A week after our wedding, we showed up in Pompano Beach (homeless, jobless, friendless) together, so we got to make lots of cute little married couple friends as a unit. We were Noah&Bethany from day one of Life in South Florida. In the beginning, while I was despondent and miserable, I really wished there were people here who knew me as I used to believe myself to be: capable, happy, fun-loving, and fancy-free; but in retrospect, it would have just been a safety net. To crawl through some of the loneliest and most depressing times of my life without anyone but my husband nearby helped me choose reality over escapism. I remember as a young’n thinking that, as a newlywed, I would call my mother often, asking her homemaker-esque questions and seeking advice. A great benefit of my damnation from her world has been the exclusion of potential lies that would have turned me against Noah. Leave and cleave all the way.
In “starting fresh,” I denied my previously most intimate relationships the power to dictate the future of my marriage, but that does not mean I did it all on my own. During our first year, we were very deliberate about reaching out, opening up, and finding people with whom to family. Twice a week for a year we had different people over for dinner. Many we never connected with again on more than an acquaintance level, but some became family to us. Now we are shifting from breadth to depth in our relationships.
With our “natural” families, we had the best holidays I ever celebrated. We spent Thanksgiving in New York with my step-dad, reuniting with family I hadn’t seen since middle school. We had a Christmas slumber party in central Florida with my second-cousin and her husband, who were also in their first year of marriage. My great-uncle hosted us for Memorial Day weekend and the Indy 500. We took a couple trips up to North Carolina to visit Noah’s family, and we had various siblings and cousins join us in our humble abode throughout the year. We planned months in advance to visit Noah’s parents in Wyoming; we bought our plane tickets back in July and have been looking forward to Christmas in Cheyenne ever since. Familying is intentional, powerful, and one of our first priorities.
Not every couple has the opportunity to work together; fewer couples may ever want to work together. Noah started teaching at the same school as me in April. There were seven teachers total, and our classrooms were across the hall from each other. At first, I hated having him there and was afraid to tell him as such. After recognizing unrealistic expectations I had placed on him to devote himself to our students, and after working through my own philosophy of teaching, I grew to love working with my husband.
Unbeknownst to us, Noah subconsciously motivated me to view work through his lens of valuing efficiency, at the loss of emotional attachment. In September, I started teaching four new classes without any curriculum. Overwhelmed, I worked hard to find resources and write curriculum, and had less energy for connecting with staff and students. One month ago, Noah transitioned out of his job and one of our best friends filled his position, and again, my relationship with work and with my husband changed. Work has been a catalyst that has brought much to the surface. It is invaluable indeed to have shared this part of our life together, and for Noah to be so intimately acquainted with how I am currently processing it all.
SAVING OUR MARRIAGE BEFORE IT EVER NEEDED SAVING
It’s called Love After Marriage, but it is a workshop that goes beyond words. This is our second time participating in the 18-week course, but there is no such thing as “doing LAM twice.” I have fresh ears to hear teaching, new eyes to discern root issues, and a heart transformed to release offense and initiate reconciliation with greater willingness. I flip through my workbook notes and observe how issues that used to be so present in my life are now nonexistent. I see tangible growth through how I approach relationships, how I process hurt and pain, and how I claim blessings. The times Noah and I fight grow ever fewer and farther between as we learn to truly work through and deal with our stuff. I am so thankful to have invested in our marriage in this way. Our hearts have been so cleansed this year.
July 13, 2012 to November 25, 2013: These were the first 500 days.