A Lifestylye Blog

Friday, September 15, 2017

My 2nd Wedding Anniversary: 8 Reflections and What I've Learned So Far

Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary and I am sure we can both agree that these past few months have brought so much healing. Our first wedding anniversary didn't go down quite as well and actually ended in a huge fight- the type that leaves you feeling just so defeated. This time last year we were both under major, major stress. Having Chaya so soon after getting married really impacted our bond and life was moving at what felt like a million miles an hour. I was working outside of the home as an 80% FTE and my husband was at home with Chaya. We both carried our own frustrations about that and I was so tired, sleep-deprived, overwhelmed, and felt like I was a chicken running around with its head cut off most of the time. With a baby, a lot of dreams, plans, ideas, and priorities that you think you've got together get flipped upside down, dropped, or enhanced depending on how you look at it. Our first two years of marriage have been a whirlwind. We've experienced so much growth and a lot of that has been attributed to some of the habits I share below.

1) Asking: Can I Afford It? 
And I'm not just talking about finances here. I am talking about the stress, the negativity, and the responses and reactions we give to situations that upset us. Too many times I have responded with a reaction that has cost me a high price. Sometimes that price is a breakdown in the connection with my husband, a restless night of sleep, getting sick from being under so much stress, accidents and mistakes from being distracted by anger, anxiety, etc. I have been reading this really great book on Emotional Agility by Susan David and the point here is not to suppress our feelings and emotions but rather to respond externally or internally with a response that matches our value system; and to think of the cost vs the benefit that that response will give not only to the people in our lives, but also to ourselves and our own mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health. I value connection, health, and peace. So I have been working really hard this past year to respond to situations that will be in alignment with those values. I fail many times, but I keep working at it. And just the commitment to being better in this area is already a response I am giving to a situation (poor emotional reactions) that aligns with my life's value system. I've decided that negativity is simply not in my budget anymore. I can't afford it.

2) Forgiveness 2.0 
Forgive, forgive, forgive. Forgiveness in marriage seems to take on a whole different level of strength and commitment. There are so many opportunities to be offended when you share your life so closely with someone. I've learned that being the first to say I'm sorry will always bless and benefit me just as much as it blesses and honors my husband. Maybe even more. I am not weak and my identity is not impacted when I apologize and forgive. When I am holding on to some resentment and blame, it never feels good to win. Instead there usually is this build-up of voltage that gets stronger and stronger until it feels like I'm going to blow. The act of forgiveness and apologizing first for any wrongdoings I may have contributed to the situation has really helped bring a tense moment from 100 all the way back down to 0 in a split second. It releases that voltage. It is disarming. And I need to do it more often.

3) Investing in Quality Time
Going beyond the date nights and planning extended periods of time together has been so important for us. This has been especially important with our little Chaya being in the mix. It can be so easy to overlook time together when distracted with caring for and raising her. Having fun trips planned ahead has helped give us some relief and something to look forward to when we're burned out and life is feeling a little busy. We don't always get the fancy hotels. We will AirBnb it or stay with a friend out of town. We're only just now getting better at doing this. 

4) Praying and Dreaming Together
There is something about dreaming together that connects us with our partners and puts a unified vision and mission on our purpose being married to one another. We've been seeing the beautiful and powerful destiny placed on what we get to accomplish together using both of our strengths, gifts and talents. We were brought together for a reason! And praying together regularly about that puts this excitement and hope in our lives and drives our thoughts and actions toward one another. Having a baby has really turned our world upside down and we are learning so much about each other in our new roles as parents.

5) Pursuing Learning and Growing Together
I highly encourage anyone and everyone to invest in regular therapy! And it doesn't always have to be when a problem comes up. We enjoy going when things are going well too. Zach and I can't always afford the therapy fees so we have had to get creative. We explore reading books together and most recently have gotten so much out of a weekly marriage class at a local church in the area. Many churches offer similar venues and it is such a great place to meet other couples, receive encouragement and know that we are not the only ones who have gone through certain situations that can feel isolating or discouraging. Many times, we learn just as much if not more simply by being around other couples who we admire and look up. Reaching out to other families and our community has enriched our lives beyond the cost and fees for therapy.

Tahoe Northstar Village on our Marriage Retreat

6) Being Each Other's Biggest Cheerleaders
Things have changed so much for me after getting married and having Chaya. Learning myself again as a woman and now a mother and wife has been a whirlwind. Being okay with that change and bringing my husband into the mix to support me as I step into my old and newfound strengths has been so healing in my postpartum journey. As a matter of fact, Zach has been my biggest cheerleader in encouraging me to get back to writing and sharing on here again. And I had to learn to do the same for Zach. We have pretty different jobs and it took me some time to accept and honor my husband for the work he does which is heavy in the sales department. For a while, there was a lot of pressure I put on Zach and it did not help at all. All it did was break down our connection and safety with one another. We both do so much better in our work when we root each other on- honoring each other for our hard work and faithfulness to our craft rather than micromanaging each others' success. And this is a big deal for entrepreneurs and those that are self-employed.

7) Celebrating (not just tolerating) Our Differences!
Many times those differences we once loved when we first started dating now drive us crazy in marriage. At a class we once attended, they shared the theory that the differences we see in a prospective spouse attract us because it complements weaknesses in our own person. And that over time we are subconsciously irritated by those differences because we are frustrated with ourselves for not being better in that particular area of their strength. Now that's pretty deep and not all differences are desirable or that deep. But it's something to reflect on. I'm sure many of us do not desire to be messy, OCD, forgetful, uptight, etc. But I have learned to celebrate Zach for all the ways he is different from me and it really changes the way I think about him, show him love, and hence react and respond to him. 
Tahoe Northstar Village on our Marriage Retreat

8) Prioritizing My Own Self-Care and Personal Development
This is probably the most important habit out of all the others. When I stopped expecting my husband to be the source of my happiness, I became happier and my joy was more deeply rooted. It kinda sounds counter-intuitive, but it is not up to my husband to be the ultimate source of my happiness. For me, self-care means making sure I spend meaningful time with God, getting enough sleep, hygiene, eating well, and spending time developing my interests/passions. When I am filled up in my own personal self-care, I can fully enjoy my husband to much deeper places of love and passion. Of course I share with him my needs in which I need his help fulfilling, but it comes from a much healthier place rather than a place of deficiency. 

Marriage has been a crazy ride! But it's also been the best journey and adventure I get to share being with the love of my life. I'm so thankful for this new year of marriage and that it keeps getting better and better


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