5 Lessons from Our First Year of Marriage (and photoshoot!)

Jimmy and I have completed one trip around the Sun as one flesh. We have been squeezed, shaken, stretched, stirred, comforted, challenged, and confounded. We have learned most prevalently that marriage is a journey, not a destination.

We realized that a healthy marriage is normal but not common, and is something to be rejoiced in and shared.

The health of our marriage is only possible with the radical grace received through intentionally inviting Jesus into our hearts and relationship. This is the most fundamental principle by which we operate. The orbit is futile if Jesus is not made center.

Here are 5 lessons I learned in the past 365 days as Mrs. Ryan:

1. The peaks and valleys are equally important

I used to view our relationship as a flight of stairs, always stepping up. Building, building, building, as if there was some attainable ceiling of contentment. A disagreement, a misunderstanding, or a clash was then a step down from the tranquility of harmony.

But a healthy marriage is more like Chutes & Ladders or a good symphony, and the joy is in the journey. The freefalling and the climbing. The loudness and the silence. The sobs and the laughter. The pulling apart and the coming together. The passion and the stillness. The space between the notes.

We are two sharp stones, full of ridges and protrusions tossed together into the cart of marriage. We are jostled and we rub against each other on this bumpy ride. This collision can have two outcomes:

With spirits of pride we are like flint, igniting fires each time we collide.

With spirits of humility we are like sandstone, weathering away each other’s flaws, fitting more closely after each bump. The choice is ours.


2. You can’t always be right (and being right is not a victory)

I need constantly to taste the bitterness of divided victory and find it repugnant. Pride is a well-disguised vice, lurking in the shadows of godliness. I can squirm around in avoidance of that word, pride, but the stench it leaves behind is unmistakeable. Pride says:

This scripture proves my point! Show him the truth! (Context)

The Lord is speaking to me and it is my duty to stand up for Him against my partner, lest he lead us astray. (Challenge)

Remember when this happened last time? I was right, don’t let him forget it! (Criticize)

The Spirit says:

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. – 1 Peter 3:1-2

My husband does not need my context, my challenge, or my criticism. He gets enough of that from everywhere else. He simply needs to observe my conduct, and I need to maintain a conduct worthy of observing.

In this first year of marriage, the Orchestrator has aligned my perspective to the truth that submission is trusting God’s design and rhythm of leading both of us through my husband. Even when it doesn’t make sense from where I stand.

Yes, God reveals knowledge to me too, but this revelation must be considered in submission to my husband.


3. You won’t always desire physical intimacy, but you must pursue it

Regular physical intimacy is pertinent to a healthy marriage, and for that reason the enemy fights against it with every weapon in his arsenal.

He lies: You aren’t beautiful enough to be desired. If only you had … then your husband would want you.

He robs: You don’t have time tonight. Have you seen your to-do list? Those things are far more important…

He condemns: Remember that time you ..? You think you can just forget about that and enjoy each other?

We must actively and intentionally fight these lies. We must rest in the truth that God created us completely perfect and compatible for our partner in every way. We must say yes, when no is easier. We must ignore the condemnation of past failure and put on forgiveness and grace. We must let it fade away as we create new, more vivid memories. We must realize that the treasure of creating a memory and connecting with our spouse is far more valuable than any sleep we forfeit.

We each must actively pursue intimacy with the other. We must recognize that every force of this world is fighting against it, and stand up bravely in defiance with the truth.


4. You will be closer to another person than you ever thought possible

“We were, in truth, so close, so familiar with the way each other’s mind worked, so much in the co-inherence of lovers, that we usually knew by a glance or tone of voice what the other was thinking and, especially, feeling.” – An excerpt from A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken, page 42.

I almost fell off my chair when I read this quote. In fact, this whole book describes the type of “inloveness” that we have. I highly recommend it to anyone who already feels this or is looking to cultivate it further.

I have consistently insisted that our love could never be stronger, deeper, or closer than it is right now. It is finally time for me to relinquish that notion, as I truly fall more in love with Jimmy every day.

“He felt now that he was not simply close to her, but that he did not know where he ended and she began.” – Leo Tolstoy


5. Marriage is the best

Marriage is a unique, special union, and one of God’s greatest gifts. It is worth fighting for, worth sacrificing for, and worth surrendering to.

I didn’t think much would change when we got married. We didn’t anticipate a whole lot of “new.” While practically much is the same, our lens has changed and our perspective shifted. We are able to chase Jesus together without the entangling chains of sin. We can enjoy true intimacy with no fear, because we made a promise for life. We are closer now than we have ever been. Our eyes have been unveiled and we are growing, melting, mending, and falling free into oneness.

“We are one now and forever
We are one name, one life, one flame”

Enjoy this song and some other favorites from our “engagement” session with Faith Photography below.

Also, what did you learn in the first year of marriage? Would love to hear from you in the comments below!

Shine on, Beloved. 

September 22, 2016
September 28, 2016