The 5th Thing I Learned in My 5th Year of Marriage

Drew and I just celebrated our 5th anniversary. 5 years, people. We’re 5 years old. We are a hefty little kindergartener with missing teeth and a backpack that’s twice our size.

I asked him what he thought we learned in this year since I wrote about the 4 Things I Learned in 4 Years of Marriage. We tossed around a few less-blogworthy lessons:

How Babies are Made.

Introverts vs. Extroverts: The Battle Royale.

The Chore Chart.

How to Eliminate a Horde of Fruitflies.

What we came up with in the end is  less of a thing-we-learned and more of a thing-we’re-currently-learning-in-the-way-that-someone-drowning-would-learn-to-swim. We’re learning this in a sort of sputtering, desperate…survivalist way. And it’s this:

5. REST

We hate rest and we also suck at it.

Drew and I are both do-ers or go-getters or overachievers (whatever you want to call it), but each of a very different brand.

Golden retriever that he is, Drew is interested in EVERYTHING. He wants to not only learn everything under the sun, but he wants to master it and he wants that mastery to be complete by sundown tomorrow. Screen-printing and small business ownership and app design and baby swaddling and golden eagle migration patterns – there’s really no time to waste. Needless to say, most nights at sundown, he experiences a mild panic.

I, on the other hand, have chosen approximately five things in life to truly care about. Everything else can rot, as I destroy anything and everyone in my path in pursuit of the big five. I don’t care if my hair falls out or if I don’t sleep for a week or if I forget to eat for 7 hours. I’ve got my eyes on the prize(s) and nothing else matters.

So.

This year.

This has been a really fulfilling year in a lot of ways, as we’ve both learned a lot about our gifts and calling and their intersection. We’ve both been blessed with opportunity to work in the fields that interest us most. But most nights, we’ve staggered to the dinner table, exhausting from a day of ACHIEVEMENT.

But this is the American dream. And when you’re writing books about Jesus and using His talents to bless others, it’s divinely appointed stress, right?

Right?

Enter Baby.

Our baby announced herself this summer, ushering in this new concept of rest. Suddenly, I’m no longer allowed to destroy myself in pursuit of my goals. I have to be healthy and responsible and considerate of this little stowaway. Suddenly, Drew can’t spend five hours teaching himself CSS just for funsies, because he has to cook dinner while I dry heave in the closet. Pregnancy put the brakes on our beloved stress and – freaks that we are – we’re not relieved. We’re antsy and impatient and at each others’ throats. In this strange forced hiatus, we both admit to feeling a little lost.

And everyone has been telling us “rest up and enjoy it while you can!” “You’ll never sleep again!” “I forget what silence sounds like!”

Hilarious and encouraging jokes like that.

But in the silence and the sleep and the healthy habits, we’ve realized that we don’t know how to rest.

Every sermon you’ll ever hear on rest will probably at some point quote Psalm 23, about how our Good Shepherd makes us lie down in green pastures and leads us beside still waters, restoring our souls. Sitting at our anniversary dinner, we joked about how – in this analogy- God would literally have to shove our little sheep faces into the water to drink. He’d have to sweep our legs out to make us lie down. Otherwise, after a long journey, when we are supposed to be resting, we’d be pacing around in circles and staying up all night to guess which path He’d be taking us on next. And then when it finally came time to hit the road again, we’d be so exhausted and stiff that we’d immediately get sick or fall off a cliff or whatever.

We’d be the most annoying sheep in the flock.

Our 5th year of marriage has been a really special one, as we reached the end of one of our greatest adventures: my book. And as we sit in this weird limbo, waiting for our next adventure, we sense this huge opportunity. Or maybe it’s an obligation. We sense a place to rest. We sense God saying  recharge here – the next adventure is a doozy. 

And so we’re here, opening up our hearts and asking what true rest looks like. God created rest. He Himself rested and designated  a whole day for it. It must be important.

We want to be prepared for the next leg of our journey, so I’ll be writing more on this topic over the next few weeks, as we attempt to be intentional with our final 3 months of pre-baby limbo. But for now, since this is a marriage post, I’ve got this:

Find out what keeps your partner from resting and seek to defeat that thing.

For me, it takes a sort of permission. Since I hyperfocus on a handful of goals, I tell myself I have no excuse when I don’t achieve. Pregnancy really threw  a wrench into that mindset, as I’d feebly pep-talk myself. A little vertigo shouldn’t keep you from finishing this blog post today. Those National Geographic farmers wouldn’t abandon the rice paddy to take a cat nap! Suck it up, you little whiner. Drew talks me down and threatens me with a straight jacket and assures me that I can try harder tomorrow and I’m not a robot. (Sometimes I forget. Beep boop.)

Drew, on the other hand, just hates the time-space continuum. There aren’t enough hours in the day for all of the things he wants to perfect. He gets swept up in his pursuits and is startled when it’s suddenly dark and he hasn’t eaten all day. Sometimes he just needs a sounding board for his running list of interests, so he can choose and prioritize and time manage with intention. My man loves him some structure and if I can get him to literally pencil in an hour for restoration, well I consider the day a success.

I think this has been a vital first lesson -not just because of the general importance of rest, but because it brings us weirdly closer when we help each other pursue rest. The rested versions of ourselves are more thoughtful and less snippy and have greater self-control. The rested versions of ourselves say thank you and give advice and share stories. But most importantly, the rested versions of ourselves carve space to sit with Jesus and be reminded of who (and whose) we are. We stop demanding completion and affirmation from each other. We are recharged to love each other better and deeper when we spend time with Love.

5 years old and we’re just now learning to rest. We really are the dumbest and crankiest kindergartner on the bus. But we’re trying harder every day.

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4 Comments

  1. Wendy Bailey

    Hormones are funny things! Laugh, love, rest….and give that man more cereal!

  2. Trista

    Oh. man. every time i read one of your posts it resonates so clearly in my little world that i feel like i am always responding with a “YES!” but seriously…. YES! G and I are blessed with a couple months off between now and the new year, before we move to London. And I have become bored in about oh, a week and a half. God does create these ebbs and flows in our lives, which is awesome, but also infuriating for people who glorify busy (aka, me). I am given this amazing opportunity to catch up with family and friends, which I have wanted all year, and all I can do while I am in it is complain about boredom and stagnancy. Rest is real and is important. Thanks for the reminder! What a great post Marri. And congrats about the little peanut!

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