The Care and Feeding of Marriage

10 Mar

Hubs and I have been married for around four and a half months now. Inspiring, no? Even though we’re not anywhere near as expert in our relationship as others, we’ve both learned a ton about sharing a life and all the joys and pains that come with that.

When people ask us how married life is going, we both give each other a sideways glance and say, “great!” Which is true but the real answer would be a less romantic, “It’s the hardest thing we’ve ever done but we’re loving it…you know, most of the time.” People aren’t lying when they say the first year of marriage is one of the hardest. It’s a time when you go through a giant array of emotions ranging from sheer panic to absolute bliss. Suddenly you have a realization that your life as you knew it for, oh, your entire existence, is over and now you have this other person who in a strange way makes you better at the things you love while bringing out the worst in you from time to time.

I have to put one myth to rest, though. Marriage does not end “you” and start “we.” No one (and women listen up ’cause we’re bad for this) is asking you to be a martyr for love. Not a single one of your goals has to change, none of your passions have to be given up, but you may have to re-evaluate some. You may not be able to do everything in just the way you imagined but you can chase the same dreams with someone encouraging by your side.

Overall, here are the things that are making it work for us:

Scheduled Quality Time: When Hubs and I started living together after our wedding, we weren’t very good at this. I was home all day and Hubs was at work until around 6:30 and when we had to share space at the end of the day, there wasn’t a very good transition into “us” time. He and I have a great set-up for this too because we only have one TV (which is something I chose to force us to share time) and a tiny house so we have to see each other almost at all times. What we learned to do was take a moment to get ready for each other. I get everything I need done during the day and before he comes home, I start my relaxation mode by watching TV or playing with the dogs…that kind of thing. He’s learned to slowly leave work behind on his drive home and when he comes in, we both make an effort to greet each other within the first few minutes. I found out that the greeting is more important than it seems. It really sets the tone for the rest of the evening.

Outside of that, we try to think of things to do on the weekends that are fun for us. I’m easily amused these days so we spend time at the dog park together or walk around our downtown area and discover new places we like. Fun is an important part of the time we spend together.

Fighting Fair: Fights are healthy and I would say vital to a relationship’s growth. Some can be prevented by just saying how you feel immediately after you’re upset by something but often you don’t even know how much something bothers you until it piles up and then one day you’re weeping in the kitchen and sending furious text messages because your husband ate your lunch. Fights are necessary and wonderful. You feel much better after them and there’s usually some kind of make-up involved that hits the spot for everyone involved but…you have to be careful about how you fight.

I’m not a good fighter and by that, I mean I’m a mental ninja. I have some kind of deep-rooted problem because when I fight, I don’t just want to make my point and be at peace, I want to utterly devastate the other person. I get so hurt by people that I become a vengeful little harpy if I’m not careful and for some reason I have it in my head that if I don’t make the other person feel like a dirt bag, things will never get better. I don’t always have enough faith in my partner’s love and concern for me so I have to consciously control how I act in a fight and filter my emotions carefully so that I’m always on a constructive path.

So remember, your partner loves you enough that seeing you hurt is sufficient to change his/her behavior. You do not need to bring out the brass knuckles to make your point.

Love shouldn’t feel extractive: You shouldn’t feel like you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel to give your partner what he/she needs. The love and energy that you put into a relationship should be an overflow of how happy you are as an individual. It’s hard because you’re not always happy with the way your life is going but that’s when you need to dig deep and find joy which is possible anytime that you have a positive attitude and an eagerness to see what’s ahead. When you’re damaged as a person, your relationship naturally suffers and that’s okay because to some extent, that’s what your partner signed up for but you have to continue making an effort to be joyful and happy in yourself.

The values you share and have built a foundation on should factor into this too. For us, our spiritual journey has revitalized us in a lot of tough times. We’ve never been happier than when we were both pursuing God and feeling rewarded spiritually but it may also be your children that provide this joy or your common passion for charity, knowledge, or something else.

If you are feeling down and exhausted in your relationship, I feel it’s better just to focus on yourself for awhile rather than continue to stumble in fulfilling another person. I don’t think it does either person any good in that scenario.

Yeeeah, that’s basically all I’ve got for you right now.


2 Responses to “The Care and Feeding of Marriage”

  1. vwsweetie2003 March 11, 2011 at 8:03 pm #

    You speak with such honesty and you couldn’t be more mature in what you have discovered!
    I LOVE your take on fighting fair!!! I also live with a (past) mental-ninja and I have had to show him that I love him enough that he didn’t have to go there. You have learned this early on and that is a good thing.
    I LOVE your blog!!!

    • Intrepid Girl March 12, 2011 at 12:42 am #

      Haha, thank you, Traycee! I try. 😉

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