By Rachel Awtrey, Host of Behind the Bliss Podcast
This piece originally appeared on Rachel’s blog at www.rachelawtrey.com and was republished with permission from the author.
Woah, today, Thomas and I have been married for one whole year. It’s been a year full of fun, adventures, traveling, moving, graduating, and so much more! Through it all, we’ve learned a few key pieces that we use practically almost every day. Out of a spirit of vulnerability, we wanted to share those with you all because no marriage is perfect but there’s so much we can share with one another.
1. You don’t meet each other in the middle
For so long, I’ve imagined marriage as a “you give 50% and I give 50% and then we’ll be at 100%.” But, I was so wrong. Most days, I can’t give 50%, much less 10% so, with my theory, that would mean Thomas is giving more than 50% a lot. That’s not “fair.” At least, that’s what the world will tell you. But, if our motive is to serve each other well and out-give the other, it becomes fun to “out serve” one another. So when I aim to give 100% of myself and he aims to give all of himself. Then there’s more room for improvement, for failure, for grace. And that’s what marriage is all about: tons of grace.
2. Marriage is a covenant, not a contract
Along the lines of “meeting each other in the middle,” the world tells us that we signed a contract when in reality, we are apart of a greater thing: a covenant. A contract can be broken when one doesn’t uphold their part of the deal. It goes void. However, when I fail or I get upset or grumpy, Thomas still aims to love me well. Likewise, when Thomas isn’t having a great day, that doesn’t give me permission to give up on him. What binds us together is not the words, “I do” or signing a marriage license, it’s the commitment that we made to do life together and believing that we can go farther together even though we may be able to go faster alone. Farther is better.
3. You can’t love on your own
So many times I try and give love, give love, give love. But, y’all, that’s exhausting. I try and cook meals, clean the house, make sure that Thomas is feeling respected and loved, that he has clean clothes, that I’m hugging him and greeting him with a kiss and gosh! That’s a lot when you’re doing it out of your own strength. Sometimes, I wake up on the wrong side of the bed and don’t feel like hugging anyone, I don’t feel like doing the laundry or the dishes, I don’t feel like respecting Thomas, I feel more independent and not dependent. Those times that I feel like doing something other than what I’ve been called to do as a life leave me selfish and Thomas feeling unloved. Most of the times that I feel those ways are because I am relying on my own heart rather than overflowing from the Lord’s. When I tap into the resources that I have with God, he gives me the strength, the desire and the craving to want to serve Thomas better than I ever would have wanted to if I tried it on my own. For so long I had it backward. I have to love Thomas so that I’m doing it right so that I’m a “good Christian.” When really, I must first be in love with Christ so that I can then love my husband.
Just like a car, we have to fill up with gas and then we can run. When your gas runs out, your car doesn’t work or go anywhere. The world and it’s culture tells us, “your car isn’t working” so you need a new car” when really all you need is to get to a gas station and fill up with some more gas. A car can’t just run on its own just like we can’t love on our own. Just because we’re feeling empty and our gas tank is out doesn’t mean it’s time to go searching for a new car or give up on the spouse that we have.
4. You’re constantly learning one another
I’m still learning what makes him tick, what grinds his gears, what he loves, what his childhood was like and it’s a fun adventure! We’re constantly “taking notes,” discovering new things about one another that make us more efficient in fighting fair, conversations, daily routines and such. So the times that are hard and we’re having to jump some hurdles in a relationship can’t be times that we get discouraged. Instead, we should celebrate that we know each other more deeply and that we are making progress!
5. Community is key
Without the community that we’ve made in Birmingham, being a part of our small group, having people over for dinner and going to other’s homes for meals, we wouldn’t be standing still. It takes people to encourage you, rebukes you, reminds you of what marriage is. A community should be full of vulnerability and freedom! To be able to say “yeah, last week was not a good week for us, we were really struggling” and someone to respond, “it’s okay, us too” or “yeah, we’ve been there” is a great relief! We are not doing this whole marriage thing alone. Hallelujah! You must have a community of people to uplift you when you need someone to pray and lift you up, someone to remind you how great your spouse is when you’re just too frustrated to see through the clutter, to release the enemy’s grip when you feel weak.
So, no. By no means do we have this figured out. However, we have learned so much and are still learning! From glory to glory, it keeps getting better and better. The best is yet to come!
Rachel and Thomas Awtrey are two people who love Jesus, are chasing after Him, and just happen to have met in their high school youth group. Now, after years of dating and pursuing one another, they’ve been married for three years and share what they’ve learned through the love story that God has given them (you can listen to it here on the You Were Made for More podcast, where we chat with both Rachel and Thomas!).
Rachel and Thomas live in Birmingham, Alabama, where they attend Church of the Highlands; Rachel spends her days sharing tips, tricks, and truth on social media through her blog and her podcast, Behind the Bliss. Thomas spends his days as a member of the Alabama Air National Guard, along with travelling and adventuring since he has his pilot’s license! They also have a precious pup named Remi! They’re full of energy, wisdom, and their love for one another shines through in my conversation with them.