I’m not sure why we decided to open gifts so early the day after our wedding. Some advice to pending newlyweds, gifts can wait! Sleep in and then go on a honeymoon instead!
Steve and I were completely exhausted! The week before your wedding is so busy. Running errands, crossing things off your to-do list, not to mention all the emotions that come with approaching the biggest day of your life.
Then your wedding day finally comes and then it’s just over and you’re left feeling like, what just happened?
I think all couples should go on a honeymoon, even if it’s just for a long weekend. We didn’t go on a honeymoon as we were in no position financially to be taking any trips. Between the wedding, child support, plus all the added expenses of combining our lives, it just wasn’t possible for us to go. We were okay with not going at the time because we decided we’d go after we had paid off some of our debt.
The day after our wedding was a snowy one. My family stuck around to enjoy brunch and gift opening. It’s insane to think about what it takes to get your life started as a married couple. We were blessed incredibly by all the gifts from our amazing families and friends.
Combining two worlds makes for a whole lot of trial and error, compromise and patience. It’s the ultimate team building experience, except you’re committed for life. There’s no quitting allowed and no switching teammates, at least not in my book.
The craziness continued.
I had my Minnesota Vikings Cheerleader Training Program Holiday Show at the Mall of America the Monday following our wedding. This is an annual event in which the Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders, the Training Program and MVC All Stars showcase their dances for some holiday entertainment.
I quickly switched from wedding mode to dance mode, practicing and reviewing choreography for the big show.
It was a blast to perform in the Best Buy Rotunda. To make it to that stage was a major accomplishment for me. But honestly I was more proud to look into the crowd to find my handsome husband smiling back at me. Steve was my biggest supporter always and in everything. Which meant the world to me. I didn’t have to battle to convince him of my crazy dream filled ideas. He was all in all the time.
Our life together was going to be incredible. We were two people completely in love, driven and passionate about truly living life, helping others and keeping Christ in the center the whole way. Who wouldn’t want to embark on an adventure like that?
Today I was getting married!
After 6 months of planning, we’d finally be able to enjoy all the work that went into this one day.
When I woke up I thought, this is the last time I’ll ever be sleeping alone in a bed! I would now get to go to bed next to my husband and wake up next to him every morning. How cool is that?
I’m not the type of woman who ever thought I needed to live with my boyfriend to “test the waters” before getting married. Why would I give a marital privilege to a guy who was only committed to me at a boyfriend level?
If you’ve been following my story, you know that one of the challenges in our relationship was that Steve became dad out of wedlock. I firmly believe that children are a blessing regardless of how they arrive, but that posed a major challenge in our relationship.
Part of the reason was, I had been disciplined my whole life with my standards as they related to sex. In dating I had the mentality of why do you think you should get to date me? Of course this wasn’t in an arrogant way, but if I was going to give every single part of my being to someone, you better believe I wanted to be with someone who valued my conviction in these matters.
In all honesty, Steve hadn’t lived his life in the same way. I know that a major part of this was because of how he was raised. He wasn’t raised in a Christian home where these values were taught, modeled or emphasized. Some people live their life in the manner in which they were taught because they think that’s the norm and they don’t know any different. If you grow up in a home where you’re not taught about boundaries, expectations and why they’re important, you’re probably not used to thinking in such a way because it’s normal to do whatever you want in your life and relationships.
I had dated a guy once who called me a unicorn. I laughed when he called me this because I didn’t get it at first. He said, “You know, you’re the girl every guy has heard about but no guy has ever actually met.”
I liked that. I’m a unicorn! That was a major compliment to me. Being disciplined and being a woman of character was worth it in every way. There are still women out there who have high standards, that won’t settle, that love Jesus and that value guys who do the same. I promise it’s worth it to stay true to yourself and your beliefs!
At the same time, just because you’ve had a past you’re not proud of, that doesn’t mean that Jesus won’t redeem you from previous mistakes. Lord knows I’ve done plenty of other things I’m not proud of. Thankfully Jesus forgives this imperfect woman every. single. time. He’ll always do the same for you.
He can take our biggest mess-ups, failures and lapses in judgment to shape our character and mold us into what He wants us to be. Yes, it’s true, some times we have to learn the hard way. We can face, what seems to be devastating consequences, but with God’s strength, we can come out on the other side stronger than ever.
My girls and I met at the church early that morning. My mom did my hair for my wedding. If you remember she’s a cosmetologist, so you better believe I wanted her to do the most important updo in my life! I was the first child to get married in our family. Between my brother, sister and I, we had a bet going. We called it the race to the alter and the first one to get there would get $100 from each sibling.
Now I’m not saying I sped up this process to claim my $200, but I had to laugh when claiming my prize during the speeches at our reception because this former commitment phobe won! It was just a funny little bet between us and of course they thought this runaway bride was far from getting hitched, little did they know they’d have to pay up!
We got married on a chilly Friday in November. I was relaxed about the whole thing. I didn’t care if things didn’t turn out perfectly because all that mattered was that I was marrying my best friend.
We took our wedding pictures before our guests arrived.
