Well, it has been one year (and one week to be exact) since Jeremy and I stood at the altar and took our vows. The weeks and months have flown by. This time last year we were enjoying our honeymoon in Mauritius. Even though we had spent six years dating, we were still strangers to each other’s quirks and idiosyncrasies. We were totally taken with the moment that we were finally together. Now a year into marriage, I realise just how close we have become.
As I have written before, waiting was the best thing we could have done for our relationship and marriage. It allowed us to grow as individuals and prepare for the life-changing commitment we were making.
The first six months of marriage came with many teachable moments as we “settled” into our new lives as a married couple. The last six months have taught me very different lessons. It has shown me another side to marriage. One where love becomes selfless and you see a nakedness that you haven’t seen before. Pressure can hit a marriage at any time and for many reasons. It will either tear you apart or cause you to grow together as you work through things as a team. Whether you are married for 1 month or 40 years, stuff happens in life. Jeremy and I found ourselves in so many moments where our core and foundation was rocked. My husband’s health took a hit. This is one of the biggest hits we took. But in marriage when one takes a hit, it affects the other. You have got to work through it as a team. That means a give and take. Here are some of the things I have learnt:
That’s right, my favourite word! Communication is always key. It is not something that will be mastered fully in a set amount of time. It is rather daily teachable moments. With each new day, each new situation faced – Jeremy and I are learning how the other person responds, reacts, expresses themselves and what needs need to be fulfilled. I don’t know what Jeremy’s response to a situation will be. However, I have a preconceived idea of how it will happen. We all have these. It comes from our upbringing, our personalities and our general outlook in life. I have had to learn not to box him in by my own perceptions when communicating with him. Also, not taking everything so personally. He is not out to get me or me him. Ask questions and be honest when asked. Remember, your spouse is not a mind reader (although, that would be great).
2. Give And Take
I have read so many articles about how it should be “give and give”. I understand the concept, however, just giving also leads to depletion. When facing any situation, whether positive or negative, it’s important to remember that both people are going through it. My highs and his highs affect other the person as do our lows. Give and take needs to happen for a heathy relationship balance to be maintained. Jeremy and I will encourage each other. But we also know how to respect and give space when the other person needs to replenish. Sometimes this means a coffee date with one of my friends. It could mean the guys going out to shoot pool or play tenpin. Sometimes it means we do something that is out of the ordinary as a couple to refocus. It means giving the other person space to think, process and feel without making them feel judged because of how they work through it. It’s not always about how much we say or do; it is sometimes about just being there for the other person.
3. Find Like-Minded Couples To Befriend
This point is a big one for Jeremy and I. We have learned through experience, that not all friends are beneficial for our marriage. People who do not share the same values and beliefs as us will drain us. We are totally blessed to have couples around us that energise, inspire and impact our lives. Learning from others is always a good idea in my books. Why must we make the same mistakes as the next couple when we could be learning from them? We love that we can meet our friends for supper at 6p.m. and still be chatting away at 11p.m. Iron sharpens iron. Those you spend time with will either build you up or break you down. We protect our marriage by being wise who we let into our inner circle but we also grow it by letting the right people in.
4. Make Each Other Feel Loved And Needed
We all need to feel needed and loved. The “how” might be different but the need is the same. I am often taken with the fact that I have an awesome husband. I do my best to let him know as often as possible. We take time to celebrate each other. We take time to date. We take time to make the other person feel special.
I have a habit of leaving notes on his desk or in his lunch bag. When I go on trips or he does, I will make a gift bag with the things that will remind him how much I love and miss him or secretly hide a card in his laptop bag. Now, use your imagination…Cause I’m not giving away all my trade secrets here…and do something out of the ordinary for your hubby/wifey that will remind them that they are your one and only. I love it when Jeremy holds my hand in public, I feel so special. I love it when he mentions that he is grateful for something that I did. I love it when he lets me go out with a friend for a three hour coffee date.
It’s all about the other person when celebrating them. If you don’t know what to do, ask. Be willing to share with your spouse what you like. Be wise. Don’t put pressure on each other, financially or in any other way. Be grateful when your spouse makes an effort to celebrate you. Don’t be too picky when receiving. It might not be perfect or they way you want it the first time or every time they do it, but appreciate it knowing they were doing something because they love you.
5. Let the Small Stuff Go
Oh my word. Looking back on some of the disagreements we have had makes me cringe. The thing is, arguments generally happen when one or both people say that one thing too much or harp on an issue.
I believe in talking things through. I believe in expressing how one feels. I also believe that saying too much or too little sparks flames. Certain things drive each of us a little “cray-cray”. But not everything needs to be addressed with a stern tone and urgent attention. Sometimes it is better to bite ones tongue and let it go. I am learning to remember that I judge myself on my intentions not necessarily on my actions. Jeremy is not out to get me. He is sometimes just being himself and I am being myself. I owe it to him, not to immediately think he is intentionally hurting me. At the end of the day, what is more important? Is it that I got to voice my opinion and be right OR it is better to overlook idiosyncrasies?
In the end, the person is more important that the problem. So choose wisely before making an issue where there is none. Words spoken harshly cannot be taken back.
6. Apologise Quickly. Forgive Quicker.
No one likes to be wrong. Especially when you know that it will be held over your head for the longest time ever. When you’re wrong – apologise. Quickly! And when you’re being apologised to, don’t make a habit of keeping score.
The worst thing is when a person throws something in your face once amends were made. Don’t harp on issues. Don’t bring up things that were dealt with. Don’t keep score. Believe me when I say, you’re creating baggage and harbouring negative feelings (which create a bad perception of the person or situation that isn’t necessarily true) that will harm you and your loved one. Let it go.
Jeremy and I will tell each other, let’s start today on a clean slate. We encourage each other to do better. We use our own strengths to strengthen the other person. No one is perfect. Choose to have teachable moments.
7. Pray For And With Each Other
Jeremy and I do this on a regular basis. It keeps us grounded and focused as a couple. We spend a few minutes in the morning praying for each other. This is a good time for each of us to let the other person know if there is an area we need encouragement in. You can’t be selfish when you learn to start your day with giving. As the day goes on, we will often exchange encouragement whether via a call or text. I love praying for my husband. It’s one of the things I can do, knowing it will have a direct impact on his day and future. It helps me to remember that I’m part of a team.
These seven things are just a few of the lessons I have learned over the past six months since my last last update on married life. Each marriage is unique and special. Take the time to talk about the good things that happen and not only focus on the bumps in the road.
For all those single ladies and gentlemen out there, your time of fulfilment in marriage will come. For your marriage to be fulfilling, you need to work on being the best you. Learn. Grow. Challenge yourself. Learn to be comfortable and confident in who you are and what you are doing.
Keep loving. Keep growing. Keep living 2016 courageously.
With love from my heart to yours