Saturday, February 14, 2015

Learning Love: A Lesson a Year in Marriage

My husband and I met when we were college babies and someday (Hopefully soon!) I'll share about that amazing journey! Today, though, I'll be sharing about lessons learned in this beautiful gift of marriage we were blessed with five years ago.

Five years ago, family and friends from everywhere gathered to celebrate our union. Our promise to each other and to God. Our promise to be true to each other for better or for worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and health.

1. Our promise then is our promise today and will be the same for all our days to come. As many things change throughout the course of our days and will continue to change for the rest of our lives, this promise, this sacrament will always be true.

“This grace…is intended to perfect the couple’s love and to strengthen their indissoluble unity. By this grace they ‘help one another to attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children….’ Christ gives [couples] the strength to take up their crosses and to follow him…” 
-Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1642
The grace is real. On our wedding day it had all the feelings of magic and fairy dust swirling in the air. Today, I still feel all the magic but with eyes that have grown in capacity to receive, give, and know love. Then it felt like inexpressible joy, today it feels like being held.

Held through moves. Held through new jobs. Held through transitions. Held through promotions. Held through new life. Held through a new home. Held through our ups and our downs. Held through it all. 

2. To embrace each other fully, for me, looks like meeting each other where we are.
Being held by this man has always been a favorite of mine. From the first time we hugged I knew that I wanted to have his arms around me for forever. True story.

But fully and intentionally embracing each other over the years has changed. Prior to marrying my husband, his warm embrace brought on all the warm fuzzies and happy feelings a girl could ask for, and still do to be honest. But the kind of embracing I'm talking about is being intentional about seeing who we are, where we are, and embracing that whole person with love. Meeting each other there, in our imperfect states, with love.

We are always changing. I am not the same as I was in college, since grad school, since working, and since every day that has ever happened to all that I am. Nor is he. Love has to meet us where we are just as Jesus met his disciples in all of their stories. In loving each other where we are, with all the good and all the bad, we allow each other the space to grow in holiness.

This pathway to holiness cannot be forced but we can embrace each other along the way in love.
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 
-1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 
3. He is our model. In a society where there are more divorces than lasting marriages you have to stop and really think who or what you are imitating. We learn from something or someone. We just do. We don't just evolve into goodness. Blessed Mother Theresa was not born the blessed that she became. St. Francis of Assisi was not born tending animals from his mother's womb and sharing amazing goodness and love from one day to the next.

We grow. We learn. We move forward everyday in hopes to be better. But if we have nothing or no one to learn from, it's all just a big guessing game.
Thankfully, we don't have to guess. We have our faith, our Church, and our Lord to continually show us what it means to truly love in a way that says, I am yours and you are mine. In sickness and in health. For richer or poorer. In good times and in bad times. He showed us what death on a Cross looked like and He also showed us a glorious Resurrection.

Before marriage, I knew God. I knew our relationship. I worried how it would change after marriage. How would I fit in this gift of a husband of mine into my neatly wrapped relationship I had with my God? I even spent time in Adoration wondering how this would be. But He answered me while my husband and I were on a silent retreat at a convent before our marriage.

After spiritual direction, I went to adoration. I didn't know where GeekMan was but God and I were having a little chat on the how. I was sitting in silence before the Blessed Sacrament. Just me. When my soon-to-be-husband walked in, kneeled beside me, and took my hand.

Together. With God. Hand in hand we would need to walk this journey. Not just him. Not just I. Together in marriage with our eyes continually seeking our Faith and our God.

The graces truly have abounded since we don't have to look only at each other during times of trouble. We have Him to look to too. Thanks be to God!

4. You will dance so many new dances. Dancing is one of my most favorite things. But since marriage, dancing hasn't always been the kind that we shared on our wedding day. The thing about marriage is you have to be able to see with new eyes. Recognize that even if you feel you aren't dancing you really are.
I buy the groceries he brings them in. We dance.

He goes to work while I raise our boys at home. We dance.

He carries our newborn son while I go take a shower. We dance.

I wash the dishes while he bathes our stinky sons. We dance.

I hold the crying baby, while he tends to household upkeep. We dance.

He holds the baby because he sees the crazy in my eyes creeping. We dance.

I make dinner, he takes out the trash. We dance.

You get the picture. And then there are the sweet times we dance like we did that night. All dances of life filled with the kind of good that soothes your soul. We just have to be open to seeing it.

