The Twelve Things I Learned in My First Two Years of Marriage
As you know last week was my second wedding anniversary, and I wrote about our wonderful, minimalist wedding here. Today’s blog post is about the twelve things I have learned in the first two years of marriage.
- Being Married feels different. It’s common for people to say that being married feels no different than being in a relationship but that hasn’t been my experience. Maybe it’s because my parents got divorced when I was very young, maybe it’s because my husband and I were together for seven years before we got married, but to me it does feel different. I feel more secure in our relationship, and I like it.
- You will be One Another’s Biggest Fans and Harshest Critics. There is nobody in the world who has supported me as much as my husband. He is the person who has encouraged me to follow my dreams of being a writer in a multitude of ways. He bought me beautiful notebooks to write in, he stayed up all night to read my book in one sitting, he has read and edited my articles and blog posts even though I am often an ungrateful wench (as discussed here). What he doesn’t do though, is dish out platitudes and tell me what I want to hear. The git. Equally I have guided him on the right path when he has felt lost, reminded him of his strengths when he has felt weak, and been brutally honest when he was being a doughnut.
- Long Distance Relationships Suck. When George had to go to Ecuador for his PhD research I foolishly thought it’s okay, I’ll just stay here. I love my life, I’ll be fine. What I failed to realise was that a large part of the reason I loved my life was because of him. We were apart for 5 and a half months and it was torture. I still had my beautiful tiny home, I still had all my interests and friends, I still had the job I loved. What I didn’t have was my partner and that made a big difference. Hats off to anyone who maintains a long distance relationship because that shit is hard.
- Learning From One Another is Important. I’m not suggesting you should teach your husband or wife to drive but learning is good for your brain and learning from your partner can be a great bonding experience. My husband is obsessed with learning (to the point where when I suggested we go to a spa he asked what he was going to do with his brain while he was there). This attitude has rubbed off on me a little over the years, but particularly since we tied the knot. He’s taught me about photography, I’ve taught him what empathy is. Win win.
- Shared Interests are Important. When George and I discovered CrossFit together it had a positive impact on us, both as individuals, and as a couple. This was illuminated by the effect it had on us when we stopped doing it. For both of us our physical health has a huge bearing on our mental well-being and when we lost that, it showed.
- Money Doesn’t Matter. Throughout our relationship we have lived on an extremely modest income. There have been many times when that has been tough. When your friends are all buying houses and cars and going on lovely holidays and you don’t have those things it can be difficult, but we have made choices about what would make us happy and our priorities were different. We prioritized a membership to a CrossFit gym over other luxuries, and this year I haven’t worked, which has given me the opportunity to finish my novel. We are very lucky to be in the position to make these choices.
- Debt Does. George and I feel very strongly about debt and it is something we have struggled with throughout our relationship. In the last two years we have managed to pay off all our debts and for that we are truly grateful.
- The Issue of Babies Will Come Up. Any woman in their 30s or older knows that the pressure to have children is all around. Once you get married that pressure grows tenfold. Parents want grandbabies, siblings want nieces and nephews, and if you do want kids then you are all too aware of your biological clock ticking like a bomb. I understand that many people feel as though there is never a right time for children, but for us there is. Year long research trips to dangerous countries, tiny incomes, and mental health problems all contribute to the fact that it is still just the two of us (and Dooki of course).
- It can be tough. Life can be challenging and being married doesn’t change that, in fact it can add to it. As much as we might want to we aren’t acting out a fairy tale and bad things can and do happen. If you have made such a huge commitment to another person you don’t just get to walk away, you have to work through those tough times as a couple.
- Communication is Everything. I know it is a cliché but the minute you stop talking, you are doomed. Sometimes it is incredibly difficult to express what is on your mind but if you can’t communicate then your husband or wife is in the dark about how to meet your needs. That’s not fair.
- Sorry is the Easiest Word. It’s easy to say you’re sorry and not really mean it. It’s much harder to take time to genuinely understand where your husband or wife is coming from, admit when you are wrong, and make efforts to change. I’m still working on it.
- In the Darkest Moments you Remember What Truly Matters. When you are faced with real challenges (not just the little daily irritations like nobody remembered to take the bins out, or you are faced with a massive vet bill that you hadn’t anticipated) but the really life changing ones, they are the things that make or break relationships. Since we’ve been married we have faced some of our toughest times and, in all honesty, I think we have both worried that we weren’t going to make it. We are flawed creatures – we have both made mistakes, and said or done things that we regret – but in the darkest of days found an incredible clarity about what really matters. If you have found a person who is not only your partner, but your greatest supporter, and your best friend, then you are one of the lucky ones.
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