We celebrated five years of marriage on Friday. Five years always seemed like a monumental number to me. I hear stories of the hardship that comes with or after the five-year mark. I’m not sure there is a specific year that’s the same for everyone, every new one brings its own kind of hard. And unlike my high expectations from my single years, I’m not sure marriage gets any easier moving forward. As we step deeper into knowing each other, marriage requires more intentionality. It requires our attention to the wounds that still bleed through the band aids. It asks us to continue meeting needs we think are taken care of. Over the last five years, marriage has become messier. Never perfect, but continually beautiful.
We’ve come to appreciate celebration. We’re not big gift people (unless it’s flowers or coffee and those tug at our heart strings). We value experiences and lean heavily on spoiling ourselves with a night out instead of gifts. Partly because we are both the hardest people pleasing people to please. I try to avoid this perfect storm at all costs. The other part resides in our need for unhurried, unplanned quality time. This is what sustains our marriage most. And so, we celebrated this last weekend and of course made room for a few arguments because too much quality time and rest tend to make us irritable. We’re only human.
I grew up thinking a Christian marriage looked a certain way. You pray together every day like clockwork and read your Bible together a certain way and learn the same things alongside each other. You follow the steps to achieve the perfect marriage. It’s been a decade of work to weed this mentality out of my system and acknowledge the ways God works more as a friend than a task master. How He first wants our hearts for Himself and then gifts us to each other. Our world has tried to define Christian marriage in such a backwards way and we forget to remember we’re all different and rarely grow within confined systems. Our needs need to be louder than our expectations.
“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15
This was a year of quiet routine. And although both Kyle and I appreciate rhythm, the daily expected life of wake-up, work, daycare, play, dinner, bath, bed, sit on the couch for an hour before it begins again has made us weary. We know our daily movements without needing to check in with ourselves or each other. And it’s easy to miss the days slipping in front of us.
This was a year of learning how to return and rest in Him, separately. We have fought to break the routine when we can so we realize the fresh breath God is wanting to fill us with. Finding God’s love for us in this new territory of parenting and healing has allowed us to stop walking on egg shells around each other. Instead, we are both learning how to walk more comfortably in process which has in turn made us stronger when we come back into our home and lives to be parents and partners. Our old ways of connecting to the Lord were failing us and so we’ve had to individually find a new layer of depth and identity. The fishing river became a new home for Kyle and our front porch became mine. And we’re better people because of the ways God drew us to Himself and threw our fixing tendencies out the window.
Connection has looked different in our fifth year. Connecting with each other happens in small conversations in between brushing our teeth and falling asleep. Connection happens standing in the kitchen during the fifteen minutes Logan eats. Connection happens over games of horse on the mini basketball hoop in the play room.
We’ve watched each other closely this year and gave room for the other to breathe. We fell more in love as parenting rooted itself in a new place of confidence. We stepped into self-care before we drowned in the mundane. And we paused for small celebrations at every turn. First steps, first words, long nap times on Saturday mornings (praise Jesus), a new baby, the list goes on.
The Lord has given us a new strength in the quietness and so we celebrate five years in the books.