Newlywed Life | Surprises of Traveling with your Spouse

STEPHANIE FRIES

 

Whether it’s traveling for your honeymoon, a summertime vacation or holiday, sharing life as a “party of two” may eventually yield opportunities to pack a bag, load the car, board the plane, and take a trip. 

Unlike sharing a home or going on a date, traveling with your spouse may be a catalyst for surprising new conversations about values, opinions and preferences. 

A husband and wife bring experiences from their respective childhood travels into their adult preferences, including how to spend time and money. Some couples may not realize how many expectations each partner brings into a vacation until they make opposing suggestions. 

The opportunity to travel is an incredible fortune. There are so many different ways to take a vacation: backpacking or luggage-in-tow, culturally immersive or relaxing, budget or high-end, clean or rugged, foreign or domestic, self-guided or professionally-guided, adventurous or cultural, ethnic food or familiar food, planned or spontaneous. 

Although you and your spouse love each other’s company and are in a groove with sharing chores and space around your home, time on vacation is completely different. In reality, vacation is often as a desirable “break” from routine norms. 

Discussing a budget is typically part of the initial plan for taking a trip. Beyond a dollar amount, the budget conversation involves how and where you will spend money. 

How we spend money communicates what we value. Do you value a nice hotel with all of the amenities or would you opt to allocate funds toward a private tour at an art museum? These preferences reveal and determine where you and your spouse agree to prioritize spending in accordance with your values. 

Where we spend our time also communicates what we value. It is impossible to eat at every restaurant, see every tourist attraction, and participate in every possible activity during one vacation. Husbands and wives must share decisions about what is realistic and desirable within the constraints of time on vacation. 

Like any experience in married life, we are called to die to self as an act of love for the other. Does this mean we are called to plan a vacation solely according to our spouse’s preferences? Absolutely not. 

Marriage calls two individuals into deeper intimacy. Surrendering your desires for your spouse’s preferences is an act of love. However, being honest and vulnerable about your personal preferences is also an act of love because, by sharing this part of yourself, you invite your spouse to see, know, and love you.

Maintaining a flexible and marriage-centered attitude in these conversations about potentially conflicting opinions will guide couples to make decisions with shared ownership and joy. Without a doubt, travel is an opportunity to learn about your spouse, yourself, and the values you desire to fulfill in your family. 

We would love to hear: do you and your spouse have similar opinions about travel and vacation? What areas have prompted conversations and compromise? Share your reflections with our community on Instagram and Facebook.


About the Author: Stephanie Fries is Spoken Bride’s Associate Editor. Stephanie’s perfect day would include a slow morning and quality time with her husband, Geoff, a strong cup of coffee, and a homemade meal (…with dessert). Read more

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The Marital Blues | Navigating the Unexpected Emotions of Transitioning into Newlywed Life

MARIAH MAZA

 

I got married on a warm, sunny December day in the desert of Arizona. It was a day I had spent the better part of a decade waiting for.

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My fiance and I were high school sweethearts, so we had known each other for over seven years by the time we walked down the aisle. We spent the last three years going to college two hours apart, meaning I only saw him every couple weeks. It also meant I spent most of our engagement and wedding planning without him.

To say my heart desired for the day when we could finally go home together, and not face one more tear-filled goodbye as I watched his Chevy truck fade into the distance again, was an understatement.

Now, looking back on our wedding pictures fills my heart with joy every time. We were both beaming with excitement and anticipation, and our families rejoiced with us.

During the quiet minutes in the car between our nuptial Mass and reception, I remember watching my new husband’s face behind the wheel.

He was quiet, in the way one is quiet when contemplating a new and profound mystery.

I was his wife. He was my husband. These were realities we had only dreamed or joked about for seven years. In our minds, we had moved from forty years in the desert into the Promised Land. The veil of the married life had begun to lift. All was celebration, community, and grace.

Two days after the wedding, on New Year’s Day, we packed up the rest of our things and drove two hours north where my husband was still finishing school. I looked at our tiny one-bedroom apartment like it was a castle, and we were the king and queen of our little kingdom.

