May 15, 2010 - Arlington, MA - Two shall become one

Here are some of my reflections on my first year of marriage, in no particular order.  (And photos!  Everyone loves pictures!)

1. Sleeping with someone in the same bed is a new experience.  I’m glad Will is not a snorer.  Thankfully we don’t fight over blankets and we are mutual non-snugglers.  We have yet to have a night away from each other, and I like it that way!  It’s so interesting that you can sleep by yourself for 20+ years, and yet when you get married, it’s SO strange to think about sleeping alone.

2. On another sleeping note: Rooming at retreat is easy!  You just click “married” on the retreat form, and you automatically know who your roommate is!

May 21, 2010 - Negril, Jamaica - Love in the sun

3. It’s SO much easier to cook for two.  And I have found that I like experimenting with recipes!  When I was single, there was no need to impress anyone by my cooking.  I cooked well, but now with 1) a non-student income, and 2) someone else who’s eating, I am becoming adventurous in the kitchen.  Some of my cooking ventures: mapodofu, spam musubi, gruyere stuffed meatballs, pork roast, potato chip crusted pork chop, tuna ranch casserole, and roasted potatoes with a secret marinade.  And thankfully, Will enjoys it!  The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach!

4. I’ve heard it said that in marriage, “the highs are higher, and the lows are lower.”  SO true.  When awesome things happen to me or Will or us, you get to celebrate together, and it’s more enjoyable to celebrate with someone else.  When disappointments come up or one of us is sad, you now have two people mourning.  I guess it’s all a part of the “become one” thing.  You feel what the other person is feeling.  What they go through, is what you’re going through too.  In the good times and bad.  Sickness and health.

August 7, 2010 - Rockport, MA - Lobsters taste good

5. Our fights are more intense.  We don’t fight on the phone anymore because it’s easier(?) to fight in person.  We were never people who let our issues slide without resolving them somehow.  And we’re still the same way.  But now I can’t hide my emotions AT ALL.  You can’t escape to your room.  You can’t drive back to your own apartment.  We both live here.  So we need to work it out.  Fights may be more intense now, but reconciliation is now more rewarding.  We know we’re setting the foundation for our marriage.

6. Sex is amazing.  Yup, I wrote it.

August 31, 2010 - Baltimore, MD - From the Boston Harbor to the Baltimore Harbor

7. Writing my new name is easy.  I haven’t accidentally mis-signed my name with my old last name.  Probably because when I’m signing anything, I have to think about it as I’m writing it.  What hasn’t been as easy is hearing my new name said out loud.  The other day, someone said my name in front of a group, and there was a second where I didn’t recognize it.  I write out my name much more than I hear my name.

8. My love language is quality time.  (Click the link to find out yours.)  And this has needed to be clarified for Will and myself.  Living with Will, for me, does not equate to “quality time.”  Even though, it is a lot of “time,” it’s not “quality time.”  So we’ve had to be really intentional about how to make “time” turn into “quality time.”  For the first six months or so of being married, we went without date nights.  It was so cool to live together and see each other a lot more than we did before, that it seemed like date nights were not necessary.  Boy, was I wrong.  I realized that I was lacking in receiving the love I find in quality time.  And we soon reinstated date night.  We’ve had to be creative with that given our finances, and I’ll probably write another post regarding that.

October 9, 2010 - Stow, MA - Mutsu apples!

9. Oh, the things that can happen within a year: One of my BMs got engaged, another BM started dating and got engaged, my sister started and finished culinary school, and one GM is moving across the country to work on his start-up.  And that was just within our bridal party!  What’ll happen in year two?

10. Question: How do two people share one TV?  Answer: DVR.

December 18, 2010 - North Attleboro, MA - Sharp shooting duo!

11. Traveling is so much fun.  You know, before I met Will, I never wanted to travel.  I was content where I was and with the cities I’d traveled to before.  Now, not so much.  I’m dreaming about the next place to visit.  We’re up in York, Maine for our first anniversary.  Where will we be for our second?

