MARRIAGE LESSONS: YEAR 4
At our wedding we washed each other’s feet as a symbol of our devotion. We committed to love through good and bad, and committed to put each other first. This was a practice we adopted from Jesus, who washed his disciples feet, showing them he was willing to see and love the dirtiest parts of them, and sacrifice for them. It was a beautiful symbol to us of marriage, and we felt strongly about the ritual… but we had no clue what the hell we were doing.
THE WONKY RITUAL:
As we stood before 300 people, about to follow through with the foot washing, we realized that we forgotten the water. My brother in law quietly left the ceremony and brought water to us. As Phil started washing my feet, grass and dirt made the water a strange shade of brown. (We had been outside taking pictures in 107 degree heat.) It was disgusting and hilarious. By the end of the foot washing, we opted not to put our shoes back on because we hadn’t thought about how long it would take to complete the ritual, plus mine were filthy.
We were completely unprepared and caught off guard.
Our ritual of love and devotion was wonky, and it’s been the perfect symbol of growing into our marriage. We were in many ways unprepared for marriage. Our love tanks have been empty, our love tanks have been murky and toxic. We have been unconventional, and we have made it work.
WE GOT MARRIED YOUNG:
It was before my wellness journey began. Which means we have learned a lot about ourselves and being married since then. The past four years of life and marriage have been transformational. Phil has been a witness to the growth, healing, and change in my life, as I have been in his. People always tell you marriage is hard; they tell you how selfish you’ll realize you are, that the passion ebbs and flows, that sex and finances will be the biggest strains, and that communication is key. I’ve learned about those things, but I’ve learned so much more.
The things I’ve learned which have helped me the most are not “marriage tools.” They are my own lessons in emotional, personal and relational wellness.
My lessons are tools to become the most excellent person you can be, not just an excellent wife.
+ KNOW YOURSELF FIRST. THEN GET TO KNOW YOUR PARTNER
When I began on my journey to self awareness I had no clue how much this would impact my relationship. I learned how I “ticked,” I learned what made me happy, what triggered me, I learned areas where I needed healing, and I was better able to communicate my needs. Honestly, my self awareness was hard for my relationship at first because it caused a major shift in how our relationship functioned. We did not know healthy ways to understand ourselves or each other. But as I grew, I was able to communicate clearly, manage and own my own needs, and ultimately create a life-giving relationship of honesty, clarity, and fulfillment.
+ ALLOW OTHERS TO PROCESS LIFE IN THEIR OWN WAY
This one came from Phil. Through our journeys in counseling, healing, and personal development, we have come to seasons where one or the other was really hurting and processing. We have deconstructed our beliefs, grieved pains, and created new world-views together, yet we have done it with space and compassion. Everyone is processing life through a different perspective and lens. Be present in the processing, but don’t try to understand everything. Give others space to process and come to peace in their own way.
Be a support, not a guide.
This requires trust, so much trust, and confidence in yourself and your relationship.
+ LEARN TO LISTEN
Like really listen. Dangit, this is a struggle for my mile and minute brain and mouth. I’m still practicing. Listen with the heart to understand. Be open to what they are saying and repeat back to them what you hear them saying. I like to call this “leaning in.” Lean in and be interested to people, make them feel like they matter more than anyone in the world. Trust me, listening is the greatest art. Learn more from the master of listening, Chris Lee.
+ LET GO OF CONTROL
Seems simple enough, yet, especially in our closest relationships we become emotionally entangled with the other person’s decisions. They reflect onto us. They affect us. If they make a mistake, it becomes personal or an attack. Learning that other people are completely separate from you, and they are responsible for their own actions is key. (The opposite of this is codependency).
There are so many things I've learned about marriage but those are the big ones from this year. Marriage tools are helpful, but I'm realizing becoming the best version of yourself will lead to your best relationships.
TOOLS YOU MAY FIND HELPFUL:
The personality matrix: a podcast to help you understand yourself and others.
My personal fav, The Boundaries Book
Learn to listen by listening to this podcast.