Prior to marriage, I thought a spouse would always build me up and just make me feel good about myself. At times this is true. However, there are also moments where God is using my husband to teach me things about my own heart that I need to work on.
Becoming a mother has been a transformative experience. I can live on a lot less sleep than I thought, I can be awoken from the deepest of sleep if I hear my baby stirring and I care much less about my needs or wants now that I have this little life depending on me.
As a new mom or really anyone leading a busy life, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by one’s present circumstances. Maybe you feel stuck or like things will never change or improve.
However, a goal I have for this year is to overcome my mental outlook and instead of being lead by my feelings into despair and sadness I’m working on telling myself how to feel.
My daughter is a great source of joy and I find myself choosing to be happy for her instead of moping around feeling sad or discouraged. She deserves to be happy and I want her to feel secure and loved despite how I’m feeling on the inside.
My husband bought me donuts and I cried.
Maybe it’s because I’m hormonal. Even though I’m six months postpartum.
I cried because of his kindness.
These six donuts were around $20.
These were not ordinary donuts. They were locally made foodie, novelty, bakery donuts.
That we drove 20 minutes to get at a chic downtown shop.
I didn’t find out the price until later that day when he casually mentioned that he wanted to tell me something about the donuts.
Unmet Expectations Lead to Dissatisfaction
A lot of the time life can feel unfair. Part of this feeling comes from expectations in marriage being unmet. I certainly expected my present circumstances to be different. I thought I’d work before having a baby, that I’d be in my own home, that I’d live near my family and friends. However, that’s not how life turned out. At times I feel jaded, sad and to be honest angry. I want control of my life.
Lately, I’ve been wrestling with this idea of control over my life. It doesn’t seem fair at times that the expectations of my current reality are unmet. I want to call the shots and know where my future is headed.
My husband was diagnosed with ADD as a child.
As a result, he found it difficult to focus in a traditional school setting. The decision was made to homeschool him. He thrived being able to complete his schoolwork in the morning and expound his boundless energy playing the rest of the day.
His ADD wasn’t a bad thing it just required a few adjustments and some understanding of how his environment can help him thrive or struggle.
Although with age and maturity he has outgrown a lot of his ADD tendencies at times I can see evidence of it.
For example, he doesn’t like to sit still for long periods of time. Often he will pace the room while we’re having a serious conversation or start tapping rhythms with his fingers (he’s a drummer) when bored.
At other times he can be highly sensitive both emotionally and physically. I have to be aware of how I share something that’s bothering me in order to not be overbearing or insensitive to his feelings. On the physical side, he doesn’t always like to be touched while my love language is physical touch. He is also sensitive to the feel of certain fabrics and prefers very soft fabrics over anything rough, satiny or overly smooth.
Change for him provokes a lot of anxiety. Starting a new job, moving, me being 39 weeks pregnant are all things he is constantly concerned about.
He goes through phases of being very dedicated to certain hobbies or activities. Not to an extreme or unhealthy level but with a strong desire to be successful. Usually, this habit manifests through various types of games, sports or his cars.
His dedication also extends to me, family and friends. He makes connecting with others a priority. Whether it’s a text throughout the day or driving long distances, relationships are important to him.
Finally, he has incredible attention to detail and is skilled at spatial orientation. He can at times be a perfectionist, while I could care less if something is less than perfect. He is also a confident AZ licensed driver.
I may not understand all the aspects of his ADD but I can appreciate all the ways it makes him a great husband.
For starters, I’m happy being a homebody but he gets bored if we never go out. He encourages me to be more social and introduces me to active things we can do together like working out, going for walks or seeing a sporting event.
I also appreciate his go-go-go approach to life because it allows him to be a tireless provider when he has to work 12-hour shifts.
How He Helps me be a Better Person
Secondly, he has taught me to be a better communicator. At times I can be too brash or dramatic in expressing myself. Instead, I’m learning to state the facts, not get caught up in emotion and to have more empathy when needed.
Furthermore, although I don’t like seeing him worry or feel anxious about things I appreciate his deep care and concern for my wellbeing and our growing family. I know I can count on him to take care of us. Even if for him, that means starting a new, more challenging job while his wife is very pregnant and having to relocate soon after the baby comes.
Finally, when my husband commits to a task he’s all in and he will do his very best to achieve a good outcome. For example, I have never questioned his dedication or commitment to me. Every day he affirms his love for me. He’s the one who makes sure we resolve conflicts. He stresses the importance of our relationship with Christ over our relationship with each other. He prays for us, for me and for our life together. He encourages me in my pursuits. He stands up for me in front of others. He’s certainly not perfect but I know his commitment to our marriage does not waver.
