Josh and I met in 2014 while working at a summer camp on Vancouver Island; we became good friends and spent a lot of time together. Josh lived on the island and I lived in Langley so when camp ended, we lost touch. But then for some reason we started texting and that turned into Josh taking the ferry to visit me and eventually we just sort of fell into a relationship without really meaning to. He moved here shortly after and we dated for 3 years before getting married on May 26, 2018. So now we have been married for almost exactly one year and we are loving it! I was really apprehensive about getting married because I had watched some friends struggle a lot in their marriages and I was worried that I was going to be bad at it, but marriage has been amazing so far and I tell Josh constantly how happy I am that we decided to get married. I actually jokingly ask him to marry me all the time because I want to always remember that this was a wonderful choice I would make again and again.
I feel like I have learned so much over the past year! It felt like we kind of got thrown in without knowing what to expect and had to learn to swim or we’d sink. We ended up being gifted tickets to a marriage workshop that used attachment theory as a basis for healthy relationships and it put all of the pieces together for us. We found out that when we were hurt, we pulled away, hoping that the other would notice and give us what we needed. Of course, our spouse can’t read our mind, so that never happened, but instead, pulling away actually just caused more hurt. The little things became really big things and we found out that rather than pulling away, we needed to learn to lean into the other MORE when we were hurt. We learned while it was scary to do that at first, we could actually trust each other and know that the other person had our best interest at heart and would take care of us.
It sounds silly and overused, but I firmly believe the statement ‘communication is key’ really is true. This isn’t something that we’ve only learned in the first year of marriage, so maybe this is cheating but I think it’s something everyone is continuously learning. When we first started dating, I didn’t realize that I was keeping all of my feelings, my big emotions, my fears and hurts bottled up. It took about two years for them to actually surface, which is ridiculous, but hey, it happened - Josh and I actually almost broke up because of it but were able to turn it around at the last second. After all that build up exploded, I learned by how Josh acted that the big emotions I was keeping from him wouldn’t kill him. He handled it all so well, and I found that when I told him that something he had said or done had hurt me, he owned up to it. He asked good questions so he could ensure that he would remember the next time what would bother me. He didn’t turn it around and act like it was my fault, like I expected him to do and that made me feel safe. When we communicated well, we got to know each other more fully and knowing those things made us love each other so much more than before. It’s hard to be fully loved if we aren’t fully known.
In our marriage, I have a huge need for that eye to eye-just us-quality time. My husband doesn’t have as much of a need for that and we have had to learn to navigate how to make it work. We have had to learn that when we don’t have enough of it in a week, we feel distant and we don’t communicate as well. I’ve especially noticed for myself that when I don’t have enough one on one time, I have a harder time opening up when something bothers me, and I’m more likely to make choices out of selfishness rather than what is actually best for both of us. We needed to learn to really protect our time together. Not every week allows for it- sometimes it doesn’t happen- but that just means we have to be even more careful the next week. We know that our attachment will be running thin and we have to build it back up again.
We have had a few “big” things that we disagreed on politically and theologically and sometimes that has been hard because those things are very important to both of us. We both hold our beliefs very strongly, which is something I really admire in Josh. But we have to remember that when we talk about them, it’s ok to hold different opinions and still have a strong marriage. I used to get really upset because I was worried that we weren’t being a “united front”, but as time went on it showed me how we could still respect one another in the midst of that. It taught us empathy for each other because it forced us to see things from the others point of view. From that point of view we were able to soften on some of our tightly held ideas and actually come together on those things more than I had originally thought possible.
I always describe the tough lessons we’ve learned as a road map for future conflict. If we can remember to lean in to each other, communicate lovingly, protect our time together fiercely, and know we don’t always have to agree on everything, then we can probably make our way out of any difficult spaces we might find ourselves in.
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