Reflections On Our First Anniversary
A year ago today, I was anxiously counting the minutes until I would become the *WIFEY FOR LIFEY!* of Mr. Russell T. Jordan. We were young, in love, infatuated, and clueless. Part of us was just looking forward to never again being in that trying season termed "engagement". Part of us was just thrilled to do married things together like...ya know...cuddle ;-) But mostly, there was a thick calmness in feeling God carrying us toward the Start Line of our marriage.
Our ceremony was perfection. Our reception was dazzling. And the send-off...oh my! It was a dream.
For the grand send-off, I changed out of my v. heavy wedding gown into a little white dress, and we left our reception only to be swarmed within thousands of spectators present for St. Pete's Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. We quickly left the pinnacle of attention and melted into the celebratory crowd. It felt very Bond...James Bond...and Vesper Lynd ;)
My new hubby whisked me away into the night, and since that evening, it's just been Russell and me. No photography, no extended family around, no extravagant celebrations. Just normal life.
This is what marriage is like: astonishingly normal.
There's nobody declaring just how absolutely darling and lovely and perfect and unbelievably gorgeous you two are. Nobody pulling your wedding dress bustier tighter, teasing your hair, doing your makeup. Nobody giving you luxurious presents. But when you're engaged, you can't imagine a life without all of that. You've lived in the proverbial bubble for a splendid season.
A marriage proposal, engagement, and wedding have a way of puffing you up into the most radiant, beautiful bride to the most dashing knight of a groom. But once the wedding happens, the confetti hits the floor and the balloons deflate. It's just the two of you left.
I, for one, am extremely grateful for that. Normal life is amazing! Normal, married life even more so!!
Our wedding and engagement season were all quite lovely. And I have no qualms about being the center of attention. But the life that I adore is like this typical Saturday we had last week:
Russell watching Gamecocks football in the living room. Konga snuggled up on her bed, snoring. Me baking up a storm while belting pop songs. Nobody has plans to do anything or go anywhere. In the kitchen, I pause for a moment to catch a bit of wonderment over the herbs growing in the windowsill. I realize how blessed I am to live a peaceful life in a peaceful home with a peaceful husband. And then I tear up just a tad before going back to whisking.
It's divine, this life! It's so beyond what I could have imagined just a few short years ago. And yet, God graced me in this way: this exquisite marriage and this really full, rich life. I'm amazed, Lord!
As I look back on our first year of marriage, I have a few reflections on what has made the most difference -- things I'd like to share with you.
Russell and I are the two luckiest people in the world. Every single day I wake up beside him believing that idea, thanking God for the gift of my husband. Every night as I watch Russell fall asleep quickly (I'm a light sleeper), I praise God for him. Throughout the day, sometimes when Russell is just talking about finance or something I don't particularly care about but he's terribly passionate about, I get caught up in wonderment again. I feel myself falling for his dreaminess all over again all the time. And I don't mind it one bit.
And aside from the *heart-eyes for days*, we are two highly compatible people. I'm not at all being braggadocios. I didn't "find" Russell. If you read the story of our meeting and falling in love, you know I didn't choose Russell. God told me Russell was my husband -- when I still had a different boyfriend, mind ye -- and I yielded my self-reliant independence to allowing myself to forever be bonded to this man I hadn't know but for a year. By allowing the One who created my soul to choose the right husband for me, I ended up marrying someone highly compatible to me. When we were going through pre-marital counseling, our pastor had us fill out a detailed questionnaire...separately, so as not to influence each other's answers. When we all met up to discuss those answers and to work out the "problem areas", there were none. Think about that. Russell and I, who dated for 6 months and were engaged for 6 months, were highly compatible already. It's like God was working through our lives long before we met to make us compatible...imagine that! That's why I'll brag on our compatibility -- not because we "chose" well, but because we obeyed God, and He made sure we married well. PTL x 1billi!
be slow to anger + quick to love
One thing I adore about Russell that he's taught me over the last 365 days is to be slow to anger. He learned it from his Papa, and it might be my favorite quality of Russell's. Being slow to anger is easier said than done. How does he command his anger to slow when mine rises like boiling lava? Well, he sets a boundary before he ever has anger. Russell sets hard boundaries on his emotions. It's what makes him amazing at business, but also why I compliment him so well. I'm quick to emotionizing -- all artists are, right? :P But emotions are reactive, they're not in themselves decisions. Russell has taught me to remove the wheels off of my anger so it cannot run away wantonly. I'm beyond grateful for that. My life was a lot more of a roller-coaster before Russell, mostly because those dang wheels on my emotions.
In contrast, love is not an emotion. The world is completely wrong about this, so take note: Love is a choice. Love is an ACTIVE decision that you make in a heated moment, or in a difficult situation, or just on an average day when it's easier to be lazy than to ACTIVELY love. Love is a choice. Being quick to love means being quick to CHOOSE love. How do you do that? Every time you're confronted with a situation where you have a choice to love or shrink away, don't hesitate. Choose love like you're hitting the big red button on a game show. Run toward it! Risk it all! Dare to love!
