Monday, March 14, 2016

Chasing the Butterflies in Marriage

Everyone loves the feeling of falling in love. It is terrifying, exhilarating, warm, and exciting. I believe Peter Parker said it best in Spiderman when he told MJ:
"When you're looking in her eyes and she's looking back in yours, everything feels...not quite normal. Because you feel stronger and weaker at the same time. You feel excited, and at the same time, terrified. The truth is, you don't know what you feel except you know what kind of man you want to be. It's as if you reached the unreachable and you weren't ready for it."
 Yup, sounds about right. 

When Joel and I fell in love, I really believed that we would be that couple that would gross people out forever. We were so smitten with each other. We've gone back and read our instant messages back and forth and it was pretty nauseating how gushy we were. But at the same time, it was so perfect. It felt so good, it was so right, and I was elated to have finally found the man of my dreams. Let's call it "shout it from the rooftop" type love.

But until Joel, I hadn't been in a serious relationship longer than a year. The beginning of our story was filled with milestones: first phone call, first Skype, first time we met in person, meeting each others' families, Joel moving to Iowa, our engagement, and six months later our wedding. We always had one more exciting event coming up, and it kept us perpetually giddy and mushy.

I still remember when that feeling started to fade. It was gradual, and it didn't happen at the same time for each of us. Joel slowly started to settle into our new normal first, and I was still hanging on his every word and trying to hold his gaze for as long as I could so we could just stare and daydream and just, well, be in love I guess!

It didn't take too long for the new-ness and excitement start to wear off for me, too. I was devastated, and I convinced myself that all of the "spark" in our marriage was already gone. We still love each other and get excited to see each other and spend time together, but it has changed and grown and matured since those into-the-early-morning phone calls in the first few months of our together-ness.

Since then, I have wasted a lot of time trying to get that feeling back. I've missed the butterflies, the wondering if he's thinking about me all day, the struggle to focus on anything because I'm too in love to fully pay attention to anything else. I have tried to recreate moments, talked our love story to death, and scoured Pinterest for "how to fall in love with your spouse again" types of posts. Granted, we're still madly in love, but is it as mad as before??

What I've recently come to realize is this: there is a reason we have that high in the beginning. It is inspiring, empowering, and enlightening. It gave us the courage and the zeal to make a HUGE commitment in front of God and all of our family and friends. It gave us a taste of the joy God has in delighting in each of us. But our lives go through seasons, and marriage is no exception.

Joel and I have been married for 2 1/2 years. We are still in the beginning of our story. I don't want to waste any more time looking back on how things were. We are not the same people we were then; we have grown and changed and formed individually and together. We have shared new experiences, explored new places, and welcomed two precious daughters. I'm not going to look back anymore and try to recreate what once was. Instead, I've decided to fully embrace the here and now.

The love is still alive. We continue to romance and share and sacrifice with and for each other, but it evolves. It is not a set in stone thing; it evolves and takes on different forms. And that is not bad! This is just the season that we are in now. We don't know if the gushy-ness will make another appearance in another season down the road. But day in and day out, Joel is still my best friend.

(insert heart eyes emoji here)
I may not feel the same butterflies I did when I waited with my computer open to see if that cute guy from Twitter might chat with me, but now I swoon from watching him love and nurture our little family. Our relationship is growing richer and stronger every day that passes, by the grace of God. My heart is just as full of love for him as it was before, but now it's just bigger and I wouldn't trade that to go back in time for anything. 


  1. Justine, this is great! I've been married for 3 1/2 years, and I think it's really neat to see how our relationship continues to develop. For Lent, I've started writing a personal memoir about my vocation story, so a lot of that has been going through old love letters and journal entries from past years (which I have a lot of fun doing). And while we aren't on that emotionally charged, gushy "high" as much anymore, we have settled into that much more peaceful joy and contentment of living out married life. I don't know about you, but when we were "just friends" then dating and engaged (all within a year's time), things were energizing and crazy, but as soon as we got married, I just felt God dump extra peace down. While it is good to spice things up every now and then (I recommend Greg Popcak's book, "Holy Sex" if you two haven't read it), it is so deeply fulfilling to just live out the married vocation in the present moment with serenity.

    1. I know just what you mean AnneMarie! Your last sentence is the kicker. The crazy shout-it-from-the-rooftops charge comes and goes, but there is definitely a different level of peace we're experiencing as we grow in our marriage. We have a lot of moments where we really can stop and see all of the ways God's grace has strengthened our love that began as such a rush. And I've heard great things about "Holy Sex" but I haven't read it myself yet; I'll have to check it out!

    2. Awesome! I hope that you enjoy it! Also, I apologize-I just realized that I either did a typo or had a pregnancy brain moment haha; we've been married 2 1/2 years, not 3 1/2 (I lose track of time really easily). So we probably got married at around the same time! Very cool :)

  2. How true these words are! Your story sounds similar to mine, My husband and I met when we were in our teens and dated long distance for two years. We had serious butterfly moments and tons of late night conversations. Everything was exciting and dreamy up until about a month after the wedding and perfect honeymoon. Then the routine and the normalcy started haha. We also had two little girls within the first two and a half years of marriage and now at almost five years we are definitely becoming that "old married couple" but it is all about keeping that focus on loving your spouse now vs loving your spouse from the past. Marriage is quite the ride isn't it?! God bless you and your family :)


    1. I love the way that you worded that, "loving your spouse now vs loving your spouse from the past." It's so important to remember that, just as I am growing and changing, my husband is growing and changing. We aren't necessarily the same people we were when we got married, but that's ok! It's so important to stay in the present and love who your spouse is TODAY. :)

      Thank you for sharing Hannah and have a blessed day!

  3. Beautifully said, Justine. I'm glad you reposted this. I needed to read this today :)

  4. Beautifully said, Justine. I'm glad you reposted this. I needed to read this today :)