Perhaps at one time, his ADD was seen as an obstacle to succeeding academically or otherwise. I don’t see his ADD as a flaw or hurdle to overcome. Instead, I see it as a gift that has made him into the most amazing, caring, sensitive, driven and talented husband and soon to be father.
I hope that our baby girl can learn these same incredible traits from her daddy.
It may seem counterintuitive but I really think that instead of saying “No” more we need to start saying “Yes”.
Why Should I Say “Yes” More Often?
First off life is short. No one knows exactly how many days are left of their life. Therefore we should use our limited time to the best of our ability.
Additionally, we shouldn’t be selfish in how we designate our time. I love this quotation my mom shared with me this past week from Beth Moore: “God what will you have me do today?”. Instead of getting caught up with the stress of life and letting it dictate our day what if we started our day asking what God would have for us? A simple mindset change can make a huge difference in how our circumstances are perceived. Plus when we intentionally look for ways in how God can use us we are less likely to feel like our life lacks purpose. This also leads to more fulfillment and a less self-centred approach to life.
Here are a few simple ways God can use you today:
- send an encouraging text to a friend
- bring a coffee to a friend or coworker
- donate to a cause
- smile to the people who serve you and be genuinely kind to them
- give a generous tip
- be a courteous driver
- write down what you are grateful for and why
- pay for the person behind you in the drive-thru
Secondly, relationships are the single most important aspect of life. Our number one relationship is with God as He teaches us how to love, forgive and treat others. He teaches us all people are created equal, to love our enemies (how easy is it to just love those that are kind to us?) and to forgive as we have been forgiven. He doesn’t demand us to follow a strict set of rules instead He gently calls us to follow Him as he teaches us how to live an abundant life.
In addition to our relationship with our creator is our relationship with His created-the people around us. Our family foremost, our friends, our church, our communities. Instead of pursuing things and success more than we pursue others what if we made a conscious effort to connect with just one person a week. Personally, I am so bad about this! I haven’t made it a habit to sit down once a week and just text or message someone important to me. I am aware of this and working to reach out to others more often. One benefit of connecting is feeling more fulfilled and it’s important for my mental health.
Plus I want to share my life with others, I want to build a strong community of people who will encourage me and keep me accountable.
What Are We Saying “Yes” To?
Our Marriages + Families
I firmly believe that a strong marriage is the basis of a strong family. Furthermore strong families lead to better societies. When children know their parents love each other they feel safe and secure. Now, this doesn’t guarantee a perfect family but it does avoid a lot of potential problems.
Furthermore, parents are the primary model for their children’s behaviour. I know this may seem intuitive but I see parents all the time who yell at their child for acting out when the parent is almost acting worse than the child. Children will mimic the behaviour they see demonstrated in the home. As a mom to be this really weighs heavy on me as I think about the habits and behaviours I want to work on. Such as complaining less. I find it so easy to see the negative in situations and I don’t want Baby K to be the same. I’m almost at the point where I’m going to write down “complain less” next to “take vitamin” on my refrigerator whiteboard so I don’t forget.
In order to have a strong marriage and family, we have to be willing to say “Yes” to our families desire for relationship.
Just the other day my husband had an appointment in Hamilton and after he was going to a park to play Pokemon Go. He asked me to join him on his trip so that we could spend time together after the appointment. Although Pokemon is not my most favourite activity I said yes. I reasoned that we only have so much time together so why would I say no to spending time with him. However, I also said yes because I wasn’t committed to any other activities for that day. We have limited time together during the week so I wanted to take advantage of the extra free time we could enjoy together. I am not advocating to be a doormat and always say yes to your husband. I firmly believe in “Courtney time” and “Mike time”, it wouldn’t be healthy if we spent every waking moment together. Yet under the circumstances, it was advantageous for me to say “Yes”. I also know my husband appreciates that I’m willing to join him in an activity he enjoys.
The Little Things
Secondly, it’s important to say yes to the little things. Perhaps your child wants to play a game with you or your sister wants to have a movie night together and buy snacks. The moments I most regret saying no to are others invitations to spend time together. I may feel tired or the activity sounds boring but once I’m doing the activity it often turns out to be more enjoyable than I thought. Don’t be afraid to do things with others that seem silly or a waste of time, because at the end of the day what matters is the precious quality time you were able to spend together.
What Are We Saying “No” To?
Saying yes to a relationship with others means we have to say no to other less important things.
First off we need to say no to technology. The emails, tweets and Instagram captions can wait. I know a lot of families schedule a period of time where technology is not used.
