Let's get this out right away: Marriage is, hands-down, the hardest thing I have ever done.
Do people tell you this before you get married? Maybe. But I think it's either 1) sugar-coated as "marriage makes you holy" or 2) we're too "drunk in love" to acknowledge those people are telling us the truth and instead think, "Um, okay...you obviously don't love your spouse like I love this guy, because that's just not going to be our story."
Without deeper inspection, I wouldn't think marriage has made me holier. I think marriage has brought out my angry, selfish, control-freak side. If I was comparing my life as a single person to now, I think I'd say I was holier then. But, that would mean I was less aware of the afore-mentioned side. I thought I was doin' all right - and now was being rewarded with marriage. But, if holier means more aware of my sins, faults, and short-comings, then, yes: the last 3 years have achieved this. And, if this awareness causes me to recognize my need for the Lord's grace, mercy and saving power - then, yes, perhaps the refining fire of marriage is making me holier.
It seems that many people on their anniversary say things like, "here's to another 365 days of bliss!" My reaction is often, "Really?" Let's be honest, after getting married and moving 2000 miles from my beloved family & friends: I need some realness about marriage. Maybe others learn this lesson quickly; while dating, or engaged perhaps. ...or maybe nobody wants to talk about it. ...or maybe not every person who gets married endures the amount of stressors in such a short period of time. [and maybe each couple hits their stressors at different points/seasons of life]
Three-and-a-half years ago, when Dan and I got engaged, a co-worker told me that I was taking on, like, 5 of 10 the most-stressful life events all at once. I blew her off - because with God at my side - stress is nothing! In hindsight, yes, those stressful life events took a toll on me. Moving so far away changed me; becoming Catholic changed me; marriage has changed me. ...and while it hasn't been all sunshine & roses (though, a lot of it has been sunshine - we live in Arizona, after all) - this opportunity to leave, to cling, to learn, to become aware of myself & my "self under stress" - well, it is for the better.
How do I know? Because I know that my God promises that all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28). And, I know that I was called into a sacramental marriage by Him who established a covenant relationship with me. So, the stress that we have endured in the last 3 years (and heck, the last 6 weeks!) will only make us better - for each other, and for our purposes and good works.
Before I close, let me give a huge, loving shout-out to my husband. He didn't know "Jessica under stress" when we got married; and, he has been the best. He loves me well because he makes me stop taking myself so seriously. He makes me laugh when I want to be mad - or sad. He just loves; and, I just am so humbled by his love for me. Dan is the best for me. And, all of those stressors from the last 3 years really have only made our bond of friendship and love stronger.
May God bless us as we continue our journey toward Him, with Him, in Him, through Him.