How we Celebrated our First Anniversary

Recently, my sweet husband and I celebrated our very first anniversary. I wanted to give you a sneak peak into our celebrations and share some ideas for your anniversary!

Advice I Received

I once received the advice to always (always!) celebrate your anniversary… Even if that means doing something very small or very cheap. To be honest, I had high expectations. We had an amazing honeymoon (thanks to some generous people), which had probably set my expectations a little too high for the next year. Fortunately, though, when my husband and I looked at our upcoming expenses, we opted for “First Anniversary on a Budget.”

How We Celebrated our First Anniversary | Grace Upon Grace Today

How We CelebratedHow We Celebrated Our First Anniversary | Grace Upon Grace Today

As our anniversary was Sunday, we began the festivities on Saturday. We decided to go out for breakfast to our favorite fast-food place (Chick-Fil-A!) and use our 2017 calendar cards (free food!). We picnicked at a local park for lunch and took a nature hike there. Then we ate dinner at the same barbecue restaurant that catered our wedding – what a fun memory! Since we rarely go out to eat, this was a super fun way to celebrate.

On Sunday, we woke up early and headed to a nearby state park in the mountains that offers zip-lining. We completed two parts of the zip-lining course (part three will be released later this summer!) and had a blast! We then ate lunch and walked around the historic town near the park. Our day ended with my husband cooking dinner for us.

Building Intimacy

I am a firm believer in something called “recreational intimacy.” You can read more about it in Josh Squires’s article about intimacy for Desiring God. Basically, recreational intimacy is fostered when couples do fun things together. This fuels mutual enjoyment that leads to connectivity. Also, men typically form relationships “shoulder-to-shoulder” (as opposed to women who typically enjoy more face-to-face interactions), so it makes sense that couples, being one-half male, need to form experiences together.

We were able to experience a first anniversary within our budget and still a celebration. We built our relationship by doing something fun together. This helped us recommit to giving each other grace upon grace and building our marriage over many more years together.

What is a fun and cost-effective way you would recommend to make much of an anniversary celebration?

How to Handle Transitions in Marriage

As newlyweds, we face a lot of transitions. In the early years of marriage, we may move, change jobs, attend college or grad school, and even have our first babies. There are many shifts of various types. How should we handle transitions in marriage?

How to Handle Transitions in Marriage for Newlyweds | Grace Upon Grace Today

Purpose, Value, Needs, and Time

Too often, one spouse will jump on an opportunity or possibility without consulting the other. This happens often with newlyweds, because we easily remember what it was like to be single! Instead of making life-changing decisions without your spouse, sit down together and discuss four things: purpose, value, needs, and time. You can even download my discussion guide for a handy way to talk about upcoming life transitions with your spouse!

Reconnect, Reconnect, Reconnect

Embark on the transition, and reconnect along the way! My in-laws told us that marriage is a series of consistent two degree shifts. We are not automatically aligned to our spouses every day. It takes regular, small times of reconnecting to get back on track. I once heard a pastor say that you should strive to spend an hour a day, a morning/evening a week, a day a month, and a weekend a year with just your spouse and no distractions. His encouragement was to start small and build up.

In transitional periods, we often lose the seemingly “automatic” connection that we had before. For example, during the school year, my husband and I go to sleep and wake up around the same time. We work together, so we ride together in the car. We have certain times that we can reconnect without really working on it. However, now it’s summertime. We have separate part-time jobs. We go to bed at different times. All of a sudden, the transition has made our reconnecting more difficult.

In order to handle the transition well, we must find a time and space to reconnect. Maybe that’s becoming more serious about a structured dinner time every night (no phones allowed!). Or reading our devotional book before I go to bed, and then once I’m asleep, he goes back to a sports game or TV show. It could be cuddling on the couch for ten minutes after your kids are finally in bed. Squeeze that reconnection into your new schedule somewhere, because you will feel far away from each other if you don’t.

