5 things I've learned within the past 365 days of marriage
In honor of my 1 year marriage anniversary I have compiled some of the biggest lessons I have learned within the past year. My husband and I definitely have different learning curves but we have both taught each other so much along the way.
Your spouse is NEVER your enemy, even when they disagree with you.
For you healthy communicators I bet that this comes to you as a no brainer. But for the rest of us people who haven't always seen healthy conflict resolution, I am sure that you understand where I am coming from. In the past I would always fight to win. Because, isn't that the objective of arguing? Being right is so important... Until you realize that you were "right" at the expense of your spouse's pain. And your victory celebration no longer seems like a celebration because you've taken many perfectly aimed shots at the one you promised to love and protect forever and ever. And now you're standing on the front line with your best soldier, wounded, broken and defeated. Have you ever tried to patch up a stab to the heart with a lousy "I'm sorry"? Let me tell you, it does not work. So rather than see your spouse as your enemy, instead view them just as they are, your partner, your lover, your teammate, anything but your enemy. Argue with a purpose, and let that purpose be to come to a common ground, not to "win".
Investing in your spouse is just as important as investing in yourself.
Think about how many hours you invest into your career, or a job that you don't even care about. Think about how much time you put in to surfing social media, you know, late night scrolls through your time line, reading about who did what to whoever, or who doesn't like so-in-so. Now, think about your spouse. Did you ask how their day went? Did you offer to make them lunch after work? Did you send a quick text sometime today just to let them know you were thinking of them? Yes? Congratulations, you've done the bare minimum.
To invest in something you must put time and true effort into that something. In this case, it's your spouse. In most modern day relationships, both parties work full time, which limits the amount of time you can physically spend together. With this being said, your time and effort needs to be intentional. Imagine that your partner leaves the house every day with a full cup of water. Everything they face throughout their day spills a little more water each time. By time they make it home to you, their cup is nearly half empty. And it's your job to help them fill that cup again. You should add to their cup of peace, not help to deplete it.
You know your partner better than anyone else, so as you grow together you will learn natural ways to invest in them. I invest in my husband by doing for him, helping make his day easier. I set his coffee almost every night, so that he can sleep in an extra 2 minutes each morning. I try to touch him more than I touch my phone. And I know this sounds crazy, but I am one of those people who always has their phone, so this has certainly been a work in progress for me. I do my best to involve myself in things that interest him, even if they do not interest me. And most importantly, I pray for him. I pray for him every morning. I pray for his safety, out on the road. I pray for his sanity, for his personal growth and I pray that the Lord will give me the strength to be the wife that I need to be. Investing in your spouse is a small payment for a great return. I mean, the more you lift up your spouse, the better they will be for themselves and for you.
A marriage isn't a full time job. A marriage is a 24/7, on call at all times type of job.
I sometimes joke that I have two jobs. But really though, I have two jobs. I am a retail manager and I am a wife. I take pride in both job titles, and while my retail job is what helps pay half the bills, my wife position is the most fulfilling job I've ever been blessed to receive. With that being said, being a wife consists of no days off, working early mornings, all night-ers, nursing a sick man who only has allergies but insists that he is dying, chef-ing it up in the kitchen, being a therapist, a best friend and whatever else is needed for that day.
You don't get to take a "break" from being married. If you have an argument, take an hour or two to calm down, and then you sit down and figure out the issue. You don't get to quit at work every time a customer says something you don't like, or you get assigned a difficult project. Eliminate the idea from your head, that you can just quit or check out when things get hard. And, no, I am not telling you to stay in an abusive marriage, or stay when infidelity has plagued your marriage. I am talking about day to day issues that arise. I am telling you not to just be a full time employee in your relationship, this isn't like the workforce where you get full benefits and vacation time after you've clocked 40 hours for the week. No, you're on call 24/7 and your benefits are far greater when you put in the work!
Not everyone will be supportive of your relationship and YOU should not take it personal.
When my now husband and I announced our engagement we got nothing but praise and encouragement. And then when our wedding got closer something changed. We got all of these unwarranted opinions. We heard everything from; we were too young, we were rushing (we've been together for 10 years now), our relationship was a joke, I forced him to marry me, I controlled my husband, and so on and so on.
It's great to get the views and opinions of others, especially when they are in the positon to give you an opinion. But we were losing support from people who were in relationships that made ours look pretty darn great! I mean, realllllllllly great. This was on a whole throwing stones from your glass house type of level! I do understand that everyone has an opinion, but quite frankly, opinions are only valid from people who speak from experience, and are close enough to give a clear opinion. So don't take it personal when someone is speaking from afar. At first, we took it so personal. We felt attacked, unloved and betrayed. Until we got the advice from a wise person. They reminded us that unhappy people can never be happy for those around them, even if it's people they love. We learned that their negativity towards our relationship was really just a reflection of how they felt about themselves and the positions they were in within their own lives. And once I was able to really see it for what it truly was, and not as they presented it, I felt a lot better, and my husband felt a lot better. People are constantly fighting their own battles, and you cannot allow them to put it on you. Misery loves company and that is one company that you do NOT want to keep. Your relationship is sacred. Not everyone will understand it, and that's okay, just make sure they respect your relationship and if they do not, send them to the door!
If I can teach you anything at all, its to not allow people around you to puncture your marriage bubble. Protect your marriage from seen and unseen evil. You do not need to spend valuable time convincing someone that your relationship is valid or worthy of their acceptance. Because most of the time their acceptance isn't worth having and the advise they're dishing out should be served at their own table and not your own.
Love is a choice.
I am going to tell you a secret... I don't always "like" my husband. Sometimes he annoys me so bad that I want to cringe. But that's okay because I choose to love him. I choose to love him despite his many faults and he loves me despite my many, many, many faults. Throughout this marriage I have learned that you have to make a lot of choices, and your choices dictate how your relationship will either work, or not work. The ultimate goal is to make sure your relationship works and works well.
All photos are taken by our sister Zaria Shaday.