Most importantly, it was ours. I could tell him “let’s go home” if we were out at the store, and “home” was finally the same place. “Goodbye” meant he would be back later that evening, after school. “Goodnight” was something I whispered to him laying beside me in our bed. It was everything I had wanted for so long, and I was happy.

That’s why the sudden mood swings hit me so hard.

After a week or so, I started crying. A lot. I cried everyday, and I couldn’t figure out how to tell my husband “why” in coherent words. I was just sad. For no reason. Life suddenly felt pointless. The motivation to do anything seemed to be gone--even after four intense, hard-working college years.

I was a bad wife because I wasn’t joyful anymore. At least, that’s what I told myself.

Something was wrong with me, and my poor spouse didn’t know how to help. Newlywed life was supposed to be the land of happiness, and I felt miserable.

On top of my unexplained crying fits, the crosses of marriage started to slowly appear. I realized how easily I was provoked, how little I actually desired to sacrifice out of love for my husband, and how often I snapped at him because of the smallest annoyances.

Little conflicts over little things pierced my already hurting heart, and the differences in our personalities and habits reared their ugly heads. Even seven years of dating had not perfectly prepared me for living with this other person.

It wasn’t until I desperately opened up to a friend over the phone that I started to understand my own feelings. I had just graduated, just quit my job, just moved away, and just left the single life behind.

In almost every way, my life had just changed in exciting, sacramental, and good ways, and yet it was overwhelming.

Where had all this free time suddenly come from? I was used to barely keeping my head above water on a full-time school and part-time job schedule, not to mention clubs and a social life.

Where were all my friends? I was used to living in a townhouse with five other women, going to sorority events, and being surrounded by thousands of people every day at Arizona State University.

What was I doing? I had no job for the first time in four years and no school for the first time in sixteen years.

Now I was finally able to begin to articulate to my husband why I was acting so strange, and that it wasn’t because I was upset we had gotten married! In fact, our marriage was something profoundly beautiful to me, and I loved being a wife to a loving spouse.

I was never diagnosed with depression, but I know that a lot of what I felt was a deep emotional reaction to the immense change that had uprooted my life and ripped away my old “normal.” It was a jolt that sent me, finally, to my knees. “God,” I prayed (more than once), “I give you everything. My marriage, my future, and my life. I can’t do this. I’m too weak.”

After few more rough weeks, I began to slowly emerge from that dark tunnel into a brighter world. I realized that, with God’s guidance and strength, this new chapter was mine to make, almost from scratch.

For hours at a time, I jumped headfirst into a job search and ended up being connected with two wonderful families who needed a nanny and a tutor. I started volunteering at the local pro-life pregnancy resource center and made close friendships with all the other volunteers there. Once a week, I scheduled a phone call with my best friends so we could keep in touch. I explored the local library and checked out books I wanted to read. My husband and I found a new home at the local Catholic parish (where he had been confirmed only a year before!) and committed together to one Adoration hour there a week.

Week by week, I was crying less and less. The depressive states didn’t occur as often, and I felt a new sense of purpose awakening in my heart. My past was gone, but not dead. My family, close friends, and college experiences continued to shape my new life, and I began to see God’s miraculous hand in every new opportunity that presented itself.

It was a hand that had been there even in those darkest first weeks, carrying me.

It took three good months to truly begin to feel like I had my feet underneath me again. That was nine months ago. By God’s patient grace and mercy, I’m thriving. I love being married, and I love my husband.

There are hard days and new challenges constantly thrust upon me, but thus is the Christian life:

"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed."

St. Peter tells us not to be surprised when suffering and persecution come our way. I, mistakenly, did not expect the darkness, as if the devil would not eagerly attack the holy institution of marriage, the foundation of our society. And I felt alone in it.

But we are not alone in our darkness.

Change, even positive change like marriage, knocked me off my feet. I didn’t think it was normal to mourn big changes, even the happy ones.

Just remember to kneel when you are knocked down.

Find a crucifix, the epitome of suffering love, lay it all at His feet, and trust. Talk to your spouse, call a friend, seek therapy if necessary, or walk outside into the sunlight and breathe. And pray. Always pray.

Because the newlywed life is beautiful and the sacramental graces innumerable.

In my twelve short months of marriage, I have already had to learn this, and learned to believe that it is a true reality, not just a pretty phrase. Fifty years from now (God-willing), I still plan on calling upon the bottomless ocean of marital graces we received one day last December to carry us through hard times.

