Last month, my husband Joshua and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary.
It’s crazy to think that two whole years have gone by since we said our “I do’s.”
We’ve had our ups and downs, highs and lows, “I love you’s,” and “I told you so’s,” and one perfect unexpected addition to our little tribe.
On the actual night of our anniversary, we went to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants where we ended the evening talking about what we have learned over the last 24 months. We are by no means marriage experts – we have several new lessons to learn and a long beautiful journey ahead, but we have learned A LOT and I love that we took the time to talk about it.
You see, Josh and I both came from broken, destructive relationships that left us a little more damaged than we would have hoped. Lies, cheating, addiction, betrayal, and emotional abuse caused us to develop unhealthy “survivor” skills, and unfortunately, every once in a while those ugly, defensive old ways creep out again.
Thankfully we have both done an enormous amount of overhauling. We have worked hard to get where we are and it wasn’t easy… recovery never is, but it’s necessary to live a healthy, beautiful life.
Here are a few of the lessons that two years has taught us:
And I’m not just talking about with just our ears. I’m talking with our eyes, our hearts, and our spirits.
There are many times in life where our days can just get loud. Loud with thoughts, to-do lists, children, jobs, obligations, lies, opinions, and emotions. Countless different things can take up space in our minds and distract us, causing us to be unavailable to hear each other like we are capable of doing.
When we take the time and attempt to listen, we cannot only hear our own thoughts, but we can also “hear” a little bit of each other’s too. We can hear each other’s words better, we can hear each other’s hearts better, we can hear each other’s body language better, and we can look into each other’s eyes a little deeper so that we can really see what’s really going on.
Listening gives us the ability to hear if they are high or low, distracted or content, or if there is anything there that we can tend to. We have to find time and ways to hear each other even when we aren’t saying anything.
This is one that we are still working on and one that is particularly difficult for me.. . It’s strange too because I am a relatively quiet person. I tend to internalize a lot and don’t always say what I’m thinking, but in moments where I feel like I need to be defensive, I can be everything but quiet and say things that are irrelevant, unnecessary, and words that I really don’t even mean.
Has that ever happened to you? Something ugly just spills out and even catches you off guard. And you want to say wait… I don’t mean that and I don’t even know where that came from. It usually makes things worse, confusing, hurtful, and leaves you thinking, “What. Just. Happened?”
Those are moments I hate. I hate when I have a thought that’s negative or uncalled-for and I say it anyways. I’ll even think to myself, “Ciara, don’t!” and sometimes I just do. I say it – and as the words are rolling off my tongue I’m embarrassed that I did. I’m not as bad as I used to be, thank God. I have learned that I don’t always have to say something.
It helps to remember this – Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose.
- We’re different, and that’s ok.
Josh and I are very different beings. We were raised differently, we lived two completely different lives before we met, and we think differently about a lot of things.
And that used to bother me.
I was raised in a very positive home where everyone is usually optimistic, kind, and life-giving. Spend 10 minutes with my dad and he’ll make you feel like you are the greatest, most amazing human on the planet. Negativity was never our mindset and because of that, I can usually find something beautiful in any situation.
Josh (because of life’s sucker punches and his career in law enforcement) has different eyes than me. He’s seen the worst, been treated the worst, and a lot of times he can assume and think the worst.
I am also very sensitive to how E V E R Y O N E in the room is feeling and how “we” are making them “feel”. So, if Josh says something that isn’t super positive, I have a tendency to wonder how he just made everyone feel. Or if he jokingly makes fun of a buddy, I want to know how his friend really feels. So, anytime we left any social setting, I would be exhausted and upset because he didn’t make everyone feel like they were the greatest, most amazing humans on the planet. Yuck… I know!
I was getting upset because he wasn’t like me (or my family) and I was missing out on seeing all of the great things that are perfectly different about him. I was placing this expectation on him to say the right things so that everyone was comfortable and not even caring if Josh was showing up.
And if you know Josh, you want him to show up because he is enjoyable, he is funny and he is so kind. His exterior might seem tough, but his heart is tender and one of my favorite things about him.
We don’t always get these right, we mess up because we are human and flawed, but we haven’t and won’t stop trying to be the best us we can be.