Reblog: Millennial & Married: What I’ve Learned Six Months In

My church began a new Bible study today and it is called Married People Connect. As I’m sure you can guess, this study is for married couples and involves small table groups of varying aged couples to offer insight, advice, and encouragement for strong and happy marriages. G and I were both excited for this new step in our marriage and look forward to growing together with fellow members of our congregation.

This new study also brings e-Zines to our emails full of inspirational blog posts, vlogs, and date-night ideas. The most recent e-Zine included the following article written by Forrest Fyre, and I thought it was not only well-written but also on-point for my own marriage. As a millennial, marriage has a different look than it has for any other generation, but it also brings the same difficulties that all marriages face. I loved the honesty this author portrays over his young marriage, and couldn’t have said the words better myself. Enjoy!


In the summer of 2017, I made one of my boldest decisions yet. I committed myself in holy matrimony to the most beautiful woman I have ever known.

My heart was happier than ever before. I couldn’t have been more sure. And yet, the Millennial inside of me was wondering what on earth I was doing.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned six months into marriage as a Millennial. I think they’ll be helpful for others going into marriage as well.

1. I am a 24 year-old guy.

This is just a fact. Marriage hasn’t teleported me to a distant world where I am a wise old sage. And thank God it hasn’t! It’s been only a year since I graduated college. I have no business acting like I know everything now just because I’m married.

But I have learned so much already. I do feel myself maturing. Remembering my age has served both as a way to show myself grace and a reminder of my need to keep learning.

2. Getting married early is not normal for Millennials

It’s been fascinating to look at what other people my age are doing and feel how “against-the-grain” being married has been as a millennial. However, I’d say that I fit the Millennial stereotype pretty closely.

I work at a tech start-up in Boulder, CO. I love traveling, music, social media, and all that other “hipster” stuff. In fact, what I find to be different about being married is not what I’m into, but that I always have my wife to do it with.

Many millennials suffer from the pressure to portray the “best” of their lives on social media. And why? For others to see. I almost feel as if there is this awful mentality that “if you don’t show yourself looking good doing it, it didn’t happen.”

Not every Millennial fits this stereotype. But being married has freed me from this pressure. Everything I do is shared with my wife. There’s no need to prove anything to anyone. If I have the memories of living large with my wife, that’s good enough for me.

3. Marriage doesn’t solve all of your problems.

Don’t look at marriage as a solution to your problems, but as an opportunity to serve and love, despite your problems. I tried my best to refrain from thinking of marriage as a solution, but I still found myself thinking of it that way.

The truth is, I don’t have less problems since being married. I just have different problems. The reality is that I am responsible for the person I bring to my marriage. I cannot expect my wife to be responsible for fixing my flaws.

If you go into marriage thinking it will solve your mistakes, habits and addictions, you are setting your spouse up to be nothing more than a tool for your own, selfish ambitions. The first step for me was to realize what my problems were, and take ownership for them.

Marriage is not the solution to these problems. But it is helpful to have a companion to help reflect what’s hard for me to see in myself and support me in growing in those challenges. It was hard at first to get used to working out my problems in the presence of my wife. But I’ve realized that it helps to have honesty and trust with her in the process.

A helpful perspective we’ve had in our marriage is this—expect the other to bring their junk to the table. Desire always for them to grow from it and be willing to serve and love them despite all of it.

4. I’m selfish in ways I never recognized.

Selfishness is almost always at the root of an argument. The hardest, but most honest question I still trying to ask myself during fights is, “how am I being selfish in this?” Why can’t being humble be as easy as being stubborn?

It’s rare that I find myself not being selfish in some way. And if I’m not, the next question is, “how can I be more patient?” Or “how can I forgive and forget better?” I never knew I was so selfish about little things like home decor, food storage and grocery shopping. Thankfully, we are always learning how to argue more efficiently and with less unnecessary low-blows.

Fun fact I’ve learned: Being the one who gets out more words in an argument doesn’t make you more right.

5. I am 100% free to be myself.

Since getting married, I still go to the skatepark. I still dream big. I still rock climb after work. I still make it to social events and enjoy late-night live concerts. Marriage hasn’t put a pressure on me to change who I naturally am.

The best part is that I have a wife that loves doing most of these things with me. The key is we were honest to each other before we got married. We fell in love with our real selves because we chose to be our real selves.

Marriage has prompted me to constantly better myself—as a husband, listener, encourager, and a provider. That’s nothing different from what I’ve already felt through dating. Neither of us expect to be married and never see any change in the other.

6. Friends are important.

When we got married, we found it was tricky balancing married life with friend time. We try to be as intentional as possible about pursuing time with our mutual friends. It comes down to being OK with not having certain evenings together.