And God wants us, his children, to ask for a lot. To depend wholly on him in childlike trust. He is the Cheerful Giver.

Since I am still a newlywed myself, I am still learning what it means to be a daughter of the King and a wife to my husband. Still learning to let go and let God. To other young brides out there, be not afraid. There is profound joy in your new vocation. And should the darkness come, you are not alone.

You are deeply loved, He has a plan for your life, and there is redemption in our suffering in the shadow of the Cross.



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About the Author: Mariah Maza is Spoken Bride’s Features Editor. She is the co-founder of Joans in the Desert, a blog for bookish military wives. Read more

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Newlywed Life | How to Plan a Honeymoon Staycation

Are you and your beloved unable to go on a honeymoon immediately after your wedding?

Whether due to work, financial, or other limitations, if a getaway isn’t in the cards for you right away, the first days of your marriage can still be an elevated experience and sacred time. Consider planning a honeymoon staycation over a three-day weekend or, if possible, a longer period off from work. Here, our suggestions for making your staycation distinctive from the everyday.

Allow yourselves leisure.

When you’re staying at home, particularly right after your marriage, there are temptations everywhere to do: open gifts, organize belongings, clean, write thank you notes. Don’t forget, however, to be: this is a vacation, after all! Consider designating a time of day to end working on projects and chores, spending the remainder in a state of carefree timelessness.

Make specific plans.

A staycation is ideal for exploring areas of your city you might not otherwise prioritize: plan a day trip, make brunch and dinner reservations at new and special spot, visit the natural or cultural sites you love or have dreamed of seeing. Creating an informal itinerary cultivates the getaway feel and brings structure to your time.

Consider a local overnight.

If your budget allows, spending a night--or two--in a nearby hotel or Airbnb feels distinctively special and set apart from your everyday.

Dream together.

If your “actual” honeymoon is months away, enjoy the anticipation! Page through travel books for your destination, dive into Yelp, and begin planning your forthcoming trip.

Add a spiritual component.

Take advantage of time off from work with daily Mass, Adoration, and a self-planned retreat or pilgrimage. Find more here on planning a spiritually significant honeymoon.

We love hearing the stories, insights, and surprises of your newlywed lives. If you and your beloved had an abbreviated or local honeymoon, or are planning to, share your own tips and experiences in the comments and on our social media. See the Spoken Bride team’s handpicked honeymoon essentials here.

Newlywed Life | The Growing Pains of New Marriage

STEPHANIE CALIS

 

My husband of two weeks sat beside me on the floor, bowls of black beans and rice before us and backs against our first Ikea couch. We ate, surrounded by an enamel Dutch oven, new and velvety towels, down pillows, gilded picture frames. The stuff of a wedding registry checked off. But without chairs to sit on for dinner.

Married at 23, with one of us in graduate school and the other commencing a job search in a new town, my husband and I began our wedded life absorbing the paradox of having just experienced the most elegant, special occasion of our lives--and all the generous gifts and photogenic dazzle it entailed--followed by a season of surprisingly unglamorous trials: extreme simplicity and a tight budget, arguments over whether dishes should be washed before bed or the following morning, equivocating over daily habits and routines, struggling to comprehend an NFP chart.

Before the wedding, we’d spent hours of our long-distance engagement on the phone, dreamily anticipating when we’d be together daily and no longer have to say goodbye for weeks at a time. We eagerly devoured spiritual literature on marriage, knowing even when emotion abandoned us from time to time, pure willpower and sacramental grace would sustain our love. It seems naive now, yet I still imagined we’d sail painlessly into marriage, our newlywed bliss drowning any minor frustrations.

Minor frustrations, however, often felt major, compounded by our financial situation and search for community four hours away from friends and family. Even in the genuine euphoria of finally being husband and wife, we bickered. I felt guilty, knowing material concerns and disagreements over trivial matters like whether to roll up the toothpaste tube were nothing; that the foundation of our love felt truly solid and that even with certain deprivations we still had much compared to some. I wish I could go back and tell myself it’s alright to have felt this way.

