The early years of marriage tend to receive a negative connotation. These years are often described as the “hardest” or “difficult”. As I have pondered this phenomenon and whether or not it has been true thus far in my life, I came to a few conclusions. Yes, the first year was hard but not in the ways I expected.
Thinking back on our first year it had its share of ups and downs. Even the year prior to getting married was filled with trials, stress, and uncertainty. In some part getting married closed the door on a lot of hard things. As we finally settled into our own place, the wedding was over and all the planning, and we were able to enjoy a time of relaxation and togetherness on our honeymoon. Overall life began to move into a less complicated routine. During the summer we both worked long hours and spent the weekends visiting family and friends. We capped off that busy season with a camping trip to Holly, Michigan with my parents over Labour Day weekend.
Fall + Family
The harder parts of marriage began in the fall. I finished my summer job in August and headed back to full-time Universty while Michael began looking for a new job before being laid off over winter. The uncertainty of income is always a stressful time. Couple that with applying and interviewing for new positions. Around the same time, Michael’s grandmother became very ill and passed away at the end of October. Personally, I’ve never experienced someone close to me losing such a dear person. Walking through this time of grief with Michael was at times challenging as I tried my best to be supportive but knowing I could only be so much to him. October is also when I have my midterms, I was missing class due to family matters and trying to stay on top of studying. The hard part was all the changes going on in our lives, some good like a new job with benefits and others heartbreaking and life changing.
Cars + Collisions
The next difficult season occurred due to car troubles. In December my car died, and there was a week where I drove a rented one. This forced us to purchase a good condition used car, which I am very grateful for.
Only a few weeks later Michael’s beloved Honda Civic (pictured below) was destroyed by a deer. Prior to this, he had gotten stuck in the ditch during a blinding snowstorm on his way to work over treacherous back roads. Again I am so grateful he was safe! As a result, we purchased a cheap beater from a friend to make it through the end of winter. However, the car had an air leak and would hardly heat up for his 50-minute drive to work. Despite all these setbacks God was always faithful to provide just what we needed for the time being.
School + Sickness
The last part that I would consider hard was the stress I experienced in trying to manage school, home and getting really sick while also failing a course. Prior to finding out I was pregnant, I had a lot of assignments due at school and I became very overwhelmed with how I would complete everything. Due to Michael not having a car for a few weeks I had missed a considerable amount of classes and fell behind. I ended up not having a group for a group project because my group forgot about me and I failed that course. At the same time, I was so sick (from being in my first trimester) I could hardly keep up with my homework. As a result, I’m now taking three summer courses. I’m glad it’s now summer and things have settled down, but this past fall and spring were rough.
I wouldn’t say that our first year was hard relationally though. We’ve definitely grown a lot closer. Part of this is sharing more life experiences together, encouraging each other in our endeavors, creating our YouTube channel, living away from family and friends and growing more firm in our commitment to God.
Conflict + Connection
However, we still have our share of disagreements and times where we irritate each other or say things we shouldn’t. I’m not ashamed to admit this because every relationship has its struggles. Conflict doesn’t have to be a bad thing. On the contrary, it should mature your relationship and reveal areas for improvement. If we never fought I wouldn’t know things in myself that I need to work on. I do consider myself a very self-aware person, but sometimes other people can identify things in yourself you are not aware of. At times this can be painful, which is part of the reason conflict arises. Once a couple can get past being defensive and blaming each other, humility and forgiveness can bring healing.
“Hard is not the same thing as bad”
Yes, the first year was hard. It was hard because of situations out of our control. Although I wouldn’t have chosen to go through these trials in the book of James we are reminded to “count it all joy” because trials have a purpose of testing our faith and teaching perseverance which will make us mature, complete and not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
In order to receive these gifts we sometimes have to go through difficult seasons. God doesn’t allow these things to happen because He’s punishing us or doesn’t love us as much as other times. Instead, He has a purpose for the events He allows. We have a choice to make, whether to become bitter and turn away from God, (which at times I wanted to do because it was easy and I was just tired) or we can lean into God and His promises to be faithful to us, to care for us and to love us unconditionally.
Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
The first year was not what I expected, it was full of ups and downs, tears and laughter, and lots of prayers. Near the end of it though we were blessed with finding out we had a precious bundle of joy on the way. To be honest I was kind of hoping that at the end of this season we would be blessed with a baby. However, I didn’t actually think it would happen. I’m so grateful that God saw fit to bless us with Baby K ❤.