I’ve learned to prioritize my time with my wife first. Then intentionally establish time with my friends. It’s easier to become isolated from people, so having a conversation to set expectations and boundaries around time with friends was really helpful.

7. Work as a team with your finances.

As newlyweds, my wife brought good budgeting and saving skills to the table. I brought survival tactics, which were not very helpful. We came from two very different financial lifestyles. It was rough getting our strategy figured out at first.

Thankfully, we have figured out some ways to be a team. Talking with others we trust and those with experience about handling finances has been super helpful. I recommend starting a budget first and then creating a plan to pay off any debt you may have.

8. Plan your meals.

This one should have been more obvious to me. But after both being single for the last six years, we are both painfully disappointed with how quickly food disappears.

We are still learning our way around meal planning and grocery shopping. Nailing down a meal strategy will help us have more food, consistently and at less expense.

Cook together as much as possible! It’s healthier and good for building patience with each other. Also, the outcomes are usually delicious.

9. Comparison kills.

Comparison is a thief. It robs you of joy while you waste time wishing you had something else. Marriage is a dangerous area to allow comparison.

When it comes to comparison, we’ve had to draw a line in the sand. We are just as capable of comparing ourselves to others as we have ever been. And we are aware of the danger in that.

One night, we talked through some of the areas we felt like we were struggling with comparison. We made mutual decisions on where the two of us stood. We agreed to be content and confident in our personal decisions and have felt much better ever since.

I recommend being intentional about voicing any comparisons you feel so you can battle it out and remove it together. Feeling confident about your decisions as a couple is the best. Be sure these conversations don’t get overlooked early on.

10. Save water, shower together.

Pretty simple. Shower together. It’s fun and saves water.

Written by Forrest Fyre on December 26, 2017. Find the original post here.


For all my married couples out there, what have you learned throughout your days/months/years of marriage? My readers and I would love to hear your advice as well.

With you and for you,

My Cup of Thankfulness

How richly my cup overflows. (A very Happy Thanksgiving to you, my friends.)

With every year I age and mature, I seem to find a little bit more wisdom in what I find to be blessings. Each year I realize those blessings become things less and less. Instead, my blessings, for the greatest part, are the people in my life who love me, care for me, support me, and keep me grounded during times of turmoil and stress as well as achievement and excitement.

The last two Sundays at church have been quite the God-send for me. Last week the sermon was on a look into the beginning of Chapter 4 of Philippians, specifically verses four through six:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

One of my superpowers is worrying. I worry about my family, I worry about my friends, I worry about my car, my heat bill, the fight with my best friend in second grade… Heck, I come up with more plausible situations for the outcome of an argument in any given morning shower than there have been episodes of Survivor. It doesn’t truly take me a half hour to wash my hair; I’m actually dissecting every single direction the other party may go and my rebuttal so that I’m prepared! To quote Mark Twain, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”

One might think that my biggest stress lately would be wedding planning. Yet in all honesty, it hasn’t been. As the holidays approach I find myself missing certain people in my life a lot and worrying over their absence more than is mentally and emotionally healthy. I’ve been using wedding planning as a detracting agent for this larger stress, and you know what, friends, covering one stress with another isn’t a great strategy. (Who would have thought!?)

These words in Philippians, along with a heavy dose of meditation this past week, reminded me though that anxiety will not help me through anything in my life. There is a reason God misplaced and/or replaced certain people in my life, and my path is in His hands. It is with this thinking that I wish to move forward with the remainder of 2017 and into 2018 and the rest of my life.

When asked if my cup is half-full or half-empty, I want my only response to be how incredibly thankful I am that I have a cup.

Not only do I want to remember this with the people in my life (which, as I’ve said, I consider my greatest gifts) but also with my other blessings such as my talents, my job, my home, my volunteering, and my possessions. There is so many things I forget to be grateful for throughout the day. Living with a grateful heart is only the beginning of greatness, after all. It is an expression of humility and of true thanksgiving to our Father for all He provides. It is a foundation for the development of so many other virtues such as faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being.

A dear friend of mine has told me she makes a motion to begin every morning with a Movement of Gratitude. I think this is such an amazing approach to beginning the day. Though I am not positive her exact formula, I have been studying this theory and want to develop my own plan of action for the future.

So, before I get out of bed each morning and begin my day I will:

  1. Take five long breaths in and out
  2. Stretch every inch of body, paying attention to all my muscles and joints
  3. Express gratitude for waking to another day
  4. Smile for no reason
  5. Set intentions for the day
  6. Forgive myself for yesterday’s mistakes
  7. Compliment three things about myself

There are so many ways in which I could look at my younger years and not be grateful for the cup handed me. Within the last few years, I was not of the same mindset. I was someone who feared change, I held grudges, I criticized, and I was someone who thought she understood far more than she actually did.