Secondly, say “No” to too many activities. Another great tip I’ve heard is for families is to let each child participate in one sport or activity a season. This avoids overwhelming children with too many scheduled items and while allowing for spontaneous family fun. Additionally, parents should be aware of how much time they are committing to volunteering. Even if it’s a ministry activity, the families relational needs should always come first.
Say “Yes” to Quality Time and “No” to Wasted Time
Overall what I’m trying to say is that our time is precious. We don’t know how much time we have with those we love. Although it can be easy to not be intentional with our time it is imperative we make time for relationships.
My challenge to you is to say “Yes” to one thing somebody asks you to do with them this week.
What are some other things you think we should say “no” to?
How do you intentionally make time for relationships with others?
DZZYes, your husband does want to make you happy!
You may have just read that title and thought “Courtney what are you talking about? You don’t know my husband, all he wants to do is irritate me.” Yes, I don’t know your specific situation, but I do know that if we change how we perceive our circumstances it can affect our relationships profoundly.
My husband isn’t perfect either. He leaves his dirty clothes on the floor even though the hamper is positioned for his exclusive convenience. Sometimes he makes annoying comments or is on his phone too much. We all have our quirks and no one is perfect. I do a lot of things that he doesn’t like either. This is expected in marriage because we tend to marry our opposites in terms of personality. Which research suggests is not a negative but rather having the same attitudes and values has a bigger impact on relational success.
Back to happiness and our husbands, if we look at the big picture of our relationship most of the time our husband’s goal is to make us happy. This was kind of an epiphany when I discovered this because it changed the way I saw my husband’s overall behaviour. As a result, I started seeing his actions as more favourable towards me.
His Career Choices
Career changes and choices can be a touchy subject, especially when it involves moving. If you can openly talk as a couple about how each of you feels and why you feel this way it can lead to a depth of understanding. In the beginning, it may feel like your husband is not on your side and wants to change everything. In the end, you realize these decisions are not easy for him either and the ultimate reason why he’s choosing this is to provide the best life he can for your family.
Honestly, as a female whose role is not to be the provider but rather the helper and support to her husband I will never understand the great burden my husband bears in his effort to provide. With this perspective, I can display more empathy in how I relate to my husband when he wants to pursue a new or different job. I realize his motive behind his choice is far from selfish.
For some, your husband’s work may look different. Perhaps he works long hours or even two jobs. I remember when I was younger my dad ran his own business during the day as an onsite truck mechanic and exhaust fabricator then at night he drove a septic truck. I would cry because I hardly ever saw my dad. Thankfully that time was only for a season and he was able to switch jobs. He chose to work that much because he had a family to care for and he was trying his best to give us a secure and happy life. At the time it wasn’t easy for us but looking back I can see his motivation was in the right place.
The Small Things
Career choices and changes are certainly a major area where males strive to make their wives and families happy. Husbands also try to provide happiness in smaller things. For example, maybe your husband surprises you with a large tea at 6 in the morning because he was thinking of you. The timing wasn’t ideal and he woke you up, but his intention was to make your day and show he cares about you.
If we can reframe how we perceive this interaction and affirm our husband’s intentions instead of tearing down their sometimes fragile self-esteem. We can encourage them to keep doing nice, thoughtful things for us (isn’t that what we all want?).
Whereas if we react in a negative or condescending way that takes aim at his pride he is likely to feel insulted and less motivated to repeat a behaviour meant to please you. Even if you didn’t want to have tea at 6 am it’s still important to genuinely thank your husband for thinking of you and being so sweet.
Another way husbands try to make us happy is by treating us. One way they demonstrate this is by taking us out to dinner. Although I’m perfectly happy making food at home, I really appreciate it when my husband suggests we go out for dinner. I realize this is a rare treat and he wants to make our time together extra special.
Furthermore, husbands want to see their wives well dressed, with nice makeup and hair. At times the level of aesthetic desired by the wife isn’t always feasible. For example getting your hair done every six weeks or your nails. Sometimes though your hubby may spend some extra money and take you shopping. It might make the budget a little tight but to him seeing you smile is worth it.
As wives when our husbands make this extra effort to treat us it is so important we express how much we appreciate it. For him spending money, might put on more pressure to provide and if we are ungrateful he might think “what’s the point of doing nice things for her?”.
When He Gives in to You
This one may seem a little more obvious, nonetheless, it’s important to recognize that when your husband purposely chooses to put your preferences over his he is doing it to demonstrate his love and to see you happy.
