Everyone said the first year would be the hardest...

Brett and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary on December 19th, sorry this took so long to post!

Everyone said the first year would be the hardest.

I hope they're right.

Not because this past year was a struggle, but because it was heaven. If the worst is over, then I'd love to see what is to come.

It's not that everything has been perfect, we've had our fair share of trials, but I find that Brett and I are very well suited for married life.

As the babies of our families (Brett being the youngest in his family to marry) I think some looked at our young marriage as a juvenile dream based on unrealistic ideas about marriage and love. I think some even secretly hoped that the big bad world of marriage would blow up in our faces so that they could say, "I told you so." I can't even begin to count the number of times someone (sometimes a stranger) would ask us how long we'd been married in reaction to our comments on the joys of marriage or our cuddly nature. No matter how long we'd been married the person would say, "Oh just you wait till you hit the ____ month mark. Then you'll see." It always seemed to be the next month, so Brett and I would wait for the 3 month mark, 4 month mark, 8 month mark. It seemed to be a ticking time bomb that still has yet to explode. I'm not saying that I think marriage is easy, every marriage has its struggles, but it is so beyond worth it. Marriage isn't a "ball and chain." Quite the contrary, marriage is the greatest blessing in my life and the funnest adventure.

I was terrified of marriage as a young girl. Sure I was still a hopeless romantic and dreamed of the white dress, who the man would be, and what my kids would look like one day. Like any other little girl, I spun the stem off the top of the apple, counting the letters "A, B, C..." to find out the first letter of the name of the man I would marry. But having grown up in a single home, I had a very tough time thinking about the actual specifics of marriage. The idea of two partners that give and take and work together was something that was a bit foreign to me. My mother raised me on her own, and the only example of a marriage I had was my dad and step-mom who I only saw on occasional trips to Idaho. That was one of the only examples I really had in my life, and sadly a week after Brett and I announced our engagement I received news that that marriage too was ending in a divorce. I guess divorce is what has always made me terrified of marriage. In a way, I think people avoid things that have hurt them.

But I was lucky to have an amazing example in my life, my mother, who always taught me wonderful lessons from mistakes. She always stressed the importance of learning a lesson after we made a mistake and she also taught us lessons from her life. She has always been incredibly open with me about her marriage to my dad and what went wrong. Though it is hard to hear sometimes, I appreciate her advice and openness. She also always reminded me that although her marriage didn't work out, I have the power to make mine successful. I've heard all the studies saying that children of divorced parents are "at risk" for getting a divorce and all other kinds of challenges. But my mom always reminded us that we had control over our lives and the power to make it what we want. I feel like because of all these lessons from my mother I entered my marriage with realistic expectations and I was already armed with life lessons I had learned from her.

Brett made me brave. Even before he left on his mission I could easily imagine being married to him, growing old with him, and taking on the challenges of life together. And I so looked forward to it. Brett's two year mission strengthened our relationship because we had to support and love one another up from thousands of miles apart. Our relationship survived many trials and challenges that those two years apart brought us. And we are stronger for it.

When Brett got back and we realized quickly that this was it we were both a bit scared. Though we were both thrilled we had found one another, marriage was an intimidating thing for two 21 year olds. But we knew it was all going to work out and that we would begin this amazing adventure together. Though I didn't have a solid example of a marriage "gone right," I did have Brett and our united faith that we were meant to be together and that we could work through anything. As time went by I realized all the amazing examples of marriage I did have, like Brett's parents Cliff and Lynne, and our siblings Eric and Kelly, Brian and Angie, Lars and Kera, Becca and Matt, James and Tiffany, Mike and Katie, and Denise and Jason. We also had so much support from family and friends who had been rooting for us for years.

Where I am weak, Brett is strong, and vice-versa... We work so well together. Brett has taught me that I don't have to do everything on my own. And I've taught him to dance. Marriage has been a fun adventure and it's been so incredible to have my best-friend and love with me day in day out. We strengthen one another and lift each other up. We help one another through the tough times and celebrate the good times.

More than anything, I've loved all the little things of marriage: the shared toothbrush holder, getting tucked in, picking up milk and bread from the grocery store, giving up the last cookie, decorating our Christmas tree, writing little love notes, still Facebook stalking each other when we live in the same home, holding hands in the car, arguing over who's turn it is to turn out the light... etc.

And I hope that we are still that nauseating snugly couple years from now, still being asked if we are newlyweds...


brettbirkeland said...

That is adorable Haley. I agree that it is all the little things that make me love marriage...waking up to you every morning, making smoothies together, writing love notes, and even knitting together :)

Ryan and Jamie Turner said...

I'm so glad you posted all of your thoughts! It was so incredibly sweet, and I loved reading. I'm really really happy that you two are loving life together and loving the adventures. Marriage is such an amazing blessing! I'm happy you have found that together and that you are setting your own examples. Your future children are very lucky to have you guys as parents and examples.

Anonymous said...

that was really cute, way to go!

Anonymous said...

You guys are so cute! I am so proud of you guys! Love you lots!