Friday, October 10, 2014

Thoughts on our first year of marriage in the third world

I was riding with a friend on the back of her motorcycle to grab some plants a few weeks ago, and we got to talking about what I had learned during my first year of marriage. Our dating, engagement, and married life have all been pretty unusual- and I think that's an understatement. Our time together has almost exclusively been in Haiti, which makes things, well, a bit out of the ordinary.

So here are some thoughts on our first year of marriage in the third world:

1. Be very cautious at giving and receiving advice regarding marriage. You do not have a full view of someone else's marriage, and no one has a full view of yours. Advice can be a very dangerous thing, so seek it cautiously and ask advice of people who know both parties in your marriage. I believe that if we spent more time listening to our spouses and less time rallying people to "our side" our marriages would have stronger foundations.

2. Be together. I know that sounds simple, but it can easily be overlooked. My love language is definitely quality time, so I may also be a bit biased. I can look back at the amount of time Chris & I have been able to have our first year and see how vital it was to our marriage. And I am not just talking about the ooey gooey romantic stuff- though that is nice too. Spend time together in, what Patrick McManus would call, A Fine and Pleasant Misery. These things include but are not limited to: trying to sleep in blazing heat and sweat (do not touch me and I will not touch you), fighting off mosquitoes, cleaning up dog vomit &/or puke, paying a power bill (not a simple task in Haiti), hauling drinking water up and down the stairs, washing clothes by hand, etc. Be together. Listen when your tendency is to talk, and talk when your tendency is to listen. Choose to be together when it is uncomfortable, frustrating, and difficult. We have learned to better communicate (yep, we will always be working on this one) simply because we have waded through hard things. Also, by being together you get to learn about your spouse. Not a stereotype of a man who, honestly, may or may not be your husband, from a book. You get to learn more and more about who he is. If we spent more time with our spouses and less time reading about who society tells us they should be, I believe our marriages would not only be stronger but have greater depth.

3. Do not underestimate the power of continuing friendships with your single friends. Sometimes I feel like we are told to forsake any individuality and cling to your marriages. But I have some dear friends who are not married who are the most encouraging, fun, and easy to talk to people. They are not depressed, bitter, or angry. I feel as though we can underestimate the influence single people can have in marriages, and vice versa. By embracing each other as who we are, single or married, we challenge and enjoy each other. We bring the Kingdom to Earth and we challenge the world to change.

I believe by continuing to figure out who we are as individuals as well as couples, we build stronger people and stronger marriages. Embrace frustrating things because they teach you to forgive, communicate, and sometimes just laugh at yourselves. 
First anniversary celebration in Labadee.
Yes, in my one year of marriage, I have essentially learned three things. Who knows what the rest of the years will bring?
"If you never did, you should
These things are fun and fun is good."
-One Fish, Two Fish, Dr. Seuss-