This morning, as I sat down to drink my daily pot of coffee (really) I found a handwritten note from my husband.
“Always remember that I am constantly thinking of you. I love you, and our boys.”
I’m not a lovey, dovey person and I despise Nicholas Sparks novels, but shit like that can make even my cynical, hardened heart, turn to mush.
September 1st will mark three years that I have been married to my favorite person on the entire earth. Anyone who knows me personally, me will tell you that they would have never believed I would get married, far less be the first one of our group of friends to walk down the aisle. I never was the girl to dream of a huge wedding, or perfect diamond. Right in the middle of not looking for anything, I found my fairy tale, even if the story was a little bit more unconventional than usual. We decided to marry after 9 months, planned the wedding in a week, and still have never even had a honeymoon. There was no wedding party, no huge reception, no speeches, only our closest friends and family to watch us in the happiest day of our lives. Looking back, the biggest wedding budget on earth could never replace that day, and I am so thankful we went about it the way we did. Nothing overshadowed what was important that day; us.
We’ve had a wonderful three years, filled with many ups and a couple downs. We’ve moved three times, bought our home, and added River into our wild and crazy mix. Getting married at 22 was a big leap of faith, and at the time, what some people would have called “crazy”, but the only thing I regret is not being able to meet Kyle sooner, so we could have been together longer.
I reflect this morning on the things I’ve learned from being a wife for the last three years. Some funny, some heartfelt, but all true. Marriage is something that isn’t for the faint hearted, and something that takes a lot of work from both sides.
I know that I’ve been married a short amount of time, and I do not claim to be an expert on the situation, or even really know what the hell I am talking about, but some things I know for sure. Marriage is something that is truly worth it, and even though there are times when I want to put Kyle on the rack, I could not imagine walking through my life without him by my side.
1: Marriage has taught me that I can be selfish.
There’s nothing like sharing every aspect of your life with someone to make you realize what a selfish asshole you can be. As an only child, I failed to learn one very important aspect of everyday living. How to share. How to share my feelings, how to share my stuff, how to share my life. Being married is something you share with another person, and it can be really hard. Sharing a house, a bank account, and all your assets is scary enough, but sharing a damn bathroom takes the cake! MAN STUFF EVERYWHERE!
Sometimes it’s easy to just hoard all your crap and your thoughts and scream MINE! like a kindergartner, but be patient with yourself. Be patient with your partner. It takes a lot of work to be a team. The reason people get married in the first place it to share their life with someone. TO be a part of someone, mind, body and soul. To help them through everything life throws at them. If you don’t want to share all that you have, don’t get married. It’s a lot of getting used to, to give someone that power, to be codependent on someone, and to let yourself be that vulnerable. That is just what marriage is. Scary, and intoxicating at the same time.
2: Marriage has taught me the importance of compassion and compromise.
Marriage is both giving and taking. It takes a lot of hard work to be around someone, and still love them all the time. My husband and I just recently got into heated argument about which Gordon Lightfoot song (Sundown or If You Could Read My Mind) is the best. Seriously, heated. (For the record, If You Could Read My Mind is the best, Sorry Kyle.)
What I am saying is, no one gets along all the time. Before I was married, I would have never admitted that I was wrong, far less admitted that I owe someone an apology. Now, I am slower to anger than ever before. I am a more compassionate, and understanding person, because that is what marriage demands of me. I look at arguments from both viewpoints, and analyze my response before saying or doing things that I would be likely to regret after I calm down.
Marriage is tough, probably one of the toughest things anyone ever has to do. It’s important to learn patience, understanding, compassion and empathy. No one wants to be married to a heartless, cold, and unforgiving person. Nobody, no matter how much you love them, or they love you. If you are unable to forgive, marriage is pointless, whether you are the forgiver, or the forgiven.
3: Marriage has taught me I can also be really selfless.
Despite that fact that marriage has taught me I can be a huge turd, it’s also taught me that I can be undeniably selfless. My husband, and children have always taken the front seat above my own selfish wants and needs. I have an innate need to see them happy, healthy and satisfied above anything else.
