Ben and I are now well into our third and final year of the degree at Redcliffe. Ben even started one of his essays a full week before the deadline!! We’ve all come up with dissertation ideas and made a bit of a start on those. The lectures this year don’t seem any more rigorous or difficult than the lectures from the past two years, but there is more reading to do and the assignments require a lot more work. We’re just about getting used to the new structure of the college week, with lectures Monday-Wednesday and then independent study time Thursday-Sunday. It gives us some flexibility for getting involved with other things such as church life, voluntary work and such like, though we are very tired by Wednesday evenings…!
As for me, I now have a lot more free time and significantly more energy than I did last year, due to the fact that I’ve resigned from both of my care-work jobs. Due to the fact that Student Loan are now giving us a great deal more financial support than they have done in the past two years, we can actually afford to live this year without working!! This gives us more time to commit to our studies, our friendships and our marriage.
We are thoroughly enjoying being able to practice hospitality in our little flat – it’s been wonderful having people over for dinner each week, and spending that time getting to know different people from our church, from college and from our Tango class. (Tango, by the way, is still awesome.)
Something I’ve been learning is that even though I’m married now and therefore life is somewhat different to before, it doesn’t mean that I can cease to be myself. In recognition that I have a tendency to fill almost every minute of every day with scheduled activities of some sort, and that this pace of life isn’t one that Ben – or possibly anyone else except my mother – feels comfortable living with, for the first month or so of married life I was trying very hard to be more like Ben in my pace of life and my everyday activities (rather than trying to find a balance that we can both work with). So I tried hard to pull out of all my unnecessary time-commitments, and give up all my time-consuming hobbies and activities, so as to spend more time both being with Ben and being like Ben (which in reality looked more like sitting all day typing on a laptop, or doing very little else). This I found not only incredibly boring and mind-numbing, but frustrating and exhausting. We came to the conclusion that I should still have the freedom to do things that I enjoy and continue my activities and hobbies, so long as they do not get in the way of, or hinder, our time together as a couple. This was a very freeing realisation for both of us!
Several people have asked me if ‘being married’ has hindered my relationship with God and the time I spend in prayer and the like. My answer is no (thus far) – in fact, quite the opposite. Before we were married we organised our time quite independently of each other (though with a lot of overlap, but fitting each other into our schedules rather than making our schedules revolve around each other), which make it easy for me to find personal space at a time that was convenient for me. Now that we’re married we schedule our time primarily around each other and not just around our own personal interests and commitments (or being busy for the sake of being busy, as it sometimes became for me – or at least, that’s what some would call it: I’d probably rather call it being overly committed to people and to things that are important to me). Because of this I have found it much easier to be spontaneous with my time – and since ‘prayer time’ etc is important to me, that has been a priority for my free time. And I had no idea that free time could exist every day! The concept of having free time on a daily basis was alien to me, but I love it now that I’ve got used to it. We have also spent more time praying together as a couple, simply because we’re in each other’s company more often than before, which is great. (I actually thought that I’d end up craving personal space if I have to see him all the time, maybe even getting fed up with his company at times, but I’ve actually not found that yet at all…! Awesome.)
Next week is our Half Term Break, so as well as working on college assignments we plan to visit a few friends and family members in the Greater London area from Friday to Tuesday. If you’re around that sort of area during that time and would like to meet up, please let us know!