Dating Your Husband

On dating your husband - that's pretty ace

The past year has been trying on our marriage. There's been lots of change, with incredible highs – but also so many new fears and anxieties. When we're home, we let our guards down and those emotions get spilled out on one another. It's easy to take out my personal fears on Chris... too easy. He is such a sweet man, and he works hard to be a good and faithful leader for us. So, one thing that I’ve been trying to work hard on is to be more aware of Chris’s needs. I won't lie and say taking care of him doesn't come easy to be, because it does (growing up, I was always called the "mama" of my friend groups). But our world makes it really easy to only look out for yourself, and I see that most evident in myself in our marriage. I come home and think of all of the things Chris could be doing for me instead of what I could be doing for Chris, and that's just not fair to either of us. 

On a broad scale, I 100% believe that if the inhale and exhale of our marriages is to serve the other that we would be much happier with our spouses. And not just in the ways you expect to serve going into marriage – it's the kind of serving in which you completely deny yourself. It's not of this world, and on the outside, it might make you bristle and question, "well, what about me? what about my benefit and my feelings?" But consider walking in this: What would your night look like if instead of giving him the cold shoulder because you're exhausted and he hasn't offered to help you, you showed him grace and continued to love? What would it look like if instead of throwing him under the bus in front of your friends about how he never takes the trash out, you took it out yourself and then turned around and found something that he does do well to praise him about in front of your friends? No expectations to get anything in return. Just offering grace and unchanging love. This is the life we're invited to live. 

Now, I know I said to not have expectations of getting anything in return, but the truth is that you probably will...! When your spouse feels loved unconditionally and supported, more often than not that service will be returned with service. When you serve me, I want to serve you more. When you show your love to me, I want to show my love to you more. It’s how our nature works. Serving someone because they serve you is easy... but maybe it's time for you to start the serving. If you feel as if you aren't being served, wouldn't it make sense logically that it's up to you to do the serving? To show grace when you feel it's not shown to you? To love when you feel as if you aren't always loved first?

Awhile back, I read a post on Lesley Graham's blog about a book she had read. In the book, there was a challenge for wives to try and do special things for their husbands each day for two weeks. I think this is a perfect idea and something I'm going to take as a personal challenge. Some of her favorite ideas she shared were really simple:

  • Make him his favorite meal. (not sure what that is? ask him!)
  • Bring him a cold drink for no reason.
  • Pray for him - ask him what he needs prayer for.
  • Ask him what things make him feel disrespected. (and stop doing them!)
  • Find out what he ranks most important – what his priorities are. Be understanding with his response. 
  • Kiss your man (like you mean it)!! 
  • Reflect on your dating days. Dress nicer than usual for him :) Don't be upset if he doesn't notice – in fact, feel free to tell him what you did and why and that it's because you love and respect him. 

I would love to hear from you – how do you serve your man and make your marriage a priority?

2 years later: what we've learned

Today marks two years of marriage. It feels like it's gone by slowly and quickly all at the same time. While a little part of me is sad that the memories of our wedding day grow fainter each year, I'm truly thankful that what's lacking in clarity from that day resulted in an authentically wonderful marriage. Marriage is no cake walk, and it's been the most refining relationship either one of us has ever been in. I put together a list of questions for Chris (because you know I love to interview people) to share a little glimpse into our lives so far...

 
2 years: what we've learned - that's pretty ace
 

When did you know you wanted to marry each other?

Brittany: Chris and I originally met via Facebook while he was studying abroad in England. It was so nice getting to know someone over several months without the pressures there would have been had it all been done "in person." When we finally did meet, it was obvious that all that talking had lead to a genuine relationship that ran deep. I instantly felt like teammates and trustworthy friends, and saw that the bond between us was incredibly special and true. It's hard to put into words, and this is so cliche, but it's something like, "I saw you and I knew." Chris took a little more convincing...

Chris: I’m not sure I can pinpoint an exact time or place. I think, for me, it was more of a gradual process. In the first few months of our relationship, I certainly thought about it, but I’m not sure I can say I knew for sure (although I did more often than not think about the future as our future). By the end of our first year of dating, I was pretty confident that I wanted to get married. And, since we dated for three years before getting married, by the time we actually got married I was very, very sure. :) 

What about marriage were you not expecting?

