It is definitely true what they say. ‘Time flies when you’re having fun’.
It’s been 4 years (FOUR!) since we got married.
Then, in October this year it will be 7 years since we met.
Our relationship wasn’t anything “standard” because from October 2011 to November 2014 we were making it work long distance. By long distance I am not talking about living 2 hours away from each other (though it isn’t easy either). We’re talking two different countries. 1,508 miles apart, to be exact. 2 flights. And then a 6-hour drive.
It wasn’t super easy but, at the same time, it was. This might sound very cliché but when you know, you know.
One of the hardest things we had to do was when we got married and were coming back from our honeymoon, we had to catch two different flights to two different countries because I had to first apply for my spouse visa.
He had to fly home from NYC one day before I did.
As much as I love New York, I have never wanted to leave it so much because I felt so lonely and sad.
I stayed behind in our hotel room and cried for hours. Then I walked for what-it-felt-like-ages to cheer myself up, all the way from the Financial District to Central Park.
2 months later we were reunited as I made a big (1,508-mile-long) move to live with my love in the UK.
I will forever thank God for many blessings in my life but especially for my husband. I don’t think I could ever put everything I feel/think/love about him into words, no matter how hard I’d try.
I am so glad I made the right choice when it came to that big decision.
I strongly believe that the decision to get married should never be based purely on emotions, “this works” or “let’s give it a go”. As much as your feelings might sometimes take over, getting married to the person you love is a conscious choice. It’s a commitment. It’s a promise that you make for life.
One of the most wonderful things I have learned when I got married is that you do underestimate just how happy you would be when you marry the “right person”.
There are A LOT of things I have learned in these 4 years of being married so it won’t be easy to pick out 4 but let’s give it a go while trying to keep it light and easy.
4 Things I Learned in 4 Years of Being Married
Do: Communicate and be honest.
I always thought I was an okay communicator.
What I haven’t realised (until I got married) is how I would discover, learn and apply the whole new spectrum of what it means to communicate my emotions, feeling, thoughts and opinions across.
No matter what’s going on, talk about it.
Your husband/wife is in the exact same boat. They want to hear what you think and what you need as much as they need to share their side too.
Sometimes it might mean you have to open a Pandora’s box. As long as you’re both willing to grow in your marriage and make it better and better each coming day, be willing to take the “risk” of speaking up.
Now, here’s another challenge. Be prepared to listen.
Listen intently. Listen with the goal to be there for your partner. Whether they simply need to vent, share something personal or speak about a touchy subject.
No matter what’s going on, I have learnt through my own experience how crucial it is to be willing to be vulnerable, share and also listen and understand their thoughts and opinions.
Don’t: Bottle things up or assume your other half can read your mind.
They can’t. And you can’t read theirs.
I have been guilty of this one myself countless times.
Until I hit the same wall enough so it finally clicked – no one is a mind reader.
We might assume they “surely” know it when we are upset or why we are upset. They might think we “definitely” understand why they feel a certain way.
I’d like to think I know my husband more than anyone. He knows me inside out too.
But it doesn’t mean we can now happily go full on telepathic.
Another thing is bottling it up when things aren’t peachy.
I personally know families who never talk about any issues. When someone is clearly doing something wrong, it’s never talked about nor resolved. Just brushed under the rug. Because it’s “easier” that way.
Try hiding a little storm in a jar. And then adding to it. More and more. That jar will eventually burst into pieces sooner or later, and at that stage a little storm will become a Category 5 hurricane.
Do: Be selfless.
I think this might be one of the hardest things anyone could learn.
In society today it’s all about SELF.
Self-anything is promoted, celebrated and encouraged.
I do support the idea of looking after yourself. It’s important to take good care of our physical and mental health and to stand strong for our values.
At the same time, it seems that some people put their own spin on it just to excuse their quite selfish behaviour (“I’m just looking out for myself”).
When it comes to marriage, if it’s all about self, then what is the point of having a partner for life?
It all comes down to one thing – loving your other half unconditionally.
