Hey all! It’s been a while since we’ve posted, but who can blame us? It has been almost exactly two months since we took off from LAX on a one way-flight to Osaka. I could tell you that it’s been such a dream, and that we couldn’t be happier, and that our lives are so full of wonder and adventure now–but that would be a lie.
Of course we are happy to be here, and of course we have jumped out in faith to do something awesome! But to be honest, it has been hard. I mean, REALLY hard. Not just on me, either, for as you know, I struggled a lot with culture shock when we first arrived here. It has taken a toll on both of us as we trudge through the day, some days more trudging-ly than others.
With Daniel’s new job, we have even less time together than when we weren’t married, and as you can guess, that sucks, especially for newly weds! I know some of you married folk have spent your fair share away from your partner, whether it be for an international business trip, long work shifts, or perhaps even one of you works days while the other works nights; I’m sure you can understand where I’m coming from when I say that I knew it would be hard, but I didn’t know it would be this hard.
Daniel and I thrive on alone time spent together. If you’ve read “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman (a great book, and if you don’t want to read the book, I’m about to explain the basics, so keep on reading!), you’ll know that there are generally five categories in which people best receive and give love. It doesn’t matter what kind of love we’re talking, whether it be a romantic relationship, a friendship, or even a relationship between mother and daughter, but let’s just go with an example I am fairly well educated on: Daniel and my relationship.
The five love languages include: gift giving, quality time, words of affirmation (think reassurances/compliments), acts of service (think doing the dishes for your partner without them asking), and physical touch. While I rank highly in all of these languages, and quite honestly it can depend on my mood that day which one is more needed, I tend to want quality time most often. While Daniel and I are both aware of each other’s love languages and how we both receive love best, it isn’t always easy or first nature to speak to him in the language he receives best. In fact, it’s usually first nature to give love in the same way that you best receive it.
For instance, I always give him my 100% undivided attention whenever he’s speaking, even if I am not particularly interested in what it is he is so excited about. I always ask engaging questions to get him to talk more about it, even though sometimes I would rather just move on with the subject. Of course, I am reacting and giving him the kind of love that I want from him. When we talk, I always desire for him to ask me more questions and be interested in what I have to say. Something I’ve been saying to him a lot is, “Can I have some feedback, please?” It’s sort of a joke between us now, but at the time I first said it, I was so frustrated because he was just quietly listening to me without engaging into the conversation. I had no idea how to communicate that I needed him to engage in the conversation to know that he was actually listening to me and understood my feelings, so I asked for ‘feedback’. Yikes! Communication is hard, guys.
Just because Daniel doesn’t always give me the quality time I desire, doesn’t mean he doesn’t try to show his love in other ways–he is constantly telling me that he loves me, and that he thinks I’m beautiful, and he’s always kissing me when I least expect it. But just like how I (and most normal human beings) give others the type of love they best receive, he does the same thing. He is awesome at words of affirmation and physical touch-giving, which are his two highest love languages. I have to always work extra hard to remember that, too, and be sure to give him the affirmation he needs throughout the day and the physical attention he craves when he is with me.
Relationships are always a work in progress–not one of them is perfect, even if it may seem like it. People are people, and we constantly have to work on loving each other because the first response is always to look to yourself and your own needs, and project that onto your partner.
The first three months of marriage for us has been filled with nothing a typical newly-wed couple would be going through (I mean, it was our choice to have it this way, but still, who knew it would be this hard?). When you see a car drive by with “just married” writing in white paint on the back window, you think, “Wow, they must have just gotten back from their honeymoon, maybe they even just settled down in their own house for the first time, and they must be in total marital bliss right now.” We have hardly had the “marital bliss” time that freshly wedded couples naturally end up receiving during the first few months of their new life together. For us, the past three months (and the first three months of us being married) have been far from the typical status of “newly weds” due to all the planning, packing, visiting, and living with other people constantly. It’s been a battle just to lay down in bed at night and not snap at each other in frustration from the day’s events. In fact, if you read A Moment to Breathe, you’ll remember that I especially had a hard time with the frustration of transitioning from the USA to Japan that I was literally sucking the joy out of our new honeymoon phase. I still feel pretty awful about that, but we’re past that now.
Now, the biggest frustration we are fighting is this battle for our much-needed quality time together. I mentioned before that we have even less time together now than when we weren’t married, which seems ridiculous, right? But before, back in CA, we spent every evening together, and if neither of us had work in the morning, we’d spend mornings together, too. We had time to just stare into each other’s eyes and forget the world. Now, we have maybe an hour or two before Daniel has to leave in the morning to go to work, and then he gets back around 10:30 at night. We eat, talk with Sam (the gracious friend who has let us stay here with him until Daniel’s visa pulls through), and then go to bed with a few minutes to catch up with each other before it becomes unreasonably late.
But by the time we’ve reached the bed, there’s hardly anything left for just the two of us to talk about. I know, I know, you’re all saying, “Oh just you wait until you have kids, then you’ll really feel like you’ve got no time to yourselves.” But we don’t have kids yet. And we are planning on waiting to have them for a few more years so that we can have this time to be together and have the quality time we know we won’t get near as much of once we do start having kids. I’ll write another post about the kid thing, but that’s for another time.
Thankfully, Daniel will be getting his visa any day now (we put in for it three weeks ago, and it really shouldn’t be taking more than a month, so pray that we get it by next week!), and once he has that, we can start looking for an apartment of our own. That will at least alleviate the need for alone time somewhat, but there is still the long hours he is away at work. He only works 40 hours a week, but due to his later schedule and the commute, he ends up being away for 11 hours out of the day, five days a week. He will also be applying to better jobs in hopes of a better work environment and better schedule, so keep that in your prayers for us too!
We are thankful for the job he has now, and for the place we have to stay, and for everyone who has been praying for us and supporting us through this whole process. I know that once we are fully settled in our new home, things will start shaping up. Of course, there will always be struggles, but when aren’t there struggles? It’s how we deal with them and how we learn to grow from them, not around them, that make riding the struggle bus a little easier each time we are forced to ride it out.
If my discussion of The Five Love Languages intrigued you and you want to learn what yours is, here is a link that will take you to the official website where you can take a quick, free quiz to determine what language you best receive!
If you’d like to hear more from us about our sight-seeing in Japan, life here, marriage, or anything else, leave a comment below and let us know what you’d like to see more of! We always love suggestions and hope that our posts are inspiring, uplifting, and filled with real truth that resonates with our readers. We love you all!
Ryan + Daniel