Brittany: Living intimately with someone actually makes communication even more important. I thought as we lived together and functioned as one true team, that we would start to be able to just "get" how the other one thinks or feels. Turns out, no one can read minds! :)

Chris: I think there is a lot that I kind of expected, but that I couldn’t really understand until I experienced it. One thing that has been beautiful to experience is the constant (and imperfect) pursuit of service. Coming into marriage, I knew that we were committing to serve and love one another by putting each other’s needs ahead of our own. While I knew we were committing to serve and love each other, experiencing that day-in and day-out has been something that must be experienced to truly appreciate and enjoy. Obviously we mess up and are selfish, but the pursuit of service—where we both try to pursue and serve each other—is pretty awesome. 

 
2 years: what we've learned - that's pretty ace
 

What are the biggest changes you've seen in yourself?

Brittany: I've learned (and am still learning) how to serve someone else when all I want to do is to be served (ex. coming home from a long day of work!). Learning how to set my own feelings aside for the benefit of someone else has grown and changed me in so many ways. I've learned that in being selfless, I've honored myself more and don't let myself get caught up in fleeting fantasies or worries. I also get the opportunity to see how deeply Chris loves me, and it furthers our trust to serve one another without intentions of "getting" anything in return.

Chris: Since we’ve been married, I think the biggest change I’ve seen in myself is a growing acceptance of circumstances and an increased belief that there is joy even in hardship. As James 1:2 would say, I’ve learned—albeit still imperfectly—to “count it all joy” during trials. There have been a number of hard choices (e.g., applying for jobs all across the country, trying to discern which jobs to take) that we’ve had to make the last two years, and sometimes the circumstances have been far different than what we had expected or planned for. Many times I’ve found myself anxious and confused about these choices and other circumstances of life, and I’ve even (ever so reasonably) been anxious and confused about being anxious and confused. I don’t expect that difficulties will stop coming my (our) way, and thus I do expect that this is going to be an ongoing area of growth for me. I have come to better understand the lack of control I truly have over pretty much anything, and with that understanding has (by the grace of God) come an increased faith in God’s goodness and sovereignty. 

What's one aspect of your parents' marriage that you'd like to replicate in your marriage?

Brittany: My parents love to have fun together. They love to go on trips, try new things, and accept any and all opportunities for celebration. I've always respected that, and it's been refreshing to remember we're meant to enjoy each other in the midst of serious and tough seasons. 

Chris: Something I’d like to replicate is keeping the romance and pursuit alive, even as we get older. My parents’ marriage is going on 30 years and the romancing is still going strong. Growing up and now, I see them consistently pursuing and seeking to serve each other—kissing each other before going to work, many “I love you”s (in a way that I never felt was insincere), and planning dinners or trips (or anything else, really) with the goal of serving. This constant pursuit and service is a joy for me to see, and I know that growing up in their house has helped me love and serve Brittany better.  

 
2 years: what we've learned - that's pretty ace
 

What spiritual gifts do you see in each other?

Brittany: Something I've always admired in Chris is how genuine his love is for the people around him. And I don't necessarily mean a "lovey-dovey" or sappy kind of love – the love Chris offers to me and to others in his life is honest, straightforward, and loyal. It's something rare and so of God. I don't think I can express how much I appreciate his sweet, steadfast love for me – and how much that has taught me about how Christ sees me. It brings me to my knees. I've watched others continue to find truth and trust in being Chris's friend, and I'm in awe of the way he serves the people God brings into his life.

Chris: Brittany is filled with grace and loves others well. She has an amazing ability to see needs and seek to serve in a way that fills those needs. Her love for others—even those who wrong her—and her desire to serve them has helped me better understand the power of forgiveness and grace. Not only do I see Brittany loving others, I’ve also had the joy of watching her love increase. As we’ve been married longer and longer, Brittany has been quicker and quicker to forgive and to love. 

What's your ideal date night?

Brittany: Chris, a glass of wine, and a beautiful view. Time to just sit and chat for hours is so good for my soul. (Though I'd never turn down a plate of fajitas and a margarita with him, either!) 

Chris: Sitting together in a cabana in Costa Rica and watching the sun set over the ocean while drinking pina coladas after eating some freshly caught fish… But, if we aren’t in Costa Rica and there is no ocean, sunset, etc. available, I’m nearly as content splitting fajitas, walking Penny, and drinking a margarita (not two, because if I do that I usually get a stomachache)—although not necessarily in that order.

 
2 years: what we've learned - that's pretty ace
 

What is one dream you have for your future?

Brittany: To pick just one, I would dream for Chris and I to grow together in our love for God and His glory. I've already seen God do so much of this work in our hearts and our lives, and I know He always has more of Himself to give us. My dream would be that Chris and I continue to lean in, holding hands, trusting in His goodness for our lives – a "humble bravery" that is completely authored and rooted in Christ. I have no idea what that looks like, but I pray that God moves in big ways.  

