Fifteen for thirty.

A month ago today, the storm held off and the sun came out – and I was lucky enough to walk up an aisle to a big ol’ tree, see my forever best friend (and all of our loved ones), pray to our Father, swap promises, and kiss!

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A month later, and I still wake up just about every morning a little delirious and out of sorts, wondering where I am, whose bed this is, and then remembering, and then wondering again – just how life got this weird and beautiful. It’s been thirty days of laughter, adventures, scrambled eggs, wins, losses, unpacking, burnt dinners, fighting over covers, service, sacrifice, and definitely a few tears – but above all, it’s been thirty days of joy. Not pure, unwavering, giddy, and constant over-the-moon happiness, but true joy, the kind that I had heard of but hadn’t quite seen play out so clearly to me before as it has over this past month. I love how Nicole @ Bloom once described this kind of joy, so simply and sweetly:

“Joy that comes from the Lord because we’re living in His will. Joy that comes when life is hard and when moments are painful and when waiting is tough. Joy when Jesus is all we have. Joy when sickness strikes. Joy when family is hard. Joy when marriage is hard. We can have joy because we have Jesus.”

I couldn’t agree more with that, but I’d have to add just one thing – we can have joy because we have Jesus, and we can have joy because we have each other. Being reminded daily of the commitment and the promises that we’ve made to each other – for all seasons and above all circumstances – has done my heart some serious good.

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Believe me, I know that somewhere, somebody (maybe everybody?) is rolling their eyes and saying “Please. Thirty days? You know nothing!  Marriage is hard. Marriage is work.” And they’re right, for sure, in the grand scheme of things – we don’t know much about this marriage business, but we are certainly loving the learning curve. I don’t ever want to forget this first month — and to celebrate and to remember these first thirty learning, messy, joyous days – I give you, not ESPN’s 30 for 30, but 15 for 30. (Because I thought about doing 30, but I’d like to get up from my desk chair before dinner tonight…that, and I’m cursed with a lethal combination of a big heart that has lots of feels, and fingers plagued with carpal tunnel):

Fifteen Lessons from Thirty Days of Marriage

1. Try new things (even if they scare you) – In our first month of marriage, my husband has pushed me to grow in big and little ways that I am so thankful for, including: going full speed on a jetski when there was a barracuda sighting just the day before (eek!), trying CrossFit when I couldn’t lift even just a dumbbell to save my life, and trying new, intimidating, fancy rolls at the sushi place instead of sticking to my classic (read: boring) spicy tuna. All of these things have turned out to be amazing experiences, and all it took was a lot of encouragement from Chad, and a lot of trust from me.

2. Budgeting is cool! I’m pretty sure my parents would be falling out of their chairs if they were to read that I’ve actually grown to look forward to our budgeting meetings and get excited when I log an expense. I know, I know. Weird but awesome. Learning responsibility and generosity with our finances and having a partner to grow with in this area is the bomb diggity. Also, learning to cut back on fancy indulgent lattes is just an all around game changer. 🙂

3. Learning to cook takes time. Just because a Pinterest recipe swears to be *so simple, so delicious, so guaranteed to turn you into the perfect domestic chef that you are so totally not!*, does not always mean you should try it.

4. When life hands you burnt pork, make a frozen pizza and call it a loss. Or win. (See above).

5. High-five for everything! For being pronounced husband and wife, for riding those jetskis, for getting a barbell over your head, and for the Eagles scoring 39 points on the most beautiful Sunday afternoon. Something about high-fives makes those little moments just a heck of a lot sweeter.

6. Forgive easily. Especially when your husband advises you not to start a certain running back in your fantasy lineup, and then hours later said running back has 150 yards and a touch down and puts up 23 points that would’ve been enough to win your matchup…
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7. Seek the simple moments. I think some of my favorite moments of marriage, so far, have not been the big and brag-worthy things, but the small and simple – reading together before bed, groggily listening to sports talk in the morning, binge watching Netflix, and on our honeymoon, simply walking to dinner at night — celebrating the small. Small is what life is all about, isn’t it?

8. Just because you have a new Italian last name that you married into does not mean you are now magically Italian. Sigh. A girl can dream. Chad’s still reminding me of this daily and I’m eating cannoli like I don’t know it to be true.

