Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Honeymoon

I love planning. In my life, I have planned somewhere near twelve themed trips to Europe (complete with accommodations, transportation, and schedule), two trips to Hawaii, and a trip around the United States in 52 weeks. No, I have never gone on any of the trips, but just planning them was a blast, and I am certain that if I was someday able to go on one, it would be incredible.

We did not have $3,000 or so to go on a honeymoon to Europe, nor did we have 52 weeks to take a trip around the United States (and neither of us really wanted to go to Hawaii). Nevertheless, we were able to take a honeymoon to Glacier National Park in Montana. Not very far from home, but quite adventuresome and not terribly expensive either. Planning the trip was so much fun. We bought a book about the park, picked places that we wanted to go and see, activities that we wanted to do. We decided on camping sites and a couple bed and breakfasts, as well as a super expensive hotel in Waterton National Park. (Everyone needs to stay at an expensive hotel once in their life, right?) We planned out the schedule and made reservations. All was well.

And then we actually went on our honeymoon. Now, it really was fun, and we had a great time, however, things did not always go according to plan, ideas that I thought would be fun turned out to be lame or too expensive, and I did not realize how much emotion had been hiding behind all of the wedding preparations--positive and negative. 

The actual trip was great. We stayed at a bed and breakfast moderately close to home, then went up to a cabin that my dad's family owns for a few days. On our way to Glacier we stayed at a mansion in Butte, Montana, and in Glacier we stayed at an average bed and breakfast with the nicest hosts, plus we camped a couple nights. We stumbled upon some small cabins to stay at when the campground we had planned on staying at was full, and went to an expensive hotel for our one night stay in Waterton. On our way back, we came upon a quaint motel/bed and breakfast and stayed our last couple nights at my family's cabin again. 

Emotionally, however, the trip was very up and down, for me anyway. I suppose I never took into account that such a big decision--getting married--would cause my emotions to be rather out of whack, especially after the stress of planning a wedding. The second night of our honeymoon, I had a breakdown. I was tired and nervous and homesick, of all things. I did not realize how final marriage would feel. I had been away from my family before, but this was different. Instead of simply going away for the honeymoon and then coming back home, I was leaving for good. The family aspect of my life, which had been so important to me before getting married, would never be the same. And it caused some anxiety and sadness and regret--not of getting married, but of not having made the most of the time I did have with my family. 

In addition to family concerns, there was a bit of fear that now that my husband and I were married, he would treat me differently or would lose interest in me. I had felt quite confident that he loved me before we got married, but once we tied the knot, how could I know that he would continue to love me? Unfortunately, trusting him and trusting God are the only ways of getting past that fear, and I have an incredibly difficult time with trust. 

Once we got up to Glacier, a huge frustration for me was that my husband would get on Facebook while I was in the shower or when we were not interacting. Looking back on it now, I have no idea why I did not simply bring up the fact that it bothered me, but he had said before we got married that he was going to take a month off of Facebook and I was determined that he was going to remember his promise and uphold it without being reminded. He did not, however, remember that he had said that, and for whatever reason was not able to read my mind to find out why I was upset. Therefore, I was quite mad at him for a much larger portion of our honeymoon than I would have liked, and he had no idea why.

This frustration with my husband led to more frustration, because I felt like the honeymoon was supposed to be one of the best times of my life, but being upset with my husband all the time, on top of missing my family, and being afraid that he would stop loving me did not lead to being happy and excited to be married all of the time. I felt all of this pressure to make the trip the very best two weeks of my life, which caused more anxiety and stress. I felt bad that I was upset with my husband and that I was afraid and that I missed my family. Basically, I felt guilty for not having the time of my life, but I was unable to change it because I could not let go of my frustration and fear and sadness, or even the expectation that was causing me grief. 

All of these struggles made for an emotionally difficult two weeks and caused me to be short of breath and nauseous for a good portion of the time (which also did not help my already spinning emotions). Essentially, I was a wreck for a good part of our honeymoon.

While a good portion of what I learned from that experience, I cannot use, because it relates to going on a honeymoon, which I do not anticipate doing again, I hope that it can help someone else who is getting married. At the same time, there are things that I still need to be reminded of from that time.

1. Anticipate roller coaster emotions.
You have just made a huge commitment, your life is changed forever, things will never be the same. While some people may be able to go through that without major emotional challenges, I would still keep in mind the possibility that it is a big change, and it very well may include some tears. And that is okay. I beat myself up over it quite a bit, but I do not recommend that route, being mad at yourself for being a wreck only makes things worse.

