10 Things I Learned in Year 1 of Marriage

(And jeez, there’s probably a lot more than 10)

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I became motivated to write this post because of Savannah Locke  who is JUST the most precious human and amazing writer. I follow her on Instagram and she gave a little “here’s what I learned in year 1 of marriage” snip-bit.

 

Thus I became inspired.

 

Marriage is funny. Year one has been dramatically different and better than I thought it’d be.

 

#1. If you think you have inside jokes with your significant other now… just wait till you get married. 

OH MY HEAVENS.

The amount of inside jokes Noah and I have now is one of my favorite things. The amount of times we have gotten in extremely goofy moods and laughed until tears have streamed down our faces is way more than I can count.

I love that we have learned how to communicate with just one word or one weird look. There are moments where I can figure out exactly what he’s thinking by his facial expressions in a situation.

One time, we were watching a movie with friends, and Bill Murray showed up on screen. Simultaneously, we both looked at each other and said in unison “BILL FREAKING MURRAY” and then died laughing.

The best.

 

#2. You will never stop learning about each other. 

On the flip side of communicating with one word or one look, there are also things that still completely catch me off guard about Noah.

We still have to overly communicate things at times. I can’t always figure out what’s going on in his head.

I’ve had to learn how to ask really good questions and which questions he NEEDS to be asked.

For the most part, I understand broad overviews of how he thinks. But there are also times where I have to have him explain it to me so I can understand his interactions and reactions in certain situations.

Lately, he’s been really into the idea of going bow-fishing. I have no clue where this came from. But I’m still learning about him!

 

#3. Saving sex for marriage was SO worth it. 

I will never be able to talk about that enough.

Having boundaries and guarding purity and honoring it for marriage has made everything so much more worth it.

Honestly, we could both preach on this for hours.

If you want a more in-depth discussion or if you’re in a relationship where you’re having trouble being envisioned for that, I would love to spill my guts about how worth it is on this side of marriage.

 

#4. Yes, you are going to have fights. 

And yes, many times they’re going to be either about 1) really stupid things or 2) really intimate, vulnerable things that you’ve never had a conversation with anyone else about.

These fights are SOOO good. I’ve never left one of these fights NOT feeling closer to Noah.

Here’s the key to fighting well:

  1. Get it all out. Don’t do the whole “I’m just going to pout and not tell you what’s really going on with me” thing. That’s dumb. Stop it.
  2. Admit when you’re being a butt head. If about halfway through the argument, you realize you were completely in the wrong and that guilty feeling starts to creep in? Yea.. don’t ignore it. Get to apologizing. And admit you’re being a butt head. Then your spouse can agree with you and say “Yes, you are being a butt head” and you can laugh about it.
  3. NEVER reject a hug when they want to hug it out. Always at least end things with a big ginormous hug. You won’t regret it.

 

#5. Married life is amazing. But single life had its perks too. 

For so long in my single years, I had moments where I was really convinced that married life had to be better and that single life was the worst.

If only I was married… I would think.

I’m confident that Paul knew exactly what he was writing at the beginning of 1 Corinthians 7.

Neither one is better than the other. I think there is a season for EVERYTHING. I think God writes stories in a million different ways.

Getting married to Noah and being his wife was and IS the best thing for me. Of that, I am convinced.

But between singleness and marriage… they can’t even be compared.

As a married woman, I get to sleep in a bed with a really hot guy (heyooo) every night. I get to always come home to someone. I have someone to process things with and someone who loves me REALLY well and shows me/tells me often.

As a single woman though, I had a lot of freedom in making decisions that I don’t necessarily have now. My choices and my actions didn’t affect a ton of people. In fact… it mainly just affected me. Move wherever and whenever I want? Sure! Go on a really long trip just for fun? Go for it! Completely change career paths? WHY NOT!?

They both have their benefits.

If you’re single and have the desire to get married, I would encourage and exhort you to savor your single years. They will be much shorter than your married years. Don’t get so caught up in the longing for a different season that you miss the current one. 

 

#6. If you were one of those people who joked to your friends who were getting married that they were going to get pregnant in their first year of marriage, God will laugh and make you that person instead. 

Lololololol

We got pregnant almost exactly 6 months into marriage. And I regret every time I joked with anyone about how I hoped they would get pregnant quickly.

3 more months till Bradley Grace Bowman makes her appearance.

 

#7. It’s okay to learn to be dependent.

Hear me out on this one.

I prided myself on my independence in singleness, dating and even engagement.

I was always told that being dependent is a bad thing.

And yes, in a way, it is.

But in marriage, learning how to become one with your spouse and learning to let them affect you is a HUGE process.