It was time for the wedding to start. Our wedding party lined up in preparation for the processional.
I was excited, but I was a wreck! I had envisioned this moment when I’d see my man, my forever, my husband looking back at me as I walked down the isle.
As I mentioned in the previous post, music is something I’m passionate about. The song I was walking in to was called “Make us One” by Cindy Morgan and boy was it a powerful one! One of my best friends, Carie, who was part of our wedding party walked down the isle to that song at her wedding. It was perfect.
It’s the type of song that builds and crescendos perfectly. We timed it just right for the doors of the sanctuary to open, revealing me in my wedding dress as I made my walk down the isle. My family and I listened to that song so many times together before our wedding day and every single time we couldn’t listen to it with dry eyes.
It was time for my dad to walk me down the isle. We hugged, I kissed him on the cheek and tears began to pour down my face. If one didn’t know better, you’d think I was sad about the whole thing because I had the ugly cry going on. That crescendo got me every time I heard that song. All the events of my life led up to this one moment in time. I was in awe reflecting on how God’s divine hand was all over my life and Steve’s too. He had orchestrated things perfectly so our paths would cross and we’d come into each other’s lives at the most opportune time. He needed me and I needed him. Wow. Thank you God!
Making a life-long commitment to get married is no small thing. Today we vowed to love each other forever. “For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health till death do us part.”
And then our Pastor said, “You may kiss your bride! Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. Steve Toms.”
The fundamentals of your relationship with your spouse or significant other boil down to these two words. At first glance, we think our needs as men and women are the same: we all just want to be loved. But truthfully, the needs we have as men and women are different.
It’s our differences as men and women that attract us, coupling in a way that moves us together with distinct form and unity. This is not only in our temperament and biology, but also part of God’s divine design.
My intent in this post isn’t to tell you you’ve been doing things wrong in your marriage, but rather I want to show you ways I’ve learned to do things right. There is wisdom to be gained through your own experiences and those of others. I hope this post breathes new life into your marriage and that you’re encouraged to make a positive change. If what you’ve been trying to do to improve your marriage isn’t working, it’s time for a new approach.
Back to love and respect… These are our deepest needs as men and women. When these needs aren’t being met, we get frustrated and that frustration can come out in ways we don’t truly mean. Maybe you’ve uttered a harsh word, given the silent treatment, withheld your love or intimacy from each other as a form of punishment. The bottom line is, none of those are effective ways to produce positive change within your marriage. Ephesians 5 details some specific instructions for Wives and Husbands. Verse 33: However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Dr. Emerson explains the concepts of Love & Respect on his website beautifully:
What is Love and Respect? We believe love best motivates a woman and respect most powerfully motivates a man. Research reveals that during marital conflict a husband most often reacts when feeling disrespected and a wife reacts when feeling unloved. We asked 7,000 people this question: when you are in a conflict with your spouse or significant other, do you feel unloved or disrespected? 83% of the men said “disrespected.” 72% of the women said, “unloved.” Though we all need love and respect equally, the felt need differs during conflict, and this difference is as different as pink is from blue! – Loveandrespect.com
You see, women have their own language and means of listening/interpreting. Females speak through pink megaphones and hear through pink headphones, while males speak through blue megaphones and hear through blue headphones.
Ever wonder why it’s so hard for your husband to understand you when what you’re saying is basic English? Perhaps your wife misunderstood what you were saying because she was trying to listen to what you said through her pink headphones. There’s bound to me some miscommunication when we are attempting to motivate each other through our own preferred way.
As a woman, if I’m not receiving love from my husband, the message is “I don’t love or accept you.” For men, the message is “I don’t respect or accept you.” Hopefully that’s not what you’re trying to convey to each other as husband and wife. Marriage is truly about putting the needs of your spouse above your own. If you operate with a “I am Second” mentality, both people can experience the true fulfillment that marriage has to offer.
Another principle Steve and I learned was when faced with an argument or conflict in your relationship was: the person who is most mature should act first. The logic is we both want to be perceived as mature; therefore, we’ll work together to come to a resolution. Rather than be stubborn, which can be hard for me, I’m going to put down my sword, come alongside my husband and word it out. Now we all know that it’s not always that’s simple. There will be days when you might ask yourself, Did I really choose him? or What was I thinking when I married her? I wouldn’t suggest uttering those words, but stepping back reminding yourself about why you fell in love in the first place.
There’s no doubt that you’ll face moments when you just want to scream, “You aren’t loving me!” or “You need to respect me!” But demanding either of these things from each other never goes well. It probably makes you want to do the opposite, especially if you’re stubborn.
Our pre-marriage counseling began to peel back the layers of marriage and then we were introduced to the crazy cycle. The Crazy Cycle looks like this:
The Crazy Cycle occurs when conflict arises. Instead of taking a moment to reflect on our own actions towards our spouse and making change, it’s common to act in ways that aren’t desirable when our greatest needs aren’t being met. For wives: without love, she reacts without respect. For husbands: without respect, he reacts without love.