In order for me to be happy, those things have to happen first. I could never be truly satisfied with my life unless I knew they were contented and thriving,first. That is selflessness, and I will be honest, I never thought I could love anyone so much. But it comes easy.
4: Marriage has taught me appreciation is key.
The day you stop appreciating the things you do for each other, is the day you will start to have issues. Never take for granted what your partner does for you. Never take for granted the sacrifices that he or she makes, the special things they do, and how much they love you, or how much you love them.
It is so important to appreciate your significant other. Never let them forget that you do. Write them letters, send them text messages or emails, just to make them feel special. Do little things. Have inside jokes. Remember how much you care for them. Everyone needs and deserve that when they put all they have into a marriage. It is very easy to get so caught up in living your everyday life, to forget these things. Don’t ever let yourself neglect your partner, and if you yourself begin to feel neglected, it’s better to discuss it, rather than let it sit unnoticed and turn into a festering problem.
5: Marriage has taught me relationships should be handled with care.
Marriages, like any relationship, should come with a “Handle with care” label. You should never stop cultivating your relationship. You should never stop learning new things about one another, discovering new things, and exploring new places. A marriage should only deepen your love, and friendship with the passing of time, as you grow and learn together, not lessen or weaken it. There is a life after “I do, and the Honeymoon” that becomes very real, very quickly. After the party is over and everyone goes home, you have each other. Remember that. It’s about the two of you above anything or anyone else.
6: Marriage has taught me what really matters in life.
Marriage has taught me that certain things matter in life and some things just do not. Having someone to hold your hand and be with your through everything is the best and most important thing in life. Your family, and your life together is what makes everything bearable. Your life together is what makes living worth it. Your children, your faith, your beliefs and your home are the reasons you live, breathe and get up every day. Those are my reasons, anyway.
Everyone wants someone to grow old with, to love and respect. The fundamental want in life is to find the person you’re meant for, so when you find them, don’t let all the other shit in life deter you from making your life with them. Money, materialistic wants, freedom, all the things that USED to matter so much to me, just really do not have much of a place in my life anymore.
Sure, money is nice, but If I was a millionaire and didn’t have my husband and my kids, what kind of life would I have? If I had a huge, fancy career, but no one to share my successes with, I wouldn’t be happy. Just like Branson told Mathew Crawley on Downton Abbey, that he’d never be happy with anyone else while Lady Mary walked the Earth. It’s true. Once you find your person, well, that’s just it.
7: Marriage has taught me that a sense of humor is so important.
When life gets heavy, sometimes the best medicine is just to laugh it off with your significant other. How else would you get through all the muck? Being blessed with someone with a sense of humor to match mine has been one of the most refreshing and endearing things that has ever happened to me. Being able to find humor in bad situations, or any situation is a wonderful thing. Laughter is key to a long and happy life.
8: Marriage has made me a better person in every single way.
Marriage has made me more aware of my faults, and more eager to work on myself than ever before. I find myself wanting, not only for myself, but for my husband and children to become better, do better, be better. Marriage has forced me to put the needs of others above my own, and love something bigger than myself. Marriage has taught me the true meaning of trust, teamwork, friendship, kindness, understanding, compassion, thoughtfulness and above all, how to love someone completely and without fear. Something that has never been easy for me.
If your significant other doesn’t inspire you to become a better person, maybe they just aren’t the one. From the first day I met my husband, he has done nothing but encourage me, teach me new things, and inspire me to achieve goals I never would have attempted otherwise. I love him for that, and thank him for pushing me, bettering me and loving me. Every single day.
These things do not only apply to marriages, but to people who are in committed relationships, as well. It is so important to remember fundamental aspects like appreciation, respect, trust and forgiveness when you love someone. These things do not change when you have a ring on your finger, they are things you should remember anyways and always.
In looking back on my last three years of marriage, I find myself reflecting on the good and bad, and excited for the future. Excited to be building my life with someone and never having to go it alone. For everyone who is about to be married, engaged, or even if you’ve been married for the last 50 years, never forget these fundamental things, and never stop bettering your relationship and your marriage!
Here’s to 50 more years!
I love you, Kyle.