{intentional love} reclaiming

I have a sister-in-law who is forever seeking connection…she pokes and prods. She asks questions and makes you define your words. She talks about experience and sharing. She loves it. I love this about her. She is the one at family get-togethers who always asks the serious or off-the-wall questions. Conversation driven, thoughtful, relational, she always challenges me to think, reflect, and articulate.

We had the pleasure of spending time with her and her fiancé a few weeks ago, wherein she asked my husband and I (as she has before) about the hardest part of getting married, starting to live together, and transitioning into an ‘us.’

We both give our answers in the moment…thinking of a recent conversation or situation, a smirk and eye contact as we explain ourselves – where we have been and where we have come… I love these conversations. They allow me to see my husband in a different light as he talks about our experience together to someone on the outside. I love them because they challenge me to reflect on my own experience, to put words to the thoughts of the heart, to try to articulate and share.

So, Rachel, this one’s for you! In attempts to answer a probably-endless question, what is the hardest part of marriage? Of living with someone in their space and together? How have we grown?

I never thought, before being married, that love is standing in the kitchen {writing} while he is outside in the garage {decompressing/unwinding} and letting him be there alone. And that this simple act of love – giving space in the way needed – would allow us to come together so freely later – to connect, communicate, and live together better. It’s hard to learn this part of love because it requires trial and error, honest communication (Do you want to be alone right now? Yes.), and letting go of yourself or taking it personal.

And I never realized that love is always a “yes, I can help you in this way.” By taking out the garbage, scheduling an appointment, meeting me at the hardware store, getting me a bottle of wine/whiskey/milk. Love is such a “yes” – it’s not the question; it’s the answer. It’s knowing how to answer and what it means to the other person. I feel loved when J asks me to take out the garbage so he doesn’t have to because I’d rather have him ask than get annoyed over such a simple thing. I’d gladly say yes every time because love is both little and big. Big builds on the little. This is hard because sometimes you don’t want to take out the garbage.

And before marriage, I couldn’t have known as well how love is seeing – good and bad, tired and rested, happy and sad, frustrated, growing. When you remember this, you look more – for the needs. Love is deep moments and moments of growth, and liking the toaster in different spots or different photos/works of art or paint colors and it’s okay. But sometimes it makes love hard because you want to agree (but you don’t always have to) and learning that it is ok without being insecure or bitter can be hard.

Perhaps my view on love is influenced by outside things – faith, my parents, the marriage we’ve had – but it’s also influenced by a firm conviction that everyday living and the small details day to day matter, deeply, and that living each day well and to the fullest is a challenge that doesn’t only change you but how you love those around you as well.

I can hear the practical side of me (and everyone else) asking, “But how do you agree on [insert any mundane thing like paint colors, bookshelf placement, decor, storage, clutter, folding clothes, etc.]?” These are the questions we want someone else to answer for us because it would be easier but most of the time I feel like the answer should be, “You don’t have to agree.” Love isn’t mutual agreement. And as a couple you have to learn how to make these mundane decisions together. We’ve found taking decisions slowly works best for us. We say our piece; we think about it. We hang paint chips and try things out in different places. And eventually one of us just gives way…not in a bowing down, “{s}he always has to have it their way”. Rather in a “I can appreciate that” kind of way…but in love this is hard to learn and can only be learned by doing it.

I love these conversations and questions because they challenge me to remember how great marriage is, even though it is hard, and how I want to be a positive voice of encouragement in the vast array of negativity towards marriage in our modern culture. People who aren’t married don’t ask, “What are the really great things since living together/getting married? How have you grown as a person?” They ask “What is the hardest part? I need to prepare for it.” It’s good to be down to earth and practical, but it’s important to realize that hard isn’t bad. Growing pains can bind you to another person in marriage if you let them.

So, happy one month of marriage to a beautiful sister-in-law! I can’t wait to hear your stories and hear your questions as you travel down the road of life.

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2 Replies to “{intentional love} reclaiming”

  1. LOVE THIS!!! I think your sister in law and I would be friends 😉 I am def going to share this with some newly wed friends o mine! So many good points here! 👌🏼

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