Patrick and I have been married for almost 4 months now. It’s crazy to think that two years ago today we hadn’t even met yet but here we are married.
Marriage is quite the beast. It’s this beautiful, scary, powerful force that is so glamorized in the media but so often the truth of how intense it is isn’t shown. I feel like the shows I watch either portray flourishing and thriving marriages or it shows couples signing divorce papers. There’s not a lot about the in between. Today I want to open the door for a conversation about the everyday, the simple, the moments that aren’t necessarily Insta and FB worthy but are the foundation of the moments that are.
When Patrick proposed to me in April we immediately started talking about marriage counseling. We’re both from two parent homes and grew up seeing the fruits of a healthy and thriving marriage but we didn’t exactly know all the steps that got our parents there. I have a strong relationship with my parents now but when I was younger I didn’t ask a lot of questions. I wasn’t the type of kid that asked my parents how they met, or what their first date was like, I was mostly focused on myself and navigating what felt like the hell of adolescence.
So when we got engaged, we knew that counseling was a non-negotiable. We talked to our Pastors and they agreed to do our counseling and to connect us to the resources we needed. Before we started, both Patrick and I had to take an assessment. We were told not to discuss our answers with each other and it essentially evaluated our personalities as well as our love languages and argument styles. The assessment also looked at the ways that we’re different from each other and how those differences worked in our favor or could be areas of contention in our relationship.
After we got our results we went through the book, that matched the assessment, with our Pastors. The whole process was simple, at times predictable but undoubtedly helpful. To be completely forthright with you the first few weeks of our marriage were kind of miserable. We argued a lot and the meshing of lives was not as smooth as we both would have hoped but I KNOW that it would have been a lot worse if we wouldn’t have gone to counseling. Counseling helped us to understand that the differences that we see in each other are not things that we need to aim to change but rather things that we need to celebrate.
One of the focuses of our counseling that really impacted me and the way that I continue to navigate in our relationship was the piece on love languages. Patrick and I talked about our love languages for the first time on our second date and it feels like we’ve talked about them a bunch since. I thought that I knew what Patrick needed to feel loved but I hadn’t fully grasped how important it was for Patrick to receive verbal affirmation. I think that one of my greatest flaws is that I’m not always verbal with the people closest to me about how much I love them. I try to show it in the way that I treat them and the thoughtful things that I do for them but it can be difficult for me to verbalize it. I learned in counseling that it’s important to Patrick that love is not only shown but verbalized.
So now I have a reminder on my phone to tell Patrick that I love and appreciate him every single day. Not just when I’m saying goodnight or when we’re heading out the door for work but in the moments where he’s not expecting it. I don’t always get it right, sometimes I don’t have my phone and at times I’m being a brat and I don’t say anything but when I see it and I follow the prompt I can tell that it means the world to him. Counseling put us in a space where we had encouraged vulnerability which made it easier for Patrick to open up and express how much he values and needs that affirmation.
I also learned a lot about myself in counseling. I realized how stubborn I can be and how much I enjoy being in control. We talked about my need to feel safe and how detailed talks about money and creating a plan for the future helps to create that sense of security for me. When we were deciding on where we wanted to live after we got married, I just wanted to pick the first place that we found that was nice and within our budget. At the time I couldn’t verbalize why but post counseling I can identify the reason and it was because the unknown in regards to where we would live made me feel unsafe. Now Patrick knows that and in times where the unknown is unpreventable he does whatever he can to make me feel safe and secure in our situation.
Marriage counseling, paired with a relationship with Christ, gave us legs to stand on in our marriage. Marriage is a ton of fun and it’s also very hard and I’ve found that my life experiences didn’t give me the tools and resources I needed to be able to handle everything. Marriage counseling isn’t perfect but it definitely gave us some of the tools that we need and will continue to need to be able to navigate this journey.
When I think about my marriage I know that the goal is not for us to have a life free of arguments or disagreements. Rather the goal is to make sure we always come out of every trial and tribulation together and stronger than we were before. That’s why Patrick and I are committed to having at least one session with a counselor every year. So that we can continue to invest in our marriage and each other, not just when things are bad or on the rocks but rather all the time.
Until next time friends!