5. Keep on Celebrating with Gratitude and Loved ones! Before getting married, Sister Kathleen prayed that the time of our engagement and our wedding day be a time of Celebration, Thanksgiving, and Prayer. This prayer blessed me so much. I clung to it throughout our engagement. It was even incorporated into our invitation!

If I've learned anything about marriage is that our wedding day was just that. A day. So the words that Sister Kathleen prayed for our engagement and wedding day are the very same words I desire for our marriage.
Make it to where your day is not just a day.

Family and friends who came to love and support you on your wedding day are the same loved ones who will continue to love and support you in your marriage. Let this be true!

Celebration of a love so good and true, reflecting His Image in such a profound way, is a must! Celebrate by inviting friends and family over for dinner, for mini-vacations, for playdates and more. This is all celebration of a promise you made years back.

These same friends and family are the ones who will be able to encourage you in thanksgiving, celebration, and prayer.

There's something so much bigger that happened that day so many years ago. It was filled with amazing tips to help and encourage and sustain a promise held in grace and His goodness.

After our brief five years of marriage this is what I've learned. Is it all I've learned? No. But, this is a lesson-a-year post. I really could go on because there is just so much to say! But, getting back, do I do all these things that I shared today well? Absolutely not. I've learned them because I struggled with them and still do. But with His grace, lots of prayer, and the sacraments, I know our efforts are blessed.

I'm grateful to Mary for prompting me and so many others to stop and reflect on what we've all learned in these years of sacramental graces. It's posts like this that help me grow again and again, and I pray you find encouragement and love in it too.

What have you learned in your years of marriage? I'd love your wisdom!

And a huge Thank You to Mary over at Better than Eden for this link-up that is encouraging us all to stop and share little tidbits of what keeps us keeping on in this beautiful gift of marriage! Head over to her blog to see her own lessons as well as a number of other lovely bloggers who will be sharing!

Thanks to Annie over at Catholic Wife, Catholic Life for also celebrating marriage over at her lovely space! So much beautiful wisdom and goodness being shared on the sacrament of marriage.

And, head here for more beautiful gems being shared on Catholic Mommy Blogs for World Marriage Day!


  1. Amanda, this is so beautiful. Your story about Adoration before your wedding made me tear up! And the way we dance…you put it perfectly. I love how you see the beauty in it all. And the idea of celebration. I remember on our last anniversary talking with Brian about how much I wanted people around us to truly celebrate with us. I long for an awesome anniversary party some day to do just that! Thank you so much for writing and linking up!

    1. Mary, thank you! I cried when he came in to the chapel too. It's one of my most dear memories I hold so tightly. And big party with friends and family celebrating you and Brian would be awesome! I love this idea too. Maybe instead of having an anniversary date night we'll have a dinner party with friends? so fun! And, thank YOU for this awesome link-up. I've been so encouraged by so many posts!

  2. Amanda, this is such a lovely post. I enjoyed reading your lessons learned! You ladies are helping me along in my vocational discernment! :)

    1. Thank you, Becca! I'm so glad you learned and that it's helpful! Vocational discernment is such an exciting time! Prayers for you!

  3. Oh how beautiful. Thank you for sharing your heart, Amanda!

    1. Wendy, Thank you! I loved your post too! So much!

  4. I love the way you described the dance. So beautiful.

    1. Thank you, Amelia! I really really really love to dance. So since we don't do it nearly as often as my feet and heart would like I need to reframe ;)

  5. So beautiful! I especially love the dance image/analogy. What a great what to image marriage and the way we each have our roles that are perfectly complimentary.

    1. Thank you, Gina! It's so nice isn't it? The way we go back and forth in all that we do as a couple, in our families, and in our marriage.

  6. Oh, wow, love your thoughts on marriage and especially the beautiful, beautiful photos!

    1. Rita! Thank you! I loved yours too, just haven't commented yet! And I'm so grateful to our photographer for our photos. That's one area we definitely splurged!

  7. I could definitely relate to the dance! My husband and I have been married 27 years, and parts of our dance seem almost choreographed after all this time. There is a comfortable rhythm to our days.

    I also really enjoyed your comments about marriage being a partnership with God. I agree.

  8. This is really beautiful!! I especially love the one about how we dance every day, in different ways. So, so true! Such a thought-provoking and lovely post :)


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