Monday, April 28, 2014

Lessons We've Learned as the Mrs.

Lessons We've Learned as the MRS.

We celebrate our first year of marriage today. It's insane to me how quickly time has gone. I feel like life has changed more in the last year than it did in the 24 previous years! Being a wife is awesome. Waking up every day next to the man you love more than anyone else in the world is after day. :) Keeping a home, making special dinners, putting love notes in his lunch, these are all things that I am learning...and loving! I literally couldn't have dreamed up a better life than I have, and I am so thankful and excited for this incredible life God has given me.

But, being married isn't "all roses." lol And yes, we had many people tell us that while we were engaged, but as you are floating through your love life, you just somehow don't understand what they are talking about. You can't envision the house being "a mess," the car needing gas when you don't have time to stop, dinner being lousy, etc. But those are the everyday realities that make up the life of a wife. When people "warned" me, I also thought they were saying Tim will this and that, and I kinda discredited their remarks because that wasn't his character at all, what I didn't realize was that the problem was going to be me! Not him. :) Now, in my opinion, the amazing memories, cuddles, friendship, etc., WAY outweigh the rough patches, but it's foolish to act like we live in a chick flick, because, girlie, we don't! And the sooner we stop pretending and just admit that we have things to learn, the better a wife we can be!

So over the last week I've really been thinking about what I've learned in the last year, and it might shock some of you who think you are "the perfect wife," but personally 90% of our "learning experiences" were usually caused by me, and if you are honest, you would probably agree the same is true of your marriage. It's the human thing to point fingers at the other person and blame them, but when I am honest, and it didn't take much convincing myself of this truth because it was so blatantly obvious lol, the problem is typically me-I  didn't know how to be a wife (and I'm still learning!) So, I could write a huge, long post about how wonderful marriage is, but I think it would be more helpful if I was just honest and shared some of my lessons with you. I've made a short list of my biggest lessons I learned during the first year of marriage, and I enlisted the help of some Godly girls who are also relatively young wives. I hope that through the things we have to share that you will be: encouraged, convicted, challenged, and/or informed!

So here's a few (of the many) things I learned during the last year....

1. I'm selfish. I mean, like really selfish. All human beings are, but I grew up thinking I was a kind, considerate, thoughtful, giving girl. I cared about others needs. I tried to help anyone I could. I think the biggest difference is that that was for a few hours, here and there, or just the school day, but 24/ that's a different story! I love Tim with all my heart, more than anyone else in the world, yet sometimes it is sooooo hard to think of him over myself. I'm just being honest here, but I had no clue how selfish I was until we got married. It's been very eye-opening and a constant challenge!

I think Sammi's "lesson learned" fits so well into this hard battle of being unselfish....

Sharing vs. Caring: When we first got married, Stephen and I decided that we would share the household chores - this would be something that would rotate daily (from dishes to laundry to vacuuming the floors). After three months of marriage though, "sharing" chores was more like me nagging him to hold up his end of the deal. One Saturday, after a long morning of doing all of the household chores myself for the who-knows-how-many-eth-time.......I cracked! Steve came inside from doing some work on the farm, asked me some totally benign question that I can't even remember now, and I cracked - no - I EXPLODED. I laid into him about all of the aggravation I was feeling towards him regarding these daily chores that he was (to me) neglecting and about how I do everything for him...then it hit me: why am I so angry about doing everything for him? He works a physically tasking job all day and what do I do? --sit on my butt all day at a desk. He takes care of me physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and what am I doing? Tearing him down with degrading and bitter words. I apologized to him and went back to cleaning...and to my thoughts. I prayed while I swept floors, I cried while I scrubbed the bathtub, and I asked for God's forgiveness as I folded laundry. I finally decided that "sharing" wasn't working and that maybe "caring" was the solution: caring after my husband by alleviating him of these mundane tasks and changing my attitude to that of a wife who loves keeping a clean house FOR her husband so that he has one less thing to worry about. The difference was not the tasks (I was already doing them all anyway!) - the difference was my change of heart. Lesson learned: sometimes instead of sharing the load with your spouse, taking your helpmate's yolk UPON you is the best way to show you care. (Sammi Ogershok)

