The story of us would read like a fairytale—and since we all know how that ends— I’ll skip to the really good part. After you exchange vows and start living by those commitments the stakes get higher, but it’s a beautiful feeling to share a life with someone; especially when that someone is your best friend. Having only been married for one year I won’t pretend I’m some kind of expert on the subject, and I’d like to think there is still magical honeymoon dust all over me. Some would say this could cloud my judgment on the matter, but regardless of my credentials (or lack there of) I think you loving souls could apply what I’ve learned to your relationships and truly grow.
Be your own happiness.
Your happiness is the single most important quality in your marriage. If you’re not happy, you need to take a look within yourself and find the root of it, because guess what... contrary to popular belief—your spouse is not responsible to provide your source of happiness. They are meant to enhance what is already shining inside you, and feed that fire with their inherent happiness. Ultimately, we all have to own up to this responsibility and realize you are in control of your emotions. What you think of yourself has an enormous influence on your ability to stay true to your vows. This concept isn’t selfish (I know some of you may see it that way), but this commitment to yourself is something your partner will thank you for. This alleviates a lot of pressure on your spouse to be the constant flowing stream of sunshine and rainbows.
Expect that you BOTH will change….and that’s ok.
Change is inevitable, you are not the same exact person you were in grade school or even college. You are both individuals, you don’t share a brain nor are you expected to agree on everything, BUT you should expect respect. Respect each other enough not to be threatened by change. Embrace your differences and be empathetic to each other’s growth and evolution. We are entitled to be who we are, and experiences (either good or bad) can cause us to re-calibrate certain beliefs. Trust that if you pour love and empathy into your marriage you’ll create balance and bliss. The key here is to share as much as possible and keep an open mind. It seems that I would get into trouble the moment I became more internal, and stopped expressing my thoughts in front of my husband. They are not mind readers, you have to own up to your part in miscommunicating, there’s never one person completely at fault.
Date night is non-negotiable.
Life is hectic. So much so, we forget there are things needing our attention—most importantly your marriage. Things can quickly become routine, and there’s nothing worse than picking a fight with your husband over nothing just so you can get a little attention, albeit the negative kind— in your mind it’s better than nothing. You need to feel like a priority in your relationship, and one of the ways we avoid feeling insignificant—which is crazy because how could you be?!— is to commit to a dedicated day or evening to go on a date. In no way does being married mean the things important while you were dating are no longer pertinent. We’ve made it a point to spend quality time together at MINIMUM of once a week, doing things that we enjoy doing together—such as #PizzaNight. Even if we are both exhausted, we sit at our dinner table and play a game of chess (he beats me every time, it’s so annoying) and I sit there appreciating every second of it. These moments are the stuff life is made of. You need to create opportunities such as this to fortify your bond, and let each other know how much you love spending time together. This is where you can be open about what you’re feeling, be yourself uninhibited, and share in your mutual gratitude for the loving marriage you’re are both nurturing. Oh, and there’s usually a “happy ending” involved….hooray for sexy time!
Speaking of sexy time…
Have sex! Have it often! It’s not to be saved for after date night, sometimes the most random acts of passion can fuel the fire for months ahead. Love making is an indicator of closeness, and communicates that you’re as irresistible as you were when your first met. Keeping your relationship fresh and flirtatious is a fabulous strategy to keep things interesting, and avoid falling into routines. I joke with my husband about how I want to grow old together and be the inappropriate couple making sexual innuendos at the dinner table and playing footsie. It gives me something to strive for. Although, I do realize that there are deeper intimacies besides sex, the physical connection between two people is spiritual. It can lead to the creation of another human being, which in my mind makes it sacred. Pursue your partner and you will surely spark desire in return.
Be their best friend.
The person you choose to spend your entire life with should be the person you would want to be there when shit really hits the fan, but they are also the friend you would go on any and every adventure with. When I think of my girl friends, I can’t think of a single moment where I felt I had enough of their precious time. I feel the same way about my husband—I can’t get enough of his presence in my life. When you get married it seems the universe facilitates opportunities for you to become closer by sending little tests and trials that will frequently feel a little icky, because who likes to fight with their best friend? It’s a convoluted feeling when you have an argument, but you still want that person breathing the same air with you. That’s the sweet duality of marriage, growing together— and never apart— means you must be steadfast in creating safe spaces to talk rather than facilitate distance. I can be a bit of a firecracker, and sometimes I tend to raise my voice (or become “spirited” as my husband refers to it), but this is a complete no-no. Patience is a virtue which never goes out of style in a marriage, and even if you feel upset, there’s no excuse for disrespecting the decibel of a healthy relationship. Inside voices, people.
We are not perfect, and will likely stumble upon the rights and wrongs in certain situations. At the end of the day, this is a work in progress, but investing time and energy into making your relationship solid will open you up for beautiful experiences in general. Marriage is a wonderful teacher, and I’m incredibly blessed to be on this journey with my soulmate. I’m so grateful to him for always supporting my dreams, accepting my flaws and loving me in spite of them.
I’ll leave you will a snippet of a poem read at our wedding ceremony on November 2, 2013.
“Love one another, but make not a bond of love, let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.”—Kahlil Gibran