This is just the ramblings of a woman in love trying to figure out what takes to make a great marriage so great. As many of you know, I am married to an amazing, loving, caring and patient man whose name is Ryan. He is the love of my life and I can’t imagine living out this crazy adventure with anyone but him. Our love story isn’t oozing with romance (I’m more practical than romantic), but Ryan won me over with his well written love letters and through his encouragement of my adventurous spirit. He knows what makes me tick, he loves me despite my quirks, he showers me with love on the daily, and I know he works hard everyday to be a good teammate.
Love Story Background: We knew each other through high school, but trust me, we did NOT like each other in high school. Our graduating class was only 25 people so everyone in our class knew each other pretty well. I was annoying and Ryan was stern and we both liked different people during high school. Now… three years after high school… I had stayed in Chico and Ryan had moved to Sacramento to go to school. Sacramento was quite the experience for Ryan but once he decided to actually focus on school, back to Chico he went (lucky for me!). Ryan contacted me once he moved back as I was one of the only high school friends left in Chico and asked to get connected to people I knew. I was involved with Campus Crusade for Christ at Chico State (now known as CRU) and living in the Girl’s CRU House and I plugged him into our Junior Year bible study which was at my house. We hung out a lot with people in my friend group during this time and Ryan was able to make some connections with the men in this group. He told me once I saved his life by connecting him to these people.
During this time, my friends often told me that they thought he was cute and I should date him and all I could say was, “Ew gross, we’re just friends!”. To add confusion to our love story, I started dating someone from out of town just about the time Ryan moved back to Chico(which worked in my favor)… Ryan realized he had feelings beyond friendship when he found out I was dating someone…. and he decided that he actually liked me! Lucky for Ryan,it only took a month for me to figure out this person I was dating from out of town was NOT the person for me. Just a month after breaking up with this person, Ryan and I were dating! Ryan asked me to go on a walk, late one night, and told me about his feelings towards me. He asked me if I could risk our amazing friendship for an actual relationship. I told him I was willing to take that risk and I am SO glad I did! I knew within 6 weeks of dating Ryan that he would be my husband (it’s true, I have it written in my journal!).
We dated for 10 months, were engaged for 5 months and now we’ve been married over 2 and a half years! I do have to say, our wedding was my favorite event of my whole life thus far. We had a blast (I tell Ryan I wish we could have that wedding again every summer and he always says no). And marriage, let me tell you, is so so sweet. We have so much fun and I can’t believe we still get a life time together. I tell you our love story so now I can focus on what happens after marriage.
Why I care about being a teammate: Many people told us that marriage is HARD and it was just a little disheartening to hear as we were in the “honeymoon” stage and planning our wedding. I think they forgot to tell us how amazing marriage could be too! We decided that this wasn’t a phrase we wanted to tell other newly engaged or newly married people… that’s a scary phrase! Marriage can be so fun and so rewarding.. we highly recommend it:) Yes, marriage requires a bit of work, but God put you together for a reason and you can accomplish so much together when you chose to focus on your mission together. An aspect Ryan and I like to focus on in our marriage is being on the same team and working hard to be a good teammate. Ryan and I grew up playing sports, so this terminology is something we understand. When we work together as a team, we get to win as a team. Being on the same team for us means communicating well in all aspects of life such as: asking your husband if he wants eggs in the morning while you’re making some for yourself, giving a run down of your agenda for the day, sharing prayer requests together, or it could be divide and conquer with chores and errands. The list goes on and on but for me, it’s naturally so easy to act as an individual and not as a team.
While I understand what it means to be on a team, I can be selfish and act completely independent of Ryan. Ask anyone… my best skill is planning and organizing. Heck, it was my job for the first two years after graduating from college. It’s easy for me to schedule hangouts, vacations, family time, etc. without the consent or thought of my husband. Lucky for me, one of Ryan’s best qualities is his easy going nature and he gives me plenty of grace in this area. I know normally it won’t bug him if I plan a few friend events without asking him first, but I know after awhile the introvert in him doesn’t want to be around people anymore. I can also be a bit bossy (whoops) and controlling which is also not a good behavior to have when trying to act as a team. It’s something we’re working on… as a team. Ryan has permission to call me out and I’m working on my attitude on how I respond to that.
Some things we’ve come up with to be a good teammate are:
- Spending less time on social media and watching less television. We also turn off all media to simply BE with each other. This is something that’s much harder for me than Ryan… I don’t listen to music when doing chores, I like to pop on a tv show to play in the background. For Ryan, it’s really distracting and we end up watching tv or scrolling through Facebook more than we end up talking to each other (what?!).
- Doing things that are “side by side” as opposed to always “face to face”. This is something we learned in our pre-marital counseling from Will Wilson. Ryan, like most men, prefer to do things side by side such as: building something together, walking together, etc. I like to have “face to face” time (like most women) and I want Ryan to talk to me for hours straight while we sip coffee at a local coffee shop. We have to be willing to change it up and do something something different than the norm.
- Do things with just the two of us. As you can tell, I love adventuring! I also love being around people… but sometimes it’s just nice to have a 4-5 hours car ride with just your own thoughts (and music preferences, duh!).
- Praying together. It still is something that’s not quite routine for us, but it’s something we decided to commit to about a year ago. When we pray together, we get to hear what’s on each other’s hearts and how Jesus is pushing us in our mission in life. It’s a sweet time and intimate for us. It helps strengthen our marriage when we pray together.
- Laugh a little. Golly gee, sometimes people are SO serious. What attracted me most to Ryan was his care free and jolly nature. Ryan is a goofball and so am I (sometimes I still wonder how I didn’t scare him away!) and we just love to HAVE FUN with each other.
Ryan and I are only 2.5 years into this whole together for a lifetime thing and obviously we’re still figuring out how to be good teammates. But with a little elbow grease and some laughs, I’m sure we’ll figure it out:) I hope that reading this brought you some peace about being on a team with your spouse or significant other and just know that it’s on my heart to be praying for newly wed couples while they’re figuring life out together (just like we still are!). We love this adventure of a life we have together and I hope this mission God has sent us on can bless someone else.
Ryan’s Note: The way you treat marriage defines the nature of it. If you decide that your marriage is “hard” that’s how you will play it out. I like to think of it as something I enjoy. To play off Carly’s sports analogies, playing a sport can be difficult, but it’s your love of the game that drives you to be better both for yourself and your teammates. Marriage is fun, marriage to Carly is funner. Falling in love was not hard, it was fun. Prepare for hard times, they will come. Serve each other, work for each other, hold each other, push each other, and listen to each other. Maybe check out Galatians 5:22-23, there is some good wisdom in there. Practice good things and you’ll do well in the games. Don’t skip the basics and refer to them often. Mostly, life is short so have some fun and make an impact. You’re amazing, and if you don’t believe me, ask your best friend.
Praying for happy marriages,
-C (and R)