11 Years and Counting... The Blessings of Marriage
Okay, so blogger seems to be unwilling to let me title my post... Oh well, I'll just use this work around.
This last week, El 3atal and I celebrated our eleventh anniversary. I've been meaning to respond to Kinzi's challenge for awhile, but things have been a bit crazy lately (in a good way). So, today I'm going to reflect on some of the lessons I've learned during the last 11 years.Lesson Number One:
Only fight the battles you care about winning. You may wonder what I mean by this. Let me explain. At the beginning of my marriage, I sed to always want my way. I'd fight and fight until we did the thing I had decided was the right thing to do. Then I realized that I was winning battles when I didn't care about the outcome to the detriment of El 3atal. I started to think about it and said to myself, why should I argue for this if I really don't care. With this understanding, I gave up battling over issues that I don't really care about. I defer those decisions to El 3atal (even when he doesn't want to make them, teehee). It's kind of funny because as humans, I think we're mostly programmed to always want to win. My very best friend in the world (we'll call her MannaBean) and I had a conversation about this once. It had been observed to her that I allow El 3atal to control me (very funny if you know me AT ALL). So, I explained to her this new understanding of life that I had gained. Once I had finished explaining to her that I only argue for things I care about, it was as if I had provided a revelation. "Wow", she said. "I'd never thought of that." Ah, the inherent patterns of being human. Honestly, I strongly recommend to young couples that you develop enough self-awareness to understand what you really care about. If the issues at hand falls outside of those, express your opinion and move on. Don't fight for it if you don't really care about it.Lesson Number Two:
Communicate. Now, depending on your chosen spouse, how you do this (and how active you have to be) will vary. For me, El 3atal, while a lovely person, is not good at all at expressing appreciation. For folks who need constant affirmation, this would be a killer. For me, it was hard to get used to. But, what I learned was that he was willing to say the words, he just didn't really think of them naturally. So, now, when I need praise for doing something extraordinary, I simply tell him. And, if I know that someone else in our lives needs to hear a thank you from him, I guide him into providing it as well. It just took understanding my needs, his limitations, and finding the path to bridge the two.Lesson Number Three:
Know when to say you're sorry. And, here's the secret to this seemingly obvious lesson: you may not be wrong. That's right, sometimes you will need to say you are sorry when you weren't wrong. Even if you are right, your approach may have been wrong. Even if you were right and your approach was fine, your significant other may simply be in an emotionally fragile enough state that they need to hear you say you're sorry. So, say it. How does it hurt you? Be confident and comfortable enough to say, I'm sorry.Lesson Number Four:
It's the little things that make or break every relationship. This is true of friendships and marriages. We've all had friends from whom we never hear unless they need something. They only call when we can help them. Everytime you get together with them it's because you initiate it. You send birthday cards, gifts, and hugs and they never acknowledge your special days. How long do we keep going in the relationship? It takes more out of us than we get back into us on a consistent basis. As a result, we're likely to move on to greener pastures, right? If you imagine that you start off your marriage with 10,000 points (call it the bloom of new love), each time you take from your spouse, you deduct a point. When your spouse has to comfort you, or you have a fight and they are right (regardles of who wins), these are withdrawals you are making on this account. When you comfort your your spouse after a hard day, give them a break from the kids, etc., these are deposits. You should always be striving to find ways to keep the balance in the positive. Not because you want things from them, but because it means that you are a team. You are mutually supporting each other and making each other's lives easier. That's what this thing called maariage is all about. It's about choosing someone to share your life with and sharing theirs with them.Lesson Number Five:
Keep a sense of humor about life. I assure you, the first time you have to change your clothes for the third (or fourth or fifth) time in one day because the leaky diaper put unmentionable substances on you, you'll need to laugh over it. The day that you are packing for your trip to the US and find that your child's passport expired 5 days before, you'll need to laugh. Even the day that you find that instead of the single baby you were expecting, you've got twins growing inside you, you'll REALLY need to laugh. And, there's so much beauty and joy to be found, that you really ought to laugh anyway. Oh, and when your child develops a little routine to turn your frown upside down, I promise you really will laugh. So, get ready for it. Prepare yourself for the laughs and joys of being alive. If you see the joy, the laughs will come and the marriage will be well positioned for longevity.
I hope these thoughts lessons may help those young couples who are preparing to embark on this journey we call marriage. If even one of them helps you strengthen your relationship, then I'll feel successful. Marriage for me has been the second greatest adventure in my life (being a mommy is the greatest). And, honestly, it's been the most fulfilling relationship I could ever have imagined. I wish each of you the same joy I've had...