Friday, June 7, 2013

What I Learned about Marriage...

This time last year I was scurrying around my parents' house packing for a weekend I would never, ever forget. I was checking to make sure I had everything I needed before I had to drive out to Spring Lake, NJ with my family to prepare for the rehearsal dinner.

I remember the crazy butterflies flapping around in my stomach, the anticipation of our special day, and the nervousness of making sure everything was in line and ready for the wedding festivities we had been planning for 18 months. Luckily, the weather was gorgeous both for the rehearsal dinner and for our wedding day, unlike today which is cold, gross and wet!

Me and Lauren (my matron of honor) at the Breakers dropping off centerpieces and last minute details.
Me and my Bridesmaids (L to R): Lauren, Holly, Megan (my sister), Me, Jess

Siblings-in-Law! (R to L): Megan, Frank, Me and Bobby (my Brother-in-Law)

You would never know from looking at these pictures, and I know the week before the wedding is hectic, stressful, and emotional for almost every couple, but Frank and I had a very scary, very emotional, and very special experience leading up to this day last year. 

He was in the hospital for 5 days before our rehearsal dinner.

Talk about stress! Frank had been living in my grandparent's home taking care of the lawn. Well, he must have mowed over some pretty potent poison oak which ended up spreading from a little patch on his ankle to both legs up to his knees and both arms. He was swollen, red, in pain, and quarantined in the hospital since when he was admitted, not one doctor in the hospital was sure what he had. He even had residents coming to his bed side with cameras checking out his welts since they had never seen anything like it before.

We were both terrified.

We didn't know what he had, when he would be released, or what was going to happen. I visited him everyday and never wanted to leave. Since he was quarantined, we couldn't even hold hands. I had to wear a gown and gloves whenever I was in his room and nurses were telling me that he'd either be in a wheel chair on our wedding day or we'd be getting married in his hospital room.

Although I think we can both say it was one of the most difficult 5 days of our lives, it was such a precious glimpse of what true love really means. It put the "in sickness and in health" part of the marriage vows into perspective and really tested our ability to trust in God and to love one another through even the really bad times. I remember driving home each night crying desperately and just praying until I fell asleep at night that God would miraculously heal Frank and 

everything would be fine.

Frank and I would pray in his hospital room and try to make light of things, but most importantly it helped us to really bond, to recognize how ready we truly were to give our entire lives to one another, and I believe God used that time to make our wedding day just that much more meaningful to both of us. 

Courtesy of Kara Loomis Photography

The day of our wedding Frank still had welts all over his legs and arms and they were raw from having two biopsies. He was on high doses of antibiotics and steroids to help his legs and arms heal. But, we had the most gorgeous June day for our wedding. We were both ecstatic to finally say "I do" to one another. I was so excited I woke up at 4am that morning and never was able to fall back to sleep!

Courtesy of Kara Loomis Photography

I can truly say that our wedding was the best day of my life, and I think Frank can probably say the same...I hope! We really feel blessed that God showed us just how strong our love for one another was and revealed to us very early on what marriage is really about. 

Courtesy of Kara Loomis Photography

What I've Learned about Marriage in the First Year

1. It's fun. I still remember the first few mornings waking up and realizing I was married to Frank. We'd joke to each other and say, Hey! You're still here? It was exciting to get to make breakfast together, to plan our days together, and to look forward to our future days together. The first year was full of firsts! Our first vacation together, our first time attending a wedding as a married couple, our first apartment, first Christmas, and now our first anniversary! It's fun to learn about the little quirks you never knew about the other person and to notice as time passes how much more you are comfortable living together. 

2. It's work. I won't lie. The first year is tough. I'm sure marriage will continue to be tough. The thing that was most challenging to me was letting go of "my way" and working with Frank to create a new way, "our way". It was hard to switch from the way I always did things, but it changed me--in a good way. I think I've learned to be more flexible, to listen better and to express my feelings more clearly (let's face it we can't always read each other's minds no matter how well we know each other). It's not just work during the difficult conversations or conflicts. I've learned marriage requires effort 24/7. Only, the more I "do" marriage, the less it feels like work! I realized that what once was "work" to me, after practicing at it, it has become more like a gift. I am lucky to have the chance to try to make Frank happy every day. 

3. It's worth it. Every single bit of it. We learned from some very dear friends early on to learn to put the other person first. It seems so counter-intuitive in our individualistic society, but really it works. When I focus entirely on making Frank happy, not only does it make him happy, but it makes me happy to see him smile or laugh. In addition, if he does the same for me, we're both taken care of. But marriage also involves coming to a place where the other person's happiness is most important. The feeling of loving someone that much, making the choice each day to find ways to make him smile,  and then getting the chance to see him smile--that is why marriage is worth it.

4. It's still fun. Even a year later after many challenges, changes, struggles, and stress. Marriage is still fun! I can't wait to embark on our second year of marriage. I am looking forward to learning and growing through this year through the challenges and exciting times. It really is an adventure. And I feel so incredibly blessed to be on the  adventure with Frank.

Courtesy of Kara Loomis Photography

So, this weekend, as we head out to celebrate our friends as they embark on their marriage adventure, Frank and I will be undoubtedly looking back at the year behind us, much stronger, much wiser, and excited to make this next year as memorable and as meaningful as the one before it. 

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