It’s also safe. SO incredibly safe.

For the first 3 months of marriage, I was so confused and angry about how easily Noah could affect me on the other side of marriage. Becoming his wife allowed him to have access to deep places in my heart that no one else on Earth had. And it felt so uncomfortable and vulnerable.

And I felt like I had to guard and protect and hold myself together… to keep myself unaffected by him.

But that’s not what a healthy marriage is.

I’m SUPPOSED to be one with him. I’m supposed to be affected by him.

Just let go. Learn how to depend on each other and let the other person affect you.

 

 

#8. Spending time with God is just as important as it’s always been. 

It never stops being important. It’s just as necessary to hear from God and have intimacy with Him on the other side of marriage.

I need Him now just like I’ve always needed Him.

 

#9. You have to be more intentional to get quality time with friends. 

I’m still learning this one.

But really, if you stop being intentional with your community and your friends who are both single and married, then friendships will dwindle and fade.

It is SO easy to get caught up in your little “marriage bubble”.

Don’t fall into the trap!

Make it a priority for both you and your spouse to schedule consistent time with groups of people and intentional times with members of the same sex.

Friendships are still important! Don’t let them fall through cracks.

 

#10. Marriage does not always have to be hard. 

It really doesn’t.

It can be the most fun, life-giving, wonderful thing. And if it’s not, get prayer! Talk to people! Get quality time with other couples and have them help you with your conflicts.

I have loved realizing that Noah is my #1 fan and the best teammate I will ever have. Doing things TOGETHER is far better than trying to operate in our individual strengths independently.

 

LET’S GO, YEAR 2!

On Promises Fulfilled

I avoided writing for all of engagement.

It might’ve been the chaos and busyness of everything. It might’ve been because I had absolutely no clue how to process through engagement – so I just threw myself into wedding planning.

Maybe it was some other reason. I’m not sure.

 

But on April 2nd, we got married. And I’m ready to talk to about it 🙂

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It was the dreamiest and most perfect day of my entire life.

I don’t say that to be dramatic. Seriously. It was the absolute best day of my life. It was exactly everything I wanted it to be and more. There is nothing I would change about that weekend or that day.

We kept pausing that Sunday after the wedding, overcome with how blissful and overwhelmed we felt. It was by far the happiest day of our lives. So many people worked together to pull it off and we are so grateful for every single one of them.

 

Engagement, however, was not the most blissful time of my life.

Engagement was filled with tears and processing through every single bit of fear I had in my body. New fears of intimacy and commitment overwhelmed me. Noah dealt with many days (and nights) of me shutting down, confused about my own emotions, and quite frankly, terrified of marriage.

The thought that kept going through my head was “There’s no way out. Once I’m in this, I’m totally stuck. There’s no way out.” 

And that thought was terrifying.

 

This was the first time I had chosen a relationship that was going to last for the rest of my life,  no matter what. 

 

To bring light to the season of engagement, in case you are engaged or in case you plan to be engaged and deal with this too, let me just tell you…

I thought about calling off the wedding more than once. 

Not because of anything Noah ever did. And not because of any legitimate fight we ever had. But simply because I was overwhelmed with fear, sometimes that manifest itself in what I thought was legitimate logic.

 

Thoughts like “He doesn’t know the ways to romance me perfectly” or “Is he ever going to learn how to communicate better?” or even “Our story doesn’t look like theirs and they’re so in love and confident about marrying each other and I’m just scared. Is this okay?!” 

 

I found flaws in everything. Every little thing that came up was a “make or break” for me.

 

But time and time again I would go to Jesus and community and they would both remind me of the Truth: That Noah was the best for me. That he loved me better than anyone. And that I loved Noah.

There are moments where you need those around you to bring you back to the Truth, even if it becomes repetitive. And even if it seems like common sense. 

 

The truth is that I dealt with fear all the way up to wedding week.

Throughout our entire dating relationship and even to engagement, I never felt I heard God say “Noah is the one. Marry him.” I always felt like He gave me the freedom to choose him and didn’t give me many directional words about our relationship.

I wondered if I should’ve heard “Noah is the one.”; wondered if that was the tell-tale sign of how you know if you should marry someone; wrestled with this fear time and time again that maybe this was wrong.

 

But I decided to move forward afraid. Even if I didn’t have a “Thus sayeth the Lord.” 

 

And then wedding day came. In fact, about two weeks before wedding day, I felt my heart begin to shift. I consistently started praying that I would feel everything – that I would be totally aware of what a big fulfillment this was. And I felt fear begin to disintegrate. 

 

That day was so peaceful yet I was filled with nerves and excitement. It all felt so surreal.

This was my wedding day. The day I’ve been dreaming of for years. This was it.

