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        Three Little Words That Say A Whole Lot

        What does marriage mean? Every now and then something happens in life that takes me back to when Shawn and I were in our early years of dating and reminds me of what I thought marriage was going to be like. I think that back then, if asked to describe my idea of what marriage is in three words, I would have listed: communication, partnership, trust. Now let me just say upfront that there’s no wrong answers to this question. Marriage has different meaning for everyone. That is just one thing that makes it so special and worthy of being cherished! What I think is even more beautiful is that with time, your perspective changes, and the things you value most in marriage evolve as you do. Now, almost three years into marriage, if asked that same question, I’d describe marriage with these words: Vulnerability. Encouragement. Laughter.

        Natalie Jayne Photography

        Vulnerability.

        I make it a point to never refer to my husband as my best friend. I’ve got my girl Lauren for that role and she could never be replaced! Often when we’re talking to others about our spouses, I feel like we tend to go out of our way to position them as more than what the words ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ articulate on their own. I know that when I fall victim to this, it’s because I’m trying to make it clear how much he means to me. It’s as if the more descriptors I add, the more significance he has to everyone outside our little world looking in. “My husband is my best friend. He’s my rock. He is my happy place. My husband is my everything.” Shawn is my HUSBAND, and that title is more than enough.

        As my husband, Shawn is THE keeper of all of my secrets – my dreams and aspirations that make me excited to get out of bed every day, my good stuff that I don’t even notice in myself, and my ugly moments that I’d really rather pretend didn’t happen. He has stood by me on my best days and on my worst days, and also all the mundane, ordinary days in between, listening to anything and everything that is on my heart and responding with compassion, ALWAYS.

        He knows things and has seen things that no one else knows or has seen. I trust him to protect all my stuff, just as he trusts me to protect all his stuff. I love that. It makes me feel like I’m his alone, and he’s mine alone. I guess you could say that’s how I’d define the privilege and joy of being someone’s ‘husband’ or ‘wife’, in the simplest terms. Fully knowing someone and loving them through everything they are.

        Natalie Jayne Photography

        Encouragement.

        Yes, Shawn absolutely encourages me as I work toward goals, whether they be related to career, health, family, hobbies, etc. But I’m talking about a deeper level of encouragement. Every day he asks me how I’m doing. The kind of “How are you?” that really is saying, “Tell me everything. I’m. Here. For. It. All.”

        If I’m struggling in being kind to someone who hurt me, he doesn’t just comfort me and say, “Yeah, that sucks. You are definitely in the right to be upset here.” He guides me in talking things out until I’ve discovered the real root of the problem. And, he helps me figure out how to confront things and make them better.

        If I find myself gossiping about something I saw or heard, he shuts it down and says back to me what I always say. “Gossip ain’t cute.” 😳😅 If I’m working through stress or anxiety or sadness (OH HELLO THERE FIRST THREE MONTHS POSTPARTUM), he doesn’t let me stay there. He gives me the freedom to cry when I need to. And then he gives me the gentle, but firm push I need to acknowledge things, process them, and rise above them. I like to think that this particular trait about Shawn makes God smile.  

        Natalie Jayne Photography

        Laughter.

        Okay, so anyone who has spent even one hour with us knows that we both totally think we’re hilarious. In reality, we’re just super goofy and tend to not have much of a filter so we end up constantly cracking ourselves up. We just can’t stop ourselves from saying what’s on our minds! The best is when one of us falls apart in hysterics before we’ve even had a chance to say what was so funny in our head. (This happens a lot in our house.) Don’t you just love marriage quirks like that?

        I find so much joy in marriage quirks – the simple things that make two people an “us”.  I think it’s fascinating that when two people have been together for a long time, they can finish each other’s sentences as if it’s the most normal thing ever.

        And I love subtle quirks too. I’m talking about the daily things that we might take for granted or not even notice about our own marriages. Like when we recently went out to dinner at a new restaurant in town with some married friends. When my girlfriend had to step away from the table she told her husband, “Order whatever I’ll like!”. Her husband instinctually knew exactly what to order and I just think that is such a sweet product of marriage.

        Or in the case of my parent’s marriage, my Dad habitually brings my Mama coffee in bed, regularly. Side note: GOD BLESS ANY MAN WHO BRINGS HIS WOMAN COFFEE!! I asked him once why he started doing that. He simply said, “Because I know it makes her happy.” COME ON! 😭😭😭😭😭

        We want to know: what does marriage mean to you? If you could describe your marriage — or your dream marriage if you’ve not yet tied the knot! — in just three words what would they be? Comment below!