It wasn’t until a few months in, when my pride was mercifully stripped away that I could see these growing pains as a gift. Offerings from the Father to burn away our faults and, like iron in a fire, sharpen one another in virtue. The irritations of adjusting to a shared life didn’t immediately disappear. But suddenly, what seemed like obstacles in the way of love became opportunities to love.

My husband and I discussed expressly thanking God for any frustrations we felt with our situation or one another, knowing when we accept his invitation, all things are transformed and love disinterested in the self is all the more possible. “This is the very perfection of a man,” wrote Augustine, “to find out his own imperfections.”

Whatever your crosses as a newly married couple, consider this permission to struggle, and even to find the struggle discouraging. Welcome it all the same. There were times, in those early weeks of my marriage, a lie crept in that the grace of the sacrament just wasn’t working for us. I know now that difficulty doesn’t mean grace isn’t at work. It means that it is, and is ours to embrace.

The first steps of any journey can be the hardest, not least of which the steps on this pilgrimage to heaven. You aren’t alone, though. In flesh and in spirit, united to you entirely, is a second person--and a third.


About the Author: Stephanie Calis is Spoken Bride's Editor in Chief and Co-Founder. She is the author of INVITED: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner (Pauline, 2016). Read more

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Newlywed Life | 5 Tips for Long Periods of Time Apart

JIZA ZITO

 

When we become engaged to be married, we all dream of the day we can finally be with our spouse everyday. We look forward to less frequent long goodbyes and to more time spent together. However, due to careers or other circumstances, we may find ourselves in the challenging position spending long periods of time apart.

Perhaps you and/or your spouse are completing a degree at a graduate or medical school, or working strenuous hours in a “badge” career such as firefighting, law enforcement, EMS or first responder. Or perhaps one or both of you are serving our country’s military, working shift work at a plant, or traveling out of town for days or weeks at a time. Whatever your situation, we hope you will find the following tips helpful.

Find a support group.

Many careers that provide unique challenges for married couples and families often have a support network available. You can find more information through a liaison or by searching online for a local group. Having a support network with others in the same job field can provide a sense of camaraderie and friendship while giving you a place to ask questions and access to specific resources. As you gain knowledge and experience, you can, in turn, help and mentor other new spouses in the future.

Become involved in a Church community.

Finding accountability and prayerful support with others who share the same faith can be a great source of encouragement. Try checking your parish bulletin or website for a Bible study or prayer group. If your schedule permits and you feel a particular call to volunteer your time and talent, look for a ministry or outreach group in which you could serve.

Enjoy a newfound hobby.

Still looking for a way to occupy your time? Make a list of projects or hobbies you would like to enjoy and accomplish during your time apart. Maybe you have a project within your home you’d like to finish, or a gift you’d like to create. Perhaps you want to take a class and learn a new skill like dance or cooking, or join a social group like hiking or a book club. Search your city newspaper or recreation catalog for local classes or events. You can also try websites like meetup.com in order to find a nearby group for your particular interest. When you reunite with your spouse, you can share your newfound interest and try it out together.

Prioritize self-care.

Long periods apart can be stressful on a marriage. It often requires emotional and mental adjustment both during and immediately after the time of separation. It’s important and helpful to maintain good hygiene, sleep, and eating habits, and to set time aside for personal leisure and exercise. Yet these days and months can be lonely and trigger feelings of depression and anxiety. If you find yourself feeling particularly low, speak with a doctor, therapist, or pastor or inquire with your support network on healthy ways to manage.

Remain close to the sacraments.

Most importantly, stay close to Christ and frequent the sacraments. Remain focused on him, and he who is always faithful will grant you and your spouse the grace to not only get through times of separation, but to thrive and grow together as well. Despite whatever hardships you both might face, he will always "equip you with everything good for doing His will.”


About the Author: Jiza Zito is Spoken Bride's Creative Director and Co-Founder. She is the owner and wedding photographer of Olive & CypressRead more

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Newlywed Life | 4 Ways to Have a Prayerful Honeymoon

STEPHANIE CALIS

 

The morning following our wedding, my husband and I went to Sunday Mass, ate breakfast at a diner where we were given a free piece of pie, and spent the next eight hours in the car en route to Wilmington, North Carolina. We spent the next week exploring the gardens, downtown, and beaches of this beautiful seaside town. Its small-city feel, with its mix of opportunities for culture and relaxation, suited us perfectly. Simplicity.