Chris: I’m notoriously bad at thinking too far into the future, but I think I can at least say that my dream is that we continue to pursue each other and the Lord, loving each other and others in a way that’s glorifying to Him. I don’t know exactly what that looks like (as in, where we will be, how many children we will have, etc.), but I think that regardless of changed circumstances, that’s where I want us to be. Of course I also hope to have children, have a home, and grow old together, but these are secondary to us becoming increasingly close to the Lord and submitting to His will daily together. 

Two years out, is there one moment from your wedding that stands out the most?

Brittany: There was a moment during the ceremony that my dad read a passage of Scripture to the audience. I remember finally feeling like I had the opportunity to look out where everyone was sitting, and I ended up taking in everything – the chapel, it's tall ceilings, the flowers, and all of the incredible people who came so far to celebrate with us. I felt such a warm wave of immense joy wash over me. I knew everything from that day forward would be different, but standing there, holding Chris's hands, I felt wonderfully happy and present, able to enjoy the moment and soak it all in without fear of the future. It's too easy to be thinking about "the next step," and I love thinking back on that moment and reminding myself that the present is incredibly good and wonderful, just as it is. 

Chris: Brittany walking down the aisle was big for me. I had thought through that moment 1,000 times before the wedding. I knew I’d probably cry, and I did (very hard). I think that was the moment that it felt real for me. It was great seeing her come down the aisle and knowing that we were going to get to grow together and seek each other for the rest of our lives. While that thought is also a bit scary when you’re 22, that fear was more than compensated for by the joy of knowing that we were committing to be one: to pursue and serve each other, to lean on each other during hardship, and to encourage each other to grow in faith and love.


Photographs by the wonderfully talented Lauren Kinsey

P.S. If you enjoy a walk down memory lane: getting ready, our first look, the ceremony, and our reception.

Our Family Meetings

that's pretty ace
 

Over the years of dating and marriage, Chris and I have had our fair share of "tough" conversations. Especially, it seems, as we've navigated law school and our careers – it's as if every six months, we need to sit down and talk about what big decision is coming up next. At first, these talks felt exciting. They were bonding experiences, showing us how we handle the hills and valleys of life together, and proving our commitment. Then, they slowly became more scary. After getting married and settling (somewhat) into a routine, these talks felt unwelcome. 

We recently found a new way to approach these talks by turning them into something more fun for us. If one of us has something we need to talk about, instead of barraging the other with a long text or email, we will just text them and say, "Family meeting tonight?" Then the other can reply "yes" or state why they can't tonight, but suggest another evening as soon as possible. The meeting itself? We go for a walk.

Since getting our pup, Penny, walks have become a constant part of our routine, and with the weather getting so wonderful, they're insanely perfect for long chats. I know the day will come all too soon that it will be hot, but Penny will still need walks :) Because we're not eye-to-eye at a table across from each other – such confrontational body language! – we're instead walking side-by-side, talking things out. Not having to make eye contact eases the pressure, and there's something about moving forward next to each other. We feel as if we're both working to find a solution to the situation as a team. You know how sometimes when you're upset, you feel as if you just need to walk around the block to take off steam? That same feeling comes into play here. Walking itself is an instant relaxer. 

These walks have helped change my perspective and be less defensive in tough conversations. I've seen myself ease up and become more open-minded, and offer more honest feedback. I especially love the way they've reminded both Chris and I that we are a team, and we both want to find a God-honoring solution. Plus, a little extra sunshine doesn't hurt either :) 

What about you? Do you have "family meetings"? Would you take your tough talks on a walk?

Clean.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.
The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."

- 2 Corinthians 5:17

As followers of Christ, we're literally a new creation. The old is gone, and we are made new. Our identity is different than previous to following Jesus. This is vital for me to remember. 

My identity without Jesus was so messed up. I love that because of his love for me and nothing of myself, I get to be a new person. I get a fresh start, a clean slate, a new "me."

I was baptized and gave my life to Christ in the seventh grade. However, as teenage emotions set in, I began pursuing whatever it was that I wanted. These desires always had good intentions... "If I date that person, I can fix them." "I want my parents to be proud of me." "I want to feel loved." But (of course) nothing satisfied; nothing I chased outside of God comforted me, because it wasn't Him. Most of what I chased led to destruction and not happiness, and continually led me down the path to depression.

When Chris and I started dating one of the hardest things for me was realizing that I didn't have to chase him. He pursued me, and experiencing this for the first time was mind-blowing. All of my past understandings about how a relationship worked were rocked. What was especially wonderful was that, for the first several months we knew each other, we had an entire ocean separating us... Chris and I actually met online. 

