So today (5.2.21), my wife and I are getting married… again.
For those of you without context, that’s a confusing statement, but let me catch you up. Our original plans to get married (6.12.20) were altered due to the pandemic (wedding postponed). We had a difficult decision to make but in the end, we got married with our parents and siblings present on 5.2.20 and it couldn’t have been a more perfect or special day. Even though it wasn’t the wedding we had panned on, it was the wedding that we trust was planned for us (his plan, not ours).
From His Plan, Not Ours: To be transparent, postponing the wedding was one of the most difficult decisions that I’ve been apart of and I’ve experienced the full spectrum of emotions. In the past month, you name it and I’ve felt (disappointed, calm, frustrated, grateful, confused, anxious, excited, conflicted, etc.). However, on this day (5.2.20) I couldn’t be happier and I have never been so sure. If you haven’t picked up on it yet, today is the day that I married my best friend, Michaela Horst (Rinaldi?). I want to use this next few minutes to tell you the best story that I’ve ever written. It’s the story of how I got to this day. It’s filled with ups and downs, struggle and darkness, strength and faith. And well, I didn’t write it, I just lived it.
Now, having been married for one entire year, we are having our “wedding” with a limited number of family and friends at the venue that we had paid for way back in 2019. It’s been an unusual (and stressful) planning process, but we’ve made it.
This blog is about the first year of marriage with my best friend and wife, Michaela.
Following a perfect makeshift wedding in the midst of a pandemic, Michaela’s appendix decided to burst at the tail end of our two day honeymoon which we took in our apartment here in exotic Philadelphia (read about it here). She had to have emergency surgery and we spent our fourth night of marriage apart (her in the hospital and me unable to visit thanks to COVID restrictions). I spent the next week waking up every hour at night to take her temperature, give her water and feed her antibiotics with chocolate pudding (she of course refused to take it with anything else). It sounds like it was a lot to handle, but it really wasn’t. The lack of sleep, lack of self-care and lack of time for anything else didn’t bother me. When someone that you love with all of your heart is hurting, you have no choice but to put yourself second and step up. That brings me to one of the biggest things that I’ve learned over this past year.
Being married means being less selfish.
I never considered myself a particularly selfish person, but sharing life so intimately with another person quickly made me realize how often that I think about myself. This first year of marriage has stretched me to be more selfless with my time, my actions and my energy. I have to admit that I haven’t done the best job in this area and I owe much gratitude to Michaela for giving me grace and space to work often and to work long hours. I’ve come to realize a growing awareness of my subtle tendencies to put productivity over people. This past year has presented more opportunities than I’ve ever seen before and the selfish part of me wants to capitalize on every single one that crosses my path at the expense of time with other people, including my wife. I know that sounds bad, but that’s the truth that I’m actively working to change. The plan going forward is to be intentional with acting in congruence with my priorities. God, Michaela, Me and then others.
Being married is about sharing everything.
This past year of marriage has been an exercise in sharing. Sure, I’m talking about physical sharing, like letting Michaela take books from the bookshelf and trusting that she won’t spill coffee on them or wrinkle the pages (as you can tell, we have very different reading styles). However, marriage has opened my eyes to how energy gets shared between people. Our first year of marriage has been filled with some of the highest peaks you can imagine and some of the lowest valleys you can think of. We’ve been blessed by others, we’ve lost loved ones and we’ve navigated unusual circumstances. All of those things bring different emotions that affect each of us in different ways. There are days where one of us feels great and the other feels down; where one of us is excited and the other is anxious (and everything in between). There was even a few weeks where one of us had COVID and the other didn’t (that meant two weeks of sleeping on the couch and sharing meals from across the apartment). Our energies are contagious and that’s a learning experience within itself. Marriage has given me a lifelong partner to share the hard times with, the best times with and everything in between.
Being married means learning to love well.
I used to think that love was a feeling, but I also knew it was more. Being a physical therapist, I like to strike meaningful conversation with my patients and when the topic of marriage comes up, I’ll usually ask people about any lessons they’ve learned or advice that they have. One of the best responses I’ve gotten as it pertains to love in marriage was from a gentleman who has been married for 60 years. He told me, “you might not always like her, but you always have to love her.” To be honest, there hasn’t been a moment yet where I haven’t liked Michaela, but I can understand where these words come into play. This first year of marriage has taught me that love is an action and loving well requires intention, repetition and persistence. Just like any other skill that is desirable or admirable, loving well takes practice. In this point of married life, loving well means being less selfish and more selfless (there’s a theme here). It means always supporting, encouraging and giving to Michaela, even when it’s hard, uncomfortable or inconvenient. To me, love means being steady, being faithful and being there no matter what life circumstances (good or bad) roll through our lives.
Being married is the best thing ever.
To be transparent, this past year has been a great one and also a tough one for both me and Michaela. We’ve struggled as individuals and as a couple, but those things have strengthened us and we’re grateful for them. Without a doubt, being married to my best friend is the best thing that I’ve ever experienced or could imagine experiencing here on earth. The best part of every day for me is coming home to see my wife and to spend time with her, even if it’s just a few minutes after a long day. I’m so excited to be celebrating one year of marriage with the love of my life and I’m beyond grateful for the blessing that she has been. The best part of marriage might be the faith that my wife and I share; our marriage is bigger than just us and we realize the incredible platform that our marraige gives us to show the world how God loves us.
Before I end this blog, I want to thank everyone who continues to read, support and share life with me. More important, I want to thank Michaela for sharing life with me – I wouldn’t be who I am without you and you bring out the absolute best in me. I love you more than words can ever express and I’m committed to loving you well with actions for the rest of time.
Now, off to Hawaii!
Joe Rinaldi, PT, DPT