Looking back…the first year

Picture of husband and I...looking back...the first year

Husband and I have been married a year.

A year of being Husband and Wife. A year of being two families who are also one family.

Lessons learned:

1. Single people can work late, and pick up sushi on the way home, much easier than married people who have a houseful of people.

Marriage definitely complicated my life. Husband has a business of seasonal intensity, and life ramped up just as we got home from the honeymoon.  My JTM’s were in a stage of relative independence, and so there were times I could do what I wanted.

One of my favourite luxuries of being single was to walk to the movie theatre, see a rom-com and eat popcorn as my supper, then walk home on a Friday night.
Hasn’t (and won’t) happen now.
Married life is fuller
…fuller with schedules, conversations, appointments, and people.  
…fuller with laughter, support and love.

2. A gift certificate for family paint balling is an amazing wedding present for a wedding. 

So. Much. Fun.
The Junior Tribe Members had a blast…and having a blast together is one small way of becoming one family together.
Paint balls can leave a wicked bruise, but it was worth it..especially with the courage points it got me!
Paintballing is awesome (though painful) wedding gift. Poster of Carolyn Klassen pointing to deep circular bruise on herself from painting?

We told guests at the wedding that their “presence was the present”.  Many didn’t listen, and gave us tickets to the Gold Eyes, a board game, coupons for a “jailhouse break”, gift cards for restaurants, etc.

Family building time is best present anyone can get!

3. A great response to a partner’s expressed concern is: “Thank you!  That’s good to know.”

When I tell Husband something like, “I’m senstive to being teased about that,” Husband simply responds with, “Thank you! That’s good to know.”

It’s a line I’ve used several times myself now, after he let me experience it.  A brilliant line that welcomes teaching and guidance as we figure out this “being married” thing. Or any relationship, for that matter.

It’s amazing how a non-defensive response like this creates closeness. It’s not an apology–one isn’t necessary. It’s not explaining himself–that’s not why I bring it up. It’s not justifying himself…I already know he didn’t do it to be malicious.

It’s a simple, “I hear you, and I want to use this moment to love you better” message.

Simply brilliant.

4. It’s not a lit candle that makes a house a home.

I like having a lit candle or three in our home during our waking hours. Done it for years.

When I moved in, and the littlest JTM asked why a candle was lit in the middle of summer in the day time.

A logical question with no logical answer.

I didn’t know what to say. I blurted: “A candle is what makes a house a home.”  He turned his head to the side and raised his eyebrows. The line has become a classic in our home.

But it turns out it’s not a lit candle that makes a house a home. It’s said-lit candle being blown out…often as fast as it is re-lit. (And to be noted, the littlest JTM is often the one that re-lights it).

The wisp of smoke created by an impish kid–now, that’s home!

A collage of a lit candle and a blown out candle with smoke wishing out saying: A candle..both lit and wispy...is what makes a house a home!

5. Grace extended as two families try on each other’s family traditions makes for beautiful combined memories. 

Watching grown JTM’s hunt for Easter Eggs…some for the first time in many years, while other JTM’s insisting on this ritual…was rich.

Hunting for easter eggs!

Participating in the annual Klassen March Madness basketball draft was a first for me…but the winner was excused from supper clean up for a week.

Sigh…it’s a beautiful thing to not clean up supper for a week.  

Really beautiful.  (I plan on winning again next year.)

Picture of March Madness draft with two levels of results. Carolyn won! No dishes for a week!

We do Tuesday family suppers now. Treasure hunts at Christmas. We celebrate Birthday Eve, Birthday, Birthday Boxing Day. We find reasons and excuses to celebrate and learn each other’s family traditions, and create some unique “Kla-Berg” traditions.

Celebrating ritual creates memories.

And when you’re a new family, you need to be in the memory-making business.

6. It’s not at all essential that Husbands come with bigger kitchens with more drawers and counter space, but it sure is a pleasant added bonus.

Don’t need to say anything about this.

Self evident.

7. Loving again after losing a great love makes a lot of things that used to be important not a big deal. 

  • Socks on the floor.
  • Being late.
  • Hair in the sink.

