When you’re in you first year of marriage, every milestone, big and small, is celebrated. Well, at least in the House of Payne it is. First piece of furniture bought, first time to referring to him as “my husband”, first load of mixed laundry, 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, 100 days since the wedding. I could literally make that list never-ending since I’m a sentimental freak. If there’s something to celebrate, I will celebrate it. We’ll pop open a bottle of $4 wine or share a Blue Moon. The first month Brendan and I stayed on budget, we used a gift card and had a fancy date night. It was awesome.
The first six months as Mrs. Payne have been better than I could have dreamed. Sure, they’ve come with their fair share of challenges, disagreements and hurt feelings, but those aren’t what I think of when I look back on the time that’s passed since June 1st. I think of when I came back from Texas, and Brendan had built a welcome home fort for me. I think of the times we’ve been able to share our home with friends, and the conversations we’ve had with them in our little living room. I think of the quite times, talking as we fall asleep, me wrapping my toes around his feet to keep them warm.
So, in celebration of the first six months of newlywed life, I’m sharing the things I’ve learned since becoming a Missus. Granted, these are things than many pros might smile and shake their head saying, “Oh sweet girl, you have lots more to learn.” And I certainly hope I do! We’ve only been married 183 days, many of them still within the honeymoon season, so I excitedly look forward to 10,000 more days of learning and growing together. That being said, here are a few of the things that have jumped out to me over the last six months.
No. 1 Marriage is about making your spouse’s dreams your own. It’s oneness in finances, path, name and aspirations. The most tangible way I can explain this is the incredible time Brendan has dedicated to my business. The man rode in a car with me for 10 hours to and from the Outer Banks to help me shoot a wedding last month. He had a test at 8 a.m. on Monday morning, and gave up studying to help me. Brendan’s a second-year med student, so that’s no small deal considering he typically dedicates entire weekends to studying. It was one of the most generous and sacrificial things he’s done in our marriage, and it was one of those times where I clearly saw how much my work meant to him. My dream was his dream. He’s my biggest fan, my wisest counsel, and the first person I giddily show any picture to. And he loves and supports my aspirations and goals as much as I do.
No. 2 Love is demonstrated through service. I could basically restate everything from above, but I’ll chose another example. Letting me pick the movie, making me pancakes after a long and frustrating day, organizing and generally handling all of our finances because I really don’t like to, the list goes on. (I’m sure B is tired of me bragging on him by now) On my end, I make Brendan’s lunches a lot of mornings, do most of our grocery shopping, and work 2, sometimes 3, jobs so we don’t dip too far into student loans.
No. 3 Marriage is not about you. It’s really not. And if you make it about your happiness and your priorities, you’re going to get exhausted and frustrated very quickly. We’ve learned that marriage is more about your spouse than you, and more about God than your spouse. When our focus is on leveraging our home, money, marriage and time for the Lord, He’s there and making Himself known. Simple as that. Doesn’t mean it’s easy or comfortable, but it’s satisfying and has brought us closer together. The times I’ve chosen what I want over what I know is best, I’ve usually ended up disappointed or feeling inadequate. Marriage was one of many ways God has shown us a glimpse of the fullness of His love. Oneness, sacrifice, choice and love are all aspects of God’s relationship with us, and marriage is a way to display that incredible love to the world.
No. 4 You have to be intentional about spending time together. This was probably an unexpected thing I learned. When you’re dating and, presumably, not living with your boyfriend/girlfriend, time together has to be intentional. You won’t see each other or talk to each other until one of you gets in the car or picks up the phone. I figured that living together would kind of erase that in a sense. But I think some of the most common advice we’ve heard is to continue to date. I love when Brendan shows how he is still pursing me. I mean the man has me in for the long haul, and I’m totally down with that, but he continually wants to know me more and love me better. With him being a med student, work doesn’t end when he gets home at 5 or 6 since he has to study, and many of my shoots/weddings take up evenings and weekends, so we have to be really intentional about how we use the time we’re spending together.
No. 5 There is nothing better than sharing a home with the one you love most. Really though. Marriage is a slumber party every night with your best friend who won’t feel awkward if you accidentally cuddled them in your sleep.
No. 6 There are no walls in marriage, and it rocks. I knew Brendan was weird when we were engaged, but now I know that he is WEIRD. And so am I, and it’s awesome because we can both be shamelessly, socially unacceptably (in the words of my friend Chelsea) weird people in the comfort of our little home. No judging. Only silliness. I am myself in the fullest when I am with Brendan. I know that no matter what comes out of my mouth, he’ll love me. There’s no taboo topic or subject either of us should ever feel uncomfortable bringing up. Of course, there have been LOTS of times where it’s be hard to talk to each other about various things, like bad habits or even sin, but at the end of those conversations, so matter how difficult they were, we still loved each other and knew that we’d still love each other in 50 years. And that we’ll still be incredibly weird people in 50 years too.
No. 7 Love is a choice. Brendan and I fervently believed this going into marriage, and it’s something that’s really been at the root of our relationship from day one. Love is an action, a daily decision and a perspective. I really don’t believe that it’s something you fall in and out of. It’s not an emotion or a feeling, and sometimes it’s really, really hard. Love is looking at this person each day and choosing them, baggage and all. Even if you argued before going to bed. Even if they ate all the cookie dough while you were gone (this has happened). Even if they wake you up at 7:30 in the morning and ask you to make them a sandwich for lunch because they’re running late for class (Again, this has happened. I promise Brendan isn’t a pig!) Love is a commitment to choose to believe the best in someone, even when they’re showing their worst. It takes a lot of grace. Brendan and I see each other’s best and worst every day, in big doses and small. And I’m sure we’ll see even more of the ugly in each other as we go on, but I know without a doubt in my mind that when I am being selfish and mean, Brendan still loves me. And when I turn to ask for forgiveness, he’ll show me grace because the grace he’s been shown moves him to love me even when I don’t deserve it. We promised it in our vows, and we renew our commitment to love and choose each other daily.
So yay for 6 months! We’re mere babes in the world of marriage, but I’m excited about our life together and where the Lord is taking us. Love you, B!