The difficult (yet beautiful) thing about reconnecting is that every day might look different. New baby? Your sleep schedule will definitely be thrown off. Changing shifts at work? He might have to leave the house before you’re awake. Occasionally, reconnecting looks like doing something for your spouse when you can’t actually be with your spouse.

When You Can’t Be There

A traveling husband or a new mom may not be able to “be” there physically for their spouse the way they might want to. Instead, reconnect by doing something special for your spouse. My husband is planning to be out of town later this summer visiting his aging grandfather. We can still connect with a FaceTime date, a handwritten note tucked into his suitcase, or a “good morning” text on a busy day. When I am working longer than he is, he might put away the clean dishes from the dishwasher or make the bed if I’ve forgotten it. Those little things really add up, especially if we have less time to reconnect in person.

Communicate the Essentials

Everyone knows that practical communication is important. I’m talking about the “working” side of a marriage here: I’m running errands at this time, can you pick up the kids here, and what are we eating for dinner? When there are transitions in marriage, it is important to discuss them together, and figure out how they work within the schedule and routines you are familiar with.

For this, I love the Cozi App. I have a personal planner that I keep with me (and a chalkboard calendar in kitchen), but I realized that when summer hit and my husband and I started our separate part time jobs that we would need something to keep us organized. Cozi came to the rescue. With one calendar divided by color for each family member, it is easy to see who needs to do what each day and week. There’s also a grocery list and to-do list that is accessible by anyone in the family (just like a calendar), so it’s easy to send your husband to the store for you! I am not an affiliate for Cozi; I just enjoy sharing the app with others.

Obviously, using a neat app has not replaced face to face communication, but it has made it easier for us to stay on top of life transitions. We feel more connected just by knowing what time the other person will be home or where he or she is working today. My brother-in-law and his wife use a giant calendar on their refrigerator. My mom has her calendar printed out and sitting on her desk. Do what works for you and your husband.

Do Not Compare

Finally, do not allow envy to sneak into your heart. Nothing will put a damper on your marriage like comparing your transitional periods to another couple’s transitions. When you start comparing (“Why is my husband not finished with school yet?” or “How do her kids already sleep through the night?” or “How did they already buy a new house?”), you will feel empty and lacking. Instead, focus on what you do have. Focus on the values and the rewards of this stage where you find yourself right now. There is a purpose here in this transition.

 

P.S. Did your get your free Transitions in Marriage discussion guide? It’s not too late!

What transition are you currently facing in your marriage?

Guest Post: Why God Calls Me To Submit to My Husband – And Why I Gladly Do It

Today I have the joy of featuring a guest post from the lovely Madison of From This Day Forward. You can read more about her at the end of this post, but I want to go ahead and let you in on a little secret: her words about this divisive topic are refreshing and true, and reading this makes me actually want to submit to my husband! She does not shy away from God’s Word in this post or in any of her writing. I am honored to call her an excellent author and a sweet friend.

{This post contains an affiliate link. See my policies page for more information.}

Why God Calls Me To Submit to My Husband Becoming One Devotional for Wives

“Submission? I will never let a man control me! There is no way that I am going to let my future husband rule over me like I’m some kind of slave!”

Sassy, I know. I said phrases like that very often before I started dating and got married. I was a headstrong, independent (or so I liked to think) young woman who really didn’t know the first thing about true biblical submission. To be honest, I think a lot of women nowadays don’t truly know what it means, either. The world tells us that being a submissive wife shows weakness and timidity. It tells us that if we submit to our husbands, they will abuse us and run us down. It tells us that submission is an evil thing that should be avoided at all costs.

If we look at what the Bible tells us, though, it is the exact opposite! God created submission for our benefit. It is not a punishment or burden, but a huge part of what makes marriage more fulfilling and joyful.

There are some things that I had to learn before I could truly submit to my husband the way God called me to. It wasn’t (and still isn’t at times) easy to do, but it is rewarding for my marriage in so many ways.