Before marriage, I’d listened with awe to my friends’ stories of running through the streets of Rome in wedding attire, eager to get a good spot in the sposi novelli section of the Pope’s weekly audience. Their trips sounded amazing, yet I knew that immediately following our wedding, time and budget constraints would mean a Roman honeymoon just wasn’t a possibility for us. I felt at peace with this fact and, moreover, was excited for a slower-paced trip that I knew suited our temperaments.

Even in the absence of international travel and a papal blessing, though, my husband and I talked about maintaining a disposition to prayer on our first-ever trip together. If you and your spouse-to-be are among those graced with the opportunity for a honeymoon in Rome, it will surely bear fruit in your new marriage. Yet it would be a misperception to believe Rome and the Vatican are the only locations where you can enjoy your first days as husband and wife in a deeply spiritual way.

If your honeymoon plans are stateside or if you’ve chosen another country or type of trip for your getaway, know that your choice is an equally worthy one and that it’s possible to have a prayerful, intentional honeymoon no matter where in the world you and your beloved are.

Here, our recommendations for bathing your honeymoon in a spirit of prayer.

Chase the Eucharist.

Commit to daily Mass, or even a daily holy hour, for the duration of your honeymoon. Depending on your destination, you might make one parish your home base, or prefer to explore different churches in the area. The Mass Times app is a valuable tool for finding Masses and Adoration, even internationally, and might surprise you with new--or old favorite--saints to whom you can pray in a particular way. The parish my husband and I frequented during our time in Wilmington was named for Saint Therese, whose intercession played a major role in our relationship. Coincidence?

Read a spiritual book together.

Diving into new-to-you reading during this sacred time, like Elise and her husband did, offers not only material for contemplation, but an experience to remember your trip by and refer back to in the future. See recommendations from us and some of our brides here.

Develop a prayer routine.

Newlywed life, particularly on your honeymoon, offers significantly more time together than you’ve had in the past, including time for prayer first thing in the morning and last thing before bed. Use these first days of your marriage to expand upon the prayer rituals you employed while dating and engaged, or create a routine for the first time. Rest, however, in the fact that there’s no pressure to have everything figured out by the time you head home. Developing a spiritual intimacy takes time, and the Church offers such depth and richness of options that suit you and your spouse, ranging from rote prayers and devotions, spontaneous prayer, lectio divinamusic, and the Divine Office.

Consider a mission statement for your marriage.

This might sound official, but it doesn’t have to be! Men and women called to marriage are tasked with the mission of bearing Christ’s love to the world through their love for each other and, God willing, for their children. Taking time to converse about your hopes for your life together and ways you’ll live out your particular call to marriage can act as a touchstone for your vocation: principles to live by, words to turn to during dry or difficult seasons, and a succinct reminder of your path to heaven. A mission statement for your marriage puts into words the universal truth of the married vocation, in a way specific to you and your beloved. You might write your own statement, or you might turn to a particular word that arises in your hearts or a quote from Scripture or a saint.

I have to admit that my husband and I have never officially done this ourselves, but over time, there have been two quotes we’ve consistently turned to that express our relationship; ones that encapsulate the standards we strive to hold ourselves to in our marriage. One is “freedom exists for the sake of love,” from the old translation of Saint John Paul II’s Love and Responsibility, and the other is Saint Teresa of Calcutta’s exhortation that each of us “be the one” to quench the thirst of Jesus on the Cross, in the form of daily acts of love and prayer.

We love hearing about your own journeys and the ways, small and large, you enrich your spiritual life with your spouse. If there are practices that helped you look to Christ on your own honeymoon, be sure to share them in the comments and on our social media.


About the Author: Stephanie Calis is Spoken Bride's Editor in Chief and Co-Founder. She is the author of INVITED: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner (Pauline, 2016). Read more

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Newlywed Life | Maintaining Your Female Friendships After Marriage

There’s deep value in treating the first months of your marriage as sacred, a cocoon to forge and strengthen your relationship as you take on a new life and mission as one. Consciously setting boundaries around your newlywed days bears such fruit in both romance and mutual respect. Whether you’re in the cocoon or out of it, though, where does your new marriage leave your longtime relationships with girlfriends?