2. God has to be at the center of our marriage. I have told Tim numerous times that I am very thankful he is a Godly man, because with my sinfulness we'd be in a heap of trouble if he didn't respond so graciously and lovingly to me! Spending time in prayer together is a really special bonding time for us. I really enjoy spending time together lifting up our families, church friends, coworkers, etc. up to the Lord. It's really special, but I've also learned that the "group prayer" isn't sufficient. I need my own personal walk with God that includes talking with God on my own, and spending time in His Word, and worshiping Him when I'm by myself. Another thing that has been a powerful lesson to me regarding the faithfulness of God and Him being #1, is the importance of tithing. I was not a faithful tither prior to marriage. I'd try, and then I'd get distracted, or something "important" would come up...always an excuse. Tim and I talked very shortly into our marriage, and decided that, no matter what, we were going to tithe, first Sunday of every month, no questions or discussion. I cannot explain to you how that decision has affected 1. my walk with God 2. our life together. God has blessed us so much over the last year and enabled us to give and help others in a way I never thought possible!

Here are some of the girls' thoughts on keeping God the priority in marriage....

Keep your focus on God first. I don't ever want to be so infatuated with my husband that I forget the one who gave him to me.. Or so focused on his flaws that I forget all the flaws and mistakes that I've been forgiven! Keep Christ at the center of your marriage and those things fall into place! (Jess Schwarz)

The Lord has shown me that money doesn’t make a marriage stronger; in fact, having to stretch financially often stretches faith in the One who put us together in the first place...Most of all, I’ve learned that God’s way is always the best way and that when He is put first in our marriage, it becomes so much more special. (Beth Holland) see our love grow stronger every day through our faith & devotion in Christ is so amazing. It's hard sometimes because of sin in our lives, but God comes first, then each other, then others in our lives...We pray together every morning and evening and share our thoughts and prayers with each other daily. (Emma Vioral)

3. Clamming up is never a good idea. If you ask Tim what the most annoying thing I have done in our marriage, in his opinion, he'd probably say, "She won't talk when she's upset, hurt, angry, sad--I don't know which because she clams up! It's really frustrating and hard to know what to say or do because I can't tell what she's thinking." This is still a struggle for me. I don't know if this is the case for everyone else, but I don't clam up to be a jerk (I've never done "the silent treatment"), but my shutting up is usually because I'm not in a place to deal with the situation right that moment. I'm hurt or angry, and very afraid I'm going to say something unkind or hurtful, and so I'm "smart" enough to not say anything at all, but that has caused a lot of struggles for us. Like I said, this is still a struggle currently, but I have learned to say, "I need a few minutes to think through this and sort out what I should say in my head first but I will talk about this just as soon as I can." This has taken the "bad moments" from about 4 hours of him constantly asking (because he wants to fix "it") and my emotions just rising and causing more silence, to more like 15 minutes and we're all good. lol I don't have a chapter and verse on how exactly disagreements should be handled, but I'm just sharing what is a work in progress for me. :)

I would say that some of the most important things I have learned since being a wife for almost 3 years is that we will argue and disagree, no matter how hard we try. It's part of being different. But we always try to resolve our issues before we lay down to bed at night. We hate arguments! (Emma)

I’ve also learned that clamming up and refusing to talk about what is bothering me solves absolutely nothing. (Beth)

Fight.. If something is wrong don't play word games or go silent.. Get it out! Let him know how you feel and together figure out a way to solve the problem! Seems so simple when written out but we all know how difficult those times are when we just want to be our 'the mood'! (Jess)