All of these are signs of life and love…now.

Not things to be annoyed by, but to be thrilled by.
If you talk to a person who has recently lost someone, they will tell you how they used to get annoyed by the cup on the counter, inches from the dishwasher, and now would do/give/say/pay anything for a chance to be “annoyed” by that cup.
To see the cup on the counter now would be most welcome.
Yeah…those annoying little things…just show we’re around to annoy each other…and so these things are largely overlooking…and sometimes even treasured.
Turning to gratitude is so much more automatic when there has been a time you’ve missed those things so much it physically hurts.

8. Science fair deadlines are still no fun.

But getting that backboard done late the night before it is due, still gives a burst of adrenaline like little else.

Science fair completion is it’s own drug.

9. Getting married in my 40’s gave me the benefit of wisdom I didn’t have the first time around.

My name is virtually inconsequential, because I now know that my name doesn’t define me.  Who I am defines me.

I had a blast at my wedding because what was important was the people, not the details. I wore pink sneakers because they were comfortable and let me visit without blisters or aching toes…even tho they were decidedly un-elegant.

I know now that what is important in the first year of marriage is cementing my relationship with Husband. I said no to lots of important opportunities to say yes to what was vital.

I said no to lots of important opportunities to say yes to what was vital. Click To Tweet

Friends of mine (who are also older and wiser) were completely compassionate on giving me a pass on being a faithful friend.  They understood that being married with lots of JTM’s who need some support with adjustments, and a new husband, and running my own business still, meant that I was busy.  Not meeting with them as often didn’t mean they weren’t important…it meant I was spread thin.

I know now that I don’t have to prove myself with being a “super-wife” in ways that leave me exhausted, frustrated and resentful. Husband offers me compassion and I work to accept it.  I’m a better wife if I have a nap on the weekend, even if that means that the closet didn’t get sorted.

10. Being blissfully married to one doesn’t stop grief of losing another

I’ve watched Husband grieve the loss of Car, and it still feels odd to be supportive of him as he grieves the loss of his wife.  To help him grieve the loss of his wife, as his wife is an unusual, but important and honoured position to be in.
Husband has recently started going to a WC, as he calls it. His Widow’s Club meets at Tim Horton’s. The guys talk out all sorts of practical and emotional issues that happen when grieving a wife, raising kids without their mother, and making sense of the loss and change of life. I’m glad that he goes.
The picture of her smiling with our JTM’s in front of a fabulous birthday cake sits right next to one of our wedding photos in the kitchen.

They both belong there. Together.

11. Unexpected beauty can rise out of incredibly painful ashes

I bumped into the nurse yesterday that volunteered her help to sit with Car, Husband’s wife, on the night she died at home. She said to me:
“I have been at the bedside of many, many deaths in my nursing career.  But that was some good-bye. I’ve seen a lot of good-byes at death…but never one like that. That was clearly some sort of incredible love between them.  I’ve never been married…but that’s the sort of good-bye every person would dream of. It was a holy moment.”
 Then this special nurse gave me a hug, and told us how special she thought we were, and how good it seemed we were for each other.  She asked to give me a hug…a warm and kind embrace.
The woman that sat with Husband in the most painful hour of his life is now a special woman in my life.

The depth of love and loss that she saw Husband and Car experience that night was profound for her.

The day before she died, Car told Husband she freed him to marry again.  Amazing foresight, that woman, to give him a gift like that in the midst all of the thinking and planning that is involved in leaving this world while incredibly sick. He tells me that this was the one and only time in their marriage that he (gently) told her to “shut up”.

The thought of remarrying for him at that point was nothing but absurd crazy talk. He couldn’t have imagined us.

Unexpected beauty can rise out of incredibly painful ashes

Husband is wiser, gentler, more loving for the experience of being loved by, and then losing Car. This first year of marriage has him offering to help me and hold me and heal me in ways that stagger me. He treasures me because of how very aware he is of the preciousness of life…my life, our lives. He pays attention to what’s important to me, to what I read, to what I like to drink, and when I drink it–so that he can show me he’s attuned to me.

Looking back…the first year?  Makes me eager and excited for the second!

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