9. Let things go. That little thing that your husband said twenty minutes ago that you read into, took to heart and let camp out in your mind? Yeah, LET THAT GO. Some things are worth talking about and working through. Others just simply aren’t worth holding a grudge or causing a rift between the two of you.

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10. Accept the help. Chad has been so stinkin’ thoughtful and helpful around the house, and I don’t know that I could keep it all together without him! He does the dishes, vacuums, folds laundry, cooks breakfast, and so much more, without being asked, and without accepting my insistence that “it’s fine, I can do it”. At first, my own selfish pride and our culture’s mentality that women have to do it all crept in on me and wouldn’t let me take the help. Girls, why do we always feel so much pressure to have to do everything by ourselves? We weren’t designed to live that way, and we certainly can’t do it alone! Accepting Chad’s help, and letting him serve me now and then has made me see what true partnership and teamwork looks like. He has such a servant’s heart and it makes me want to be a little more like him each day.

11. Put. The. Phone. Down. On our honeymoon, we chose to go phoneless for seven glorious, tech-free, heavenly days (well, except for when we had to adjust our fantasy teams, because, you know, #priorities). It was so sweet being together with no interruption, no grammin’, no calls, no feed scrolling, no article reading. Being present with him during that week made me see how much I actually really desire to be unplugged more often. Since then, I’ve been trying (and failing…and then trying again) to be more intentional about not mindlessly paying more attention to my phone than to Chad when we’re together. There’s a time and a place for using your phone, for staying connected to others and to building into other friendships – but I don’t think that time is when you have some rare moments throughout the busy day to just simply be with each other. What message does it send to each other when we’d rather see what all of our friends (and strangers) are doing instead of investing time into each other? It’s a work in progress for sure, but one that I know is crucial – I’m so grateful that we are both working on it, little by little.

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12. Have poker nights and wine nights (without each other!) Though we’re absolutely in the wrapped up, honeymoon, can’t-get-enough-stage right now (stop rolling your eyes), I’m so glad that we both haven’t been totally consumed by each other. We’ve made time for friends, for family, for guys’ nights and girls’ nights, for alone time – it’s all about the balance, baby.

13. Give second chances (and third chances, and fourth chances…) Anyone who’s lived with me over the years knows that unfortunately, I am not the picture of joy or kindness first thing in the morning. It usually takes me halfway through my first cup of coffee before my second eye opens or a smile even dares to curve my lips just slightly. That being said, it’s a little tricky having a husband who is on, up, and at ’em every morning when our alarm goes off at 5:30 a.m. We meet in the kitchen, me groaning and Chad bubbly, and once or twice, I’m ashamed to say, I’ve snapped or been short with him. What I love about this man is that he gives me grace constantly, but especially in the mornings. He’s now known for saying, “Ok, do you want to start over and give this another chance?” after each one of my particularly grumpy morning comments. Then we start the morning over. Then we hug. And it’s always a little better.

14. Be the biggest cheerleader the sport* of Ping-Pong has ever seen. If you know my husband, you know that he’s prettttttty darn good at ping-pong. He’s got his own paddle; he’s organized a league at work, he’s pretty much your modern day Forrest Gump. On our honeymoon, there was a ping-pong table by the pool, so of course I had to brag to the staff and fellow guests about how much he was going to school them on the table. And he did. Secrets Playa Mujeres Quintana Roo Week of September 19th, 2015 Table Tennis Tournament Champ, y’all. No big. My point being – I love bragging on Chad and cheering him on – and I need to do it more often. 🙂

15. Juuuust the three of us (cue Will Smith background music)… A few months ago, we sat down with our premarital counselor and wrote out a vision for our marriage. We stated a lot of goals, dreams, plans, and ideals, but ultimately, we said that we just desire a marriage where God is at the center. Since September 12th, we’ve been striving to point everything back to Him, to thank Him in the good moments, to seek Him in the hard, and to glorify Him by loving each other. We’re certainly not perfect at this (far, far from it, in fact), but with this vision in mind – we know our marriage can only grow stronger in true joy.

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I love loving you, husband (I’m still not over saying that). Thank you for celebrating the small things with me and for making the first thirty days so sweet. The best is yet to come.

—-

* I know you’re thinking “hey, Ping-Pong isn’t a sport”, but, it’s in the Olympics, so………

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