What Every Newlywed Needs to #staymarried

What Every Newlywed Needs to #staymarriedWedding season is officially upon us! Lovebirds everywhere will be tying the knot this summer. I love seeing all of the wedding photos… it’s a super exciting time in a couple’s life.

Many couples are also celebrating anniversaries this time of year. Tony and I will be celebrating our 7th year of marriage in just a few days. It’s a season of love and beginnings and nostalgia and I can’t get enough of it!

Since I can’t possibly crash all of the weddings I’d like to, I’ve put together this short list of some of our most popular #staymarried posts. Consider this our wedding gift to you – or a wedding gift you can give! These 6 brief articles, if read and applied, could get you off to a great start on your journey toward a marriage that lasts. If you don’t have time to read them all now, pin this page and come back to it, digesting and discussing one entry at a time.

If you are celebrating an anniversary this summer, like Tony and I, use these as a refresher. Think back to when you were first married, what you thought it would be like, and what has surprised you most since then. Wherever you are on your marriage journey, we can all use these reminders…

 

6 Essential Articles to Get Your Marriage Started Right

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Our Candy Anniversary

Our Candy Anniversary - a #staymarried blog

Tony and I are celebrating six years of wedded bliss on June 8th. When I say “wedded bliss,” what I really mean is six years of learning about each other, having lots of fights, moving across the country and back again, changing jobs, and becoming parents. Traditionally, the sixth year is celebrated with candy to represent the sweetness in your relationship. This year, we’ll be eating our candy in El Paso, Texas while we spend time in the town where I grew up.

I am thrilled to be introducing our girls to my grandparents and aunts and uncles. Living so far away has prevented us from seeing them until now, and pictures of my kids really do not do their incredible personalities and joy-filled laughs justice. The last time I saw most of this side of my family was at our wedding in 2007. Having so many of my family members make the trip from Texas to Washington meant the world to me. I still tear up when I look at some of the pictures.

Our Candy Anniversary - a #staymarried blog

Our Candy Anniversary - a #staymarried blog

This time of year, I tend to reflect a lot on that day. I look at pictures. I pull out the little piece of paper that we wrote and recited our wedding vows from. I think about the weather that day- warm and just a little windy. I think about the music, the people who celebrated with us.

Our Candy Anniversary - a #staymarried blog

This year, I am thinking so much more about what we didn’t do for that special day. We didn’t serve alcohol. We didn’t have a catered meal. We didn’t rent tuxedos. We didn’t have a fun photo booth. We didn’t reserve a special vintage getaway car. We didn’t spend more than $300 total on both of our rings, combined. I am not thinking of these things in terms of regret. The truth is, we didn’t have the money for any of those things. We wanted to be married and if we’d waited until we could afford that kind of wedding, we may still not be married today. Or, if we’d decided it was ok for us to go into debt, I’m sure it would be a debt we might still be paying off. I guess I’m thinking so much about it because I’m not sure I would be able to make the same decisions today.

Our Candy Anniversary - a #staymarried blog

Maybe I was simply naive to the pressures a modern bride faces when I was engaged, but at the time I simply shrugged off all of the things I didn’t want to pay for. Fortunately, we were surrounded by family and community that graciously gifted to us many of the things we were even willing to pay for (invitations, a wedding venue, a small cake, flowers). I remember watching friends come early with platters of bite sized desserts and beautiful trays of fruit that they had prepared with their own hands to serve at our wedding. It was tough to hold back tears at their generosity. Six years later, I hope these friends haven’t any regrets about the investments they made in us that day.

Our Candy Anniversary - a #staymarried blog

In addition to the traditional wedding vows, we wrote our own that we read to one another.  As I run my fingers over the ink on the page of our vows, which Tony keeps in the pocket of the one and only suit jacket he owns, I thought I would share them with you.

Our Vows

Tony’s Vows to Me…

Our Candy Anniversary - a #staymarried blog

Michelle Elaine McKenzie, I thank God for you. I am thankful that Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sin and rose from the dead so that I might have an abundantly blessed life. I am amazed by God’s goodness. I am humbled by His generosity as I look at you, a woman strong in faith, generous in heart, and beautiful to admire. Your passion for life, your love and compassion for others, and your tenderness has taken a hold of me. My heart was created to protect you, to love you.

I promise to put your interests before my own, to be your ever present strength, and not to withhold any good thing from you.

This day I give you my heart, trusting in God’s good plan for our life together.

My Vows To Tony…

Our Candy Anniversary - a #staymarried blog

Tony Owen Peterson, I thank God for you. I am thankful that Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sin and rose from the dead so that I might have an abundantly blessed life. I am amazed by God’s goodness. I am humbled by his generosity as I look at you, a gift of a man better than I even knew to hope for. Your heart to worship God, your humility to obey Him, and your strength to lead me in His purposes has taken a hold of me. My heart was created to crave you, to love you.

I promise to put your interests before my own, to be your ever present helper, and not to withhold any good thing from you.

This day I give you my heart, trusting in God’s good plan for our life together.

