Monday, May 23, 2016

Marriage Mondays - Many Advisers

PJ & I had a combined 22 people in our wedding party, 11 on each side. As we would share that number with people leading up to the big day, we were typically met with "woah! that's a lot of people!" And yes, you could definitely say it is. But for us, there was just no way to cut it down. 

Each of these people carried a significant place in our heart. They were either family, or pretty much family. They are the ones who we shared every detail of our relationship with, from "I met a cute guy!" to "I just bought an engagement ring." They were the ones who listened, who prayed, who advised, and who laughed with us along the way. And we just couldn't imagine our big day without each of these wonderful people beside us!

Having these people beside us in dating made it so that there was also someone to go to with a prayer request, or when needing advice. Nothing in our relationship was kept secret, we made sure people knew the happenings of our lives so that they could advise when necessary.

I think there's a fine boundary between overly sharing, and being overly private. There's wisdom in not sharing all things with all people, but there's one particular verse that I've seen proven true in my life over, and over again in regards to sharing life details. And it continues to make itself useful & relevant in marriage, as well:

The older I get, the more I realize that I simply need advice and counsel from other people. I now see that the moment I think I have it all figured out, is the moment I've been deceived by my own pride. I never have it all figured out, and I never will until I see my God face to face. Until then, I will fully utilize the community that has been given to me to walk through life with many, many advisers. 

Friends, this is so true within marriage. Whether you are simply vulnerable enough with a friend to divulge the happenings of your marriage, or humble enough to seek outside counsel (I'll say I have already done this in less than 3 months of marriage, ha!), there is such wisdom in sharing with other people. Humility comes from allowing others to speak into your life, and humility will help a marriage thrive. Pride on the other hand? Not so much. 

Before I end this post & have you dishing all your deets to anyone who will listen, let me caution with one last point. In my life, I've come to learn the importance of considering the source before I go for advice. Many, many people can advise you in life, and the reality is that advice can take you in all. sorts. of directions. You can tire yourself out by trying to put into action the counsel given by too many advisers, or the situation can worsen with only one piece of poor advice. Don't forget that we're all human, and we're all susceptible to incorrectly advising. 

One way you can turn over-sharing into wisely-sharing is by asking yourself, "will this person give me wise advice?" It can be so easy to talk just to talk, but there is just as much danger in that as there is staying overly private. When you talk, be sure it's with someone who you can trust to steer you in the right direction. For me? That means I'm talking with someone who I know will steer me to Christ. 

Thank you to the many advisers that I have in my life. I know that this marriage would not even be in place had it not been for the influence you have all had on my life. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Marriage Mondays - Getting Ready

This weekend, we got all of the pictures from our wedding. Our friend Becky Davis did an absolutely incredible job; we are SO happy with how they turned out and captured our big day!

I thought it would be fun to share some pictures each week for Marriage Mondays, and tie them into the topic of the post. Today, I want to chat about getting ready, and how we did our best to prepare for marriage leading up to March 5th. I want to share about what that looked like, and how it actually ended up playing out now that we're married. 

For us, I would say preparation began fairly unconventionally on the night we met. I've shared about that night a few times (such as here), and if you know about it, you probably already know that we got real deep, real quick. Sitting on a bench, me in my bridesmaid dress & him in a fancy outfit he had bought at Target hours before, we chatted about what we envisioned our future marriages looking like. 

For him, it was probably the liquid courage. ;) And for me, it was nothing more than my love of heart to hearts. But there on that bench, we realized that we had a lot in common for how we wanted dating & marriage to look. 

Having broken the ice, we had no fear of talking about marriage for the entirety of our relationship. As a matter of fact, leaving our "first date" weekend a few weeks later, we made a game plan of how the rest of our lives would look, starting with marriage. It was a common topic of conversation for us, probably because we were long distance & discussing marriage meant discussing the mutual hope that we would be living in the same city one day.

I had a lot of friends go through pre-marital counseling, so I knew the gist of what was covered. As engagement got closer, our conversations got more specific. Instead of dreaming about what marriage would look like, we'd cover the heavy topics like finances, children, roles & responsibilities, and yes, intimacy. 

No question or topic was ever off the table, and I think that's what gave us both such confidence of where we were headed. It seemed odd to know at such an early stage in the relationship that we'd one day be married, but neither of us ever wavered from that hope & expectation. 

We didn't begin formal marriage preparation until months after we were engaged, but as you can imagine, those conversations really paved the way for that. 

We started pre-marital counseling with our (amazing!) pastor a few months before we got married. We went through the book Preparing for Marriage, but we also kind of just went through life, too. PJ moved down to Santa Barbara 6 weeks before we got married, and even though we weren't living together, we sure shared a lot of space & time together. 

I think it was about then that we realized that as much as you can talk, and imagine, and dream, and prepare, there is always going to be things that pop up that you didn't expect. We grew a lot in those 6 weeks, and got a better glimpse of exactly what we were preparing for with marriage. We never walked into a pre-marital counseling session without some event from the prior week (or day!) to discuss.

I'm so grateful for those 6 weeks! They were entirely different from our long-distance dating experience, not to mention with the added stress of moving & planning a wedding. There were quite a few growing pains along the way, but that almost made it more fun & more real. Seeing how we processed conflict in this new season made me even more confident in our relationship, and upcoming marriage. And the topics we covered in the book were very helpful, too!

One thing I learned in the book that has related to our marriage is that there is a difference between truly communicating, and talking. Being long distance for so long had me suuuper confident in our communication. But I've found that living in the same town, and now living together, has communicating taking on a whole new form. It can be super easy to either a) talk at each other, or b) just sit & relax without talking at all. Communication, or at least authentic communication, can take some real intention!

All this to say, even with an abundance of preparation, there is still a lot of fumbling and learning our way through marriage. I relate it best to parenting. You can read all the parenting books in the world, but until you have your baby with you, waking you, needing you for every little thing, it's very hard to truly understand & fully prepare. You simply prepare the best you can, and learn as you go. 

As are we. 

I love that man with all of my heart. Last night, I went to bed still stunned at & praising God for the fact that I get to live life with him every day. There is absolutely no one else I'd rather be fumbling & learning my way through marriage alongside. ;)