It wasn't through Match.com, but it was through Facebook. We had lots of mutual friends at the small Christian college we attended, but we had never met before. At the time, Chris was studying abroad for the fall semester in Oxford, and I was on campus in Abilene. I was also just beginning to go to counseling to work through my years-long battle with depression. Through what I know was the Holy Spirit on the move, we began chatting on Facebook, which turned into chatting via text messages, which turned into early morning or late night Skype calls. We had the incredible opportunity to get to know each other as friends without the physical temptations we both had faced in past relationships. As it became clear that this relationship was one we were interested in pursuing when Chris got back to Abilene, we started having more serious conversations – including talking through our past relationships and past struggles. We both came with a lot of baggage, but the foundation we were laying for our relationship came with a lot of grace. 

When Chris got back from Oxford, we began dating. While it was easy being together, it was also hard. Physical boundaries weren't specifically set, and there were seasons where we messed up. Thankfully, God was working in both of our hearts to chase out the temptations in our relationship. He was wooing us to Himself, and in turn, it wooed us even more towards each other. Our eyes were being opened to the fact that the most loving thing we could do for each other was to respect each other physically. And it didn't happen quickly – we had veered far off of the path God had intended for our relationship, and it took time to find our way out of the woods. I'm so thankful for the way the Holy Spirit called out to us and for the many date nights we had that ended in tears – it was through those intense discussions, where we admitted things weren't right, that God was lovingly putting two broken people together for His glory. 

Not every relationship works out the way ours did. I really am continually amazed at how God has been speaking to us about things at the same time. So far, we haven't had a season where we've had to play "catch up" with each other – and I know if that does come, God will be right there with each of us. But being on the same page, by God's great mercy, has been so beautiful for our relationship and for our marriage. There's still seasons where the physical sins we walked in come back to haunt us and hinder our marriage. I'm so thankful to have a Christ-centered marriage and Christ-centered friendships where I'm free to be vulnerable in my brokenness and have them point me back to Christ and who He says I am.

He takes my shame; He calls me blameless before Him. He says I am whole in Him, and I am being made holy. He has forgiven me for my past and made me clean with His blood. I can't believe someone would love me that much... and would make beautiful flowers (like this marriage) come out of my dirty soil. Hearing His words of love towards me poured out of the mouths of my friends and my husband is truly a healing balm to my soul. My heart breaks over my past, and He is using them to mend it, piece by piece. My identity has been made new in Christ, and it's no longer claimed by my past. It's not based on anything I have or haven't done, but is in fact based on everything Jesus did and didn't do. He took on my sin, died on a cross as a sinless man, and because of that – I get a new life. 

I am a new creation. Literally. I read this truth over and over again:  "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."

Thank you, sweet Chris, for loving me and pursuing me daily, waving the banner of Christ. I love you more every day, but the best reality is that Christ loves you infinitely more than I do. Happy Valentine's Day. 

Prayer + Marriage

That's Pretty Ace | Lauren Kinsey
 

Popping in to ask a quick question to all my married ladies out there... how do you pray together?

This is something Chris and I have been trying to work on. Often, Chris will pray over our dinner (something we rarely did while dating that I'm so happy has worked it's way into our marriage) and he takes care of a lot of the main topics there. However, there are things that weigh on our minds during the day that we both talk about and know we should pray about together. I also know that I really love and enjoy praying out loud (never thought I'd type that). So we're trying new things. 

Last week, before leaving our little rental abode for a day of fasting, I asked Chris if I could pray for us. We sat on the couch and held hands and I prayed over our day. That same day, we took turns walking on the beach and praying alone, then shared what we learned over dinner that night. Last night, we went running together but instead of just running we prayed – before starting our runs, we took turns sharing things to pray for one another and things outside of ourselves that were weighing heavy on our hearts and devoted our runs to prayer. Chris runs a bit faster than me, so it was a good time in solitude to pray. When we hit our goal run mark, we stopped and walked the way back and had planned to talk about our prayer time, but ended up praying more, walking side by side in silence. I'm really glad we did this (praying while running made me realize how much I think of myself! I had to keep asking God to take away the distraction of me wondering how many miles I'd gone and whether my body would make it). I do wish we could make more opportunities where we could pray out loud together. I love the bonding and fellowship that comes from praying with others – how I can feel the power of God when the prayer is spoken, and the encouragement received when I listen to others and speak as well. 

So I'm wondering... how do you do prayer together? What does that look like? I'm looking forward to hearing your answers! 

Image via Lauren Kinsey