Monday, January 10, 2011

marriage: year one

Today marks the 366th day that N. and I have been married. We've officially been through all four seasons together as the Bakers. People told us on our honeymoon that it "only goes downhill from here." I wholeheartedly disagree. I love N. more today than the day that I married him. This year has been about discovering real love--finding out what love looks like when you've past the dating + engagement phase--when you can't be anything but who you really are, be it: makeup-less, gassy, moody....mean. It was about learning to live together, and realizing that marriage means when I have a pimple on my butt, he'll see it. When N.'s on the toilet and realizes that he needs toilet paper, I'm the one who brings it into a stinking bathroom. This is reality, people. This is marriage. And I've learned a lot:

1) Your marriage doesn't have to look like anyone else's to be healthy, growing, vibrant and loving. I spent a lot of time in the early months of our marriage comparing out relationship to others--They exercise together, are we supposed to, too? They aren't as affectionate as we are, should we tone it down? They have more intellectual conversations that we do, are we dumb? It's silly. And finally one day, N. raised his voice at me (he never does this) and said "We aren't those other couples. We're the Brett and Nathaniel Baker." And from then on, I got it. The only people who can decide what your relationship should look like, act like and feel like is you, your husband and God himself. This applies to what the physical part of your relationship looks like, too, I think.

2) I've learned that if I leave ANY unoccupied vessel (an empty bowl, an unclaimed vase) it becomes a place for N. to put his keys, wallet, the mail....anything.
Therefore, I've learned to have a "catch all" bowl in the kitchen for just that:

anything that N. wants to throw on the counter, goes straight in the "catch all." It's a great way to avoid a silly argument, which takes me to the next thing I've learned:

3) Fighting is good when done well.  We were given a great acronym to go by when deciding whether or not we should fight something out: H.A.L.T. Are either of us Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired? Well, then let's not fight it out right now. Let's back burner it until after dinner, then hash it out. Fighting can be good. It means there's still a fire. I never want to lose that fire. It means that you have opinions...a backbone. And it helps with communication, too, I think.

4) Communicating doesn't necessarily mean talking. I think this is a man thing, maybe. Doing things shoulder-to-shoulder with N. (rolling sushi, painting a room, watching a movie) makes him feel close to me. I've always thought that we had to have a heart-to-heart every day in order to maintain that communicative intimacy. Nope. Sometimes it's O.K. just to go shopping for fertilizer together.

5) It is vital to our marriage to build one another up...yes, when we're alone, but also when we're in front of other people. The words we use are more powerful than we might think. They carry weight--a lot of it. I can't think of more embarrassing and hurtful situations than the times when N. and I have said something careless about one other in front of other people. I love to brag about N.--about his amazing voice, and his wisdom, and his patience, and how handsome he is. 

6) A little respect goes a long way. That's all.

7) N.'s love language is good food. I'm serious. There are few things that make him feel more loved than when I respect him, rub his head and make him a hot meal. 

8) Little things mean a lot: jumping on N. when he gets home, telling him how great the lawn looks after he mows it, when N. tells me I look pretty after he knows I've tried to make my hair look good, etc. It means a lot, because it means we're in this thing together--that we have a common goal to build one another up, to love each other better each day. 

9) Having inside jokes is key. N. and I have our own language, it seems. And a voice that we talk to each other in. Nothing makes us laugh harder than joking in that language. I think it's amazing to have something in your relationship that is uniquely yours....well, the two of you's (?) Even if it's ridiculously silly

10) Pray together. A lot. There is nothing more valuable to our marriage than placing it in God's hands every day. We try to remember that He's the one who gave us one another, and He gave us to each other as a gift. We try our best to be gracious, kind, gentle and loving with that gift. And we're figuring out what that looks like day by day. 

Right now, N. is waiting in the living room with athletic shorts on. For the first time ever in the history of Mr and Mrs Nathaniel Baker, we are working out together. 

We'll see how this goes!



  1. Brett Baker, you are one very wise woman.
    Congratulations on a successful first year.
    Happy Anniversary! Good luck at the gym!
    I'm returning after a very long break eek!

  2. Awww. you guys are so cute. I feel like I need to save this list for the day when I actually am married. As for the working out together... hope it went well. I haven't worked out in ohhh liiiike 4 weeks. I keep saying its going to happen. But hasn't. Fail.

  3. Wise words, my young friend! And who told you it "only goes downhill from here?" Most untrue statement ever. It keeps getting better!

  4. Brett, this post is inspiring. Thank you for sharing the elements of your relationship with Nathaniel. Tonight, I had an opportunity to share your wisdom in point 10 with someone who is struggling with letting God have all things in his life. What you wrote became a blessing in his life and I thank you for posting it:) Happy Anniversary fabulous lady!

  5. I couldn't agree more with #5 ...that rings true for ANY relationship, friendship, familyship, dogship, colleagueship... so important! Thanks for this Brett!

  6. Happy anniversary!! And shame on the person that said it "all goes downhill" after the wedding.

  7. i LOVE it! all of these are so true! i'm trying not to compare my own marriage to yours right now (a very valid #1) but we totally have a lot in common (i.e. we have a catch-all bowl/basket in just about every room...i love organized clutter haha)

    happy anniversary and enjoy the workout bond :-) we go to the gym together but part ways to do different things once there...but it's always nice to check in at different times and then eventually walk home together as big happy, sweaty messes.

  8. LOVE this. Especially #1.
    Congrats on a year of marriage, dear :)

  9. Great points! And we have our own "special language" too haha! :)

  10. loved this post, brett. since we only have 5 months to go, i've been thinking a lot of what marriage will look like. i've gotten a lot of the same advice (HALT) as you got. glad to see that it works! love to you and prayers for nathaniel in nyc!