4. Be his best friend. I know that you love your hubby, but does he know it?! Being a friend is like the sprinkles on the ice cream sundae of marriage. Ice cream alone is great (the comfort of having a partner to share life with), whip cream is necessary in moderation (lessons learned-easy and hard!) but add sprinkles (a best friend relationship)-woo hoo! (And of course, there's the cherry on top-wink wink ;)-which we won't discuss!) When I think about being a best friend, it's easy for me to put that into words for how Tim should be my bestie, he should listen to me vent about the day and talk nonsense just to do it, shop with me for hours at a time, plan creative date nights, watch movies with me and cuddle me, etc....but how often do I stop and think about how I can be his best friend. Am I his supporter? His cheerleader? His movie buddy? (even if it is Marvel---ughhhh!!! lol) His prayer-warrior? The world is a scary place, girls. There are enticing sins surrounding our men every day, I never comprehended the importance of prayer for an individual until Tim became "mine." O my soul. I could practically murder the flirty waitress. The half-naked girl on facebook who went to high school with him.....yep, she's gone. haha (her facebook, not the real person! Come on now! lol) We HAVE to surround our men in prayer, all day, every day. It's our job as a wife, and really as a friend, it should be a passion, not a responsibility. I don't know about you, but being a best friend to a guy, is kinda hard...they don't like shopping, chick flicks, couponing, and on and on! We've had to work at finding mutual activities that don't involve me sobbing through movies where everyone is getting gruesomely and graphically murdered and don't include "Hallmark" movies where he predicts the movie the entire time because he's bored and makes me mad haha We have found that we really enjoying taking walks through the neighborhood, playing and singing worship together, and serving in ministry together...being best friends is easy and hard all at the same time! It's easy because you desire to be, but hard because it's work getting to know someone that's not you and doesn't share your same thoughts, feelings, likes, and dislikes! Don't settle on just a bowl of ice cream~step up to the sundae bar! :)

More thoughts on growing in friendship with your man....

Make him a priority over everyone and everything, except God... Set time apart for date nights.. OFTEN! Whether it be fancy dinners out once a week or just the mattress on the living room floor, a movie, and popcorn. Let him know you need him as your best friend, not just the father or the provider of the house! Kids will obviously make this a challenge but you can't be a good parent (at least I can't) if you don't have the closeness and intimacy with your spouse that God intended for you to have. PRAY! Often.. When you get up, when you go to sleep, and all throughout the day. For strength, peace, his relationship with God and others, his safety, for temptations he'll be faced with, patience. (Jess)

Since I became a wife, I have learned that laughter can ward off an oncoming argument, that bricks for biscuits and soggy rice don’t ruin a dinner, and that quiet conversations right before falling asleep make dreams sweeter. I’ve come to realize that friendship is a solid foundation on which to build a marriage and romance is only the icing on the cake... I’ve learned that every day I get to wake up next to my best friend is a beautiful gift from God and if I just breathe a word of thanks before getting up it makes the day all the better. I know now that my husband likes a glass of iced tea when he gets home from work, and that his is the perfect shoulder to cry on, and that I couldn’t have asked for a more patient, loving, godly man. (Beth)

I have learned to respect Kyle's likes & dislikes, and enjoy doing things with him that make him happy, because seeing him happy fills me with joy! We have learned to ask for the other's opinion or advice when making decisions that affect both of us. I think my favorite thing I have learned though is to always thank Kyle for everything he does, and to tell him I love him! We say those things to each other hundreds of times a day! We have learned to share the burden on chores and other daily things. (Emma)

5. Seek counsel. Just because your 12 sessions of marriage counseling are over, doesn't mean you are done learning from others who are successfully married! I pray I never get too proud to ask for advice, both for proactive and reactive marriage help. After a year now, I feel like I will never "get it all together;" marriage is a constant process! Continue to study, read, and pray! I know that all of us (blog contributors) attend women's bible studies, study God's Word on our own, and have Godly mentors~you can never arrive or know everything! I am really thankful for the girls that have been so gracious to share their advice with me for this blog...I have been encouraged, challenged, and informed!

