“Where you go, I will go. I will love you and cherish you, and be faithful to you, from this day forward.” - An excerpt of our wedding vows, 5/27/2017
Sitting in the car, counting the amount of bobby pins I carefully extracted from my hair, I looked over at Jacob in the driver’s seat, with the goofiest grin on his face. His speedy little red Mazda zoomed down I-35 as we both kept repeating to each other “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe we’re married!”
My heart was full, my brain was fried and my cheeks were sore from smiling so much. We had made it to the wedding. We weren’t engaged anymore!!! The wedding day was gorgeous, our friends and family partied the night away, our food was the most delicious taco bar ever to be created, the margaritas were plentiful and now it was all done. It was time to start life as husband and wife.
It’s amazing to think this was only 365 days ago. While Jacob and I have been together for over four years now, I have learned far more in our first year of marriage than I did in three years of dating him. Everyone told us we would grow more than we thought we would during this first year, but as naive as we were, we didn’t think much about it until reflecting back on the year.
To fill you in, within the last 365 days Jacob and I:
Bought a house
Laughed until our stomachs hurt
Moved in two roommates
Moved in two dogs and one cat into aforementioned house
Got promoted at work
Traveled abroad (twice!)
Cried, a lot.
Welcomed new nieces and nephews
Experienced the loss of family members
Started our own business
Learned to love unconditionally and forgive constantly
Looking back, despite all of the fun material things that Jacob and I have done, my favorite thing about being married so far has been experiencing what it feels like to be fully known and fully accepted.
Full disclosure: as a person, I am the worst. I fail constantly at loving others well, spending time with friends, and serving Jacob selflessly. The vows that I promised to him a year ago have been broken many, many times...
“To strengthen and encourage” - there have been times when I was the one who tore him down.
“To bring you good and not harm” - more often than not my words were harmful than uplifting.
However, despite my inability to uphold these vows constantly, Jacob is always there to forgive, to love, and remind me that I’m human and his expectation of me is not perfection.
I always thought I was a strong person. No matter what the issue at hand I could bootstrap myself and get whatever “it” was done. Being married has shown me the beauty in vulnerability. The moments where I say “I can’t” are opportunities to allow Jacob to step up, lead me and say “I will.”
Close to our 6 month mark of being married I started experiencing severe panic attacks. They would come at all hours of the day and completely overthrow whatever I was doing. One time it was in the middle of the night, another it was while we were putting dishes away in the kitchen. The stresses of work, marriage, and my own self-doubt were taking form and attacking me mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically.
While Jacob and I went through a very in-depth premarital course - which I recommend to every engaged couple - there wasn’t exactly a session on “What to do when your spouse has panic attacks and freaks you the heck out”. When we said our wedding vows, we didn’t say, “To have and to hold, during panic attacks in the middle of the night and in the middle of the day.” I mean come on, that would be *slightly* unromantic, right?
We weren’t prepared for this - how could we be? This was new, our marriage was in its early stages, we were still learning how to live together and share a bathroom!
Not to mention I was excruciatingly embarrassed by my inability to keep my emotions in check. In my mind, my lack of emotional control was the weakest thing I could show to Jacob. The strong, reliable, “Get ‘ish done” person I wanted the world to see wasn’t who Jacob saw. I was broken, needy, emotional, and anxious.
As we sought help from friends, our faith community, family and prayer, Jacob and I learned how to work together to overcome something that was negatively affecting our marriage. While I still struggle with the onslaught of anxiety, Jacob is there to remind me where to put my trust, that he is here to support me and that I am not alone.
The craziest thing in all of this is that Jacob loves me more now than he did before we were married. Despite my mess ups, my screw ups, my inability to lift up, the love that Jacob has for me has only grown. How radical is that? He loves me more when he sees my true and broken heart.
This might be surprising to some of you skeptical folks. Those of us who err on the side of pessimism and realism think that this isn’t possible. Common sense says that the more we realize how shambly someone is, the more we want to distance ourselves away from them. The opposite is true in my marriage.
The more I realize how beautifully broken Jacob and I are, the more thankful I am of the greatest love story to use as our example. When we realize our own strength isn’t in us, but in our devotion to our faith and each other, that’s when our strength is realized.
My friends, my encouragement to you is to be vulnerable. Have a #RealTalk with your spouse, your friend, your mom, your sister. Allow them to see the beauty in your vulnerability, the world is better off with real people with faults than seemingly perfect people seeking attention.