Katrina of Cedars and Tiny Flowers and I were in the same class at Notre Dame and even share a close mutual friend, but somehow we didn't connect until recently—over blogging, of course. We've discovered so many things we have in common, from our interest in Montessori education to living in Chicago as new wives. I look up to her as a beautifully gracious wife and mom, and I'm thrilled to share her advice below.
First of all, I am so happy for Tess and Frank! We wish them all the best and hope they are having a fantastic time in Rome as newlyweds meeting and being blessed by Pope Francis (!!!) and eating lots of gelato from Giolitti's and Old Bridge. Thank you, Tess, for thinking of me to guest post; I am honored, and I hope to do Little House in Chicago proud.
My husband, Chris and I have been married now for two whole years (plus a month and some change). Last month, we participated in a marriage retreat for engaged couples where we were lucky enough to speak as the newlywed couple. The retreat organizers assigned us a few questions reflecting on our first year of marriage to give us direction as we prepared. When we sat down to go over the notes I wrote down during a road trip from the previous weekend, Chris looked up at me and asked, "All we have is ... ?!" I'm not censoring his question ... I literally wrote dot dot dot for an answer. As you can tell, we are still have a few of the finer details of this sacrament to iron out. I hope you pick up at least a couple of pearls of newlywed wisdom (or lack thereof), but I will freely admit that I don't have every answer after just two years of marriage.
Thankfully, our discussion went well despite an abundance of ... and probably too few (insert words). Well enough that I am here to share some of my wifely experiences, so fasten your veils.
- We got engaged when I was twenty, which wasn't very normal at our school despite the "ring by spring" legend. Sure, there were others engaged, but when you can count the number of engaged people in your class of two thousand on one, maybe two hands, it is definitely the exception rather than the rule. It sounds silly, but I honestly felt a lot of pressure to be an enlightened wedding/marriage guru - if nothing else to prove the legion of real and imagined doubters and skeptical-look-givers wrong. Silly, silly. One thing that I have found is that determination, commitment, and love are great substitutes for experience! Despite our lack of expertise, this is the relationship of all earthly relationships for us, and it is not something we take for granted.
- We became family on our wedding day. This was paramount to us; even before welcoming children into our life together, we were a family.
- Even though we are a brand spanking new family, we have each been a part of our first immediate families for much longer. As simple as that is, it took me a while to discover. While we may have excellent relationships with both sets of in-laws, but what may be a blip on the radar to me at a family gathering could look like a huge storm to my spouse's radar because he or she didn't grow up 24/7 (interesting characterization) with my family and vice versa. Once I realized this, I was able to be a more compassionate wife.
- We get into fights, both serious and pointless. I am the queen of fighting quite passionately and then looking back and seriously wondering what I was mad about in the first place. Maybe someday I will share the chicken salad story of 2011. Someday. What I love about fighting when married (if I am allowed to love something about fighting...) is that there is no out. Tempers will flare, words will burn, but at the end of the day when the fire goes out, I am his wife and he is my husband. This fact motivates me to learn from each fight because fighting the same fight repeatedly is going to get really old long before I am able to have that husband of mine grow old along with me.
- I am my spouse's servant. And guess what!? He is mine! Pretty neat gig I have here, no?
I will leave you off with two of my favorite quotes from The Mystery of Faithful Love by Dietrich von Hildebrand. I think he and his wife Alice fall into the category of marriage experts, and I can't even attempt to elaborate on his words.
"...marriage is the closest and most intimate of all earthly unions in which, more than in any other, one person gives himself to another without reserve, where the other in his complete personality is the object of love, and where mutual love is in a specific way the theme (that is to say, the core) of the relationship."
"...two human beings can also turn to face one another, and in touching one another, in an interpenetrating glance, give birth to a mysterious fusion of their souls. They become conscious of one another, and making the other the object of his contemplation and responses, each can spiritually immerse himself in the other. This is the I-thou relationship, in which the partners are not side by side, but face to face."
Face to Face. I am happy to look at this face for the rest of my life. (and I love that I know he will roll his eyes when he reads that).