 

And then suddenly 5:00 was here.

And as we waited to be lined up and begin walking down, I started crying and laughing hysterically. And I couldn’t stop.

This was it. This was the moment we had been praying for. As I walked towards the doors, my dad squeezed my hand. And I couldn’t contain the emotions I felt.

Gratitude. Thankfulness. Love. Overwhelming joy. All of it.

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And I saw him.

Everyone else disappeared around me and I saw him at the end of the aisle. Crying. Grinning like a fool. And I was overwhelmed.

He was it. There was no doubt in my mind. He was my husband. He was the man God had promised for me, exactly and specifically. It was Noah. 

When I got to the end of the aisle, we were both overcome with such joy. I kept staring at him and all I could think was “Wow. You’re him! YOU’RE HIM! I can’t believe you’re him! I can’t believe I get to marry you. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe you’re him.” I literally only thought those thoughts for the entire ceremony.

And this overwhelming wave of the fulfillment of a promise filled me when we were pronounced man and wife. There was no doubt and no more fear. Noah was more than I asked for. He was more than I imagined he would be. He was the answer to a 7 year promise. He was the exact fulfillment that God said he would be.

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Marriage is a dream.

I can’t explain it more than that and I don’t care if this is just the honeymoon phase.

But I feel more alive as a wife, specifically as Noah’s wife, than I ever have before. Despite the unfamiliarity of learning to live with a boy (lol) and adjusting to life as a married couple, there is still this place of familiarity and safety.

 

Nothing is a make or break anymore.

He is my partner and best friend. And it is the most blissful feeling to have someone know you better than anyone else. 

 

I’m more in love with him now than ever before.

 

I think I had to choose him, you know? I had to do it all afraid only on faith and hoping that I wasn’t wrong about this being it. Because the revelation that he WAS it came at the absolute most perfect time.

 

I was made to be his wife. I really was. And he was made to be my husband. Undoubtedly.

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On Love and Instagram

I’m a highly emotional person.

I’ve mentioned before that I am pretty much Leslie Knope.

And if you need a clue into my emotional spectrum, just watch this.

As I’ve gotten older and as my relationship with Jesus has deepened, I’ve gone through many processes of learning how to not let my emotions rule me.

It’s difficult.

Being a highly emotional person, feeling things really deeply, but learning that your emotions don’t always tell the Truth. They might be accurate and in tune with what the circumstances around you are telling you. And you might be totally justified to feel what you feel. But many times, they don’t align with the capital T Truth that comes from God.

So what then?

What’s the balance?

I have to feel. Numbing is bad news and when I choose to numb, I choose to numb to God.

But even still, as a Christian who is growing and allowing God to shape and mold her, who submits her emotions to Jesus, I still don’t feel everything completely rightly.

Maybe it was naive of me to think that as I got older, my emotions would all come into alignment and I would feel the exact right thing in the right moment every single day.

But it isn’t true.

Sometimes, I don’t feel the right things in the right moments.

Sure, there are things that hit me like a ton of bricks in the “feels” department.

But sometimes, I just don’t feel what I’m supposed to be feeling.

For example:

I am crazy about my boyfriend. He is loving, compassionate, patient.

I expected, though, that when I found someone who I wanted to be with and who adored me that I would always feel like I was madly in love with them.

SURELY.

I had these high expectations for my own emotions. That they should be exactly like what I see portrayed in romantic comedies and on social media.

But the reality is that I don’t feel completely infatuated with him at all times.

I find things I get annoyed at.

I have moments where I just don’t want to be around him.

But Instagram tells me I should feel more and all the time, right?

That when you fall in love, you’re supposed to be constantly obsessed with being with that person and everything about them is just the most wonderful thing.

When I look at social media, I see the highlights of everyone’s love life. I see the romantic things some girl’s boyfriend did for her. I see women gushing about how obsessed and crazy they are for their significant other and how he makes them feel. And I buy into it.

I buy into the comparison trap.

The trap that tells me what I’m feeling isn’t right – I’m not feeling enough or my feelings don’t align with the feeling and emotions I’m seeing broadcasted all over Instagram.

I admit it.

I often use Instagram as a measuring stick for how I should feel about Noah. 

Guilty.

It’s embarrassing to write that.

But it’s true.

I read the captions of people’s pictures. I admire how infatuated people look with each other in pictures. I see how “in love” people are. And this voice inside my head creeps in and says “If you don’t feel exactly like that… this isn’t the right relationship for you.”

How dumb is that.

Instagram is telling me if I should be in love or not. In fact… Instagram is telling me what love looks and feels like.

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I have one thing to say to Instagram now.