Being there for each other when a family member is ill. Supporting each other when work is not going well or one of you is unemployed. Sacrificing your “self” in order to be fully present to their needs.
When two people do it, that’s a dream team right there.
NB: By the way, you can be selfless and still be a strong individual. Being selfless isn’t a weakness and it doesn’t (and shouldn’t) rob you of anything you believe in.
Don’t: Make it all about “me, myself and I”.
As simple as that.
Do: Put in the work.
Marriage, just like anything else in life, doesn’t stay stagnant.
It grows, develops, changes, evolves and blossoms (if you want it to and work on it) but it doesn’t happen by default.
It requires work.
Of the two individuals involved.
Last week I got this email from a “friend of a friend”. She sent me links to this course by her “life coach” who apparently teaches women how to be a “perfect wife” in order to keep their husbands “interested, entertained and excited”.
Where do I even begin with this hot mess of a concept?
It’s archaic, detrimental and it won’t help to fix an unhappy marriage.
If trust isn’t there, then that’s a whole different story. A silly course won’t help fix that.
Putting in the work into your marriage doesn’t mean pretending to be someone else and/or “doing everything so he doesn’t leave you”. That’s awful, exhausting, and it’s not healthy.
It means investing time, effort and love into your relationship, growing together, learning from each other and being a team.
Don’t: Take anything for granted.
For a giver:
Ok, here’s the thing (and this is a bit of a hard core reality check).
No one owes us anything in this world.
We might think people do. Well, we work hard. We are kind and caring. We invest time into them. We love them. So they HAVE to give something back to us. Right??
If they are a decent human being or a person who genuinely cares about us, of course they will do for us the same amazing things we do for them.
Give without expecting something in return. (Your other half will most likely happily reciprocate.)
For a receiver:
It’s not okay to treat your other half like their sole purpose in life is to tend to your every whim.
Not appreciating what your husband/wife does for you will not take you anywhere pretty.
Very soon the giver would get tired and/or feel unappreciated. It’s not okay to put anyone into that position in the first place.
Giving and receiving in marriage is a balancing act but it must always come from a place of love.
Do: Have fun.
One thing I remember I thought way before I got married was that you don’t have much fun when you get married.
Not sure where that even came from but I was so wrong.
Thank goodness I was wrong! ha
I have never had as much fun in my life UNTIL I got married to my best friend.
It’s not because things are automatically magical and amazing when you say your ‘I dos’. It requires being willing to keep on having fun together.
About 2 years ago, after moving across the country, we hit a bit of a slump. Work was busy. There were some health issues. We didn’t feel like we were at home (there was a lot of renting related drama). Stress levels were high. It seemed like we both didn’t have enough time or energy for fun.
Until we decided to MAKE time and make changes.
A. We took a vacation. It was very much needed.
B. We planned quite a number of weekends ahead so there was something exciting to look forward to.
C. We filled our work week evenings with stuff we both enjoy doing.
D. We have been much more social.
And most importantly, we spent much more quality time together.
Let’s face it, each and every one of us is forever tired but it doesn’t mean it’s time to throw in the towel. It’s so nice to have fun and genuinely enjoy life, isn’t it?
Don’t: Forget how it all began.
We, bloggers, get similar advice quite a lot. The good ole “remember your WHYs”.
I am not saying I have to remind myself why I married my husband. haha (I know all the thousand reasons why I did.)
This is about looking back to the times when things have just started. Whether it’s when you met, when you started dating, got engaged or the very day you got married.
Before the stresses of life. Before busy work days. Before kids.
That’s why those date nights are so vital.
Or just simply spending time together. Doing something out or staying in.
Without phones or laptops.
Just being 100% present, the way you were when it all began.
If I could give one piece of advice to anyone who’s thinking of getting married, it would be to make sure you share the same values and beliefs.
Also (a few bonus ones – I hope you don’t mind), trust is crucial as well as being willing to commit fully, to be there for your other half and to love each other.
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and let me know your thoughts about things you’ve learned in your marriage or what you hope your marriage to be like.
What do you think of the thoughts and tips I shared?