My Wife is Changing but I Won’t

Hannah is tiny, not only is she thin, but she’s just small. When we were just dating, I would pick her up and twirl her around easily, her 5’6” frame contrasted by my height. I’ve told her that she’s short, but her constant argument is that I’m abnormally tall, and she’s just average. The argument has died down now (since she is short), and as we enjoy time together, lying on the bed next to each other as we read or watch a movie, I notice that things are changing for us. Hannah has been pregnant for nearly 12 weeks now, and her body is adjusting to a baby who is growing pretty dang fast.

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I notice stretch marks, and veins popping up, skin growing tight and making a safe place for a baby to grow in. My wife’s body is changing. She’s getting bigger and rounder, and strangely more beautiful to me. In a culture fascinated with thin bodies and tight abs, I’m suddenly presented with a wonderful picture of life, growing right before me and it’s amazing. Now is the time for resolutions and posts about bodies changing and people needing to lose a few more pounds, but my wife is focusing on feeding two people and actually trying to gain weight!

There will be more changes to deal with, more stretches and blue skin, and the marks of growing old and loving a baby more than my wife loves her own body.

 

There will be birth, and pain and recovery, and a miracle called, “new life.” It’s going to come with changes, and it’s going to come with my responsibility to refuse to compromise, to refuse to change:

 

I refuse to stop loving my wife in the same way that I started loving her.

I refuse to let my definition of beauty remain the same, when my wife changes with the weight and responsibility of my child.

I refuse let stretch marks, and signs of pregnancy- maybe we should just call them beauty marks- be negative, but rather a badge of courage and strength.

I refuse to let my wife sink into self-doubt about her body, by doing all I can to let her know that I love her.

I married Hannah, knowing that there would be changes, knowing that I committed to love her and let my definition of beauty evolve with the experience of knowing her. Pregnancy is a huge responsibility, and as I watch Hannah go through morning sickness, nausea, dietary and bodily changes, I’m stunned at how hard this is and just how strong my wife is. I am so glad that I’m able to support her, love her, and embrace her as she changes sacrificially.

3 Pieces of Marriage Advice That Don’t Work for Us

I read a lot of Christian marriage books when I was younger, but after Hannah and I were married, I felt really disillusioned, discovering that most of the books were full of generalizations and personal issues that the authors struggled with. I assumed that because a marriage book had been written by someone who had been married for 30 years, it must mean that they had the inside scoop on what marriage was all about. However, within the first month of our marriage, Hannah and I quickly realize that marriage didn’t fit into the tidy box of pre-written marriage advice and here’s why:

“Marriage is solely about you or your spouse.” No, it’s not. Actually, it’s not about either of you. A good friend of mine writes, “The Purpose of Marriage is not your spouse’s happiness. The Purpose of Marriage is not your happiness. The Purpose of Marriage is not to save money by sharing bills. The Purpose of Marriage is not to secure sex for life. The Purpose of Marriage is not to have children. The Purpose of Marriage is, and only ever will be, to put on display the glorious commitment of a totally perfect God, to totally imperfect people. The Purpose of Marriage is God. The only ground on which a marriage can withstand is God. Every other thing will fail.”

“A woman is the most influential person in a man’s life.” Isn’t this just a little incomplete? Doesn’t it stand to reason that a husband is the most influential person in his wife’s life as well? I spend more time with Hannah than I do with any other person, and just being around her, I know that I have the ability to build her up or crush her. Our words and attitudes towards each other help shape us into who we are.

“Date nights are one of the most important things you can do for your marriage!” “Get in your date nights now, before you have kids, because you’ll miss them later on!” Did anyone think through the fact that most young married couples don’t have the cash to go out on dates all the time? I mean, we enjoy date nights as much as anyone else, because they allow us to have fun in our marriage, but we have to be realistic about them as well. Sometimes good conversations have been more important to us than a date night ever could have been.

That being said, we do continue to date each other, and we really enjoy the company Love Nourished created by our friend, Laura Radniecki. Her product, Date Night in a Bag has a lot of great ideas that are usually free and very special. We worked with Love Nourished through Typeset Design to create their packaging, and Laura is continuing to develop new products to draw couples closer together and they make great Christmas presents!

 

LauraRadniecki

 

Marriage advice changes as seasons change.

I do have to give a full disclaimer here: even though I’ve been writing since before I was able to drive, I’ve only been married going on three months. I’m not trying to give marriage advice, I’m just working through my marriage and trying to understand how to do life. Even in the time we’ve been together, Hannah and I have seen so much change in the people that we are, in our very character, that it’s hard to imagine us as the same people that we were when we started to date each other. Change in a relationship is good and healthy and we are continually morphing as people, so at some point, these marriage tips may actually be helpful to us. The bottom line is that a good marriage should reflect a good relationship with Christ, and Christ, through the Holy Spirit, is constant to change us, bring us closer to Him, and transform us into the likeness of himself. As we continue to focus on Him, He is faithful to work in and through us, transforming our hearts and strengthening our marriage.