I had to realize that my husband’s God-given role is to be the leader and head of our home, while MY God-given role is to stand beside him as his helpmeet.

My husband is called to submit to God in order to be the leader he is made to be. I am called to submit to God first and foremost, then to my husband. Our roles should never be switched. If they do, there will be chaos! I believe God created our families to run this way for a reason.

Our husbands are called to love us like Christ loved the church (His Bride) in every aspect of our marriage. Christ loves His church by leading, teaching, and providing for us. We are called to submit to His authority and let him lead our families in the way we should go. Isn’t that a great model of submission in marriage as well? Everything Christ does, He does out of love for us. Your husband should be striving to lead your family in the way Christ leads the church.

I believe another reason why women have a hatred for submission is because they believe, as women, they are required to submit to every man in the world. That is yet another lie!

True biblical submission only requires that a wife submit to her own husband. A woman is not obligated or required to submit to all men in general.

I am so thankful for this! My husband is a Godly, loving and compassionate man who would do anything for me. He is a strong leader and wonderful mentor, and I look up to him a lot. As for the majority of men in this world, I would not even want to be around them; much less be their wife! The good news is I am only called to submit to the man I chose to love forever, my husband.

So, I’m sure you’re wondering, what exactly does biblical submission look like? Do I have a say in anything that goes on in our marriage and life, or is that only my husband’s job?

You DEFINITELY have a say in every single aspect of your marriage and life!

You and your husband should ALWAYS consult each other before making any decisions in your life or marriage. You are a team; your husband is just the team leader!

Before I got married, I thought that submission meant that I would have to let my husband make all of the decisions without consulting me or my opinions. Wow, what a misconception!

Why God Calls Me To Submit to My Husband - Becoming One Devotional for WivesYour husband should most definitely be including you in ALL of the decisions that affect you and your family. If he doesn’t, then he is not being the leader that he is called to be. He should be coming to you for advice and input, as well as your opinion and how you feel about things. His number one priority should always be God’s will, you, and your children (in that order). Being a submissive wife just means that you trust your husband to make the right decisions. It means that you are okay with whatever decision your husband ultimately decides to make regardless of which path you would have chosen yourself. Even when it is hard to let go of the desire to control, we are called to let our husbands lead us.

Jesus provided the perfect example of submission when he went to the cross. He submitted to God and His will, even if it was not the path he would have taken.

When I need a powerful example of biblical submission to go by, I look at Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46). He went to the garden to pray because He knew He was about to go to the cross. It was taking a huge toll on Him, and he felt as if he was dying already. Through all of that stress and sadness though, Jesus prayed “Father, if it’s possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. But let your will be done rather than mine.” (Matt. 39) That sends chills down my spine! If Jesus, the King of Kings, can go to the cross and be brutally beaten to death and still say “not my will but Yours,” what is stopping us?

It is God’s will that my husband and I submit to Him and that I submit to my husband. Even when it is hard, we can still practice submission. God can help us! All we have to do is ask Him.

Pray for your husband; that he will be the true leader that God calls Him to be. Remember that your husband will never be perfect and he will make mistakes. Even so, trust him. Help him remember to seek God in all that he does and always follow His will.

Becoming One: A 30-Day Devotional for Wives

If you want to invest in your marriage and learning how to truly become one with your husband, I have the perfect resource for you! I just released my new e-book Becoming One: A 30-Day Devotional for Wives! It is designed to help wives grow closer to their husbands while also growing closer to God. To learn more about Becoming One and purchase it for yourself or a friend, visit this link.

About the Guest Poster:

Madison is a follower of Jesus, wife to Steven, and mommy to her fur baby Bentley. She strives to encourage and equip wives to grow closer to God and their husbands on a daily basis. She loves to spend time in the Word of God, go on dates with her husband, whip up treats in the kitchen and travel the world when she can. In all that she does, she strives to please God most of all.

