In looking at life as a whole, four years is not a very long time. But, it does seem like a very long time especially when you cram a lot into those four years. And, boy, did we jam a lot into our life since our wedding day.
Starting with having 3 babies.
That alone is a lot. Between endless doctor’s appointments and feeling sick, getting up all hours of the night, wading through the constant stream of medical bills and insurance claims, and just in general figuring out how to be a parent. Having kids is time consuming…and heart consuming.
But that isn’t all. We also owned a retail business, sold that retail business, started a photography business, moved 3 times (including buying our own house and spending countless hours and $$ to remodel said house), bought and sold 3 vehicles all while Adam was working 44 hours a week at random times including nights and weekends making scheduling social or photography events around his hours a huge mess.
I’m sure this story can resonate with many young couples out there today. This day in age, life is busy. And it only seems to get busier. Even though life is crazy, it also means that there are a lot of lessons that can be gleaned from our experiences. Here are 4 of those lessons I’ve learned in the last 4 years:
1. Humor is just as important as they say it is
In our 4 years as husband and wife, we have never had a fight. Not a big fight, not a little fight, nothing (yeah, sorry, I know that’s not really helpful). Do we get frustrated with each other? Most definitely. But I have always been proud of our ability to defuse situations before they turn into anything more than frustration because one of us (usually Adam) makes a pun or quotes The Office. Then we can laugh and take a breath and figure it out in that moment and move on. We don’t dwell on it or let it steep – we work together. I think a sense of humor is a passive way of letting the other person know that it’s okay. It’s okay that you don’t agree, but it isn’t something that needs to be internalized or taken personally. You’ll work it out because you love each other and you can do it with a smile.
2. Take intentional time for each other and for yourself
Finding any time to do anything extra can be difficult. But when you make it a priority and follow through, you can see the benefits in how you can relate to each other, rest of your family, and your job. We go on regular date nights. We love going to movies, shopping, and playing board games with each other. It’s a way to reconnect away from the bills and stress of real life and to recharge and have the carefree timelessness that every relationship needs to thrive and survive the long haul.
If you think finding time for each other is tough, finding time for yourself is even more so. We have made it important to make sure that each other is able to get out and do the things that they enjoy. We are both part of book clubs which not only push us to read, but we are also able to have fellowship and intelligent conversation. Adam also loves to go fishing or shooting with his friends and I’m part of a committee at church. These things help to round us out as individuals and in the end allows us to have more to offer our family.
3. Extended family is more important the older you get (and the more kids you have!)
I don’t think either of us thought that we would end up setting down roots in central Wisconsin. I couldn’t wait to go to college away from my town and I had dreams of living near the Twin Cities. After we started dating, we made frequent trips there and talked about that maybe being the place we wanted to be eventually. When college and then our business kept us in Stevens Point, we didn’t think twice about it. After we had our first baby, we spent a lot of time with our parents and siblings relying on their help. Now, we not only have our families here, but also a community that we couldn’t live without. To have people we can call on multiple times a week that love us and love our kids is invaluable. This is home.
4. Marriage is not give and take
Marriage has to be give and give.
I think having kids early on in our marriage helped us to figure this out very quickly. When you have a child, your life is literally not your own. You have to give everything you have and then some more. It teaches you to sacrifice, but in a very positive way. You no longer get to sleep, eat, or even go to the bathroom when you want. You can’t always go on those vacations, stay up late watching a movie, or play video games for hours. It forces you to leave those (mostly innocent) self-centered ways behind to be there for someone else. It is in those constant moments of self denial in order to give to someone else that you learn what it means to be a parent. And to be a spouse. It is when you start feeling like you are “owed” something from the other person that you fail, your marriage fails, and resentment sets in. If you are both always giving, you are both always full.
This is the most important thing any couple has to learn in order to have a happy marriage. It takes practice. Now, if I ever feel the resentment setting in while I’m loading the dishwasher at 11pm or folding a mountain of laundry during my free time, I try to push it aside and say “I love them and I have to give.”
There are definitely a lot more than four things and we definitely couldn’t have made it here without the grace of God and the many blessings we share. We are truly thankful for our crazy, messy, wonderful life together and look forward to many more years and many more lessons.
Photos from our family session last year (while I’m pregnant with our #3, Charlie) from our favorite photogs at Cj Photography – www.cjphotogallery.net.