First Year

In a conversation the other day, it came out that my wife and I had just celebrated our first year anniversary. Amongst the congratulations and “good-for-yous”, someone said, “Don’t worry it gets better. The first year is always the hardest.” This was not new news to me. I had known the first year was the hardest from the first day we got back from our honeymoon. Now, you may be wondering what happened the first day back from our honeymoon. Let me tell you…absolutely nothing! It was just another perfect day in a string of perfect days of marital bliss. Yet, that was the first day someone decided to tell us how hard the first year of marriage was going to be.

Even now, it amazes me how many times in the last year I have heard the sympathetic words, “Oh…you’ve been married less than a year…don’t worry it gets better.” It’s as if the expectation is that once you get married the world would fall apart and you find yourself miserable. What a sad picture of marriage! I hate to disappoint anyone but, it’s just not true! Our first year of marriage has been amazing and easy. It has been one of the best years of my life, a true blessing from God.

Now, some may say that it’s out of overwhelming determination or sheer spite, but married life has been GREAT to us! When talking about our marriage, my wife always starts out with, “We’re not delusional…we know there are going to be hard times…but it has been an amazing first year!” I believe you get out of a marriage what you put into it. If you expect that you are going to lose all your individual identity and find yourself miserable, then I venture to say that you will. If you expect more out of married life and are willing to give…then I believe you will find it to be a great and amazing adventure as we have. It is not about what you lose but what you gain!

Over the last year I have had to redefine what marriage is in my head because what it has been for us has not matched up with what others have experienced. Some told us about how hard and challenging it is, giving advice on how to avoid one another in “those” moments. Others have shared stories of thirty years full of happiness without any harsh words or raised voices. Yet, neither of these pictures seem to encapsulate our first year of marriage. The only way I have found to describe marriage is by saying its complex. Amazing…wonderful…and complex!

The complexity of marriage is much like growing up. You learn…. grow….share… dream… and change. For us, the first year of marriage has been learning about ourselves and our partner. Learning what life looks like for two instead of one. We have grown beyond just thinking of ourselves and started to think of our partner first. We have learned how to share everything from a tiny bathroom in a three hundred and ninety five square foot apartment to a computer and even a bed. Learning to sleep with someone in the same bed is not as easy as it may sound. This first year of marriage has also taught us how to combine our dreams and seek the Lord’s will for us as a couple and not just as single minded people. We have been able to share our dreams and desires with one another and seek to build those into a life together.

In this process we have had to learn to change. I believe this what most newly married couples come to find as “hard” in their first year of marriage. For us it has been mostly easy as we have welcomed it. As for me…I learned long ago that I am not perfect and it is only through change that I will grow. I have many things in me that need to be built up and strengthened as well as things that need to diminish and be discarded. Married life is part of this process. My wife bring to the table things which I need and I things that she needs. It is through this combing, growing, and changing that we are finding married life to be so amazing. Like I said… it’s complex and will be an ever changing adventure. We are not delusional, we know there will be hard times, but for us this first year of marriage has been amazing. If it only gets easier from here, then all I have to say is…PRAISE GOD…and, BRING IT ON!

A New Year

2008 is gone and 2009 is here! In many ways the New Year is like the changing of the guard. It is a time for reflection upon the past and contemplation upon the future. The old has gone and the new has come. It is a time for change! It is time for New Years’ Resolutions! But before resolutions can be made and change can happen, reconciliation with the past must occur. One cannot help but go through the baggage of the last year and unpack the events which have shaped life’s current situation.

As I step into the New Year I am flooded with images of the past, images which are full of hope and joy. 2008 was a great year and I pray in 2009 God continues to pour out His blessing upon me and my family. The last year brought with it many life altering events which will forever change my life and the way I interact with the world.

In January of ‘08 I moved out of the dorms and forsook the life of a bachelor as I entered into the new and exciting world of marriage. Married life has far exceeded any of my expectations. It has been one of the best and easiest years of my life. In June, I turned 30 and made the final leap into adulthood, realizing that I have lived at least 1/3 of my life here on this earth (a scary thought…me being an adult). In September I began the final year of my masters program and started teaching at San Quentin Prison, an event which I am still trying to understand and process though.

The holidays also brought with them many first. I went to the “in-laws” for Thanksgiving in Georgia, ate at the GREAT Waffle House for the first time, and explored many of the complexities of the Southern life as I took an extensive tour of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina (road trip) with my wife and two broth-in-laws. For Christmas, I was able to bring my WIFE home with me to my parent’s house and share with her in her first white Christmas and temperatures which stayed in the low teens. And to bring in the New Year we were able to share time with some of our most beloved friends.

At the beginning of 2009 I can’t help but look back at the year that has just passed and wonder what the next one will be like. How am I going to take the successes and failures from the last year and move on to greater things in the future? How is this year going to be different? These are all questions which I hope to gain from look at the past year.

In the spirit of learning from the past and moving into the future I want to revisit something I talked about back in July: my blogging. I have failed miserably! In July I said that I was going to be blogging twice a week…well, if any of you are keeping count, I have written five posts since then. Like I said, I have failed! My failure is made even worse, as I have just told you that I have had one of the best years of my life. I’m sorry I’ve not written about it. This is my attempt at reconciling with all of you for not keeping my blog updated, and with myself for not doing my best. I guess you can call this a pseudo New Years Resolution. I say this because I am not sure how I feel about New Years’ Resolutions at the moment. That may be the next blog you see, but for now I want to let you know that it is my intention to do much better this year. I want to blog at least once a week.