My two-year marriage lessons

Last month, Woody and I celebrated our second anniversary! Now that the celebrating is complete, I've spent some time reflecting on what I've learned in these first two years of marriage. As I share my personal lessons with you, I'd also love to hear what marriage has taught you. In addition, I've included some sweet photos from our journey as a couple so far. It's a fun walk down memory lane!

Our first photo together in Charlotte, North Carolina| September 2010

Our first photo together in Charlotte, North Carolina|September 2010

It's hard for me to believe Woody and I have been married for two years. I can still so clearly remember waiting for him to call me when we were dating, hoping for us to live in the same city, longing for him to propose, and of course, counting down until our wedding day. I recall my feelings during these seasons of waiting so well, that it's hard to believe I've already spent two years as his wife!

While our second anniversary seemed to come quickly, it certainly did not come without a lot of growth and change. When I think back to the wife I was in 2012 and 2013, I'm SO grateful for the wife God has made me into in 2014.  Seeing how God has already refined my heart and softened my actions since our wedding day makes me hopeful for how He will continue to grow and change me throughout our marriage. 

We go from long distance to walking distance. Woody moves to Birmingham| July 2011

We go from long distance to walking distance. Woody moves to Birmingham|July 2011

I initially hesitated to offer my "advice" for marriage, believing the lie that I have nothing to offer because two years is barely any time at all. Then I realized that marriage is a journey, making each year as valuable as the next. Our second year is just as important as our 25th year because they are both part of building our marriage. Also, I would love to look back on the lessons I learned in year two when we reach our 25th anniversary!

Wherever you are in your journeysingle, engaged, newlywed or married for 50 years, I hope you'll find a connection to my two-year marriage lessons and a fresh perspective that helps you build a better marriage! 

Woody surprises me with the most beautiful proposal on Jekyll Island, Georgia| March 2012    Sarah DeShaw Photography

Woody surprises me with the most beautiful proposal on Jekyll Island, Georgia|March 2012

Sarah DeShaw Photography

Marriage Lessons

1. I am, in fact, not always right.

Ouch. This has been a hard one. God bless my sweet husband for his patience in this lesson that keeps on keepin' on. I imagine I'll be learning and relearning this for many years, which makes me thankful for a God who is gracious and husband who is patient. 

I do things the way I do them for the same reason everyone else doesI think it's the best way! What I love about marriage is that it has given me new, better ways to do things. (note: You do have to actually try a new way to discover if it might be better than your own way. Do yourself a favor and do this early and often!)

Engagement photos on Saint Simons Island, Georgia| May 2012   (this is the photo we used for our Save the Date!)    Sarah DeShaw Photography

Engagement photos on Saint Simons Island, Georgia|May 2012 (this is the photo we used for our Save the Date!)

Sarah DeShaw Photography

Woody has a very different approach to situations than I do, and I initially viewed this as my opportunity to enlighten him to a better way, namely my way. (I know, laugh it upI told you I had plenty to learn!) Over time, what I've found instead is that Woody has some really great ways to do things that have bettered my life!

For instance, I no longer frantically rush to get off an airplane alongside people who are only hurrying up so they can wait some more at the next gate. Also, I don't feel guilty for taking naps anymore because Woody has encouraged me that it's just my body telling me it needs rest, and that naps are good for me. Now, I also give more generously because Woody has shown me generosity is freeing, while unbalanced frugality can be controlling. 

And the list goes on. The point is, marriage will broaden your viewpoint, enlarge your opportunities, and make you better, if you let it. And, notice I said I'm not always right. Well, sometimes I am! Just as Woody has brought new perspectives into my life, I have done the same for him. When we put aside our stubbornness and our own way, we discover we truly are better together.

Our Wedding Day!!!| November 3, 2012    Sarah DeShaw Photography

Our Wedding Day!!!|November 3, 2012

Sarah DeShaw Photography

2. We need to communicate about money. 

I have often heard statistics indicating that finances are one of the primary reasons couples choose to end their marriages. When I was single, I never thought much about this, mainly because I didn't understand it. Then, I got married.

I don't know what it is, but when we approach the topic of money, I start to get snappy and cranky. There is something about handling money that can so quickly elicit stress and sharpness in me. The funny thing about this is, we don't really have much of a reason to be stressed! We have no debt, we combined our finances early in our marriage, we set up and follow a monthly budget, we have savings and financial goals that we have met and exceeded, and we consult with a financial professional regularly. Yet, even with all that in place, many of our most aggravated conversations start with money.

I don't say this to be discouraging, but rather encouraging about what I think can make or break your financial relationship: healthy communication. It's not just about having the right tools in place to handle money (budget, goals, financial planner, etc.), but also about taking the time to get your hearts in the same place and to communicate calmly and regularly about your thoughts, concerns, wants, needs and questions about money. I'm convinced that most financial discord in marriages isn't as often about actual financial issues, but rather heart issues.

Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. -Matthew 6:21 (NLT)

What we do with our money is directly connected to what we desire in our hearts. As a married couple, its important for this to be in alignment. If you can get your hearts in the right place, you can face financial circumstances with unity. Stay tuned for more details on how we do this in an upcoming post!

First Anniversary photos in Birmingham, Alabama| November 2013    Todd Helzer Photography

First Anniversary photos in Birmingham, Alabama|November 2013

Todd Helzer Photography

3. Cell phones ruin date night. 

Cell phones are a powerful tool for staying connected; they're also a powerful tool for staying distracted. One of the best things Woody and I have done for our marriage and our date nights is to remove this distraction.

When we are going out to spend intentional time together, we leave one or both phones at home. If we feel like we need to take a phone with us, we turn it off or leave it in the car. Not only does this eliminate the actual distraction of messages and calls coming in, but it also eliminates the mental distraction of thinking about our phones, social media, and anything we think we might be missing, except, of course, the thing we would actually be missing—quality time with each other.

We go "no-phone" often as we can, but focus on it for weekends and date nights—times we are purposing to be together, relax and rejuvenate. It feels weird at first to be without your phone, but once you get in the habit, it becomes one of the most freeing and enjoyable parts of the week!

This probably looks a little differently for everyone, but I highly encourage you to find intentional times with your spouse where you have removed the distraction of a cell phone. Whether its during mealtime, after a certain time at night, or for the first 30 minutes after you get home in the evenings, find a way that works for you and commit to it! You'll both be thankful you did, and Instagram probably won't even notice.

Second anniversary photos in Birmingham, Alabama| November 2014    KLP Photography

Second anniversary photos in Birmingham, Alabama|November 2014

KLP Photography

Reading through this list, I'm so thankful for where we've come and so expectant for where we are headed. Marriage is a beautiful gift, and I'm grateful to get to experience it alongside the best man I know.

We all have SO much we can learn from each other! What have you learned during your months or years of marriage?