Although I consider my new marriage more sacred than John Mayer’s recent fling with Katy Perry, these lyrics speak to me. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer myself, or maybe it’s because I’ve got a lot of songs in my heart. Who knows if he meant it, but Mayer captured some marriage wisdom in “Little by little, inch by inch…”

Little by little, inch by inch
We built a yard with a garden in the middle of it
It ain’t much but it’s a start
You got me swaying right along to the song in your heart
-John Mayer, A Face to Call Home

I’ve realized something in the last nine months of my new marriage: it’s not about miles, it’s about steps.

As a new runner, I get embarrassed when my friends inquire about distance. “I went on a run today” is generally followed up with “how far?” Explaining to someone that running half a mile is a big deal will put any ounce of pride in check. Little did they know, the last time I ran, I couldn’t even finish half a mile. And the time before that? We don’t have to talk about it.

You don’t just buy running shoes and run five miles. You have to work very hard to get there, and little by little, it will happen. I am excited for the day when my answer to “how far” is measured in miles, not “well, I didn’t die.”

Perhaps it’s better that these steps go unseen and the miles are celebrated?

As a newlywed, I have a better understanding for the amount of work it takes a couple to get to five, ten or thirty years of marriage. I never realized there were thousands of small steps that people had to take to get to these milestones. And they’re usually not easy steps to take. They’re things like, “learn how to think about your spouse more often than you think about yourself.” Right… because that’s an easy first step. So you want me to double-check every thought I have until I get it right? Oh ok, got it.

For example, I finally learned how to apologize.

Seriously. I’m 23 years old, and I’ve recently overcome my physical inability to produce the words “I’m sorry” during an argument. Sure, my apologies are often times a little sarcastic or followed by “but I’m not sorry for all of these other things,” but believe me when I say that this is progress.

I realize that as a newlywed I’m not really allowed to share marriage wisdom, but neither is John Mayer. But he did get one thing right- my new husband and I are building something beautiful little by little and inch by inch. And in five years, I’ll be able to look back and applaud the steps we both had to take to get there.