Last year on Shawn & I's 7 year anniversary I wrote a blog titled Married in 19 Days: 7 Years Later about the how and why we did what we did. If you're new to the blog and don't know that story, then I encourage you to read it before this one... Otherwise this one won't make as much sense.
I actually wasn't planning to post anything for this year's 8 year anniversary because I felt like I pretty much said everything I wanted to say last year. However, when I started thinking about our marriage and marriage in general and how young people are prepared for (or not prepared for) marriage... Well, a rumbling within my soul arose and suddenly I felt eager to write another "Anniversary Post".
So CHEERS (Clink! I hope you like champagne!) to the 2nd annual Met & Married in 19 Days!
About a week ago, when I started getting antsy about writing this post, blog after blog full of the exact content I was wanting to share just started appearing before me, inspiring me all the more to say some unpopular truths about marriage. It was like the blogosphere was calling to me... Read me, link me, re-blog me... Oh don't you worry little blogs, I will.
Side note: While I really love and am grateful for any reader who stumbles upon this blog... With this certain topic on marriage, as I began writing, I realized I was writing in particular to my single female readers... And if you're a Christian single female- like I was 8 years ago- this is for you all the more.
(We're still side noting, bee tee dubs- (my brother taught me that))... When a person chooses to begin blogging they do give up a certain amount of anonymity. As much as I don't like to go around shouting from the roof tops that I am a pastor's wife, it is a part of my story and a piece of who I am in my life right now. The same goes for being a Christian. While I don't use this blog to necessarily communicate my faith- I am a lover of Jesus and this makes up a huge part of my past and present.
I say that to say... I have experienced most of my adult life through a Christian woman's eyes. I wouldn't say lens- because I'd like to think I'm more open minded than only knowing what goes on in Christian culture... But I would say that I have reaped both the blessings and curses of being "raised" a young Christian woman. My values, ideals and ideas on marriage were all shaped by a churched upbringing.
With marriage on my mind all the more these days with two of our good friends getting hitched in the next few months, I truly can't seem to get away from the topic. One of these two weddings Shawn will be officiating, and the other one I am a bridesmaid in. As I plot fabulous outfits for one, and start planning an amazing Bridal Shower for the other I remember how ironic it is that at one time all I cared about was making sure my marriage looked about as good as my church clothes. Thank God (literally) I've finally gotten past that.
In a jog down memory lane from the last 8 years I've come up with a few ideas on marriage I'd like to share. Things I have learned through the elite school of Marriage Hard Knocks. With these ideas I am going to link a blog that I REALLY think you should read if this topic of marriage speaks to you at all. There is "language" in a couple of the blogs... Just close your eyes at the word and it'll be ok... No seriously.
Please Don't Rush It.
Look, I think I can speak to this one. Don't use us as an example and think getting married in 19 days is the way to go because it, "seems to have worked for them!" If you've met us, you know there is a lot of tenacity, stubbornness and competitive drive pulsating through this relationship. To get to where we're at took more work than I'd ever like to admit and you probably don't have it in you. Just sayin'.
8 years later I can admit that at 25 I was feeling some pressure to get married. Not from my parents, not even my friends... But from the church. At 25 as a Christian woman, I might as well have been 40+. At church, married people are the popular ones and as much as I hate to admit it, I didn't like the feeling like an "outsider". Now let me tell you that plan backfired just a bit- because getting married in 19 days is NO way to make you an insider at church (trust meeee!) But, at least you're married, right? You're in "the club"!
Well, 2 years in to my marriage, miserable and wondering why the hell I gave up my awesome single life I was asking myself why I cared so much about when people thought I should get married. But at that point all I could do was figure it out since I was newly pregnant with Cormac- because if you're not pregnant after two years of marriage, people suspect you're unhappy... AND WE WERE HAPPY DAMMIT.
READ THIS BLOG>> Wait But Why, "How To Pick Your Life Partner, Part 1 (&2)"
It's OK To Fight.
