Whole Parenting Family

3 Things I’ve Learned in 3 Years of Marriage

Mostly when people pull out their wedding photos, it’s to display the work of their fabulous photographer, and it’s a dramatic, well-lit, glorious photographic snatch of their special day. I love this photo. I can’t remember who took it–probably a guest with her little digi cam–but it’s emblematic of what we’ve experienced in the last three years. Yes, this is us dancing in the street at our at-home reception to our dear friends’ band, Scythian, who played in the front yard. I’ve learned a lot in three years of marriage, but here are three things in particular that are share-worthy.

1) Play is essential to love.

AA is playful and not afraid to be goofy. That playfulness has kept our love robust and young. We still joke around, poke fun at one another, and every now and again, just play. Whether it’s actually playing with our children (imaginary stories, baseball indoors, tickle bug attackers, etc) or chasing each other around with the insistence of sunblock (me to him over Memorial Day weekend), where there’s no ability to let go and be silly, love is stuffy and suited only for the parlor.

When I take myself and my opinions too seriously, and have no room for humor, I am rigid. When I can see that mine is not the only way, and certainly not always the best one to impose on my husband, I can be playfilled in my suggestions, and let them go when they’re not applied immediately to whatever the situation is.

God is playful and playfilled (ever seen a toddler in a sandbox? God is in that toddler’s delight and hilarity), and God is love. So how can we strive to be anything otherwise?

2) It takes a village to preserve a marriage.

How many times have I turned to my close friends and family members for advice, to get support, and to hear what only those close to you will tell you, “You’re in the wrong on this one. Swallow your pride and apologize”? Or heard, “Yeah, go with your gut on this one”? Without the honest love and brutal honesty of this village of ours, our marriage wouldn’t be as healthy.

Add children to the mix, and without the support of our village, whew!, our marriage would be rougher for the wear. Those meals our sweet friends bring, and one fairy godmother in particular who brought them ALL throughout my pregnancy, the babysitting, the extra set of hands from my family to lighten the toughest times of day and night, and the wonderful mama & papa friends we’ve cultivated–they all keep us sane.

We’re not made to live in solitude, except those rockin’ hermits who amaze me. I’m not made to live in solitude, and thankfully I don’t have to (a personally imposed silence for more than 15 minutes is tough for me. Who can I call and talk to??).

3) Children only make it better.

In three years of marriage, we’ve been blessed with two spirited, soulful children. Many people had counseled me: “Wait on the kids before you’ve had a few years of marriage under your belt” and “When you have kids, that’s when the stress really comes.” Obviously we didn’t heed the first schtick of advice, and the second, while it’s true, that stress is equally unparalleled by joy.

The joy of seeing your spouse in love with the same third party you’re in love with.

The joy of stretching beyond your love for one another and dipping into that well of grace that you need at 1am feedings, 7:30am tantrums, and 11:30pm needs to drinks of water.

The joy of knowing you both have someone(s) to live for beyond yourselves, and that you’d give up your own life in a flash for these little people.

The joy of holding your child together for the first time, and rocking your toddler to sleep for the millionth time.

The joy of hoping that these little people become saints, and that together you can help them reach to that spiritual potential by your (often failed) example of faith, hope, and charity.

Happy three years to you, my beloved. And here’s to many, many more!


  1. abby on May 30, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    what a great post! love it. happy anniversary!

    • Natural Mama Nell on May 31, 2012 at 5:23 pm

      thanks! 3 years already! time flies when you’re having fun.

  2. kerri on May 30, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    what a wonderful tribute to your man! Happy Anniversary!

    • Natural Mama Nell on May 31, 2012 at 5:23 pm

      good partners make all the difference! you’ve got a great one too!

  3. […] And three years. […]