Screw you. 

I will not allow anything but Jesus to be a measuring stick for my relationship.

I will not allow anything but Jesus to define what being in love is.

Noah does make me feel many of the things I see on women’s Instagram captions. Oh, it’s not 24/7. Absolutely not. But it is often enough to know I’m absolutely crazy about him.

So I’m here to banish the expectation that you single girls have… the expectation that will cause you to break up with a perfectly wonderful human because you aren’t sure if you “feel” enough.

You aren’t going to feel all the right things every. single. day. of your relationship. 

Think about your relationship with Jesus. 

Do you constantly feel in love with Him? Loved by Him? Adored by Him?

Probably not. I bet you have days where you’re just not feeling it but you choose to press in.

The Truth is that you are. Regardless of how much you feel.

But you mustn’t dictate the status of your love based on what you think you should be feeling. 

A question I’ve continually battled over is “Do I feel enough for him? Enough for it to be it?”

Well what is “enough”? What the heck am I comparing it to besides the descriptions that are posted on social media of what people feel for their significant other?

Yes – feelings and emotions are important.

Yes – your man needs to make you feel something. He does need to give you those swoony moments where you look at him and think “I’m not sure I could be happier.” 

But the truth is that you aren’t going to feel that at all times.

There will be these moments where the way he says “But um….” will annoy the heck out of you for no reason.

But you have an opportunity to choose him.

The key is to listen to Jesus.

Let Him lead you into the exact relationship that is best for you.

Let Him decide your steps. Open your heart to hearing from the Truth He is speaking about your relationship. Let Him define what being in love looks like for your relationship. Let Him tell you how to love and serve someone (who has flaws…just like you) regardless of your emotions.

Nothing else.

I Think I’m Normal: 3 Post-Breakup Thoughts

There are things that happen on the other side of a break-up. I’m not sure if you’re aware of this. I guess I had forgotten about it since my last breakup when I was 19. But there are consistent things that happen… thoughts that go through your head.

I am still unaware of how to deal with many of them. I post this to let you know that if you, too, are dealing with the healing after a break-up and are experiencing some of these things, you are not alone.

I don’t have the answers for this. I still fight the tension between who I was when I dealt with a break-up as a teenager and who I am now that I’m dealing with a break-up as an almost 25 year old.

So here’s a little glimpse into my mind lately:

The thought: 

I LOVE BEING SINGLE. *10 minutes later* I HATE BEING SINGLE. 

This one sucks. I feel flippant. I feel unresolved. I feel easily swayed. I feel discontent one minute and completely content the next. There are moments I am so confident that this was the right thing and am hopeful for my future. There are other moments where I am miserable, full of doubt and second-guessing, wanting to do anything it takes to mend my previous relationship. Unfortunately… I’m pretty sure this is normal. I think this is part of the process of dealing with a break-up.

The Truth:

“For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters that spreads out its roots by the river; and it shall not see and fear when heat comes; but its leaf shall be green. It shall not be anxious and full of care in the year of drought, nor shall it cease yielding fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:8 (AMP)

“so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind…” – Ephesians 4:14 (ESV)

I am not one who believes truth according to her emotions. I am proclaiming that over myself, being the emotion-filled woman that I am. The truth of the situation is that in want or plenty, in singleness or dating, I am content. I am right where I should be. I am not exempt or escaped from God’s will. Even if there are moments it hurts more than others, I am content. Because God is still good. And that means His plans for me are good. Just because something is painful in the moment, doesn’t mean it’s not exactly where you need to be. 

The thought:

We totally broke up because he thinks I’m fat and ugly… he just didn’t want to say that. 

I mean… yea. That thought crosses my mind more times than I’d like to admit.

The Truth:

Really, Courtney? Haven’t we already dealt with this?

Because God says “You’re beautiful from head to toe, my dear love, beautiful beyond compare, absolutely flawless” – Song of Solomon 4:7 (MSG).

And I am enough. Just as I am. In my places of too much and my places of not enough, I am enough just as I am. We did not break up because of my physical appearance. That is just stupid. Next.

The thought: 

I missed God. I missed it. I messed everything up. This could’ve been it but I was too prideful, too controlling, too over-analytical. I ruined something good. It’s all my fault. 

Honestly… this one feels like truth more times than it doesn’t.

The truth: 

“Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored….

That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.” – Most of Romans 8 in the Message.

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Bottom line: I haven’t missed anything. His will for me is perfect. And I haven’t escaped it. It’s not possible for me to escape the will of God for my life when I am seeking Him. It’s just not possible. I choose hope. I will believe the best. I will allow the joyful anticipation to deepen, even in the midst of a momentarily painful season.