5 Things Marriage is Teaching Me
Marriage is an adventure and a Shakespearean sonnet and a scenic hike and a proverbial face plant down a hill.
But, if you navigate graciously and pray for guidance and give it your all every day, marriage is a wonderful experience that will enrich your being. Marriage teaches lessons that are hard learned sometimes, but the result is a stronger commitment to each other and ultimately, a stronger commitment to your family.
All of my marriage and family posts work as a “Dear Diary” piece for me because I’m still learning so much and have so far to go.
I watch my parents after 35+ years of marriage, still so in love and having fun every day and just happy to be in each other’s company, and I want that and strive towards that each day.
What marriage is teaching me so far has changed me as a person. Hopefully, a better one. A more patient and more giving one.
Marriage Creates a Family
Before we were married, my hubs and I always referred to our families as “your family” or “my family” in regards to each other. However, when we married, it continued in this sense. However, one day, as we were discussing some issues, my husband stopped me and told me that I was forgetting another family….”our” family.
Say what?! He was absolutely right! We had created a family and very quickly had expanded it with two more additions, but it’s not so much a physical entity as it is a mindset. It’s a mindset that this family and that family and his family and my family and their family are still all separate from “our family”.
When your family becomes the center focus, it generates a togetherness that knits your thinking and actions and makes life just a little more calm and cohesive. Ever since this moment of reveal, we’ve worked better together at figuring out what’s best for our family.
Love Understands—Selfishness Divides
I’m only stating the obvious here, but regarding marriage—this principle is about as applicable as it gets.
We all remember the old adage and Biblical reference that a house divided against itself only falls, right? We are humans; we make mistakes. We have selfish moments and selfish decisions, but I’ve learned that if we exist in a state of selfishness for very long, everyone around us suffers, especially our loved ones. Selfishness generates contempt, and contempt fosters indifference. Indifference is the dangerous one because when you lose your emotion and passion for something, you allow it to deteriorate.
A cycle will start where I’ve had a bad day, and I’m tired and hungry and stressed, and I’ll snap at my hubs for something that’s not really his fault. He’ll also be tired and grumpy and will snap back. I then get angry at the injustice since I feel I deserve some empathy for all that I do in a day, so I’ll snap back harsher. And, wallah!…we’re hardly talking for two days.
However, if we exchange selfishness for love, then we take on a cloak of understanding that breaks the cycle of self.
If I’m having a rough day, and I snap at my hubs, or vice versus, and instead of snapping back, we say something nice or soft or just give a hug, then selfishness dies under the weight of kindness.
I wish I could say that I’ve learned my lesson so well, and every time this scenario plays out, I’ve taken the high road, but alas. No.
*drops head in shame* But! I try, and if I find myself making this mistake, I try to comeback a few minutes later with a kind word or an apology. It works wonders.
You Need to Embrace Opposites
My mom always told me growing up that there were two types of couples: “Birds of a Feather” and “Opposites Attract”….and, I have noticed that people do seem to be either attracted to likeminded, even twin-like qualities in others, or they’re attracted to their complete opposite. When I hear these two adages now, I can’t help but smile. I can certainly see the benefits of being your significant other’s twinsie since it would make life easier to navigate.
But. I was the “Opposites Attract” gal.
The waters are adventurous, challenging, and occasionally rough, but I’ve always thought it worth it. But, how to navigate?
There’s a few things I’ve learned to make this as smooth a ride as possible.
First, capitalize on a common thread. My hubs and I are similar in that we equally love hanging in and going out, so on Netflix and Halo Top date nights, we find movies that we both find fun, and when we go to the Square or evening beach run, we compromise with where we go, where we eat, or where we dessert.
Second, make a common thread. If you’re struggling to find a common thread, then simply make one. Think of something your spouse loves and become better acquainted with it; embrace it. That doesn’t mean you have to geek out on it, but caring about it even a little shows you care about them. And, they’ll notice, and hopefully return the favor.
Third, don’t belittle or try to change the opposites. After all, that’s one of the reasons you fell in love with them in the first place. Now, I’m not talking about “bad” habits…language, for example. My hubs lets a naughty word slip now and again, and especially since we’ve had kids, I’ve been getting on to him about it. This may not matter to a lot of people, but my daughter recently said the word “sucks” in the context of not liking a situation, and I about fainted. Nope. Nope. Nope. Call me old-fashioned or Southern delicate or whatever, but just nope.
What I’m talking about is their personality and personal idiosyncrasies and those little things they do that make them who they are and the way they are. Love them; appreciate them; value them. If you ever lose that person, those will be the things you miss.
Learn to Laugh. A lot.
One thing about marriage I’ve learned is that laughing fixes things. It’s like the duct tape of matrimonial moments.
There have been times where I’ve been vomited on, poopied on, and tinkled on within five minutes with my husband almost nauseous and sprinting from the room, and both of us just broke down laughing. Hey, we would’ve cried otherwise.
It’s times like these that you need this humor to defuse the stress. No, it doesn’t always work, but if you can as a couple find those moments to laugh it out together, then I think it helps you resolve stressful situations better. It’s certainly helped our handling of life’s curveballs.
Find Joy in Little Moments
I just purchased a refrigerator magnet that says “Always Choose Joy”. What truth. No matter what circumstance happens, you can still choose joy as your reaction.
When I was first married, I think I expected all of these joy-filled, happy-filled, excitement-filled moments to completely overwhelm my day. Haha! Cute.
Married life can quickly become routine with getting up, fixing breakfast, going to work, doing laundry, cleaning the house, welcoming hubby home,–repeat, repeat, repeat, etc. Now, I realize there are people who do something fun and new every day or vacation to the Caribbean once a month, so this probably wouldn’t apply to you, but to everyone else (or just myself), you need to find joy in your daily routine. Not just for your sake–when you are happy and joyous, you spread it to everyone around you.
Yes, I think every week or even several times a week, you should try to find a fun something to spice up your marriage or remind your significant other why you chose them and how happy you are that you did, but you can’t depend on that to pull you through day after day. Find a way to express gratitude and joy in the simple times and simple actions.
For instance, I get up at 6 AM to fix my hubs a hot breakfast and coffee and his lunch before he leaves for work every day. If he texts me thanks and that he loved it, it makes me smile from ear to ear. Yes, it’s simple and seemingly insignificant, but even little things like this remind them that you care. It’s always the little things that get me.
Marriage is beautiful, mysterious, and scary. Beautiful in the mystery of someone loving you enough to give you the rest of their life and scary in the knowledge that one day they could change their mind and take your heart with them when they leave. That. That is an essence of marriage I’ve learned; marriage involves two people making decisions every day that either bring them together or tear them apart. Every day, in every decision, a husband and wife must choose each other and their family first in order to have a flourishing family and a flourishing life. At least, that’s what I’ve observed in my experience.
Here’s to many more years of learning many more things about marriage!
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