To read more of Madison’s reflections on marriage, you can read her blog.

If you’re interested in reading more about working together within a submissive marriage, see my thoughts on teamwork in marriage.

5 Things that Surprised me about Marriage

Last week marked ten months of marriage, and my husband and I are eager to celebrate our one year anniversary very soon. In this relatively short time, I have come to realize that so many things I once thought about marriage are simply not true! I thought I might share some of these marriage surprises so you could commiserate – some hilarious and some not-so-funny.

Marriage Surprises | Things That Surprised Me Once I Got Married - perfect for newlyweds | graceupongracetoday.com

{This post may contain affiliate links. Please see our policies page for more information.}

Morning Breath

When I thought about all the joys of romance in marriage, sleeping in the same bed and waking up next to my sweet husband was top on my list. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to flutter my eyelids open, roll over, and peck my sweetheart on the lips? …gross. The first time I tried it, we both had such terrible morning breath that I vowed to never try that again! We still like to cuddle some mornings when have time, but definitely not kissing.

It Still Takes Work

Before we got married, we met with an older married couple from our church for mentoring and we worked through a pre-marital study book together. We also met with our associate and lead pastors, and we gleaned advice from other couples and from various books. (We spent quite a bit of time and money on our wedding, and I felt like we were spending more on our marriage!) There was a lot of effort put in up front. However, after our honeymoon and as time went on, we realized that we could not just “coast” through our marriage. When things got difficult or other obligations got in the way of our proximity and connection to each other and to God, we fought more and we felt less close. One morning, I woke up and realized that I could not simply set the car of my marriage on “neutral.” I had to continue to invest in our relationship. I realized that marriage is a marathon, not a sprint. When you put in the extra work, you get to enjoy it.

Some Things Matter More Than Others

You want to know a simple way to make your marriage better? Ask your husband what matters to him! It blew my mind when someone gave me this advice. Here’s the thing: My husband does not really care if the house is spotless or the bed is made or the kitchen floor is clean. He values having clean clothes and something to eat. When I realized this, I was able to stop trying to be SuperWife and instead be the wife that he needs and desires. I choose to focus on laundry and grocery shopping first. Yes, the kitchen floor gets swept, but I focus on how to serve him how he desires it first. Likewise, he does the same for me! I love that he picks up extra work on the weekends sometimes, because it helps the budget. I also love when he’s home on the weekends. We are able to work out a schedule each month that satisfies both of us as well as the budget.

Socks… Socks Everywhere

Since I graduated high school, I always lived with female roommates and/or housemates. I know what it is like to walk around someone else’s laundry or dishes. However, I was just not fully prepared to find socks on the living room floor that no one will pick up until I pick them up on laundry day. At first, I became angry with my husband: How dare he leave his stinky socks on my floor? But honestly? It’s not that big of a deal, and I am thankful that he is home long enough to take off his socks in the evenings. Sometimes I ask him to pick them up (which he does gladly), and sometimes I gather them up with the rest of the laundry. It’s not worth yelling over – most things aren’t.

Men are Different From Women

I know, newsflash, right? Even though we married women roll our eyes at this one, we too often assume that our husbands think and feel just like we do. Ironically, my wonderful, sweet husband is just plain different from me. He has strengths in areas where I have weaknesses, and he has weaknesses where I have strengths. Case in point: Our kitchen sink began leaking around the seal. My husband cleaned it up, examined the sink, and made a plan for how to reseal it. Then he left the wet towels by the sink. At first, I only saw the wet towels. I did not see his effort in repairing the sink. His thought-processes work differently than mine, but that’s a good thing. Did God not create man to lead woman and woman to be man’s helpmeet? We need each other in a beautiful way.

Marriage Surprises | Things That Surprised Me Once I Got Married - perfect for newlyweds | graceupongracetoday.com

What have been some of your marriage surprises?