12. I love seeing how my family has taken Will in.  They were always nice to him before we got married, but there’s just a different type of acceptance now that he’s officially a part of the family.  It seems pretty normal for us to hang out together.  I’m sure my brother loves having his first brother.  They talk about fantasy football and video games, things me or Melissa just aren’t as interested in.

December 25, 2010 - North Potomac, MD - First Shao Christmas

13. Planning ahead is awesome.  And scary.  When we were dating, we didn’t think TOO far ahead.  We’d dabble in ideas about housing or travel or kids.  But nothing really detailed or super serious.  Now, we can put timelines on those things.  We can talk about real details.  And that’s fun.  Scary too – since now these aren’t just ideas or fantasies; they can actually BE REALITY.  Yikes/Awesome.

14. Figuring out what your family values are/will be is an interesting process. One thing I want to carry over from my family is family dinners.  And we’ve been pretty successful with that.  We’ve missed maybe 20 dinners together in a whole year.  One thing I want to instill in our family from Will is his love (and now mine) to travel.  I know it’s easier to go visit relatives on vacation time, but I think it’d be also cool to travel to new places without seeing a familiar face.

February 2, 2011 - Waltham, MA - Adults can play in the snow too!

15. Transitioning from engaged life to married life has been pretty easy and seamless for us at Highrock.  I know that at other churches, that transition can be alarming and isolating.  Even when we went to the first official Friday Night Fellowship of the 2010 school year (which was the first one after we got married), one of the greeters (coughRyanYicough) jokingly said to us, “What are you doing here?”  We laughed, because we know what he was implying.  Unfortunately, and more often than not, that implication is the reality of life.  You get married, enter a new lifestage, leave your old community…  Fortunately, we still felt welcome in the VERY predominately single Young Adult Ministry.  There were a few couples that still remained after getting married, and some half-couples that would come.  For us, we still saw so much blessing in gender-specific small groups, and we had been so committed to our groups even before we were married, that it wasn’t hard to continue to commit to our groups.  We also found a great small group to help us transition into our new lifestage – the Newlywed Small Group!  I was extremely excited to find out about this group and we have been immensely blessed by it.  To everyone who asks me about the small group, I tell them that it’s not so much us all sharing our experiences.  Most of us have one year or less of marriage experience.  It’s been more about learning and absorbing.  And that’s not a horrible thing!  Newlywed small group is so different than women’s small group.  I know what it’s like to be a woman and the challenges with that.  Marriage?  Uh…I’ve only finished first grade with this education.  Thank you to our professors, Doug and Julie Macrae!

16.  I love coming home to someone and knowing that someone will be coming home to me!  Before getting married, I used to love just coming home and being by myself.  Now, it’s just the opposite.  I hate being home alone.  Home is so much better when you share it with someone you care about.

February 25, 2011 - New York, NY - Chicken and rice at Melissa's apartment

17. I’m glad I don’t have to deal with relationship drama – i.e., wondering if I’ll be married, who I’ll be with, if the guy I’m dating is the right one, etc.

18.  We split up chores – I don’t have to take out the trash or wash the laundry!  Or kill bugs! 🙂

March 31, 2011 - New York, NY - Watching Melissa become a chef

19. I like calling Will “my husband.”  And I love hearing when Will refers to me as “his wife.”

20. During our newlywed small group, we read “Sacred Marriage” by Gary Thomas.  One of the most poignant things I learned from that book is found in this quote, “Some experts suggest it takes from nine to fourteen years for a couple to truly create and form its being.  Becoming one – in the deepest, most intimate sense – takes time.  It’s a journey that never really ends, but it takes at least the span of a decade for the sense of intimacy to really display itself in the marriage relationship.”  This quote makes a lot of sense to me.  I can live 25 years defining who I am as an individual and all of a sudden, a marriage certificate demands a new identity.  (It’s almost a bargain that you would only need nine years to replace the 25 years of individuality.)  Knowing this reminds me that each day is important in our marriage.  One more day learning to become one is one less day desiring to be the only one.  Here’s to year two!

April 18, 2011 - Boston, MA - Witnessing my husband cross the finish line