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...
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.
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.
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.
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