12 Months of Marriage in Movie Reviews

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For my husband and me, Christmas means more movie gift cards, which means Part Two of my earlier movie review blog post.

We’ve had some goodies in 2016.

Hacksaw Ridge

I’m not sure if I’ve ever cried so hard in a movie theater. The first half of this film weaves a love story that would make the coldest of hearts smile, and the second half blows your souls to pieces – much like the soldiers themselves. So. Much. Gore. I kept crying all the way home, awed by the sacrifice of those who fought in WWII and shaken by the horror they endured.

Doctor Strange

Super cool. Benedict Cumberbatch triumphs once again. Furthermore, his literal out-of-body experience in the hospital made me laugh out loud. Definitely watch this one if you like super heroes or sci-fi or visual effects … or movies.

Arrival

Fascinating premise, high-caliber acting, mind-bending conclusion. This is not your typical alien movie: there’s only one explosion, and hardly anyone dies. Instead, this movie leaves me contemplating the purpose of suffering. As Louise teaches us, we cheat ourselves when we try to skip the painful stuff. Two thumbs up.

Moana

I love how the ocean becomes a character in this movie. Moana’s signature song sounds terrific. Demigod Maui is lots of fun – and as a bonus, we get to hear Dwayne the Rock sing! Still, I’m a little disappointed that Moana’s song remains the only good one. I find myself missing the creative “wow” of music from The Lion King or Aladdin.

Rogue One

What a treat to watch a film driven by a compelling plot! I tend to get caught up in the emotional lives of the characters to the extent that the story takes a background role. Watching this movie, however, I genuinely wanted those rebels to steal the plans to the Death Star – whether or not they survived the endeavor. I would watch this one many times.

Passengers

We technically saw this one at the beginning of 2017 – the day of our first wedding anniversary, in fact! Evan accurately described it as a chick flick disguised as sci-fi. I happen to enjoy chick flicks, and the lead actors carried the story with charm (and plenty of sex appeal). As for the premise, I found the idea of living alone on a spaceship for years slightly stressful but intriguing.

Reflecting on one year of marriage, I can’t help but feel extravagantly fortunate to live in my own house with a kind husband, a fat kitty, and enough extra cash to indulge in  the world of cinema. Whatever the next year holds, this one has been delightful.

Love,

The Reluctant Bride

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Adulthood for Beginners, Part 2

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I do not set lofty goals for myself.

My aspirations are simple ones:

  • Eat three balanced meals per day.
  • Get a reasonable amount of sleep each night.
  • Keep my house moderately tidy.

It frustrates me that these undeniably attainable intentions often prove to be way too hard, so I try to celebrate the small victories. Last week, for instance, there were two whole days in a row during which I did not leave a single dirty dish in the sink. I also ran loads of laundry three work nights in succession. I even – get this – folded the clean clothes instead of leaving them heaped in my hamper. (Applause seems appropriate.)

So far my husband and I have lived in this house together for eleven months. Our two attempts at home improvement have been 1) painting a wall in the living room and 2) purchasing a beautiful dark-wood dining room table. Remnants of the original color still haunt the edges of our wall, although we did our best with painter’s tape. We’re immensely proud of our table.

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Oh – we also recently bought a brand-new water heater, but that one happened against our will.

In order to prove to myself that I have made some progress over the past year (almost) of marriage, I’d like to record a few of the lessons I’ve learned.

1 – Call Your Mom (A Lot)

I tend to process verbally, and between a new job, new living arrangements, and a new relationship status, I’ve had a lot to process this year.  My mother is the one person I can always trust to be totally interested in the details of my life. Grandmothers also serve this function exceptionally well.

2 – Do 1 Small Chore Each Night

I find that I have the most energy right when I get home from work, and even tiny amounts of effort make a big difference in the way I feel about my home. One simple task like taking out the trash, sweeping the cat food that inevitably ends up scattered across the floor – why, kitty? – or unloading the dishwasher doesn’t take much time. That way I can go to bed with a small sense accomplishment.

3 – Watch Netflix During Workouts

This isn’t really a new lesson, and I probably don’t “bring it” the way my DVD instructor would like, but at least I’m moving my body. In order to watch two programs simultaneously (workout + show), I mute my laptop and play Netflix through my husband’s Xbox. Most of my workout videos are familiar, anyway, so I don’t need to hear the instructor yelling at me to “get lower!”

To summarize, my improvements in the realm of homemaking have been minimal at best. I have a long way to go before I achieve the basic skills necessary for managing a household. My marriage, on the other hand, makes me so happy.