I didn't use that nicer word "argue" purposefully because Shawn and I have had some knock-down-drag-outs, without the actual knock-downs of course (although I did throw a shoe at him once). For some reason I assumed because we were Christians and loved God and scripture and all things holy, we'd be immune to real fighting... HA! That was so cute.
To this day we bicker on a daily basis. And you know what? It works for us. When I was just trying to be perfect and not stir anything up in our marriage- I was angry, bitter and unhappily married. But we looked good on the outside and that is huge when you're young and married and no one else is being real about their marriages and its just smiles and #DateNight #Selfies everywhere! At some point we decided to embrace being imperfectly married and that's when change began. Now a days, the minute anyone tries to tell me how cute of a couple we are, I assure them we fight... Daily. I refuse to be the poster couple for a perfect marriage because I'm sorry, I don't believe such a thing exists. I don't care how sweet your parents marriage looks or the neighbors or that couple at church or some fairytale you heard about, "So and so never having had ONE fight..." In my humble opinion, if a couple isn't EVER arguing I feel bad for one of them because feelings aren't being shared and someone isn't happy. Ever heard of a little word called resentment? There, I said it. (Love killer over here...)
You Better WURK.
On a similar note, I don't care if you've dated 19 years or 19 days- you better be ready to work when you get married. You better have the best flippin' honeymoon you can possibly afford, because you're about to enter in to a commitment with someone where you will be doing things together like budgeting your finances, switching careers, moving homes, going back to school, raising children... Sometimes all at once! Your spouses passions on life just might change- they might experience depression, anxiety... If you believe in the sanctity of marriage, I hope you're ready to work HARD at protecting it.
READ THIS BLOG>> Renegade Mothering, "What's Love Got To Do With It?"
Sex Isn't Everything.
I was going to write some thoughts on this because I have them, but when I reread the blog I'm linking that my good friend Karissa recently wrote I realized she's pretty much covered all of the bases... PUN INTENDED.
READ THIS BLOG>> Weird Eyes, "Sex In The Eye of The Beholder"
In summary... I really don't want to come across as anti-love or anti-young marriage. That's seriously not my goal in writing this. It's just that this thing called holy matrimony is not easy... And I guess I feel that there are enough people out there pretending it is, that I need to come around once and year and remind some folks- it's not. No matter if you're a Christian and taught to, "not let the sun go down on your anger" (HA!) or an atheist who's marrying another atheist... Cohabitating isn't easy. Raising kids isn't easy. Sharing finances isn't easy. It all takes work, communication, compromise, listening, putting another person first and SO. MUCH. MORE. And trust me, it's a lot easier to hear it, type it and say it then it is to DO IT, every day- for always.
Us. 8 Years Later.
Ok, so now after writing all of that, I've got to add a little bit of sappy to this post, I mean- it is my anniversary! Eight years ago on this very day I went to the Norwalk Courthouse at 9am to receive balloon flowers from my soon-to-be husband, a strapping young lad named Shawn, something or other O'Brien... After knowing him for less than a month. Why not?! (Pictures in the first post)
One thing I love about Shawn and I's relationship is that we've never had "rules" for each other in terms of looks and hobbies. I love that I can freely be me, it has given me a huge sense of security in our marriage. If I want to shave the side of my head one day, without warning- Shawn doesn't hold me back. If he wants to grow a beard out for a solid year... He does. I don't like to surf, hike or read books on theology and he doesn't craft, throw parties or read blogs. And that's fine. If every once in a while we do one of these things for each other, it's out of love and all the more special... But I don't need a clone, and I quite like being married to someone with their own interests.
In the same way we allow each other to grow as humans. I am trying to launch a career in party planning and starting off by going back to school. He is starting a doctorate program in New Testament History (or something). We work hard at making sure both of our dreams are met, so neither of us feels stifled in life.
I also love and am proud of our dedication to each other. We have grown so SO much in the last 3 years particularly and it makes me so glad I married as equally a stubborn man, who was willing to go through thick and thin to work this out.
Looking forward to growing old and crotchety with you babe... I have a feeling the best is yet to come.
Kenna & Shawn