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!

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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.

This Isn’t A Perfect Love Story

There’s a part of Noah and mine’s story that most people don’t know.

Our friends and family here in North Carolina know.

But if you’ve been keeping up with my life through social media, there is an aspect I’ve intentionally chosen to leave out.

In fact – if some of my students are reading this – I have lied to them about this part.

Consider this my apology. Sorry, guys.

Here’s the real story.

In January of 2014, I joined Christian Mingle, feeling lonely and pretty hopeless about the dating scene in Raleigh. 

In case you’re wondering, that’s not a good reason to join a dating site.

I never paid for the site but it was flattering having guys “wink” at me or try to message me. I vaguely alluded to how to get in touch with me in hopes that if I guy actually took time to do the research, he would figure it out. And at times this worked – I went on a couple of dates with a few guys.

Eventually, however, Christian Mingle became a place where I was getting my attention needs filled. I was on it way too often and consuming too much of my time seeing how many people had viewed my profile. I had started using it to fill the void in me of not feeling lovely or worth pursuing.
So I deactivated my account. 

As last summer came, I began prophetically proclaiming over all of my single friends that they would begin dating. I felt like there was shift in the seasons and that I was to speak it out over friends who had been believing for relationships. And it started happening!

Many close friends began dating relationships and I was thrilled beyond belief for them.

Yet a part of me ached. It was like I’d missed the blessing.

The weekend before Memorial Day, on a Saturday morning, I sat in my girls’ group crying that I had missed it. And before I went to a Heidi Baker conference that night, I felt grace to re-activate my Christian Mingle account.

I don’t know why. Maybe out of desperation. But for whatever reason, I re-activated it.

I went to the conference needing Jesus; completely desperate for fresh revelation and a touch from Him.

After worship, Heidi stepped on stage.

And if you’ve ever heard her preach, you’ll know that she’s kind of all over the place but in the best way. She lives a life of consistently and constantly listening to the voice and urging of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, she probably always diverts from whatever plan she originally had intended on speaking about.

She looked out and said: “God wants to restore hope tonight for things you’ve been longing for. Especially with marriages. So if you’ve been wanting to get married, stand up.” 

I stood up. So did half of the room.

And she begins to pray. That spouses would come. That hope would be re-ignited. And most fascinating to me, she prayed that marriages would come out of that conference.

“Keep your eyes open! Look around the room! ” She prayed. “Lord, would marriages come out of this conference!” 

It was hilarious. But my spirit began to break and shift as hope pressed its way in with every word she prayed over us.

Noah was supposed to be at that conference.

Friends of his were there.

But that day, he was helping a friend with their car and wasn’t able to make it.

So four days later, the hottest guy on Christian Mingle tried to send me a message.

He was really the only one I cared about trying to find, so I did extensive Google and Facebook research (yes – I’m that girl) and found him.

I sent him a message explaining who I was. We kept talking. He was really cute. And loved Jesus a lot.

A week and half later, we met in person for the first time at Caribou Coffee.

That’s the real story of how we met.

Through Christian Mingle.

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We hate that.

Seriously, we would not recommend Christian Mingle.

But God used it.

But one of the hardest parts about our relationship is that we had to create a friendship from the ground up. 

We didn’t have a history of common experiences. We were complete strangers who were interested in dating each other but had no idea about the other person’s past.

So the first time we dated – it was a mess.

We tried really hard. Our hearts were in the right place.

But I was a bit of a control freak who had unreasonable expectations for what dating relationships should look like.

And he was a commitment-phobic guy who didn’t know he had emotions or how to be vulnerable with me… or community.

And ultimately we broke up because we were on two completely different pages. In short, I said to him “Hey. Either have a goal of marrying me or don’t pursue me.”

So he broke up with me.

In the two months that we were broken up, God addressed every inch of control in my heart… examining it in and out. As I tried to maintain bitterness at love, God cracked my heart open and began showing me that real love has no control. 

He started showing me how I had even tried to control my relationship with Him – I wouldn’t completely surrender to my love with Him because I knew the power of love. I knew that it could control me in ways that probably weren’t logical. And I wasn’t sure if I was okay with that.

But He kept planting seeds of hope.

He also kept teaching me how real love is a choice. That regardless of feeling it, or not feeling it, God’s love for me is the most powerful because He chose me and picked me as His own. He didn’t feel love for me and THEN decide to die for my sins. He chose to love me and rescue me from the pit of Hell. I was picked. He wasn’t obligated. 

After my spring break trip, thinking I was over Noah, I came to church hope-filled that the best really was to come.

I walked to my usual seat. The band came on stage. And then I saw him after not seeing him in three weeks.

And I lost it.

My spirit broke inside of me again, moved by my feelings for him that I thought were dead.

That was who I wanted.

I looked at God and said “If I get to pick, I want him. I will wait however long it takes. And I don’t care how it looks or if this is illogical. But I want to choose him.”

Two weeks later, he asked me to talk.

He told me he was still crazy about me.

We began an intentional friendship.

And the next week he told me I was what he wanted. He chose me. And he would do whatever it took to win me over.

This shattered every. single. one. of my rules.

Rules about saying things so intensely.

Rules about pursuit.

Rules about guarding my heart.

It broke them all.

But Jesus consistently has said, “I’ve always promised you extravagance. And that had to break all of your rules.”

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We spent a month and a half becoming friends again; hanging out in groups, running random errands together, not hanging out one on one.

Then we spent a month going on dates. And me being overwhelmingly and extravagantly pursued by a man who realized exactly what he wanted. Who had become vulnerable and was willing to share everything with me. Who left me feeling like the most loved woman in the whole world every night as I went to bed.

(If you’re wondering… this was never the case the first time around).

And now. We have been in a relationship for a month.

I can confidently say I am not dating the same man I was dating before.

I can also confidently say that I am being pursued by a man who is day after day, all in.

It’s still messy. Nothing about it is what I would have written. And nothing about it is what I would’ve expected. There are still many things we’ve had to face as a couple that I wouldn’t have chosen to put in the story. There are also many things that have been put in the story that have overwhelmed me with unexpected joy.

But that’s the point.

I couldn’t have written my own love story if I tried. 

I love that it’s mine. I love that it isn’t finished yet. I am being broken and refined in more ways than I knew I could be, but it is making me look so much more like Jesus.

I realize I am breaking so many “dating” rules by writing this; by writing this love story as if I know this is it.

I don’t. Nothing is guaranteed.

I would like this to be it. So would he.

But we are submitted to Jesus, to the process, to community, and taking each day as it comes, listening to God’s voice every step along the way.

Whether or not this is it, this is the story we’re wrapped up in right now. And it’s not perfect. But right now… today… it’s ours. We’re in it.

Don’t let your “rules” for how it should be block out God from writing your story. 

Submit yourself to His voice and to the wisdom of close friends who are also walking with Him and you.

Be vulnerable in the midst of your story with other people and listen to His leading.

Pay attention to when your spirit feels unrest.

And pay attention to when it doesn’t.

This is our story for now.

There is no part of it that you can’t ask about.

Let there be freedom in having your own story be written in a way you wouldn’t have written yourself.