Depending on your age, where you live, and simply on the Father’s particular call for your vocations, most of your close female friends might be seriously dating or a few years married at the time of your own wedding, or many might still be single. As a new bride, you might be joining the ranks of women in your life who’ve already entered into living with a boy, making their spouses their top priority, and consulting with their husbands before making major decisions with spending, travel, and social obligations. Alternatively, you might be one of the first to chart these waters among your group of friends.

The newness of respecting your marriage, while still not removing yourself entirely from the lives of women who were there before your wedding and who remain there after, is a balancing act and natural transition of married life that depends, in some ways, on your friends’ own life situations. Here, three ways to prioritize your husband and your marriage while maintaining close female friendships:

Actively seek ways to talk and spend quality time that don’t focus solely on your identity as a newlywed.

 Becoming a wife is a sacramental reality; a real change in who you are and the most defining identity you’ll ever take on. The complementarity of man and woman in marriage is irreplaceable, yet the bonds of femininity you share with your girlfriends is just as unique. In the aftermath of the wedding whirlwind, it can be easy for both you and your friends to turn to your wedding day and marriage as an immediate topic of conversation, which can be healthy and good. But remember that while your own life has undergone a major transition, those of your friends might be back to status quo. It sounds obvious, but is worth remembering: go outside of yourself; make efforts not only to talk about your friends’ own lives, but to just talk about non-marriage-related matters.

Two possibilities offer frequent opportunities for conversations like these. First, an article club is like a book club, but with a far lower level of commitment. Among you and your friends, choose several articles to read beforehand on a chosen topic; you’ll likely find that the content of the pieces themselves doesn’t become the main topic at hand, but the underlying ideas they spark are sure to inspire deep discussion and reflection. To springboard your conversations, we love the thoughtful content from Blessed Is She, The Cor Project, the Theology of the Body Institute, The Young Catholic Woman, and Integrity.

 Second, formally joining your friends in prayer, whether by a weekly email thread or by meeting half an hour early for Mass, is a powerful way to remain close in the Lord and to stay current on the goings-on in each others’ lives. Choose a time to periodically intercede for each others’ intentions, and entrust your friendships to Christ, his mother, and the saints. 

Host your friends.

Benedictine orders view hospitality as a charism. Consider, with your husband, whether it might be a gift the two of you are called to in the form of hosting your friends. Often, after marriage, close friends tend to keep a wider berth around newlyweds out of respect for their relationship, which is both courteous and well-intended. But sometimes you just miss each other.

Opening your home to your friends extends them an invitation into your new, shared life. Having one friend and, if she has one, her significant other, over to dinner gives you a chance to share who your husband is and deepen his friendships with your friends, or hosting a larger social event echoes Pope Francis’ reminder that “married couple[s] are therefore a permanent reminder for the Church of what took place on the Cross,” and what took place after: let your love be a life-giving witness to the joy of knowing the Father’s love and mercy.

Avoid the small things when it comes to gossip.

Complaining to a friend is often an instant source of bonding, yet it’s a superficial one. Reject the temptation to gossip about your husband or share details of particular struggles in your relationship; by refraining, you keep your problems simpler by keeping them between the two of you, and you avoid any misunderstanding on the part of a friend that could damage your husband’s reputation or paint a false picture of him. While most among us know gossip, on a large scale, is wrong and fairly easily avoidable, striving for prudence even in joking about certain small bad habits or weaknesses of your husband’s conveys deep respect.

 Of course, even with a cocoon period, matters like holidays, business travel, or weddings might mean spending more time away from your new home or time apart than you’d like. Overall, taking time to identify ways of staying close to the women in your life is its own reward, in the form of clear expectations between you and your spouse about what the first months of your marriage will be like, and in the form of habitually making concrete, rather than “sometime” plans with female friends that still prioritize your home life and marriage emotionally and geographically.

Don’t pressure yourself to strike the perfect balance of marriage and friends right away. Pray to make your relationship an invitation and witness to others, and in time God, in his faithfulness, will delight in revealing to you exactly how your unique relationship can do just that.