We didn’t know it then, but this piece of paper, these photos, these memories… these things represent the beginning of our journey to fulfill our own vows and now to offer ourselves to others like you who are committed to #staymarried. Indeed, this anniversary will be sweet!

Our Candy Anniversary - a #staymarried blog

P.S. If you liked this post, you may also like to read 25 Things To Do Before The Wedding. Also, if you’re new here, welcome! You might like to check out why we started this blog and my first entry to get a little background. Thanks for stopping by!
~ Michelle

For Better or Worse

I’ve mentioned before how much I love weddings. In February, we got to not only attend the wedding of a couple we love, but Tony was asked to officiate! He’d never done this before, and while he has no fear of speaking in front of a crowd of people, this was an entirely different level. He felt the weight of responsibility so heavily that he spent a very long time drafting and writing out just what he would say. Every last word of it was funny, and personal, and beautiful. As his wife, I couldn’t have been more proud.

When it came to the vows, he struggled with how to handle it. You see, George and Erika are not exactly traditional. I mean, I don’t know any other couple that’s had their engagement pictures feature an ax and a rooster.

For Better or Worse - a #staymarried blog for couples

Rather than a big formal rehearsal, we just had them over to our house for dinner to review the main parts of the ceremony and to have them practice and make edits to their vows. Tony pulled some of the most beautiful and traditional vows expecting them to make changes as they saw fit. He led them through the practice round and as they held hands, gazed at each other in our living room, and repeated Tony’s words, they beamed with love and admiration for each other. When they finished, Tony handed them a pen.

“Go for it. Change whatever you want. This is your wedding and this is just a draft. We want these vows to be yours.”

George and Erika looked at each other and Erika shrugged. “I don’t have anything.”
“Neither do I,” said George, “I think they’re perfect.”

They beamed some more and I don’t think either of them caught the surprised looks on my and Tony’s faces.

Just a few days later at one of the most wonderful weddings I’ve been to, they exchanged these vows that have been recited between husbands and wives over many, many generations. They meant them, and we pray they will keep them. There really is something so significant in the vows we make on our wedding day that none of us who have ever been married can yet understand on the day we make them.

For Better or Worse - a #staymarried blog for couples

I take you, my beloved, to have and to hold from this day forward.

For better or for worse. In sickness and in health.

To love and to cherish, all the days of my life.

 

For better.

When Erika is in a good mood. When she shines radiantly with love for him. When she is kind and funny just the way he likes her. When George is thoughtful and responsible. When he is simultaneously affectionate and sarcastic, just the way she likes him.

For worse.

When Erika is disrespectful and selfish. When she is tired and irritable. When she feels insecure and acts jealously. When George is thoughtless and rude. When he betrays her and disregards her feelings. When he is arrogant and prideful.

Of course, Tony didn’t go into so much detail during their ceremony. Still, this is the reality of the promise they made to each other that day. This, or some version of it, is the reality of the promise we all make when we marry. To take the whole person, not just the parts we like. To take them on their hardest days, not just their happiest. To believe in them when they do not believe in themselves. To honor them when they act dishonorably.

For Only as Long as I Feel Like It

In Karen Swallow Prior’s article in The Atlantic entitled “The Case for Getting Married Young,” she explores the phenomenon of our generation marrying later in life than the generations before us. She notes as research shows that, though the wisdom seems apparent for each of us individually to finish our education and fulfill our vocational dreams before we commit ourselves to another person, this wisdom has not made for lower divorce rates. In our culture, we have shifted from marrying one another out of social and economic advantages to marrying for companionship and emotional love. While I couldn’t imagine it any other way, the disadvantage seems that, if we marry from emotion, we may only stay married because of emotion as well. I love the way she puts it as she describes her own marriage of over three decades that: “It was not the days of ease that made our marriage stronger and happier: it was working through the difficult parts.”

For Better Or Worse - a #staymarried blog for couples

So, I go back to the traditional vows. I see nothing in the language that says “unless.” There is no caveat for our day-to-day emotions. There is no exception for the season when a wife holds down the fort and raises children alone while her husband is serving in the military elsewhere. There is no room for exit when either husband or wife loses their job, loses their motivation, gains weight, and starts smoking. For better or worse, we say.

We don’t say, “For better or worse, until you become really controlling about money.”
We don’t say, “For better or worse, unless you feel insecure when I go out alone with my friends.”
We don’t say, “For better or worse, as long as you continue to advance in your career.”
We don’t say, “For better or worse, until you weigh more than you do on our wedding day.”

For Better or Worse - a #staymarried blog for couples

For better or worse. We take each other not only as we stand on our wedding day, but through all of the changes that we will absolutely go through as we move through life together. We hope for better, we truly love through worse, and we #staymarried.

P.S. If you liked this post, you may also like to read 25 Things To Do Before The Wedding. If you think these could benefit someone else’s marriage, please consider sharing. You can use the social media buttons at the top or bottom of this post. Also, if you’re new here, welcome! You might like to check out why we started this blog and my first entry to get a little background. Thanks for stopping by!
~ Michelle

Photo Credit: Nostalgia Photgraphy