Ryan and I have a bit of a unique story in that we met in high school.
On Friday of this week we will be celebrating 10 years of marriage with a little baby girl on the way!
Let me lay a little foundation about how Ryan and I’s relationship started.
Our Story (the quick-cut version)
We met in high school; he was the punk kid with bleach-tipped spiked hair and braces. I was the athlete, student government leader and “out of his league” according to Ryan.
Our freshman year was pretty much what you expect from young adolescents: awkward and well…more awkwardness while trying to figure out WHO we were as people.
All the girls kept ooh-ing and awe-ing about how nice and sweet this kid Ryan Frederick was. My response, “Seriously? The kid with the scooby-doo t-shirt and saggy pants? No way.” (yes, I will admit my nose may have been stuck in the air slightly higher than it should’ve been…)
It wasn’t until he came back our sophomore year with braces off, hair color normal, bulked up (thank you football practice), and wearing normal clothes that I took notice. I even had to ask one of my friends who the new kid was.
Ryan and I shared a few of the same classes, had a similar circle of friends that had developed and ultimately found our friendship blooming into a little something more.
Focusing On The Friendship
Attending a Christian school meant there were a few more rules than the average public high school. PDA (Public Display of Affection) was NOT allowed or tolerated. Dating was ok, but they really tried to emphasize living a Christ-centered life.
Thus with the influence of school and our Godly friends, it was challenging moving from friendship to dating because we had developed this wonderful friendship and feared it would be ruined if either of us spoke up about our true feelings.
Our positions on ASB (Associated Student Body i.e. student government) forced us to work together one on one after school. His friends were my friends and we all hung out in groups.
Ryan and I always seemed to catch ourselves laughing at the same things, speaking up about the same issues and it wasn’t until our honors English class that I started to really appreciate his intellectual side.
See, we didn’t sit in a corner of the cafeteria, holding hands, excluding our friends and just get sucked into each other’s eyes. First of all, we weren’t allowed to, second of all, our friendship. From the outset, we were able to laugh together, talk about pressing issues, work together to accomplish goals as leaders in our school and talk about Jesus. These friendship-activities were foundational for us and have continued to keep us strong 14 years later (10 yrs married, 4 yrs dating).
Having a baby is awesome, (at times) scary, amazing, and takes a huge learning curve.
As a pregnant woman your body is changing in crazy ways. As a result, being intimate (sex) is slightly more challenging.
Knowing your husband needs and wants you, and not feeling able (physically and/or emotionally) to BE there with him or love him intimately causes some feelings of guilt, fears, and pressure to develop.
You find yourself looking for new ways to connect with your husband. For Ryan and I, that meant getting back to our foundation of friendship (as well as some creativity in the bedroom!).
In our short stint as almost-parents (6 months of baby-growing) we know and believe that babies are absolutely a blessing (Psalm 127:3-5). They are also a huge adjustment.
In life we face many “adjustments”; new and unknown adventures along with really tough trials.
Lately, God’s been teaching me how to trust in Him and how His grace covers us when we noticeably fall short – especially in the area of marriage.
Part of adjusting to my new body means Ryan and I spend more time laughing together, talking about those ‘pressing’ issues, and discussing our relationships with Christ.
God has highlighted the fact that even though our frequency of intimacy has slightly declined for a season, the friendship that He granted us early on is still alive and revealing new facets taking us to a deeper level of friendship that only this season can offer.
Whether it’s laughing and listening to old music, or reading a love note he wrote me when we were 17 years old – God has created us with the ability to adjust – and by His grace, we can roll with the seasons of change we face in our marriage.
One thing I admire and love about my husband is his willingness to stop and pray in the midst of an argument, trial, and or hard discussion. Prayer has a funny way of diffusing our frustrations and refocusing us on Jesus.
We’ve experienced a new level of peace, hope, and clarity thanks to our heavenly Father, the prayers of fierce marriage warriors around us (i.e. close Godly friends), and through our own prayers together and for each other.
And for some who don’t feel like they are even friends with their spouse: you’re not alone. Pray and ask others to pray with and for you; that God would develop an authentic, true, deep friendship between you and your spouse, like only He can.
It is foundational in that there are times in life when the things we use to lean on are absent.
It’s in those trials and adjustment periods of life that seem overwhelming that we need to remember the friendship that God has given us, and lean on it.