Now though, I embrace change and roll with the punches. Even within the last few months I am amazed at how quickly I have adapted to changes I never saw coming — new job, loss of my best friend, engagement — all within half a year’s time. Sometimes I marvel at God and His plan. What does He have planned for me?

This thinking was reinforced with today’s Testimonial Service. The Sunday following Thanksgiving is always a service full of testimonies on how God has touched members’ lives at my church. It is one of the most beautiful services I have ever attended, and one which I was most grateful to witness this year.

Though all testimonies have a significant power in their own right, this year’s service was especially wonderful because G chose to give his testimony in front of the congregation. I’ve provided the video below so you are welcome to view this at your leisure, friends — he appears at about 36:20 — and his message is incredibly powerful. I could not be more proud to be marrying this man. G has gone through more trials in 29 years than most men do in their entire lives and he is still one of the most grounded, sincere, and upstanding men I know. His character was what initially drew me to him, and his quick-wit and humor, along with so many other amazing qualities, are what kept me coming back.

Following the service and witnessing the testimonies of multiple members, not only G, I was able to put my own life and situations into perspective. I am so incredibly blessed by God! He has guided me through some dark times this past year, in my own right, and brought me out unscathed and into a brighter and much more loving environment. It amazes me that I still allow myself to worry over trivial things when I know that He is always working towards the best in my life. It is time, again, to lay my worries at His feet and turn my face towards Him in prayer and servitude.

God is so good! 

This Thanksgiving was a great reminder of His blessings as well. Time was well spent with family and beloved friends. There were so many tears cried from laughter over the long weekend and far too much good food eaten — Wow! Do the women in our families know how to cook!

So as I move forward into the Christmas season, I am moving away from my worthless worries of the past and into a new gratitude spirit. Who would like to join me in my endeavor? You are all welcome!

 

The Year I Grew Up: A Talk of Faith & Faults

Today is my 24th birthday, but before you feel the obligation to wish me a happy day of birth, let me stop you. There is no need. I’ve walked into today with no feelings of excitement or anticipation. Instead, I look at it as just another day in the routine of life.

Now, I’m not saying this with any sort of disdain or ill-feelings towards my birthday. I am glad that I was born, after all. As every year passes, the special ambiance once felt as a child regarding my birthday dwindles. The presents become more scarce, their usefulness more logical, and becoming another year older just means you’ve gained more experience than what you had last year.

This experience is the only reason I have a spark of enthusiasm as my age ticks another number higher. This past year was one for the books. I had so many new experiences and unexpected twists and turns as a 23-year-old that I look back over the last year and marvel at the person molded before me in the mirror.

On October 13, 2014, I was on my way to growing up but I had not quite reached the point of Adulthood. Don’t get me wrong; I still have wavering thoughts, make questionable choices, and worry every day about my future. However, somewhere over the past year I crossed the line of Young Adult to Real Adult. There are several reasons I say this and I’d like to compare the Then 23-year-old Girl to the Now 24-year-old Woman through some examples of what I’ve learned over the last year…

When it comes to love and relationships, I am not dependent on another person for happiness.

Last year when I turned 23, I was just beginning my relationship with Army. (Literally just beginning, we had only made things official a week prior.) However, I approached the relationship very hesitantly for two key reasons: I didn’t believe I could love someone as much as I loved X and I honestly didn’t want to put as much effort into making my SO’s family happy as I did with X. In retrospect, I wasn’t sure if I was ready for a new relationship when I met Army.

Now my infatuation with X was gone by this time, but the emotions of how he and his family made me feel were not. These were both very warring emotions for someone who was still attempting to find her individualism. Though I dated during the time between X and Army, I did not have any lasting relationships in which to change the only way I knew to act as a girlfriend. This included being dependent on the guy and a pushover and coward to his family. As someone who was discovering herself, entering into a relationship where my mind was screaming, “NO! WE AREN’T GOING BACK TO BEING THAT KIND OF GIRL!” was terrifying.

Cue Army and his family. As our relationship progressed, my entire view of relationships and family interactions changed. With Army, I could remain independent. He urged me to keep up with my other friendships, he encouraged my hobbies and interests, and he made a point to intertwine both our lives together while keeping them apart. I never became the dependent, clinging, subservient girlfriend when I was with Army. As for his family, they accepted me from Day One. They were actually a large reason as to why I fell so hard for Army; I was part of his family. So as my feelings grew for Army and his entire family, the thoughts that I could never love someone again diminished. I opened my heart, and though it was ultimately crushed in the end, I became a stronger woman with the knowledge that I could love, lose, and find love again. I was not dependent on another person for happiness; I simply found myself happier with someone to share life.