Perhaps when I review this year, instead of measuring my success according to the standards of functioning adulthood, I should remind myself that I didn’t get married because I wanted to run my own home. Homemaking didn’t even enter into the equation. I got married because of Evan. We say hello every morning and goodnight every night. We have wedding pictures hanging all over our house, and every time I look at them, I feel the same warm delight creep over me that I felt eleven months ago when I wore my beautiful lace dress.

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I am living in the victory, right now, because we married each other. Those of you who know my story well understand that we walked through a scary, dark valley before entering this light. When I remember that, I look around myself and marvel at the happiness that shines on us now. We’re not angry or afraid because we love each other forever. We have our whole lives to work on things like vacuuming and scrubbing the bathtub. While we practice, we can go ahead and relish the joy that greets us every day.

Yes, I will sing to the LORD because he has been good to me.

– Psalm 13:6

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10 Months of Marriage in Movie Reviews

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Since we got married in January of 2016, my husband and I have been to the movies 19 times.

Before you start judging our financial priorities, we received a LOT of gift cards this year. (It’s like our friends and families know what we love.) Still, I’ll be the first to admit we’re a little obsessed. Movies are just so dang fun.

Because movies have played such a prominent role in our newlywed life, it seems only right that I review them here. Furthermore, as I tend to get emotionally involved in the films I watch, many of these stories have become intertwined with mine — for better and for worse.

13 Hours

My husband and I couldn’t talk on the drive home from this one because it hit us so hard. The men portrayed in this movie are true heroes. I’d recommend it highly, but I wouldn’t watch it again.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

This is probably my favorite movie — not just my favorite out of this list, but my favorite, period. We saw it in theaters three times and promptly bought the DVD when it came out. It’s the perfect blend of comedy, romance, and gore. Jane Austen’s social commentary doubles in irony when the Bennet girls are busy battling the undead … while still trying desperately to acquire rich husbands.

10 Cloverfield Lane

On the one hand, this story of three people trapped in a bunker gripped me and stuck with me long after. The characters felt real, and the scenario was loaded with suspense. On the other hand, the scenes that stayed with me were disturbing; I still feel slightly queasy remembering them. I have a low tolerance for horror, and this film crossed the line for me.

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice

I left this movie annoyed that I wasted some of our gift card money on it. What was with all those bewildering dream sequences? Why did Lois and Clark have zero chemistry? Why would Batman … never mind. The only reason I’d watch this again is to make a list of everything wrong with it and rant on social media.

Captain America: Civil War

Obviously these are great movies. This one did a good job of giving every character a piece of the spotlight — which I’d imagine was pretty difficult since there are so many Avengers now.

The Jungle Book

I didn’t really like this movie, but since I wrote my Senior thesis on fairy tales, I enjoyed analyzing it. I decided it portrays childhood as seen by a child: everything is terrifying, but you never really believe the monsters will eat you. [SPOILER ALERT] In the end, you get to do whatever the heck you want because you’re the hero. Duh. (This is how I explained the fact that Mowgli never went back to the Man Village and instead became Supreme Ruler of the jungle.)

Florence Foster Jenkins

This movie surprised me because it showed characters’ flaws without making judgements. It made me question the distinction between a good person and a bad one. Also, I both laughed and cried during the movie. Also, it’s a true story starring Meryl Streep. So … yeah, I liked it.

X-Men Apocalypse

My husband loved this movie. Personally, I’m getting tired of movies in which godlike villains threaten to destroy the world. I would have been content to watch a group of unusual kids grow up in Professor X’s pretty house.

Alice Through the Looking Glass

This wasn’t nearly as good as the first one, which was a bummer because I liked the first one. It was visually impressive, but the story was just … boring.

Finding Dory

Totally heartwarming. (I may have cried a little.) I’m a sucker for animated films partly because of the stories and partly because the animation can be so beautiful.  This one satisfied in both areas.

Independence Day: Resurgance

Entertaining and unoriginal.

Star Trek Beyond

I appreciated how this movie didn’t take itself too seriously but still offered the epic battle sequences we’ve come to expect. [SPOILER ALERT] Furthermore, I was pleasantly surprised to observe that Jim and the alien woman, by all appearances, didn’t fall in love!  Instead, Mr. Spock was the one with relationship drama.

Jason Bourne

I liked it; my husband thought it was boring and lifted the plot scene for scene from other Bourne movies. [SPOILER ALERT] Scene one: woman Jason loves is killed. Scene two: injured Bourne limps at top speed though a crowded street. Scene three: bewildering car chase. Etc.

Suicide Squad

We both enjoyed this movie, probably because we were comparing it to Batman vs. Superman. I get excited about animation, and I really liked the neon pink-and-blue graffiti art. Additionally, the voodoo ghost woman looked amazing. Good job, CGI artists.

Sully

This is a really inspiring true story. The movie makes you live the experience.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

This film was so fun that we bought the book. We were delighted to discover that the book is even better — and its plot varied so much from the screenplay that it felt like a new story.

