One Up!: Three Things I’ve Learned from My First Year of Marriage

Last year, I wrote the article Why I Celebrate My Marriage Monthly to express the importance I felt in taking notice of the joy in my relationship for more than just once a year. As of April 2019, I have officially reached an entire year of legal matrimony and have collected a few valuable nuggets of wisdom along the way. It’s amazing how much a couple can be put through the test over the course of 365 days (give or take). Every day is a blend of challenge, celebration, and the downright mundane. However, even as humdrum as some days seems to be, there is always a take away.

Here are some things I’ve taken so far:

  • Nothing Prepares You For Marriage

Before saying, “I Do”, I did some homework. I wanted to know what to expect while being committed to someone for the rest of my life. I read articles, spoke to married couples and even chatted with divorcees for tips on what to avoid. I did my best to keep a positive attitude about everything and to immediately address any conflict head on as means of balance and resolution. My husband and I lived together for years before becoming engaged so I thought I had all the experience I needed to be prepared. I was wrong.

It did not matter how many years we were together prior to our marriage, things changed after the ceremony. There was a mental shift that took place when we realized that were proclaiming our union to everyone in such an official way. This turned up the heat when conflicts occurred and elevated our expectation for one another. Nothing prepared me for the life-threatening scares and hospital visits, the deeply heated debates, or the overwhelming joy I feel when he looks into my eyes and calls me “wife” with a big smile. So although it doesn’t hurt to do your research, just know that you’ll never really know how things will change.

  • There is No Such Thing as Equal

Fairness has always been a priority for me. I grew up in various environments – sometimes in a house full of family or just with my mother. Being an only child, I valued my space and belongings and respected that of others. When Marko and I moved in together, I made great efforts to make sure there was a “his and hers”. As a middle child, he was more indifferent which would infuriate me! He’d say, “There is no such thing as fair, babe. Things aren’t equal ” (while eating the last piece of my dessert portion). It took me forever to understand where he was coming from but I finally did.

It is no mystery that relationships thrive when there is give and take. The misconception, however, is that this exchange is split down the middle. The truth is that there is always sacrifice happening and usually someone is sacrificing more than the other at some point. Ideally, both parties will have their chance to be on the receiving end of this but the way it looks is likely to be very different than what you may expect and from what others are doing. While I was concerned about my husband drinking 90% of the juice in the fridge, he was also the main breadwinner at the time working overtime to pay the majority of the bills (so what I only get a cup of juice sometimes, water has less carbs anyway). To be clear, this has nothing to do with gender roles as our relationship dynamic is pretty unconventional in some ways. The point is that as life goes on together, priorities flex and sweating the small stuff only makes things more challenging. We tend to get more out of partnerships when we enjoy exchanging thoughtfully and wholeheartedly and focus less on quantity.L

  • Tune Out the Third Parties

Almost immediately after our wedding, Marko and I were bombarded with questions about when we were having children. Thankfully, he and I were on the same page of keeping that conversation and decision between him and me but it can be tough to block out, especially when the mean-well inquirers are family. We quickly realized that we would not allow ourselves to be pressured into choices that we were not ready for and would also be mindful about how much we share when we were going through things.

Advice from a select few can be insightful but it is important to have clear boundaries. You never fully know what others’ intentions are and what they are capable of with too much personal information about another’s relationship. This pretty much can be applied across the board, even for non-married couples.

Like any other transition, marriage takes willingness and adaptability. Although individual authenticity is greatly important, so is cooperation and compromise. So tell me, what is the biggest lesson you learned or challenge you faced in your first year of marriage?

Focus for Entering the New Year

The final full moon of the year has passed now and if you were anything like me, you went through a series of various emotions. Depending on the level of contentment with your relationships, you might have felt the need to block people out and spend quality time with yourself. Maybe you chose to be a bit exclusive while only including certain people in your energetic space – fitting for moon in Cancer.

Releasing toxic behaviors and people would have been appropriate but today’s reading might suggest focusing more closely on growing the healthy connections we do have or may gain this coming year as we go forward:

This reading has great significance for me now and may gain more relevance later on. Does this reading resonate with you?

Hard Truth with a Lime

My husband and I are “hashers”, my term for people who speak the truth about issues as they recognize them. Being upfront about what we see as reality generally serves us in that there is not a lot of tip-toeing around problems. Instead, we lay it all out on the table as soon as possible so we can resolve it as soon as possible. The conundrum with serving the truth straight up is that it is often taken as offense to emotional lightweights …and sometimes it’s our turn to be the lightweights.