A year later and I look at love and relationships in a new light. I might not have the intimate love I’ve known in the past with X or Army at this time in my life, but I’m happy. I am happy with myself, and in turn happy with my relationships of all those around me. Right now I am focusing on strengthening the friendships and relationships in my current life situation, and also continuing to build myself into the sort of person necessary for a functional, loving, long-lasting intimate relationship.

When it comes to my ideologies, I’ve jumped off the well-groomed trail of my entire childhood and begun to trek into the murkier parts of the world.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but I grew up attending a private school where religion was discussed every day. My home church was adjoined to this school, so my weekly Bible classes usually were focused more succinctly upon during Sunday’s sermon. It came to the point where I knew my Bible stories so well and the teachings of my Lutheran faith so clear that I took advantage of the grace by which I was saved. God’s Word, church, and my faith played a small part of much of my college life. I maintained my strong morals, mostly out of fear instilled in me by  I only attended service when forced to do so by my parents. I only prayed when life became too stressful.

Then X and I broke up and I found myself clinging to the only One who I had been taught was always there for me — God. I prayed for strength, I prayed for success, I prayed for healing of the pain. Then I met Army and life was good again… except the fact that he was a self-claimed agnostic. I wrestled with this fact throughout the entire relationship; yes, I loved him, but could there potentially be a future with someone who openly mocked my faith?

By the end of the relationship, I had made up my mind. My recovery time over our break up took less time than with X because I knew, truthfully, there had never been a future for Army and me. I never wanted to take advantage of my faith again. I wanted to retain and be proud of my morals. I chose eternal grace over earthly love.

Upon our break up, I also made the choice to refocus on my faith. I didn’t want to revert back to clinging to God as my only source of support and I didn’t want to pray only for my own needs and wants. I wanted to be a better person and a better believer.

So I broke out of my comfort zone and went to my first Bible study group meeting at the beginning of August. The group, called House, has become my closest network of support, friendship, and spiritual encouragement. A group of 20-somethings all struggling to gain footing in a world focusing more internally than externally, House not only allows me to explore God’s Word in new and enticing ways, but it has given me examples of peers who are going through life at the same speed I am. I no longer am focused on being single, but I am content knowing I have friends to spend time with and experience life. I no longer feel ashamed of my faith or scared to be mocked over my morals because I have the support of similar faiths surrounding me. It truly is uplifting!

Joining House and attending church with this group has led me away from my Lutheran religion. Though I happily wake up every Sunday to go to service, it is not to my parents’/home congregation. Rather it is with a Church of God congregation. The first service I attended was incredible — it was contemporary, relative to my every day life, and different than my typical church experiences. I was in love. Now after a month of sitting among my Housemates, I still find myself soaking in the day’s sermon. My mind doesn’t wander, I don’t feel my body trying to sleep; instead, I am focused on God’s Word, the grace shown to me every day, and the strengthening of my faith through Word and fellowship.

It’s strange to be studying and worshiping in a new environment, but the one which I have known for over 20 years was no longer fulfilling my heart and soul. I’ve grown into a person who is not content with being told how her faith should look, but rather someone who wants to delve deeper into what religion is and establish what she wants her faith to say about her.

When it comes to life, I’m focusing on living a day at a time and enjoying every moment given to me.

As I look over the past year, I am able to comfortably say that I am a very emotional being. I loved with all my heart and I cried when it was broken. I laughed with every fiber of my body and I felt anger when a friend betrayed me.  I’ve lost a dear friend and mentor, began a new career, and moved into the apartment living style of life. Every day brings about a random string of emotions and feelings, and I’m perfectly happy with my life. I am continuously learning from my past while looking towards my future, but my ultimate focus is living in the present and enjoying every moment that has graciously been given to me.

So here I am, a more mature, optimistic woman who has grown a ton in the span of only one year. I’m amazed at how much I’ve changed in 365 days, but you know what? I’m going to be just as amazed by how different I am next year when I turn 25. Onto bigger, better, and brighter things!


 

And the cool thing is, I’ve been able to share the past year with all of you. I’ve kept my promise to myself to keep Peonies ‘n Mint striving, and since 23-year-old Ashley, the site has boomed. I love growing my blogosphere relationships just as much as my in-real-life ones. You are all fantastic and it has been wonderful not only getting to know you but also abiding by your advice and gaining strength when you share similar experiences. Thank you, lovelies. Cheers to another year!