.
If you gathered from the water bottle conflict that finances are a tough subject for Chris and me, you would be right. We knew it would probably be our biggest issue, because our spending habits are very different! Chris is super thrifty and practical. I, on the other hand, spend pretty freely and am a sucker for a good deal. I would still consider myself pretty responsible with money, although I do have my irresponsible moments. I have an organized system of tracking our budget and spending (another blog for another time), yet I am still the one who can easily justify a spontaneous or unnecessary purchase.
That being said, we had some learning and growing to do when it came to our finances. We still don’t have it figured out perfectly, but we have come a long way. I have learned that honest and open conversations (there’s that communication again) about the state of our finances and spending are so important. If we decide on a budget, we have to follow it. Then if I tell Chris to take it easy on the coffee fund (that’s a real thing for us), I need to take it easy, too. That may seem obvious, but it has been a learning experience for us!
It’s always worth it to put our marriage above material things. Chris is usually right about our finances because he’s so logical and level-headed. Once I have shared my opinion, I need to yield to his decision, because he has the best interest of our finances and our marriage at heart.
Lesson #5: Marriage is really sanctifying.
Marriage is meant to be a picture of the relationship of the church and Jesus, so of course there will be so many parts of it that are sanctifying. Like I said, I have definitely learned how selfish I am. I have also learned that I like to be in charge. Too bad for me, that’s not how it works in marriage or in my relationship with Jesus!
As the saying goes, “there’s no I in team.” There’s no room for selfishness or control when we’re working as a team. On top of that, Chris is my husband, meaning he is the designated leader in our marriage. In the same way that I submit to God, I submit to Chris.
Any illusion I had before that I was in full control of my life is slowly fading away, because I am learning within marriage that I don’t have control. My decisions are now made alongside another person, and if we happen to disagree, Chris ultimately will make the final decision based on his discernment from God. And thank goodness for that. It’s a whole lot of pressure to be in charge.
When I really get honest with myself, there is no part of me that wants to decide how my life is going to go. Learning to submit to my husband has taught me to trust God more fully. God always has my best interest at heart. He is safe to trust.
Lesson #6: There is so much joy in serving.
At the beginning of our marriage, people would always ask “how’s marriage going?” I would usually respond with, “I just love being able to serve him!” I used to joke with Chris during our engagement that I was so excited to buy his shampoo. It was silly, but I couldn’t wait to have countless opportunities to serve him. For the first few months, I loved to make him smoothies for breakfast (even when he had to leave really early for work). I loved asking him what he wanted at the grocery store and getting to buy it for him. I even loved folding his laundry! It was all so new and shiny.
Fast forward a few months, and it’s not all shiny and new anymore. It isn’t as fun anymore to do the grocery shopping, pick up his dirty clothes, and do all the laundry. Classic story, right? The newness was bound to wear off at some point.
Now we’re in the everyday grind of marriage, and I have to remind myself of that joy I felt in serving him in the beginning. Why did I feel so much joy? Because getting to serve him is a gift. I get to be Chris Boccarossa’s wife—me! I’m the only person who gets to serve him every single day. Because I love him, I consider that a huge honor. I don’t always remember that in the everyday tasks, but when I remind myself of that truth, I get the joy back.
So there you have it. The first six months of marriage have been so fun and sanctifying for both of us. I hope at least one of the lessons I shared means something to you!