Throughout our engagement season, I asked for marital advice from the couples I knew who had lived some life and still remained very in love. The number one thing I heard throughout all of this was to learn to forgive. What I would add to that is to learn to forgive fully. Don't just mutter the words because that's what you should do. Learn to forgive the other person, and then forget the offense altogether. Throughout our one year of marriage, there have been times where I couldn't believe I said something so rude or mean to Russell. Times when he couldn't believe I did something so foolish. Times when I couldn't believe he was so unhelpful. And you know what? It's time to forget about all of those times. What I want to remember about our coming years of marriage is not the times I had to nag him to clean the dishes out of the sink or the times we argued. I want to remember slow dancing with him, and laughing uncontrollably, and biking around downtown on a warm, sunny day. I want to cherish the good. So I'm choosing to fully forgive both Russell and myself. I'm forgiving + forgetting the bad. And cherishing the good.
Logistics?! Real romantic, Priska... :-/
Okay, but hear me out. This blog post is pretty romantic already, and I would HATE to romanticize our marriage so much that you think that loving well just comes easily. It doesn't. Loving well requires some logistics and planning. Here's what works for us:
Monthly Partnership Meetings Russell and I are both very business-minded. Even our relationship is a business -- it's a partnership. I'm not saying this is the "right way" to conduct your marriage, but this is the way that works for us -- two unique people who came together to form an even more unique marriage. Nobody will ever be like us, and we will never be like any of you married folks. So this isn't a comparison game of "How often do YOU talk shop with your spouse?" Haha! No, this is just what works for us. Ready? Once monthly, Russell and I have a Partnership Meeting ("PM") where we discuss our goals. It's where our individual day-to-day meets the crossroads of our long-term goals. I could write an entire blog post about these PM's, but to keep it short + sweet, here are the categories we talk about:
Health + Wellness goals
In the coming years, I imagine this will evolve, but for now these are the main goals we set for ourselves. It might seem robotic, but we've each been goal-oriented, goal-striving, goal-achieving people for years and years. In our PM's, we set goals for the coming month in each category and we talk about how we did with our previous month's goals. If we completely bomb in one category, we talk about our hindrances and how we can reset to achieve those goals the next month. In the coming years, we might not meet monthly, or we might have different/more/less/rearranged categories. We might not even find this necessary once we set the momentum for our life together. Who knows! But this is what works for us as newlyweds. It keeps us MOVING FORWARD toward the long-term goals that we have. It keeps us accountable within our daily routines. And it builds our partnership -- our ability to rely on + encourage each other. I love being able to work with my husband to BUILD the life we want. It's truly a gift!
2. Monthiversery Date Night I thought once you get married, you have date night every night. Boy oh boy, was I wrong!! We wed the day after Thanksgiving, and the month following included Christmas, my birthday and New Years Eve. I was on a sugar/newlywed high! But then the new year started, and Hi-Ho-Hi-Ho, it was back to work we go. Back to routine. Back to the daily norm of life. Well, guess what? The American norm is divorce. The American norm is jealousy, betrayal, distrust, work>marriage, "work wives" and "work husbands", under-communicating and miscommunicating. We slowly sunk into a routine of not spending quality time with each other.
That's when we created our Monthiversary! Each month, on the 25th of the month (correlated to our November 25th wedding date), we have date night. Sometimes we have to say no to some really wonderful, lovely plans offered to us. Sometimes Russell has to leave work with unfinished business on his desk. Sometimes I have to say no to friends' invites. It's a sacrifice, and that's precisely the point. Each month, on the 25th, we focus on the romance of our marriage. Because before we are business partners, we are first lovers. On the 25th of the month, we wine + dine somewhere we've never been. Sometimes we do something unexpected. But always, we talk about our relationship.
I will admit, at first Russell haaaated it. Men don't like to talk. And they especially don't like to talk about love. But after several months of Monthiversaries, we both LOVE our date nights! There's an excitement and anticipation that builds up all day. We get all dolled up -- me moreso than Russell -- LOL! And we just enjoy BEING WITH each other all evening. Oftentimes we try new restaurants, eating foods we would ordinarily shy away from. There's something delightful about it, and I can't put it into words. "You'd have to be there", as they say. :P We allow about 5 minutes to talk about work: Russell's finance job and my blogging. And the rest of the time, we talk about each other and things that make us laugh together. It's such a light-hearted, freeing "reset" on what can often be busy weeks coalescing into busy months.
We do have some random date nights throughout the month, but if nothing else, we always have our Monthiversary where we will drop every other distraction to focus on our romance <3
Well, there you have it. Details into our marriage that you never wanted to know :P The ways we grow our relationship, despite busy schedules and competing priorities, and how we "center" our marriage under God.
I hope this was helpful, because it's not easy being this vulnerable. It's not easy putting the details of our marriage out there for everyone to criticize and critique. But on this cosmic Cloud 9 of L-O-V-E, I believe this little peek will help some people. Maybe some people who need love rekindled in their marriages. Maybe some single guys + girls are wondering if their Level 10/10 weirdness will ever be compatible with someone else.
The thing I want you to leave with knowing, though, is that first and foremost, God is our everything. God is more important to each of us than each other. God created our marriage -- He chose each of us for each other. And He sustains our marriage, guiding us toward loving like He does.
As I ponder this past year and all that God has taught me through marriage, I realize that leaning on Him creates a good, godly marriage. Leaning away from myself, my own tendencies, my perspective, my past, my hurts and pain, even my championed viewpoints. Leaning away from me and into God has been the *MAJOR KEY* in our marriage. And what God has shown me is simply this:
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13
P.S. Here are a few more photos from our wedding day, most of which were captured by the magnificent Benjamin Hewitt Photography. Thanks for celebrating with us!