The Accountant

SO. GOOD. As soon as the credits started rolling, I was ready for a sequel. Ben Affleck made a terrible Batman, but he pulled off “autistic Jason Bourne” with flying colors. I laughed out loud multiple times. The hero himself was a fascinating puzzle, and I couldn’t tear my eyes from the screen as I waited to find out who he was, what he’d done, and whether or not they’d catch him (all the while hoping they would not).

Based on the films we’re still planning to see, our count will total 23 before the year is out. Writing these reviews ended up being really fun for me — I stayed up way past my bedtime on a work night — so I’ll probably be adding Part Two in December. Thanks for joining in my indulgence with me. Feel free to post your own opinions about any of these movies.

Love,

The Reluctant Bride

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When Your Spouse Goes Back to School

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I figured out the source of my blues from last month, and once again the blame lies with my least favorite word: transition.

This time, though, the transition wasn’t mine.

A few months ago, my husband quit his full-time job and went back to school to study computer science. We both knew – or at least trusted – that it was a good move for our future. Thanks to God’s provision and the generous support  of family, we were (fairly) confident we’d be able to pay our bills. Still, it was a big leap of faith for my husband. I don’t think I realized how big.

I’ve always been the worried one in our relationship. I over-think small decisions. I am swift to consider potential problems, to the point that I sometimes squelch happy dreams. Any transition, even the positive ones, tend to leave me trembling with anxiety. This particular change, however, didn’t bother me.

I knew my husband was nervous about his first week of classes, and I was vaguely sympathetic, but I was far more interested in my own career. I had a good job; he would be fine. In fact, my main worry was that his homework might interfere with our hang-out time in the evenings.

A few weeks into his classes, I started to notice a change in our home life. We began quarreling far more frequently. It bewildered me. I’d come home from a great day at work, and we’d end the night with tears and angry silences. The fights were silly ones, but the mood between us had noticeably shifted.

I remember thinking, Maybe this is the hard part everyone warned us about.

I remember thinking, Maybe this is the hard part everyone kept warning us about when we got married. Maybe we just don’t like each other as much. The thought had barely formulated before I rejected it. We were still crazy about each other. We always would be. There must be a reason for the sudden tension.

The fact that I took so long to trace the source proves how clueless I was about my husband’s emotional life. Ever since graduating from college, he has tackled adulthood head-on. I’ve never known him to hold fewer than three jobs. Even now that he’s back in school, he works part-time for our church and  runs his own business from our basement. Financial independence is hugely important to him, as is his vision of “success.” He frequently worries that he hasn’t achieved enough — that he’s progressing too slowly.

I don’t remember how the conversation started, but I finally got around to asking him how he felt about quitting his job. I quickly discovered that he felt he had taken a step backward — even though he knew this degree would benefit his future. In one clarifying moment I realized the tension I had sensed wasn’t about me. My husband was understandably stressed by a major life change. Perhaps if I had taken a more active look outside my own emotions, I would have recognized it sooner.

As I write this, my husband is totally rocking his classes. We’re paying our bills every month, and we still really like each other. The change continues to carry its stressors, but next time I feel the strain, I’ll look for practical explanations instead of assuming the worst.

I still hate transitions. I’m learning, however, that identifying the source of my blues can sometimes help cure them.  Hopefully I’m learning a little something about empathy, too. Most importantly, this blip on our marital radar has reminded me that I’m not the only one facing uncomfortable adjustments. It’s nice to feel like a team again.

Love,

The Reluctant Bride

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In Search of Joy

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The last few weeks have felt a little heavy, and I’m not sure why.

The weird thing is, a lot of wonderful stuff happened recently. A friend of mine accepted Christ and was baptized. I got to be part of her decision. My husband played a gig in Vail, so we stayed for free. We spent an entire Saturday wandering in and out of shops, surrounded by mountains. I successfully produced a few live radio shows at work. During one show, I got to shake the hand of a WWII veteran who just finished an incredible sculpture — at the age of 94.

Seems like life would be feeling pretty good right now. For some reason, though, I’m having trouble shaking these depressive feelings.

The other night I got into bed feeling sorry for myself. My husband was up late with homework, so I was going to bed alone. Instead of turning the lights out and moping, I opened my dresser drawer and pulled out a book I’ve never read, one that I got for free. The first chapter was about reading God’s Word and applying it to my life.

It’s been a while since I spent regular time in the Word. Last year, when everything was so difficult, I read the Bible and prayed obsessively, begging God for answers. I think I wore myself out a little. This year I’ve backed off, trying to give my heart a break. I may have missed the happy medium.