6. Don't lose yourself. One final thought, from our only contributor with a kiddos (which is probably why she is the only one who felt this was an important lesson :)) Unlike Jess, the rest of us still have a lot of time to focus on us for the time being because we don't have two little ones running around! I like this a lot though and I am going to put it away for later in my own life...

Don't forget who YOU are! I get so wrapped up in housework and kids or whatever that I'm not ME! Your husband fell in love with someone who had her own relationship with God, took time to look presentable for him, had hobbies and friends.. He fell in love with someone who was her own person.. Yes, I get that you become one when you get married and that you take on new roles when it comes to a household and kids but don't forget about the girl your husband fell in love with! (Jess)

I hope this post encourages someone else, but even if it doesn't, wow, have I been blessed! I am very thankful for the wives that took the time to share with me (and with you!) what God is teaching them in their marriages. I praise the Lord for the incredible marriage He has blessed me with, and I know that the other 4 wives who shared with us today would completely agree that they are blessed! Marriage is hard, which is why the success rates are so devastating, but a marriage focused on Christ, surrounded by loving friends and family, a strong church family, constantly striving to grow, can be the healthy, successful, wonderful marriage that we all desire!

I close with this quote that I see floating around facebook often, and I absolutely love it, even though it challenges the selfishness in me:

If you would like more encouragement on your walk with God, being a Godly wife, raising Godly children, or ministering to others, I encourage you to check out some of my favorite sites. They all have facebook pages and blogs, and they truly bless me. I know you'll learn a ton!

Club31Women - If I had kids this would be my #1 site. Lisa is constantly posting on child-rearing and will personally respond to any emails/questions.
Time-Warp Wife - An adulterous wife who has taken her sin, marriage struggles, and forgiveness and used it to encourage wives everywhere.
Unveiled Wife - general Christian living and encouragement about being a Godly wife.
Comfy in the Kitchen - O my soul! Janelle is my fave! She loves to cook and is constantly sharing recipes, meal ministries, and ways to be a blessing via food!
A Girl on the Doorstep - Jen is a local gal from right here in Pittsburgh. She blogs about her struggle with infertility and general Christian living.
Women Living Well - general Christian living, with a really personal touch like family photos and occasional recipes and things like that.
Proverbs 31 Ministries - light Christian living, nothing too deep, more like daily pick me ups.
Kelly Minter - hardcore Bible study! Love her work!
Good Morning Girls - again, very light, multiple authors, daily devotions.
Karen Ehman - general and light-hearted. Watch any videos she has, she has contagious joy!
Ann Voskamp - deep but powerful writing.

Praising God for the most incredible year of my life,

 April 27, 2013 and April 27, 2014 <3

Meet the contributing wives:

Beth Holland is my cousin-in-law, married to the next oldest grandkid (after me) Russell. Russ and Beth live in Wyoming with Russell's brother and sisters. 

They just celebrated their first wedding anniversary this past December. We are thankful for this sweet addition to our family! Beth blogs at

Emma Vioral is my newest friend of this great group of girls. We became acquainted shortly before Christmas 2013 when she and her hubby Kyle started attending our church. Emma and Kyle have been a huge blessing to Tim and I, especially through the house-buying process, and we are so thankful for their friendship! Emma and Kyle have been married since July of 2011.

Jess Schwarz is the "old married lady" of today's post :), she and her hubby Roger just celebrated their 5th anniversary! They have two precious little girls. Jess and I have known each other for over 10 years! We all have an incredible story of God's grace in our lives, but Jess has truly been transformed by Christ in a way that has encouraged me in ways that she will probably never know!

I am blessed to watch her seek Christ and prayerfully raise her two little princesses to follow Jesus! 

Sammi is my best girl friend in the whole world! We've known each other since we were tiny and have had the blessing of sharing many special memories and milestones together. Sammi has been the most incredible friend over the past almost 20 years and I am so blessed to have her in my life!

Sammi married Steve in March of 2012. She is such a wonderful example of a wife, I am always challenged when I spent time with her, because even after 2 years of marriage, she treats Steve as though they are newlyweds~love it!

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