Steve and I learned how to handle negative situations and how to prevent having negative actions and reactions towards each other. I learned that I will not only satisfy Steve’s needs by being respectful, but I can motivate him to meet my own needs by fulfilling his first. When his needs are met, he is motivated to meet my needs too, which is the energizing cycle. His love motivates my respect and my respect motivates his love.
Rather than demanding his love, I can show him how to love me by truly loving him through my respect. When I do so it’s as if a switch is activated. He feels honored, valued and affirmed and he in-turn wants to fill my cup with love.
We continued to learn more about how to make our marriage successful. We were able to use what we had learned and applied it to our relationship immediately. Pre-marriage counseling brought our relationship to another level. I felt loved and he felt respected… talk about a win win.
I highly encourage you to read the book with your spouse or fiancé, attend a conference and apply the Love & Respect principles. I can’t do your homework for you.You’ve got to get to work.
Knock the socks off your spouse and take initiative. Rather than complain about what’s wrong with your marriage, make a change and do something right. And guys, if you want to get your wife’s attention, take initiative. I guarantee she’ll be looking at you in a new way!
Remember, it’s not about being comfortable.
You cannot celebrate a marital championship unless you’re willing to work together on your fundamentals. Don’t ignore the things that are hard for you or that cause you to struggle. Address your weakness head on–as I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “You’re only as strong as your weakest link.” You’ve got to set yourself and your marriage up for success.
It’s not about you; it’s about being selfless. You must willingly be second, so you can both experience what it’s like to be first.
When it comes to love and relationships, we are all affected by our past. Our experiences intentionally and unintentionally set the scene for our futures.
We naturally bring our own preconceived ideas, attitudes, and learned behaviors to the table, right or wrong, and expect to have some degree of unity with our significant other. It’s no wonder relationships struggle when we have unrealistic expectations of one another and fail to acknowledge each other’s fundamental needs.
As an athlete the importance of fundamentals were always stressed to my team by my coaches, regardless of the playing level I was at in my career. I can remember the early days of learning how to play basketball and we’d practice dribbling. Every single practice we’d line up on the baseline and my coach would say, “dribble down with your right hand and back with your left.” I’d take off sprinting as fast as I could, dribbling down the court.
The whole switching to my non-dominant hand thing made me squeamish. I thought, CRAP! I don’t ‘ like dribbling with my left hand!
I’m a right-handed person and if I had it my way back then, I’d choose to dribble with only my right hand. Why? Because dribbling with my left hand was uncomfortable. I lacked the confidence and skill to dribble with my left hand without looking at the ball and of course I wanted to be the first one to the opposite end of the court. I had to win and I didn’t want any of my weaknesses exposed.
Of course the lesson in this extends beyond elementary basketball. To some degree, you may have your own areas in your life in which you must win and you fear being exposed.
We all have our preferred way of doing things. Perhaps you’re particular about how your laundry is done, or how the dishes are loaded into the dishwasher, or what car you drive. I’m willing to bet your preferred way translates into your relationships too. We all have our opinions of how things should be done and what our relationship should look like. Deep inside we want to be right–aka we want to win, and admitting when we’re wrong is hard, because we think admitting a fault means we are weak and it leaves us too open for our liking–exposure.
Hopefully by now you’ve learned in your life that it’s not all about you. There has to be give and take, and a whole lot of compromise.
Just like in sports, you can’t just do things your preferred way because it’s what you know. Your way may not be the best and ultimately your game— or relationship can sufferer because of it.
Steve took the lead and signed us up for our pre-marriage counseling, which consisted of four days of watching the DVD “Love and Respect” by: Dr. Emerson Eggerichs followed by rich group discussions. There were at least eight other couples in our session. Some older than us, some younger than us, and some who by first impression alone, seemed like the most unlikely pairing. Clearly I didn’t know those people just yet, but man, I wanted to know their stories!
We had the opportunity to dive into the ins and outs of marriage with couples who had been married for years. I was excited because I couldn’t wait to hear what these married vets had to say.
We also had to complete a detailed survey before our counseling started that inquired about our beliefs, finances, family planning, and careers, to name a few. We also had to complete weekly worksheets separately and then we’d come together to discuss our answers with the mentor couple that was assigned to us.
Ironically, Steve and I were paired with a former college football teammate from Augsburg. He and his wife would be our mentor couple. It was crazy to see his past come full circle with having his former teammate and his spouse share their marriage wisdom with us.
It felt a little awkward at first disclosing so much information to our mentor couple, but getting married is a huge decision. You have to be willing to talk about the things that are tough and address your differences head-on to give your marriage a solid foundation for all the challenges to come. You don’t want to leave any stone unturned and later be heartbroken because you avoided talking about the hard things. You can’t build a God-honoring marriage on sinking sand.
We were told that this series would help us dive into many aspects of marriage that we may or may not have talked about as a couple and by the end of the series we’ll either be stronger as a couple, or you may not decide to go forth with your marriage.
That was no joke. The leaders had shared that there were in fact former attendees that upon completing pre-marriage counseling decided to forego getting married. Yikes!
That wasn’t going to happen with us. We wanted to have the best marriage possible and we were going to do whatever we could to make it the best it could be.
This adventure was just getting started…