Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Brush the Dirt Off My Shoulder...

I don't know what it is, but I have been in a bad funk since the weekend. Maybe it's coming back to work after a week off for Carnival or homesickness, who knows.   Instead letting my mind focus on the negative I thought I would record some things I am thankful for and have made me smile in the past week.

Laying by the pool in the sunshine 

My wonderful hubby and his bromance.  It makes me happy that he has such a good friend here! 

When Jess was at the Above and Beyond show last weekend I made this collage with my instagram pics.  I kinda love it. 

Our morning wake up.  The sky is different every day.  I need to remember God's love is fresh everyday.  

Trips to the local market.  Fresh and (relatively) cheap produce and meat/seafood.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

What I've Learned About Marriage

Jess and I have been married for a little over 18 months and they have been the best, and hardest months of my life. I knew what I was getting into with marriage, both Jess and I understood it was for life, but I don't think I knew how hard it would be.  Granted I think ours was a little different because we were a) moving from China, what we both knew as home the past three years, to Brazil  b) only had a month of total time back in the States (to see family, prepare for the wedding, and shop for our move) c) moved to a completely new foreign country d) got a new roommate to figure out their quirks and tendencies and e) started a new job at a new school.

Those things aside, I think I caused a lot of the hardship. I wasn't prepared to fully share my life with Jess. I was selfish (and probably still am) and didn't put him first. I was emotional (who wouldn't be!?) and took it out on him. I missed my family and old friends, the comforts of my old life, and didn't really want to talk about it.  I am the worst communicator. If something is bothering me I tend to hold it in, well wouldn't you know Jess is a great communicator and always wanted to talk about things.  It drove us both crazy that the other person was opposite of us. We've had some pretty challenging conversations about our differences and how to use them for the best in our marriage.  We still have a ways to go, but definitely have come a long way. I'm so thankful for him and his patience with me.

I think one thing that also added to the difficulties was the false expectations of marriage that I had.  I assumed it would be a Hollywood fairytale.  Everyday we would wake up each morning smiling, go to work, come home and cook dinner together, play games, talk, and just enjoy each other's company.  But that didn't happen.  There was frustrations, hurt feelings, and miscommunications (and that's all in the first month).  I had to let go of my "perfect marriage" expectation, and grasp onto OUR marriage.  Our marriage is different than any other couple's, in fact everyone's marriage is different. Once I did that (and am still learning to) our marriage began to grow.  It was by letting go of the control of it, I actually gained control of it.  I'm not sure if that makes sense to anyone else, but it does to me so I'm stinking with it.  Instead of forcing myself to enjoy cooking and trying to make Jess dinner at nights, I let go of it and let him cook because he enjoys it.  Who cares if the wives cook in other marriages, for us it works if Jess does.

I've learned a strong support system--family and friends--is helpful, but not necessary.  I don't think we would have learned as much as we did about one another, our marriage, and God if we had close friends near us during our first year. It forced us to handle situations head on, without the guidance or misguidance of friends and family.  If something was going wrong or great, we prayed about it and talked about it.  It was hard, but I think it benefited us to lean on each other, not others during our first year.


Have fun.  Continue to date each other.  When you see the other person still wants to pursue your heart and goes out of their way to do it, it's magical.  Although it is easy to treat one another like roommates, don't.  Do the extra chores, buy flowers for the house...the little things matter--probably more than they did when you dated.  Once someone feels under-appreciated it is hard to change their feelings. 

Pray together.  Jess and I pray each morning and night together.  It is one of the favorite parts of my day.  I love hearing him talking to our Lord and praying for us, our future family, and our family and friends living around the world.  His prayers are honest and right to the point, I appreciate them and am so thankful for his leadership in our marriage.

I'm still learning, but think I have improved at putting Jess's needs before mine.  It isn't always easy, but with a little prayer and a good attitude I always end up feeling happy about whatever I did for him.  I hate going on walks, but Jess loves it, so I (sometimes) agree to walk around the neighborhood with him.  It may seem little, but I think he appreciates it and it's showing him that I want to make him happy and put my wants aside.

Now, I'm no expert on marriage, but I have learned a lot over the past year and a half.  It is one of the best gifts God gave us and I want to soak every moment of our lives together up.  The good, the bad, the ridiculous, the funny, the sad...all of it. I don't want to wish away where we are now for hopes of the future or dreams of the past, I just want to be present each day.