Marriage is NOT hard. Coming to terms with my self centeredness is hard.
Phew – we just jumped right in, didn’t we?
When I was engaged, I relished in any advice a newly wed couple could give me.
What’s the best thing about marriage? What’s the hardest? Is the first year really THAT difficult?
I think somewhere along the line people started “warning” others that the first year would be the hardest.
Although we’ve only experienced year one, I know without a doubt it will not be the hardest. It may be the year with the biggest learning curve, but definitely not the hardest.
This year was a celebration. I truly believe marriage in its purest form is a continual miracle – the closest human relationship that mirrors God’s covenant with his people. A covenant only sustained by unconditional love and sacrifice.
We CELEBRATED slow mornings we didn’t get when we were dating. We loved being able to wake the other up in the middle of the night when we couldn’t sleep. We loved praying with each other when decisions felt impossible and when God felt so distant.
We celebrated arguing and forgiving each other, knowing true forgiveness only comes from the Lord.
We celebrated our failures knowing God would use our weaknesses to illustrate his strength.
This year we celebrated – because God is good to us.
We learned that we have to fight for community. Not just time to spend with each other, but we had to fight to transition from attending the church I grew up in to a new community. I think this particular transition solidified us as a unit knowing this would be new for the both of us, and we are so glad we jumped in head first to an awesome community of people! We have been encouraged by leading the Young Adult small group in our apartment, and we get to use our dusty college small group leader skills in a new way. Something we use to do separately now gets to be something we do together!
We have been abundantly blessed to live in Shadi’s parents basement apartment RENT FREE, a luxury in northern virginia. Because of their extreme generosity, we have been able to start saving for a house, we get to swap groceries, Shadi’s Dad taught us how to garden, and we never feel distant from family.
(Shadi’s mom will also text us – “if you can smell it, you can have it!” Which basically guarantees the smell of garlic and olive oil is wafting from upstairs and most likely is my all time favorite salad).
Although we have so much independence in our current situation (our own entrance, kitchen, bedroom(s), washer/dryer, bathroom), I think we would have missed out on some of the sweetness of this year had we moved somewhere else.
We have learned that our biggest debate is what to do for dinner , and I’m slowly learning to enjoy cooking more on a normal basis.
We have learned that it’s totally fine that are families are so different (mine coming the Midwest, his coming from the Middle East, i.e. Syria and Jordan). We have so many conversations on how our families do things, how we want to combine traditions, and the best part – his family makes the best Mediterranean/Arabic food. (Just ask me for the hummus recipe )
But I think as an individual, I have realized how self centered I am, how much I want my own way, and how that attitude not only affects my relationship with Shadi, but also my attitude towards God.
My job, my friends, my free time, my dreams, my heart, my future, my money – those are no longer my things; they are OUR things. And in reality, those are all God’s things.
For the longest time I thought I was at least somewhat good at letting God into those things, but then insert a human to share everything with and the need for control goes into over drive.
The hardness of marriage is not a marriage issue, it is a self centeredness issue. The difficulty I have with allowing God complete sovereignty over all elements of my life is not an intellectual question of his power, the problem is my willingness to live a life of open hands knowing his will and desire for my life is more glorious than anything I could ever dream up.
I didn’t need to get married to learn those truths, but I am so glad God has used our marriage to show me those things. I am so glad he gave me someone to laugh with, to joke with, to fall asleep next to, and to grow with to reveal more of His character to me.
I am slowly learning to let go of control.
Slowly learning to rest in the joy of the Lord – a joy that is regardless of circumstance, and a joy that makes my relationship with Shadi even sweeter.
Never have I ever been so, so grateful for the gift of marriage since marriage gave me Shadi. Never have I have been so sure of the love of God seeing it poured out to me through my husband.
ALL PHOTOS BY NIKKI SANTERRE PHOTOGRAPHY