Three years?! In some ways, I can hardly believe it — in others, it feels as though so much has happened these past few years that it should be longer. Nevertheless, we celebrate three years of marriage today! Last year, I wrote a letter to Russell celebrating two years of marriage, but this year, I thought it would be memorable and extra special to invite him to share some of his thoughts on marriage in this space. Although I may be bias, Russell truly is one of the wisest, most thoughtful men I know, and I’m so thankful to spend life with him!
We each answered these questions separately, and I then compiled them into this post. We are barely novices in this marriage thing, much less experts in any way; however, we are such huge advocates of the Christ ordained partnership of marriage, and we hope our words and the lessons we are learning can encourage you today, no matter what stage you are in! Thank you for celebrating with us!
What was the best part of year three?
Russell: Moving to Dallas: it has been a big component of year three of marriage. We have thoroughly enjoyed reconnecting with friends, being close to family, starting a (somewhat) new job for me, and exploring the city we originally called home.
Jessica: Realizing that despite all the crazy changes we’ve gone through these past three years, having one another as a loving constant in this life is a priceless gift.
The hardest part of year three?
R: Moving to Dallas: while only in North Carolina just shy of two years, it was already feeling like home. We miss our church and small group back in NC and we miss the “rural” life we had. Only two stoplights on a two lane road for a fifteen minute commute to work? YES PLEASE! Dallas is definitely the big city compared to our North Carolina home of Clemmons.
J: Moving again…(more on that in this post)
What is the best thing about marriage so far?
R: I think the best thing about marriage is realizing I have a partner to live and go through life with. Marriage is a very direct and close form of community, and I really do think as people we were made to live in community. Jessica has been a partner for the last three years as we have lived the ups and downs of life that come with two cross-country moves, multiple job changes, health issues, getting a puppy, and living life. There is no doubt that this world brings its fair share of challenges, as well as its share of celebrations, and in both cases I know I have someone right next to me to experience it all.
J: Being one half of a partnership, having someone to always come home to, and having someone who loves you just as you are.
The most challenging thing?
R: I think a spouse becomes the closest example we have of a mirror into our personality and character. This is definitely a challenge to adapt to. When conflict, discussions, decisions, or pretty much anything else comes up that Jessica and I have to deal with, I quickly become aware of new facets of my own personality that I did not know were there. It is not easy to realize you personally have a sin or flaw, especially when it’s being revealed by or through someone you love. However, I think this challenge is a component of the plan for us to be refined through marriage.
J: Cooking dinner every night? 😉 Managing (usually my own) expectations and keeping our priorities straight.
Any funny marriage stories?
R: Not sure this qualifies as funny, but I quickly learned a new habit around the house. In our first couple months of marriage, I would simply be walking around our townhouse or just going up the stairs to our room and, unwittingly, proceed to scare the living daylights out of Jessica. At one point it resulted in physical reaction of a slap on the shoulder and at many points it included loud screams (including “YOU WALK LIKE A DEER”). As a result, I now cough, make noise, and/or announce my entrance into any room in our house.
J: It definitely wasn’t funny then, but we moved to North Carolina in July 2015, a few weeks before our first anniversary. I was determined that the special anniversary part of our wedding cake would make the move with us because the first anniversary tradition would not be broken! To make a long story short — it was a disaster. We couldn’t use dry ice because of the ventilation issues in a car, so we attempted to wrap, pack, and box the cake and dump pounds of ice around it…umm…it didn’t work. The ice melted (shocking! 😉 ) and despite our multiple layers of wrapping somehow breeched our defenses and went into the cake and out of the bags, making the box soggy and falling apart. I was quite a sight on the hotel floor somewhere in Tennessee surrounded by melting ice, a soaking wet carpet, and pieces of a soggy box, cry-yelling at Russell to go get more ice to save our dilapidated, melting, half frozen wedding cake.
What is the best marriage habit you’ve formed so far?
R: We don’t go to sleep without saying “I Love You” and giving each other a kiss. It’s very hard to say “I Love You” and kiss each other when you’re mad at each other. As a result, we have to work through conflict before we go to bed, even if it’s just acknowledging there is something we want to talk about later.
J: Never going to bed unless we can kiss and say “I love you.” This prevents issues from festering and resentment building because it forces us to deal with things right then. Russell’s grandparents did this, and I’m so thankful we started this at the beginning of our marriage! I am very conflict avoidant, which is not helpful in any relationship, but this habit has really made a difference for us.
The marriage habit you’re working on?
R: We are still working on the “weekly huddle”. The goal is that each week, preferably Sunday, we sit down to reflect on the last week and look forward to the week ahead. There are five questions we were encouraged to ask each other that center around how we feel about the upcoming week, how we can support one other, and how we can connect. It’s also a practical step of looking at the calendar and figuring out what the week will look like. It’s been great when we have done it, but it’s not quite a habit yet.
J: Consistently greeting Russell when he comes home with a hug and kiss no matter how (good or bad) my day went.
What advice/encouragement would you give newly engaged couples?
R: Realize that all of the advice and guidance you receive is just that: advice. It is not a prescription for exactly how your relationship should, or MUST, look like and work. If you spend too much time trying to make your new marriage fit into a mold, or look like something someone else suggested, you miss out on the joy of figuring things out for you and your spouse. I am not saying go it alone – there is absolutely a place for wisdom and counsel from friends, parents, and community. I am merely saying it’s worth figuring out your story and your marriage. After all, there’s only two people that ultimately get a say in how your marriage looks.
J: Go into marriage with eyes as wide open as possible. (It’s not a fairy tale, but it’s beautiful and its yours to enjoy if you treasure it and work at it.) Don’t expect the other person to fulfill you. Realize that many fights are due to unmet, unknown, or unspoken expectations you have for your spouse or yourself. Family of origin influences a lot, in both good and bad ways. Weighing your words before you say them is never a bad decision. Give yourself, your spouse, and your marriage so.much.grace. Surround yourself with people who are for your marriage, not just for you. Be ready to have the depth of your selfishness revealed daily.
What are you looking forward to in year four?
R: After making the move back to Dallas, I am looking forward to re-discovering the city where we met, but this time as a married couple. We had only been married nine months when we decided to make the move to North Carolina, so it does feel like we have some exploring and discovering to do.
J: Years two and three were whirlwinds of job changes, cross country moves, new churches, and new everything. Looking forward to settling into life together on the foundation we have begun to build. It’s fun to know each other so much better now, while still looking forward to learning even more as we continue into the next years.
Your turn! We would love to hear your thoughts on relationships, marriage, or anniversaries in the comments!
For more musings on relationships – check out the following posts!
photo by Melinda Jean Photography