This past weekend, Aaron and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary. Honestly, it feels like we’ve been married so much longer than that. I met him nine years ago, and our friendship has continued to grow since that day. We met at a camping retreat where Aaron and I were both group leaders. Actually, the first time we met I yelled at him and basically told him to mind his own business. Well… I yelled because he was far away (though I’ll admit, I probably still would have yelled even if he had been right next to me..), and told him to leave us alone because he disrupted a very important meeting I was trying to finish. Plus, all the girls in my group started giggling and swooning when they saw this random guy, who was apparently named Aaron Johnson, stride toward us. I thought, “Seriously? You have GOT to be kidding me. I will NOT tolerate this nonsense right now.” All that to say, it’s a good thing for me that Aaron is understanding, forgiving, and very, very persistent.
These past several days, I’ve been reminiscing about this past year of marriage. It’s been a pretty big year for us. A lot has changed. While Aaron and I were enjoying our anniversary dinner, we began discussing what we’ve each learned about marriage this year. I realized that I’ve learned four lessons about marriage.
1) Children are not the end of your marriage.
There is an idea out there that having children means the end of a fun marriage and successful career. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m not saying it’s bad to wait a few years before you have kids. If you want to ride out that newlywed honeymoon phase, go for it. But at the end of the day, too many people delay building a family until a time they deem it is “convenient” or they think children no longer pose a risk to their marriage or carrier. Children are not a risk or an inconvenience. They are the greatest joy. Yes, there is a transistion period between having a baby and remembering yourself. Yes, things change when kids are in the picture. It’s a change in your lifestyle, but your marriage doesn’t have to suffer. Maybe kids are the end of lazily planning date nights, or waiting to communicate with your spouse when you “feel like it,” or the end of thinking only of the two of you, but I don’t think it’s bad for of those things to end. Children force you to be intentional and prioritize your life. They require you to plan ahead and set aside purposeful time for your spouse and family. Children aren’t the end of you marriage. They are just one of the many ends to a marriage based on convinience.
2) Children deepen your marriage, if you let them.
You’ve been friends with your spouse, dated your spouse, been engaged to your spouse, and been married to your spouse. The day your first baby enters the world, you now have the honor of being a parent with your spouse. Parenting requires a new level of selflessness, responsibility, and sacrifice. Being a parent draws you to your spouse in a way nothing else can because a new side of you is awakened by your love for this tiny human. The two of you share a unique love and responsibility for your child that no one else in the world can understand. As parents, you grow in this journey together. Watching your spouse love on your child in such a special way, makes you love your spouse even more than you thought you could. Not only that, but you learn to appreciate the small things you took for granted. A short ride in the car, a few minutes of quiet in morning, the occasional date night – they all suddenly mean more in your marriage. Those quiet moments become a special treasure.
3) At the end of the day, I am a wife before I am a mom.
No matter what happens, I was and always will be Aaron’s wife before I am mother. Some day all our kids will be out of the house, and it will just be Aaron and me. Our children will no longer consume our time. If I spend the next 20-30 years being a mother and not a wife, who will I be when the kids are gone? What will my relationship with Aaron look like? This past year I had the smallest taste of what it’s like to forget I am a wife and to be totally consumed in my child. That’s not the direction I want to go. For the next 20 years, I’m sure it will be a daily challenge to remember who I am as a wife and to not make
“mom” my only identity. Because at the end of the day, when Desirae is asleep, the house is cleaned, and I’m sitting alone with my husband, I am a his wife before I am a mom.
4) As goes the husband, so goes the home.
Yes, I am that conservative Christian person who believes that the husband is the head of the home. I’m not saying I, as the wife, don’t have an affect on our home, because I definitely play a part in the state of our family. What I am saying, is that Aaron is the leader of our family, and with that comes a certain kind of influence. This year I have personally experienced the old adage, “as goes the husband, so goes the family.” Over the past year, I’ve been able to see a significant change in our family, which is mostly in part to God working in Aaron and changing him. A year ago, both Aaron and I were hurt, angry, and confused. I especially was insecure, unsure, and doubtful. That’s when Aaron took a stand. He decided to ardently lead our family, actively pursue the Lord, engage as a father and a husband, and prayerfully lead us through a transitional season. Even though this past year had a LOT of challenges, it’s one of the best years that we have had. I attribute much of that to God’s grace and the personal change in Aaron. As God led Aaron, Aaron led me, and I innately followed. As Aaron changed, I changed. As Aaron found direction, I found direction. Through Aaron’s leadership and the changes in his life, our family, as a whole, has found peace and security in where God is leading us together.
It feels unfair to reduce all that has happened this year into only four lessons, but these lessons are an excellent summary of what we experienced. I hope I don’t forget these things moving forward. Life doesn’t get any easier, and God willing, I will be married to Aaron for a very long time. By God’s grace, I hope to remember these things in the future, especially on those days when believing the truths of these lessons are the hardest.