It’s been three years since Bryan and I stood in that chapel, making forever promises to “…with the strength of God, love, serve, enjoy, and be faithful to one another.”
I’m reminded how easy the words were to say and even to mean in the moment, but they’re harder still to live out.
I’m grateful for the rhythms of the year that serve as a reminder for reflection. I see the many ways that Bryan and I have matured in our relationship since our two-year and one-year anniversaries. Our first year we were still in school, and everything was measured in “number of days since our wedding.” The second year, by contrast, felt like a constant gazing into the future as we lived apart for a year, longing to be together. This third year, feels like we are actually living our lives in the present (although that doesn’t mean we don’t still dream of the future).
Living in the present isn’t always as breezy and unburdened as it sounds. Living in the present means I made plans with friends for dinner on our anniversary tonight (because I’m forgetful and don’t think ahead) and Bryan made reservations at a restaurant (because he is good at remembering things and thinking ahead). And yet, the beauty of marriage is that this small miscommunication, when it was discovered, became funny. We laughed about it because it didn’t matter. We’ve rescheduled our fancy dinner because an anniversary is just a date. Though it serves as an important reminder, it does not define our marriage. Our marriage is worthwhile not because we go to fancy dinners on special occasions (although those are pretty fun). But it’s worthwhile because it enhances daily living.
Being married has been like being part of a team that starts each morning by saying, “You’re worthwhile. I love you. I’m cheering for you. I’ll see you at the finish.”
In the past twelve months, we have moved apartments, joined a church, entered the workforce together, started saving for retirement, and traveled to Europe. From these growing-up experiences, and with all the grand maturity of three years, here are lessons I’ve learned in my third year of marriage to Bryan Weynand:
Words are important; Tone of voice even more so. I am sensitive – possibly highly sensitive – and Bryan is opinionated. Most of our fights hinge on tone of voice. A word of caution spoken in love is taken so differently than the same statement spoken in annoyance. Conversations are more than an exchange of thought, they are laced with an expression of emotion. How we feel when we express ourselves (measured, for me, in number of tears) has become an important indicator of how well we are doing with loving each other and showing kindness.
And where an apology isn’t sufficient, I’ve learned to fall back on grace. For after I’ve received grace (and this not of myself, but a gift from God), I can then give it away.
Sharing interests is more fun. Bryan is now a fan of dogs, and I take an eager interest in the Washington Nationals and Carolina Panthers. In another, see our high school story of the Harry Potter v. Pride & Prejudice debate. Shared interests have strengthened our relationship, and made planning adventures together more exciting (see, bookstores, hiking, church history, etc.).
Dogs make us laugh. Seriously. I’ve said this before, but Franklin may be one of the greatest things we did for the sense of humor in this marriage, as Bryan and I both border on taking everything too seriously.
Depth of thought increases affection. Bryan’s intense honesty and deliberate thoughtfulness initially attracted me to him. And while this quality can be exasperating (he has a tendency to express opinions like they’re an addendum to the Ten Commandments), it has also led us into a deeper intimacy where we express our opinions without fear of offense. To borrow a phrase from Harry Potter, we’ve become each others’ Secret Keepers. In this role, we form a safe circle and sounding board for thoughts to be heard, without fear that they’ll be spread among our friends or family (see, the early never-before heard versions of Bryan’s #nevertrump ideations). Bryan taught me honesty is not scary – it draws you closer.
Contentment is elusive and yet significant. Marriage this past year sometimes seems built just to help remind one another to be content with where we live, with what we have, and what we are doing amidst everyone else around us. This, admittedly, may be one of our biggest struggles in our current phase of life. And yet, we both know envy is not good for our souls, so we spur each other on past moments of discontent or bitterness (which are not infrequent!).
Sweet, honest, romantic Bryan, I’m so glad God saw fit to have us share our lives. It is a delight to experience the little things of life with you – to read the same books, to discuss news and literature over dinner, to talk through passages from Scripture that give us doubt and pause, to travel together and know we will want to experience similar things (see, driving two hours to visit a library).
I’m thankful our anniversary is a big thing that reminds me of all those treasured little things on which the engine of our marriage is run.
“Love as distinct from ‘being in love’ — is not merely a feeling.
“It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God.”
– C.S. Lewis