2. Talk about things that bother you.
Looking back, it seems absolutely ridiculous that I did not talk with my husband about the fact that it bothered me and hurt my feelings when he was on Facebook. Yet that continued to be a struggle and frustration even into the first few months of marriage. I am pretty certain that I did not bring it up until almost two months after the fact, with it having upset me that entire time. Do not expect him to read your mind, I felt like it was completely obvious why I was upset, but he had absolutely no idea.

3. Talk in general.
If you are afraid, talk with your husband, and with God. (I largely ceased from meaningful communication with God during the honeymoon. Bad idea.) If you are homesick, let your husband know why you are sad, pray. (Perhaps together?) Try to talk about things at opportune times and in kindness and love, not accusing or attacking. Communication is still something I struggle with, but life is so much better when you do.

4. No expectations.
Do not set yourself up for failure by having unrealistic expectations for your honeymoon. It is an amazing time to get to know each other better and have fun hanging out. Do not make that difficult by trying to make it the best time of your life. It very well may turn out to be, but having a goal like that only causes stress. 

After all this talk about emotions, it may not seem like the honeymoon was very good. Lie. I simply decided to talk about the difficulties because that is the part you do not normally hear about. I was not aware that honeymoons are not always perfect, which caused a lot of stress when it was not perfect. We did have a great time though.

A few of my very favorite memories (not even close to an exhaustive list, but these were the ones that stand out the most in my mind):
Dinner at Uptown Cafe in Butte, MT. Really expensive, fancy restaurant, with the best food ever. Talking over dinner, getting my husband to try the clam dish that came with both of our meals (he has an aversion to sea food). Being amazed at how good the coffee was for a restaurant, and how great the service was.
Night at the mansion in Butte, MT. Very historical, getting moved to the master suite because the owner found out we were on our honeymoon. Yummy breakfast. Staying really late talking, just like a sleepover. 
Day in East Glacier. Train ride to get there and back. Walking around trying to find the non-existant railroad station. Sitting outside a Mexican restaurant eating our PB & Js and talking. Playing cards at the lodge. 
Getting ice cream in Waterton. Really lame day for me, but seeing my husband's care and patience with me was so sweet. Sitting on a bench watching people taking wedding photos while eating ice cream. Being close.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

He Brings Out {the best in} Me

"Hold onto someone who will make you the most 'YOU' that you can possibly be."

People often talk about how your spouse/boyfriend/fiance should bring out the best in you. I wholeheartedly agree. Why would you not marry someone who will build you up and encourage you to be the best you can be? My husband certainly does (and I am very blessed in that). Nevertheless, I do not believe that a spouse's purpose is simply to bring out the best in you.

I believe that one of the purposes of marriage--as I have outlined in An Introduction--is becoming more unified and more like Christ. It is learning to die to self and look out for the needs of someone else. It is trusting that God is working in both of our lives through the good and the bad. It is being completely open and vulnerable, trusting someone, and in turn trusting God that no matter what happens, He will sustain you. It is reflecting Christ more and more. It is growing.

It is not enough for someone to bring out the best in you. If only the very best part of you comes out when you are with your spouse, where does the growth come from? How can I become more like Christ if only the parts that already are like Him come to the surface? What growth is needed if I appear to be perfect right now?

As is apparent from my previous posts, the marriage between my husband and I is not perfect. We both have flaws, and those come out in our day to day interactions. Sometimes we are able to overlook the other's faults and love unconditionally. Other times...not so much. In the short time that we have been married, I feel like I have learned more about myself than I ever had before. I have seen super cool aspects of my personality that I had not noticed before. Likewise, I have seen what a horrible, selfish person I can be. I have become more confident, as well as more humble (the work is most definitely NOT done, however). I have grown. I have not grown simply because my husband brings out the best in me, however. I have grown because he brings out ME. All of me, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

For example, before we got married, I had no idea that I had the ability to get angry with someone so often and to be unkind and rude as a result of it. On the other hand, before we got married, I had no idea that I was outgoing (it was hiding behind my shyness, but now that I know it is there, I can work on coaxing it out). And as we continue to be married, I am certain that more things that I had never seen before--good and bad--will show themselves. The good to be encouraged and to grow in; the bad to be addressed and worked through.

We are married for growth, for transformation, for bringing God glory. My husband brings out the best in me, but more than that, he brings out me. And as God reveals bits and pieces of me through my relationship with my husband, He will bring growth; He will transform; and He will be glorified because it is only through Him that those things can happen.

"His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness."  --1 Peter 1:3