Placing the book back in my nightstand, I opened Numbers and took a stab at application: reading a passage and then asking myself, “How can I obey these words?” It was one of those chapters about sacrifices, in which God told the Jews exactly how many goats they needed to slaughter every month. I had to use my imagination, but I decided my version of a daily “sacrifice” could be reading a brief Bible passage every morning and evening. I went to sleep feeling surprisingly refreshed.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

– Psalm 51:12, NIV

I believe God uses every piece of our lives to teach us about Himself. He’s using my job and the time I spend in church and the numbers in my bank account . . . all of it. I can still grow in the Lord when I’m not studying the Bible every day. Still, staying in touch with the Holy Spirit makes a difference.

I’m needing refreshment right now. A day off might help — and I was thankful for the three-day Labor Day weekend — but more than that, I need some refreshment of the soul. Reading a few Bible verses twice a day may not cure my blues, but it could help shift my focus. After all, I have a lot to be thankful for.

Love,

The Reluctant Bride

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7 Things I Love About Love

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More specifically, these are seven things I love about being married to my husband.

1. A bigger family

I’m not just talking about the mini family we created when we got married. I’m talking about the addition of parents, grandparents, and siblings we didn’t have before. I love introducing him into my family circle, and I love how easily his family has included me in their love.

2. Waking up

Actually, I hate waking up, especially now that I’m adjusting to a new work schedule. 6AM has been feeling pretty miserable lately. The only happy part is a sleepy somebody to hug me when my alarm goes off and even staggar out of bed with me to make my lunch. On the weekends, I love snuggling up to him and falling asleep again.

3. Driving

The car is where he previews the latest songs recorded in our basement. It’s where we hold hands and talk about life. It’s where we sing at the top of our lungs and where I ooh and ahh over cloud formations while he mocks me. It’s our ticket to adventures: road trips to Kansas, weekends in Woodland Park, day trips to Fort Collins. It’s also where we had our first conversation, after I ran up to him asking for a ride to an audition.

4. Physical affection

When we were dating, the whole concept of purity really stressed me out. I always worried about how much affection was too much. Now I kiss him in public and don’t feel the slightest bit guilty about it.

5. Forever

I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels to know I’ll be hanging out with this guy permanently.

6. My ring

If I may be girly for a moment, I’ve had this ring nine months now, and I still love turning my hand so I can watch it sparkle.

7. Movies

My love of movies borders on obsession. My mom likes to tell the story of when I was four months old, and she took me to the theater with her thinking I would nap. Instead, my little eyes were glued to the screen. It’s been like that ever since. I thank my lucky stars that I found a mate who shares my affinity for spending whole days on the couch living through story after story. The only difference is that he sometimes falls asleep during movies, and I never do.

This list could be a lot longer because almost everything in my life improves with sharing, but for now I’ll end by saying I’m thankful for a God who invented the concept of relationship and for a man who waited long enough to get to the happy part. Here’s to forever.

Love,

The Reluctant Bride

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Learning Happiness

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Three months into marriage, and I’m starting to feel more like myself.

The green outside is making me happy – and so are a lot of other things. We’ve been lighting candles all over the house and watching ridiculous movies. My hours at the coffeeshop are close to full-time, so I’m spending less time alone. The hours I do spend alone I fill with fairy tales and jogs by the pond. My husband and I have even made a few stabs at home improvement, hanging curtains and purchasing second-hand furniture.

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It has taken me a while to get used to happiness. I had been so afraid of marriage, and my boyfriend and I had experienced so much conflict beforehand, that my heart entered married life a little raw. Any hint of frustration from my husband felt like rejection. To say that I was sensitive would be an understatement. Many, many times during the first couple of months, he had to hold me until I calmed down enough to talk.

I still have much to learn about steadiness. When my days off do not correspond with his,  when I haven’t gotten enough sleep, or when an eight-hour shift feels particularly long, I still tend to dissolve emotionally. In those moments, my best hope is to pray and hug someone. (It’s amazing what a good, long hug can do.) Slowly, slowly, however, I am learning to accept the joy that surrounds me.

Slowly, slowly, I am learning to accept the joy that surrounds me.

These days, I’m taking delight in small things: a line in a novel, the mood of the sky, the tiny pink flowers on a bush. The Fairyland series by Catherynne M. Valente gets me giggling during lunch breaks, and the movies Zombieland and Anger Management recently had me in stitches. (Disclaimer: I do not recommend these movies to anyone with taste or morals.) I’m also finding that I have more energy to pray and am itching to catch up on the lives around me. In short, I am becoming the happy version of myself, the one I had almost forgotten. My prayer is that you would do the same.

Lord, may we choose to notice the small blessings and pause to thank You for them. Build us into the free, joyful people You created us to be.

Love,

The Reluctant Bride

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“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – Jesus, as quoted in John 10:10 (NIV)