Our Wedding Day at Highbridge Park in Kentucky

I don’t think anyone can really tell or explain just how many emotions your wedding day is going to be filled with, or just how much joy that day will bring. We were married on September 15th, at a small park overlooking the Kentucky river, tucked back in the hills of Wilmore, Kentucky. Surrounded by our family and friends, we joined together in marriage under the headship of Christ, inviting those around us to witness the event and be part of our married lives. It was so special, but so is every day, and I think that’s important to remember.

Our friends Ellie Berry and her assistant Elizabeth Lauren captured every detail, and while there are far too many pictures to post here, we hope you enjoy a little snapshot of our wedding:

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3 Ways Marriage Ruined My Picture of Marriage

Before Hannah and I were married, we sat down more than a few times to talk through the issues we thought we were bringing into marriage. Yet, as we talked through what we thought might be problems, we realized that we didn’t have all that many assumptions about marriage. We’d heard many couples talk about the assumptions that they brought to marriage, and it scared us a little:

One friend’s husband assumed that she would pick the chicken out of the chicken noodle soup, just like his mom did. No such luck.

Another friend assumed that her husband would listen, so much better than her father did. He didn’t.

So we decided to talk through, or ditch as many assumptions as we could before we got married. However, we’re learning that marriage is just like the overused onion metaphor- you’re constantly peeling back layers (and crying a lot).

1). We Thought We Would Feel Married
Both of us assumed that we would somehow feel instantly married when the rings went on our fingers and we had our first kiss- as if suddenly there would be a flash of light and we would be man and wife. We got married, walked back down the aisle and felt exactly like we had before. Two different people, totally married, and totally individual. I felt like a single man with a ring on my finger and a hot woman by my side- good, but slightly confused! To be totally honest, growing in marriage and becoming one is just another process, something that takes time.

2). We Thought Sex Would be Easy

Movies, books and TV Shows portray sex as something that is always 100% instantaneous and fun, and even the church aids this picture by encouraging couples to be servants to each other in every area of life. While the church is correct, nobody really says that this is a process or something that you have to work at. Let’s put it simply: you don’t drive 10 MPH your entire life, and then suddenly decide to go 80 MPH. Something has to change, and your view of sex has to be healthy, in order for you maintain a healthy sexual relationship with your spouse.

3). We Thought Things Wouldn’t be a Big Deal

Hannah and I aren’t big fighters. I’m really easy going, and she likes to resolve things quickly, so when we were dating, we didn’t fight very often. We went into business together after we got engaged, and found just how well we worked together, as well as how we handled stress (both poorly and well). What we didn’t know was exactly how we would act being together 24/7. Everything tends to be a little bit more of a big deal, and we try to engage each other, because living with another person means learning to live with them. 

Marriage is in the process of shattering the picture of marriage that I always had in my head, because I thought marriage would be easy. It isn’t, but it’s always good.

The bottom line is something that we’ve known throughout our relationship: We’re constantly morphing, changing and as Christians, conforming to the image of God. This new thing called, “being married” is hard, but it’s also filled with the humbling experience of learning to serve each other in everything that we do. It’s filled with opportunities to represent Christ to each other in every action, and show a much bigger picture of who He is, through who we are.

A Poem for 365 Days

Hannah and I celebrate a year together, today. For all that captivates us about each other, there is more. More of Him through us, and more of all that He has made.

summerclouds

Blowing, warm, summer wind,

haze across the fields where,

pitched mounds of hay

lie for bringing in.

Carry me to her, with your billows

and your peaks of rose-tinged clouds,

with your milkweed-blooming,

cottonwood-floating, honeysuckle-breeze.

Through summer nights, carry me,

down past the worn stump,

and the soft fields of tall plants,

grassy slope waiting for us to lie,

and watch Draco, Polaris, Ursa.

Peering up at the skies,

soaking silence and marveling,

at the pointing of earth,

and you, and me.

Eyes to see, ears to hear,

lips to touch,

all that has been made,

and lifted on this setting,

cotton-blossom sunset.

365 days is far too short for me to enjoy all that I know about you, love.

The Gift of Marriage

Sometimes I wonder how in the wide world my young heart is supposed to hold the biggest gift I feel like I’ve ever been given. Sometimes I just wonder if my heart is big enough in the first place, like, “God, is a heart allowed to carry this much gift? I’m pretty sure we just beat Santa with this one.” I don’t want this post to appear that I feel unprepared… I want people to understand that this is good and that I am grateful – not that it’s sugar-coated, by any stretch of the imagination, or that it has made up my whole life story, or that it’s easy breezy all the time. But Jesus has been truly good to us and we are grateful.

I know God guides us on the very best path he has for each of us. I’m just not sure if I’ve been mind-blown for this long before now. It’s made me very aware that time does not slow down and that God has unbelievable plans for everyone. I love what I have chosen – Eric, and marrying him – and believe that this is God’s best for me, for the two of us.

Maybe it’s like when a husband and wife find out, for the very first time, that they will be a family with children very, very soon. They knew it would happen sooner or later, and they are glad that it has happened! It’s just that sometimes God takes you on unbelievable surprise adventures when you are least expecting it. And friends, it’s so good. Thank you for journeying with us and reading along. Part 2 of our story will be up soon.