A few ways my husband has demonstrated this is by going to see Beauty and the Beast with me, ordering pizza when I didn’t feel like cooking, giving me 20-second hugs (he knows that’s my love language even if it isn’t always his), letting me choose the restaurant. I know these are small examples but it’s really the insignificant things that add up to make a fulfilling relationship.
You may have heard the phrase that “Marriage wasn’t designed to make us happy but to make us holy”, while I agree with the overall sentiment of that statement. I do think God intended for us to receive great joy in being in a relationship with others. Happiness can be defined in different ways as I noted above. It can be a self-sacrificing gesture, a desire to make someone smile or to simply the daily effort put into a relationship. Overall if we can remember that our husband desires to see us happy we can avoid a lot of negative and unfounded thoughts.
What are some ways your husband tries to make you happy?
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.
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 as 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 wasn’t hard relationally though. We’ve definitely grown a lot closer. Part of this is sharing more life experiences together, encouraging each other in our endeavours, 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 about 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 <3.
To read more about our first year check out the Newlywed Reflections the series I wrote about each month being married.
We celebrated one year of marriage on Sunday, May 7, 2017. I cannot believe how fast the year flew by! I know a lot of times the first year is considered the ‘hardest’ and in some ways, it was not easy but in other ways, it was truly one of the best years of my life. I love being married (most of the time (; ), living with my favourite person, having late night pillow talks and just doing life together (who knew grocery shopping could be so fun (; ).
I’m so grateful I married Michael because he adds so much joy to my life. I tend to be serious a lot of the time, so his goofy personality really evens me out. One example of this is when we had to go to the hospital early on in my pregnancy because we thought there was something wrong. He had to rush home from work and we had to wait in a hospital room in the ER for a few hours not knowing if everything was okay. Although this was a very emotional and scary time for both of us, he kept me smiling with all his funny remarks. Thankfully we left the next day reassured that all was well and with an ultrasound picture of our tiny babe.
Speaking of Baby K I never thought I would be pregnant on our first anniversary either. Initially, we were going to wait a couple of years before having a baby, although we both love kids a lot and were very excited to start a family. In the months leading up to us finding out we were pregnant we changed our mindset around family planning. Instead of controlling the situation ourselves we decided to trust God’s timing instead. We trusted that God would give a child in His timing and if He did, He would be faithful to provide for this child. As a result, we found out to our surprise and joy we were expecting in February. We were okay with leaving the choice up to God for a few reasons, first, we are married, second Michael has a steady full-time job in his career, thirdly I’m almost done school, we live in a reasonably priced apartment and finally we have a very supportive family and church family.
Even though the last year has been exciting and challenging, overall I’m grateful for everything I learned and where we are heading. To celebrate our anniversary we decided to go out for a nice dinner after church. We hardly go out to eat and have never been to a fancy place, so this was a very special treat for us. Michael let me choose a restaurant knowing that I’m a foodie. So I chose the Keg because they have amazing steaks and we’d both only been there once or twice. As I mentioned, in the morning we headed out to church (the same one where we got married), then we spent some time with my parents and ate a light lunch. It was nice to reflect on our first year and some of the things we have learned with my parents. Then later in the afternoon, we headed out to the Keg as it doesn’t open until 3.
We both ordered steak and I wore one of my cute maternity dresses, even though I’m not showing a lot, it’s more comfortable than pants at this point. One downside to our meal though was that Michael’s steak was overcooked, so we politely asked for it to be sent back. The staff was very accommodating, and our waitress immediately took away his plate to get a new steak prepared. The manager even came over to talk with us and offered free dessert (!). Which was so nice especially being that we are on a tight budget and this meal was definitely a rare splurge. I’m grateful for moments like this because it reminds me of how blessed we are, even in the small things.
Following our meal, we headed back home to our little apartment, got changed and went for a walk around our beautiful neighbourhood. We live in a small town of about 12,000 people and many of the homes were built in the late 19th and early 20th century on big beautiful lots. Our area is very peaceful and quiet and it was the perfect setting to end our simple but meaningful day together.
Our anniversary wasn’t a huge celebration, we didn’t spend time away or spend money on gifts for each other (we also didn’t do Christmas gifts). Yet, it was the perfect day for us. I’m definitely a saver and I appreciate good food and quality time with my husband so this day was more than I could ask for. As a bonus, we got to see family and spend time worshipping God. Maybe in the years to come, we’ll have more extravagant celebrations or trips but I’ll always look back fondly on our simple first year anniversary.
Here’s a little throwback to a few of my favourite pictures from our wedding:
Thank you to Look N C Photography and Camille Marie Photography for capturing our special day.
To read about our first year check out Newlywed Reflections
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