My husband and I were married July 15, 2016, exactly 2 weeks after his birthday and 3 weeks and 5 days after meeting (May 2016). The REAL story behind how I met my husband and got married so quickly is so ironic and frankly, beautiful- but I will save that for another Nikki spills it all post later.
As I approach my 3rd year of being a wife, I have learned a lot about what marriage is and what it isn't. In the 3 years of my marriage I have gone through triumphs and a lot of tribulations that I am surprised we made it out of. From chronic Depression (mine in NYC), toxic work environments (transitioning out of TV), a pregnancy loss (on my birthday in 2017), sobriety, a major relocation, financial transition, blended families and so much more- My husband and I have remained strong despite it all. I wish I had some magic sauce recipe to tell you how we have managed to navigate the storms that have attacked us in the last 3 years, but I don't. Truthfully, we struggled immensely and we both had to do a lot of internal soul-searching on HOW to be good partners to each other.
We were never perfect, we are far from perfect now, but what has always been THE CONSTANT? We BOTH truly love each other as individuals, aside from all of our successes and all of our failures. My husband is my best friend and my love for him is UNCONDITIONAL. I will always be his biggest cheerleader and his biggest critic. I love him for everything he was and everything he is now. I am so blessed to have his love and commitment.
BUT--- I have to get into the 5 things I wish I REALLY knew before I got married. Honestly, I could of probably extended this list like 10 more, but I think these 5 really take the cake.
1. Sometimes, Saying Less Says So Much More
I know, people always say "Communication is key in marriage blah blah blah," but honestly, that had me all the way messed up about 6 months into being married. See, I am a talker and I pride myself on being a good communicator (at least I think so). My friends and family always tell me I should of went to Law School (no thank you student loans). I have a sharp tongue and I am ruthless with my words when I am angry. My verbal assault made communicating with my husband a dead-end road. Richard however, shuts-down when he is upset. When he is angry, he will not speak at all and I don't know about most people, but I hate being ignored.
Sometimes, your lack of words say more than the words that come from anger. Instead of giving a 60- minute monologue about why you are right and he is wrong- shut the hell up. Seriously though, make the words you say short, but swift. When speaking, stay focused on the FACTS of the conversation, not your feelings. Keep your conversation solution-focused if at all possible. Shy away from "you always" or "you never" statements. Try to listen more than you speak. If needed, take a 30-45 minute break away from the conversation to really get your thoughts together. The key is QUALITY not quantity. The power is not in how much you say, but in WHAT you say and HOW you say it.
2. In Public, Your Partner is ALWAYS Right (regardless)
I will NEVER switch sides on my husband, even if he acts an ass, I will be right there defending his actions to others. I am team Richard, there is no other way in my house. In my marriage, I quickly learned that people will try to create division in your union, don't let them. If you come to me saying anything remotely negative about my husband, you will be quickly redirected to come at me correct. Even if my husband is wrong, he is right until we are in private. Does that mean I agree or support every single thing he does? Hell no. It just means that regardless, I am always on his side.
It is important to build enough trust with your partner to discuss their short-comings openly in private. I will be the first person to cheer my husband on and I will also be the first person to tell him when he is screwing up. When people approach you, they need to know that you and your partner are united- period.
3. Nobody Cares About Your Relationship Issues- Talk to God or a Professional
This is a big one for me and I say this with love and compassion, NOBODY CARES about your relationship issues. I truly TRY to not ever discuss issues in my marriage with anyone else but my therapist and God. Do I always succeed at not doing this? No, but I truly believe that it is important to keep other folks out of your union.
The fact is, marriages are filled with ups and downs and the temporary feelings you may feel in the heat of anger, most usually will go away eventually. The worst thing you can do is pollute your friends, family or co-workers with a negative image of your spouse when you are mad. The venting you will do on Monday will quickly be erased by Saturday when you are taking pics on the on the beach and posting them to the Gram. ITS DRAINING GUYS. Being a friend who always has to hear about your marriage issues is TOUGH and I truly recommend you TRY your best not to do it to the people you love. If you really need someone to talk to, talk to strangers or someone who can give you an UNBIASED perspective on how to move forward. In seasons of struggle, talk with friends who are also married or who can relate.
4. The Power is in the Delivery
This point is similar to #1, but still very important. Ladies, your verbal delivery in how you communicate is everything with your husband. I cannot stress this enough- It is not in what you say or how much you say but in HOW you say it (verbally). Men typically have a very short attention span when it comes to listening. Men have an even shorter attention span when it comes to listening during conflict. Yelling, cursing (me all day), whining or even crying can all lead to an automatic shutoff of attention while you are talking to your man. For me (and most women) this is extremely hard. In the moment of conflict, your emotions are high and you just want you be heard. If your partner shuts-down or disrespects the conversation, gasoline is added to the fire and you become even more mad. This is a recipe for NOBODY BEING HEARD AND THE CONVERSATION BEING A WASTE OF TIME.
Take time to cool off. Whoever said "Don't go to bed angry," must of been drunk. Sometimes, going to bed angry instead of screaming at each other gives you enough time to cool down and process what you want to say and HOW you want to say it. Your words are powerful and using them as a tool and not a weapon will really alter how successful you are at getting past an issue with your man.
5. Take the Driver's Seat by Sitting in the Back Seat
For me, this has been the hardest skill to learn in my marriage. By nature, I am a very "take-charge" person and I like things done my way. I easily become irritated or annoyed when things are not done efficiently and I tend to have very little patience for screw-ups (hey guys, God is working on me). In the last 3 years I have had to actively learn how to take the back seat to my husband. As women, so many of us are conditioned to lead by being independent. From the moment we are like 9, we are taught that we do not need a man for anything. While we may not need a man, I WANT ONE and I bet you do too.
If you are a naturally controlling woman, learn to trust in your husbands leadership by setting the foundation of what you want done and how you want it done. If you do not teach your man what you like to eat how is he supposed to know that a surprise date at X isn't gonna work? If you refuse to tell your man (properly) what you need help on, how can you get mad at him for not taking the lead and helping you? The truth is so many of us expect for our partner to be able to read our mind, but they cant. Set the stage for success by planting seeds with your partner about how and when you want things done. There is an art to planting the seed with your partner without nagging so be careful of that fine line as well. Drop hints, write lists, set reminders... whatever it takes make your expectations known. When he fails (which he will), immediately address the situation by saying " babe (or whatever pet name you use), I appreciate you doing X for me, but next time can we try Y?" Presenting the conversation as a dialogue and not a monologue or lecture will make a world of difference in how your partner receives its message.
Guys, marriage is no joke. Getting married is not an accomplishment or a right of passage, its work. Bringing together two imperfect people to create a "perfect" union takes work, time and a lot of selflessness. Being a good partner is more about your ability to selflessly give to your partner more than it is about receiving. There will be times of struggle and life will most definitely get in the way of your happiness. The real accomplishment in marriage will come in your ability to stick it out and trust in something and someone that you have no guarantee of. This is the true test, this is the real key.
What do you wish you knew about your relationship before you dived in it? How do you keep peace in your marriage? I would love to hear from you guys.
With Love Always