It's early morning and I'm sitting on our back porch drinking coffee. The birds are singing and pollen is falling, my computer will soon be coated in yellow dust. I'm trying to work, but am struggling to focus. I've only had a few sips of caffeine but a giddiness has overcome me this morning. Tomorrow is our one year anniversary.
I can't stop reflecting on where we were a year ago - what we were doing, who was coming into town, how we were feeling. Our wedding was pure magic to us and I think of the entire weekend as a haze of happiness and light.
During our engagement, we worked hard to focus on the union more than the wedding day. Something we talked about openly was that we both had some fear of marriage.
We didn't have doubts about each other and knew we wanted to get married. But, as with most millennials, we'd both seen the pain of a broken marriage at some point in our lives. I don't know anyone our age who hasn't at least had a cousin or best friend who has been impacted by the darker side of the institution.
We desperately wanted to build a healthy relationship, but, without ever having been married, felt like we could only do so much to prepare for it while engaged. We had to get in the pool to learn to swim.
As I sat on our porch last week, I reflected on how much we learned during our first year. By no means am I an expert, it's only been 365 days, after all. But I thought I'd share some of the insights in case any of you also think of marriage as a bit of an unknown.
1. You are going to get some things right and some things very wrong.
When we first got married, we were so focused on getting it right that we didn't give ourselves much margin to make mistakes. What we've learned in the last year is that some days, you're going to crush it. You're going to make enough time for each other, you'll serve one another, you'll be kind and gentle. You'll rock your marriage.
Other days, though? You'll mess up. You will be selfish. You will say things you don't mean. You will be passive aggressive. You will make mistakes.
We were reminded how important it is to give grace to one another is in these moments, yes. But, what we really learned was the process of giving grace to ourselves. I had no problem forgiving Chris, but, when I made a mistake, I would kick myself and struggle to let it go. He'd already forgiven me, yet I was still sitting in my mess.
We were both so eager to have a good marriage that we were trying to be perfect. Bad news Saxons: you ain't perfect. You human.
2. Don't keep secrets.
I know this can be controversial - I've heard many women say something along the lines of: oh! He doesn't need to know everything. There has to be some mystery. To that I say: good for you, not for me. We don't keep anything a secret. If I made a mistake, spent more money than I intended to or had a dream about another guy, I tell Chris. I have no doubt this would be overkill in other marriages, but it works for us.
On our first date, Chris said: OK, tell me all the bad stuff about you now. I'm going to find out someday, so let's just tell each other right away. I laughed. Then I told him everything - even the hard stuff. Since that day, it has been our policy.
3. Gentleness is everything.
Tone, facial expressions, abruptness - all of it matters for us. I constantly pray to be more gentle with Chris because it makes such a difference in our day-to-day.
4. Serve one another.
Nothing can soften me toward Chris in a moment of frustration more than offering to help him. Or doing something thoughtful for him. When we both make serving each other a daily practice, our marriage is more joyful.
5. Don't take life so seriously.
We both have a habit of wanting to do things very well and in an organized manner. This sounds great on paper but can sometimes lead to us being a little high strung. We've had moments where we've found ourselves taking planning a vacation wayyyy to seriously. We have to step back and remind ourselves we're doing something super fun! We ought to enjoy it. I am sure there will be many hard, sad, serious seasons ahead and we are trying to keep buoyancy alive where we can.