Over the past few months, the Southern Weddings team has been going through a lot of changes. We launched a new magazine, Emily’s older sister got married, I got married, Lara set off an a cross-country tour and –oh, yeah – we launched a new, kick-butt site. (We hope you’re loving it, by the way!) With our an all-new site finally live + taking over the blogosphere, and a brand new year quickly approaching, it seemed time to bring back fan-favorite Katie Brown of Marriage Confessions.
You may remember Ms. Brown from SW 1.0: Katie was the feisty redhead who offered sage marriage advice and happily answered readers’ burning questions about life after the “I dos,” all with her trademark wit and good humor. Her topic this month? Yep, you guessed it: change.
Question: What is the best piece of marriage advice you can give a newlywed couple?
I get emails a lot from readers asking me what my best piece of advice would be for a newly married couple. This is one question I never have to think too hard about. If I could only give one piece of advice, it would be to expect change.
If there’s anything that is certain about the newlywed period, it is that you’ll go through a lot of changes. From major changes such as relocating in order to be together to minor ones like splitting holidays between families, change is the name of the newlywed game. And (here’s the part I’m just now learning) it doesn’t just stop after the first couple of years. Indeed, change isn’t just part of being a newlywed, it’s part of being a married couple.
My husband, Chris, and I have been married for six years. In that time, we have both gone to graduate school, bought a house, sold a car, bought a car, had a baby, landed several killer jobs, and, just this past summer, moved across the country, started new jobs, and got pregnant for the second time. Change has become second nature to me now, and if I’ve learned anything about dealing with change in your marriage, it is how important trust becomes in the middle of all that transition.
When I first got married, I thought trust meant whether I trusted my husband around beautiful, buxom blondes. But as our marriage continues to grow, I am finding that trust involves so much more than just loyalty. This past summer after six years of marriage, trust took on a whole new meaning for me in my marriage. Trust in my marriage now means trusting that when Chris and I go through changes as a couple, we go into those new situations hand-in-hand, confident in each other’s judgment and decision-making abilities.
When Chris and I had our first baby, Michael, we lived thousands of miles away from family. Though we loved our life where we were, I started to miss our family back home. I wanted our son to grow up with grandparents at his birthday parties and family members cheering for him at his soccer games. Michael started hitting fairly small milestones (rolling over, sitting up by himself, throwing golf balls at our dogs, etc.) and all I could think about was how much I wanted our family to experience these things with us. After a few months of thinking through it myself, I finally got up the courage to ask Chris what he thought abut leaving the life we had made for ourselves as a couple and moving closer to family again.
I was shocked at how easily Chris came around to the idea. He needed some time to think it over for himself, just like I had done, but in the end it was only a few days before he decided moving back was the right decision. And now that we had a child, decision-making in our marriage meant making decisions that are best for our family, and not just the best for each other.
Moving back to Florida from Connecticut was one of the hardest decisions that Chris and I had ever made together as a couple. Truth be told, it is one of the hardest things that we have ever faced together as a couple. Adjusting to a new life together while mourning the loss of the life we had built was a delicate and sometimes unsteady balance. But in those times when I really doubted if we had made the right decision, it was my husband who took my hand and reminded me that trusting each other meant trusting our ability to make really difficult decisions. It meant trusting that when I was too nervous or anxious or scared about everything that was going on around me, that Chris would still be there holding my hand until we were on firm ground again.
This past summer when we moved and things were changing for our family faster than a Carrie Underwood costume change, I remember thinking that I just couldn’t handle anything else. One more major life change and I would reach my breaking point. And then the next morning I took a very unexpected, positive pregnancy test.
Chris just took my hand, smiled at me, and said, “Did you ever think this is where we would be in our lives? Was this part of your master plan?”
As I tried to hold back tears of panic, I whispered, “No, this was not part of my plan.”
Chris pulled me close, “Good,” he whispered. “Because I like this plan much better.”
Change happens in all marriages. It’s good for you. It’s healthy. And if you trust the person standing by your side, then that change will bring you all kinds of surprises and unexpected treasures along your journey together.
Although, I would try to save the unexpected pregnancy surprise for a little later in the marriage. It’s a doozey…
Katie + her hilarious (and quickly-growing) family will be back next month. Until then, keep up with the Browns at Marriage Confessions! Have a question Katie needs to answer? Leave a comment or shoot her an email.