UAB’s White Coat Ceremony
In the last 2 weeks, two different couples have asked me about marriage, dental school, and how they are handled together. One of these couples has been married for almost a year now and are waiting for that special December date to find out where they will be headed together. The second couple are in a serious dating relationship and are preparing for some of the biggest changes of their lives. For some strange reason I was surprised that the questions they had for me – and Roger – about school and marriage were ones that I knew the answers to. What was even more surprising was that I found myself answering these questions very honestly – although I then began to worry if I was too honest…
In Dental School Year One, I talked about how I was warned ahead of time – by women who had been through the process – how I would never see my husband because he would be so busy in Dental School. I wrote how my husband – thankfully – proved my fears wrong. However, although my husband made plenty of time for me, our first year of marriage – and dental school – were not easy. I am NOT saying they were horrible, and that I cried myself to sleep every night dreaming of single life, but that it takes work to meld two lives together, especially when both of you are in school or have busy work schedules.
One piece of advice I have heard my husband give about Dental School is that “You get out of it what you put in.” In other words, if you put the time and energy into Dental School you will get the results you want, but if you slack off or wait until the last minute you might still pass, but you’ll just barely be getting by. The same applies to marriage.
Even though my husband was extremely busy trying to stay alive during his first year of Dental School and I was struggling to adjust to a new school for my last year of college we still made the time and effort to work on our marriage. Let me tell you, it wasn’t honeymooners paradise our first year of marriage, we did have struggles, and there were nights when I quietly cried myself to sleep – but that wasn’t my husbands fault, another time I will tell you about my continual journey towards communication.
Photo by Brian Lowman
Once Upon A Time Sign created by my sister Chas
The truth is – and this is the part that I worry was too honest – our first year of marriage was not the easiest, but I say this with the knowledge of how we have grown over the last year and a half. The first year of marriage is actually probably the hardest. This is because we had dated for a few years leading up to marriage so the infatuation stage of our romance was over and the real learning to live and love together was beginning. Living together for the first year we made the most mistakes and have learned more intimately the inner workings of our respective personalities, which can be a rough process. During the first year of our marriage I don’t know if I really realized what was happening – being so busy with relocation, school, and constantly having a man around, but as I look back I see how much my husband and I have grown – as individuals, in marriage, and spiritually. I know our first year of marriage was not the easiest because I have lived through the gradual changes over the last year.
Although I am sure there will be rough seas in the future, my husband and I put a lot of work into our first year so that we would have a solid foundation for our marriage. What really made the difference is that we do not run away from our problems, we face them head on as partners. Therefore, when one of us has a problem and clams up – usually me – the other is patient and supportive. Rather than ignoring the problem or demanding to know what’s wrong my husband is wonderful at giving me my space and letting me know that he is willing talk and work through the problem.
Now I am not saying our marriage has reached perfection and that I know everything there is to know about marriage – but I am saying that the first year of marriage is a great year to learn. I learned so much about myself, my husband, and about us as a couple united in Christ. We put a lot of work into our first year of marriage, and although there is still so much to learn, we are already reaping the benefits of all our hard work.
We also prepared ourselves ahead of time for the struggles we knew would come when blending two lives together. Before we were married, we went to two marriage counselors and read two books together about marriage and love. Even though divorce is not in either of our vocabularies, we wanted to prepare ahead of time in order to distance ourselves from the problems that lead to the divorce statistics in our society. We were making an effort to have a better marriage before we were even married.
The truth is, marriage can be difficult, but if you stay as committed to your marriage and put in the same effort as you do for school or work, your marriage will not only succeed, but flourish!
Love your thoughts and honest exposure of these realities. I think that understanding these things and being prepared for them, sharing your experience, can be so beneficial for those entering the same place you and Roger have been (and James and I have been). Life, especially grad school, has a way of pulling the focus from the more important things of life if you don’t stay engaged in what’s truly important.
beautifully written Giusti… and i agree most ardently with the sentiment of “not running away from problems” you HAVE to talk to each other to grow together. Love you both!!