The husband and I got married right after I finished university. To some it may seem a little on the quicker end of the scale – and in hindsight – it was. I think we were both very inexperienced and still just learning to manage ourselves. This post is written from the perspective of our specific marriage. We were in a relationship for 5 years prior to marrying. We really thought it would be an easy transition, but boy, were we in for a wake up call.
8 Lessons in 8 Years of Marriage
1.Year one is the hardest. Just imagine, we were starting brand new lives. We were raised very differently. I was living at home, by my parent’s rules and had very little wiggle room. He on the other hand left home at 17 to pursue higher education, with his parents living on the other side of the world. He was used to doing things in a completely different way then I was. I didn’t know what a grocery budget was, I didn’t know that he would need to obsessively fold away his clothes while I was (and still am) okay to use a chair as my catch all. Essentially it’s the year that a major shift happens and you have to be ready for that. There will be times when you will do things unknowingly and get on each other’s nerves. Going in with an open mind and the willingness to communicate our differences would have helped us avoid all the spats and arguments we got ourselves into.
2. We all fight, but don’t talk about all your fights with others. I think the one thing that has us going strong still is that we don’t share the details of our fights with others in our lives. Be it friends, family and most definitely our parents. In my experience, discussing major fights or disagreements can be detrimental to a healthy marriage because of two reasons. First, different people have varying thresholds for arguments and conflicts. They also have different approaches to solving them. When they offer advice, even if it is well meaning, it can often be something that does not resonate in your relationship. Secondly, when you get upset at a quality of your partner’s; it may be an annoyance that we let go of once we cool off, but it becomes part of a mental list of qualities your parents hold on to and attribute to your mate. In effect, you may actually have come to terms with it, but it will always continue to bother your parents.
3. You don’t need to actively be going on date nights to keep the magic alive. In our marriage, we have hardly gone on a date after we married. Yes, we will grab dinner at a restaurant often, but we don’t really hype it up. I have realized with the passing time that it’s not about what we do really, we could be sitting next to each other in silence doing completely unrelated things and i’ll look up to a cup of his famous cold buster tea because I sneezed 5 times in a row without getting up to do anything about it.
4. It’s okay to go to bed mad. This one is a hard one for me to do. However I am learning that sometimes, you can’t cool off in a few hours. That you actually do need to turn off your brain for an extended period of time. We do have a rule that we don’t sleep on the couch though… one, because he thinks our couch is super comfy, so… um.. that backfired… and two, I get cold… and feel like I am punishing myself. So when the situation arises, we will go to bed mad, but together, and often find that in the morning, the angsty feelings are less prominent.
5. You may love your mate, but you may not always like him. Over the years, there have been countless times when I thought to myself… I don’t like him right now. And that can be a scary thought. Because I thought love and like were the same thing in a romantic relationship. But it is far from it. The thing is as you grow as people, it is an actual effort to grow together. There will be many times that you will grow up – apart- then come together. Several times, in several ways. This is when despite the inherent love, the “like factor” may weaver. Give it time and remind yourself why you fell in love and work toward the path of meeting in the middle again. We met when we were so young that this happened to us a lot. We grew and changed as people and sometimes we forgot to include our mate… and the other was left scrambling to collect the pieces of a mate they once knew and reconcile it to the adult and human he/she was growing into. It took effort, patience and a little (sometimes a lot) hurt, but we came through it.
6. There is no such thing as 50/50 in a marriage. Who ever said their marriage is 50/50 needs their glasses checked. In our experience, life has dealt us cards that just don’t comply with the equal footing rule. This is very hard to stomach as a modern couple. Didn’t we work toward the fact that men and women are equal? Yes they are. But in a marriage it is never even. My husband does the physical chores way more frequently, and effectively then I could ever. I get spurts of energy where I find myself tackling a humongous organizational task or meal prep, but I just am not the house-keeping type. I know, I am working on getting better at the “chores thing”. But I see myself taking on a much bigger mental load for us. I often am the one organizing multiple work and social schedules, and researching kid related stuff. I think long term effects of our actions and how we manage our relationships with others. It can be exhausting to manage how much we as women take on to ensure the happiness of not only our spouses and kids but all the peripheral individuals of our lives.
7. Be each other’s biggest fan. But also be an accountability partner. When we were younger a major part of our lives were spent gushing over each other and how proud of each other we were. Over the years, that has not faded. Gushing has morphed into admiration. Of the adults we have become, the foundation we have created and the little family we are running. But that doesn’t mean that it’s all rainbows and butterflies. We hold each other accountable for anything and everything. Me more so than him (he lets things I do slide). I think it’s so important to be able to be honest with your partner and be able to say things without fear that it may come off wrong or they may get their feelings hurt. Let’s be real, we are all human and sometimes we can say things the other is not ready to hear, but I firmly believe that if you have their best interest at heart, you can get through it together- and that’s what apology flowers or apology [enter action that works here] is for…
8. Marriage is a constant learning process. Even though I feel like I could write a book about my husband, there is always going to be new things I will learn about him, me and our marriage. Every new stage – dating, marriage, cohabiting, parenthood, career changes; has taught me how vital it is to never assume you know your mate. They are growing as much as you are and your union is, so keep learning and tweaking and evolving together.
The last 8 years have been a wondrous journey of peaks and valleys. A few tough battles and some stagnant waters. But it’s been a heck of a learning experience for us both. And I hope that by reading the lessons I have learned in these years of marriage allow you to see that it’s not been an easy ride… in fact, a lot of the time I wanted to slam on the brakes, and question myself, but in all that I grew to respect my husband and accept him for what he truly means in my life. He and I built this foundation together and I couldn’t have done it with anyone else.