One evening after a long day of work preceded by a long few weeks of balancing all the responsibilities of adult-ing with my goals and dreams, I went on an unexpected rant about lacking the energy or time for all the things I want to do in a day. My husband, with the best of intentions, made a remark that not only hurt my feelings but, for a moment, killed all my dreams and triggered a bunch of old woulds that suddenly bubbled to the surface in a rush. At first, I was furious, then I was sad. After a few hours, I recalled his exact words and realized he wasn’t entirely wrong. We later hashed it out in a conversation in which I got to express my displeasure with his word choice and appreciation of his honesty. He got to apologize and learned a lesson in the consequences of what and how one says things.

At some point in the day, or during our week, or in life we are not ready for hard truths without a chaser. There are moments I need it on the rocks (tough love) or prefer it in a hard cocktail with a lime – not quite sugar-coated but still easier to swallow. However, when we are too busy “keeping it 100”, we may miss the important cues of the receiver not being at the mental or emotional level required to toss back what your serving, regardless of how honest it is. This is where communication often breaks down.

There are some pretty common examples of how, in reference to the Chappelle Show, “keeping it real goes wrong.” Maybe we make a joke about someone else’s poor decision-making which can cause embarrassment and lead to anger and mistrust. Perhaps, we give unsolicited advice when the receiver is only looking for a supportive ear. Maybe the truth would have been more easily accepted had our word choice been less harsh. Of course, there are plenty of circumstances in which it’s up to the receiver to be mature enough to handle the message in spite of the delivery. Also, the intention of the hasher is another important factor which will hopefully be an intuitive guide whilst unveiling the listeners’ eyes.

Compassion is key whenever we are interacting with almost everyone. Sometimes situations call for toughness in the name of genuine concern but other times it calls for a milder touch. When we are truly aware, we can tell the difference, be wise in our approach and maybe someone will grant us the same consideration when we are on the other end.

So tell me …when was a time you went a bit too far with dishing out the truth? Or, when was the last time you were on the receiving end of an inconsiderate truth-teller? Please share in the comments section.

Namaste.

Let Your “Lawrences” Go

If you are an avid watcher of the HBO show “Insecure” like I am, you have probably heard about the “Bring Back Lawrence” Petition. As it turns out, fans really took to the character Lawrence, ex-boyfriend of the main character Issa Dee, played by actor Jay Ellis. He is a staple in the first two seasons but after hearing he would not be in the third, some of the audience decided to take action. And honestly, after very little thought, for me, it made perfect sense that Lawrence would not be present at this point in the story.

If you have not seen the show, beware of upcoming spoilers. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

The second season of Insecure was riddled with chaos as Issa and Lawrence attempted to  recover from a dysfunctional relationship that eventually lead to Issa’s infidelity in season one. After many mistakes on both parts, they eventually ended up facing each other and having the “grown-up” talk they should have had in the first place. The apologies were well-given and heartfelt, so much so that fans expressed their desperation for the couple to reconcile. However, while it seemed as though all that needed to be said was said and all was forgiven, they parted ways and Issa went on to begin a new chapter in her life.

It seems obvious to me that when friendship is no longer an option, this is the very best way for mature adults to move on, but apparently many others did not seem to have the same sentiment. This got me to thinking, “Is this why there are so many screwed up relationships these days?” My husband and I had a long and heated debated about holding on to things sparked by our disagreement on whether Lawrence should stay and it’s amazing how much deeper of an topic this turned out to be. I discuss it in more in the video below from my YouTube channel.

I can think of so many circumstances in which issues could have been resolved if only the people involved had the courage or the know-how to let go. To be fair, this sort of behavior is often encouraged in today’s techno-world in which it’s pretty easy to stalk profiles and and read into videos and text messages. Hell, “It’s Complicated” is a common enough theme among relationships for Facebook to even recognize it as an actual status option. But keep in mind, it is an option.

But what if we learned to truly move on and cut people off? This does not have to be negative although often times it is difficult. But, would it not be worth it to be free? Why continue to chance staying stuck on the same chapter when you can simply turn the page? Or in this case, enter a new “season”. You never know, you may just make room for for an unexpected return at a better time.