Q & A: Marriage

Last week, I rounded up some questions I’ve gotten on Instagram around the topic of marriage. I chose the questions that were asked most frequently and also some unique ones I found interesting.  You know how it goes with these posts, friends. Come back when you have a cup of coffee in hand and some time to spare because there are a whooole lot of words coming after the jump.

I’ve been married for 7 months. What advice would you you give yourself after 7 months of marriage?

I have two things and I’m feeling long winded so stick with me, okay?

1. Serve. Serve, serve, serve. At 7 months O was playing football, I was 21 years old trying to learn how to be a homemaker and flying back and forth from Virginia to California to finish college. I had this overwhelming selfishness (I use the term “had” to be kind to myself…Lord know’s its still hangin’ around) and I often took a tally. This mental tally was dangerous and unhealthy. I do the laundry and make the meals and do the cleaning…will I always be the only one doing things around here?” I wish I could tell myself 1. HA. He is the hardest working man on the planet and it is the joy of his life to serve his family…also in exactly a year that man will be injured and retire and will be home with you for essentially a whole year cleaning and doing laundry alongside you. 2. Serve and work heartily as unto the Lord. Even if you feel like no one is watching, even if you’re feeling like what you do goes unnoticed, it’s never true. Don’t do the compare game, don’t keep score, work hard to be filled with gratitude and joy to serve that man by your side.

2. Keep your Friendship and prioritize fun. Work hard for that.

How do you get O to show your love language? My husband seems to have forgotten all about it.

We read the ‘5 Love Languages’ book while we were dating and found it tremendously helpful. We discovered O’s love languages were Acts of Service and Quality time while mine were Gifts and Physical Touch. This helped give us a foundation to know how we could best serve one another and I can’t recommend reading the book enough. After 10 years of knowing each other, though, we rarely ever reference the book. Instead, we always make sure to check in with each other to see how we’re doing. To be honest, physical touch isn’t a love language of mine anymore. In the beginning, mostly because we decided not to be intimate before marriage, Physical touch aside from kissing wasn’t overly natural for O. He always felt it led to more temptation so there was “no point” with little things like random hugs or touches. Once he knew it was important to me for him to hold my hand while we drove or put his arm around my shoulder when we sat together it became second nature for him almost immediately and now it’s his love language too. For that reason, it’s so normal to me that I don’t consider it a love language anymore.

Regular check-ins to ask “what have I done lately to make you feel loved?” or “what could I do to make you feel more loved?” might be helpful for someone who isn’t really into the Love Language thing. If both of you respond to the questions you’ll be able to express how you feel most loved and learn how they currently need to be loved in return. You may find things have shifted since you first read the book and an open, honest conversation is always a gift for both husband and wife.

Which year was your hardest year of marriage and why? How did you reconcile that?

We’d both say our hardest year of marriage 2018 (we started the New Year at 6.5 years married and celebrated our 7 year anniversary that May) We decided to move to Texas in January, found out I had Hashimoto’s in February, found out we were pregnant in March, Packed our Virginia house up and looked for a home to rent in Texas for all of April, moved to Dallas in May, found out we lost the baby just before the end of the month and had surgery in June. It was a whirlwind to say the least. The loss of our third baby left us both in some severe grieving and working things out with the Lord. Being in a raw place spiritually always leaves us both a little unsteady and we’ve never walked through such difficult seasons not only in our actual life but in our faith at the same time. It brought up many things we didn’t know we needed to deal with and we slowly and intentionally worked through all the shrapnel on the surface and the deeper roots below for months. Thankfully, as these situations usually do, we were left stronger than ever and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. (…I also wouldn’t want to do that year again.)

What is the most difficult thing you’ve gone through as a couple?

The months after O was released from the Redskins and our miscarriage.

How do you serve your husband when you’re physically out of it?

This one is hard and I certainly, certainly don’t do it perfectly. There have been many seasons in our marriage when I’ve been “physically out of it.” It helps to have a loving, understanding husband who is sensitive to what’s realistic and unrealistic. Aside from that, a phrase I repeat to myself often is that “It is my joy to serve.” Trust the Lord to provide you with the energy to do what needs to be done. Even when I don’t want to, even when I feel I don’t have it in me, I work to do my best in that moment. Sometimes my best is putting off the chores for another day and taking a nap. There’s grace for that! Again, I can’t express enough honest and open conversation to let him know where you’re at and be praying together for more energy and strength moving forward. (I realize now this question may have been about intimacy so if that’s the case, DM me again and we’ll talk!)

Balancing different sex drives with your spouse:

I wanted to put this one here as an open invitation to go ahead and DM me if this is a struggle you face. I think every single marriage has been there, especially in seasons with young kids, but there is always hope!

How do you get through tough seasons (I mean TOUGH) as a unit?

Remember you’re on the same team. I have a bad habit of feeling attacked by O even when he has nothing to do with the trial I’m facing. We work really hard to have the best communication we can and O will often remind me “I’m on your side.” This lets me know I’m taking things out on him and treating him unfairly and in tough seasons the very last thing a marriage needs is spouses pinned against each other. I process things externally and want to work through things in discussion with O while he is an internal processor and needs some time to pray through struggles before talking through them. We both respect each other’s needs in those times but always, always communicate until there’s nothing left to say. There is no secret fear, feeling or though left out and even when it feels like not talking is easier…don’t take the bait. Pray for one another and with one another often.

What would you say was the hardest adjustment when you got married?

My internet appropriate answer would be adjusting to making meals all day, every day. I was a college student! I loved having cereal for dinner or making the same three meals over and over and over. I went from that to taking care of a man who’s body was his entire career. I learned to cook with a QUICKNESS! But I still missed the freedom of eating Fruit Loops at 8pm while laying on the couch. No prep time. No clean up. My real answer is adjusting to sex within marriage.

What do you continue to struggle with even years later?

Despite how much as we’ve grown in friendship, love, unity and partnership, we still remain completely different people. I’m a 6 on the Enneagram and he’s an 8. I like to make everyone happy even to my own detriment, he wants to do what’s right even to everyone’s detriment. He’s loud and witty and outgoing and loves new things while I’m introverted and love routine and want to draw zero attention at all times. These things still lead to moments where we’re both irked and there will likely always be room to grow there!

What does your spiritual life look like as a couple?

We have family bible time together every morning, pray together as husband and wife regularly, discuss what we’re currently reading through and, most importantly, we always keep an open conversation around what we see the Lord doing in our lives and in our family. We have a weekly check in to share praise reports and what we both need prayer for as well. Christ is at the center of our marriage and we’d crumble any other way.

What do you think of the possibility of you or your spouse changing in marriage as far as bad habits and unhealthy characteristics. They may be so ingrained, is it possible?

The process of sanctification is one that lasts a lifetime. I was married as a freshly 21 year old woman filled with selfishness and anger and insecurity and lots of other ugly things. I wish I could say 8 years later I’m completely free from all those sin struggles. I can’t. But I can say the Lord has brought me such a long way and I’m so grateful for the way the Spirit changes us as we walk with Him. Only the Lord is unchanging-it’s so important to remember that. I will say, if your husband is battling a lifestyle of sin year after year you may want to meet with a Christian Counselor. These things are difficult to battle alone and if the unhealthy characteristics are strongly affecting your marriage, it may be time to have a serious conversation about it.

How did you approach dating as a teen?

I was a mess dating as a teen. I’ll be honest. February of my freshman year of High School we made the move from my all-girls school in Maryland to a co-ed private school in the Silicon Valley. It was a culture shock to say the least. In Maryland I was only focused on school and sports and was taller than every guy I ever met. I also just felt so unattractive since I looked different from literally every other girl in school (surprise, surprise) and felt I’d never date. In California I suddenly felt “desired” for the very first time in my life. My school was incredibly diverse and I fell for a senior right away, quickly doing things I swore I’d never do faster than I thought possible. It got much, much worse as I started dating the guy I’d be with for the next three years. My parents had a rule that starting at age 16 we could date in groups. When we were a little bit older we were allowed to go on dates in public places and, of course, our significant others could spend time at our house with our parents home. I definitely didn’t follow those rules and spent my entire high school experience sneaking around with this boy despite my better judgement and the conviction of the Holy Spirit. It was a dark, sad, lonely time and I grieve for those years. So much of me is shaped by what God did through that time and I’m so grateful for the patience, unconditional love and discipline (so.much.discipline) of my parents and the mercy, kindness and forgiveness of the Lord.

I met O at 18 and we started dating when I was 19. I’ve only had two boyfriends but two verrrryyy different dating experiences!

I hope you enjoyed this Q&A! My last Q&A post was one O and I did together to celebrate our 8 year Anniversary which you can read here as well as one on Motherhood here.There were a few questions I didn’t get to but you can always email me or DM me with more. Email is a lot easier to keep track of than DM’s.

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