Today marks two years that CJ and I have been married!
It’s been an amazing, challenging, beautiful time for us.
When I look back on our wedding photos I can still remember the way I felt that day, the excitement, my face hurting from smiling so much, the fear of the unknown and the love that surrounded us. I would honestly do it all over again.
I laughed all day. From waking up in my tiny apartment with some of my bridesmaids until CJ and I finally fell asleep in the wee hours of the morning.
I have always loved love, but no one tells you about the struggles and challenges you will face in marriage. Granted, all of those hurdles have made us stronger but I think I was mildly unprepared. Movies and books depict basically one complicating factor that always works itself in the end. In reality, we struggle to stay on the same page on the daily when it comes to laundry, putting the toilet seat down and making the bed. There isn’t one complicating factor, but many ranging from mild to massive.
I’ve learned, and continue to learn everyday from CJ how important it is to say “I love you” every day, spend quality time together and put our needs before my needs.
Love and marriage is about so much more than two people choosing to be together forever. It’s about consciously choosing to acknowledge your partner’s needs, actively working to meet and exceed those needs and remaining engaged in your life together. At least for me, these are things I’ve come to realize are super important.
Things I wasn’t prepared for in marriage:
1. Mourning my Maiden: While I love being married to CJ, I still mourn my maiden name. It’s this weird, symbolic gesture of changing of your last name that legally separates you from your family. I love my family so much and making that separation is something that still makes me sad. I’ve always really liked symbolism and this is one thing I haven’t really been able to put to bed.
2. Leaving Family: CJ and I love our families more than anything. For me, leaving Waco where my parents live was brutal. When CJ got his new job we moved from Texas to PA – knife to the heart. While we have grown to love our little townhouse in PA, it is beyond difficult to be so far removed from our families. I don’t know if they’ll ever really understand how much we miss them and our great state.
3. Compromise: We are both strong-willed and stubborn. Learning to compromise is something we will continue to learn about until we are old and gray. Astrologically we are a match made in Heaven (Aries + Leo) and 99% of the time we get along famously, but there are times when my free spirit and his traditional personalities clash a bit. While we bring out the best in one another, he lets my free spirit fly and I adore his traditional values, we still struggle to see eye-to-eye on simple issues. We are learning to appreciate one another’s point of view.
4. Where’s the Baby?: I had friends and family who were married before me warn me that immediately post wedding everyone starts asking, “When are y’all having a baby?” I didn’t realize how right they were. After year 1 it was more like a joke, but I think people were hoping for that “honeymoon baby.” We would be happy, thrilled even, if we found out we were pregnant but at the same time we are enjoying our time together as a married couple. Our entire relationship was basically long distance, more on that later, and it’s nice just to see each other every morning and night without weeks in between. Also, the baby question is a deeply personal question and I didn’t come to realize how intrusive it is until year two. Asking me when we plan on having kids and if we are trying are intimate questions. We are doing our best, folks, and it ain’t easy. The polite thing I’ve realized is to not ask people these questions because you don’t know the intimacies of the marriage or the struggles the couple may be facing. Just like politics and religion at a dinner party, don’t bring it up unless the door is opened for you.
5. Living with the Opposite Sex: The day after our wedding we packed up a Uhaul and moved everything I own from Waco to our new house in San Antonio. This was the first night we began living together. The first 8 months of our relationship we lived in our college town, then I graduated and moved to Waco to begin my career while CJ finished his MBA. It was hard having a long distance relationship for 5 years but it was worth it.
It’s a struggle every day learning to live together, but I’m glad we saved sharing a household for marriage. We each have our own routines and our own ways of doing things and adapting to life with the opposite sex is hard. I didn’t realize how Type A I am about organization until living with CJ. I like everything in it’s place and put away, while he is more comfortable leaving things on the kitchen table or coffee table or counters. I’ve learned to speak up and explain my reasoning for why I like things a certain way so he understands I’m not being anal but there is a method for my madness. I’m trying, I swear I am, to be more sensitive and more carefree about those things, but that’s a struggle for me.
6. Speaking Up: Confrontation is not our thing. We vowed when we were dating and living hours and hundreds of miles away from one another not to waste what precious time we had together nit-picking the other person. We had both experienced relationships where our previous partners nit-picked and criticized us and we didn’t want to risk souring our short visits with degrading and demeaning each other. We’ve recently revisited this discussion, because while we had the best of intentions with this habit, we have done ourselves a disservice in addressing things that are bothering us. We are learning to approach sensitive subjects with kindness, not letting negativity build up and only acting when it can benefit our marriage.
7. Never Going to Bed Angry: This is probably the most popular marriage advice I’ve received and Lord is it true! In two years, there have been two times we have gone to bed angry and I can say it negatively impacts the next day. The hard thing about confrontation is getting through it and finding a middle ground. I feel much more resolved when I can talk through my thoughts and what is weighing on my heart, saying “I love you” and then going to bed with a positive affirmation. It is hard. No one tells you how difficult it can be to work through the anger, tears, frustration and negative energy but it is worth staying up a little later to let yourself and your partner find some resolve.
8. Not Being Quick to Anger: Anger is cancer to a marriage. When there is anger it can turn to resentment which creates walls and challenges that are hard to overcome after time. We are working on not being quick to anger, meaning when something that angers us comes up, learning to pray for understanding, compassion and patience. We don’t bring up anything with the intent to hurt or anger each other, but that doesn’t mean what we have to say won’t be hurtful to the other person. Not being quick to anger is a way of keeping the lines of communication open, holding our partner’s intentions in high regard and knowing that what is being said coming from a place of love.
9. Giving Up Myself: I didn’t realize how much of myself I had to give up when I got married. I gave up my name, my work, living close to my family and general ability to do whatever I want without consulting another person. I am so proud of the work CJ does and I am proud to be his wife, but that came with sacrifice. In order for him to pursue his professional career, I had to be more flexible. There are times when I feel like he doesn’t quite understand what all I gave up for him, but I hope he appreciates and treasures it. He is our breadwinner and it requires me to sometimes just be along for the ride. I know everything he pursues, we pursue and it is best for our marriage and our future, but it is still hard. I pray my husband, and all husbands around the world, understand thier wives have sacrificed a lot of herself, personally, emotionally, professionally, symbolically and legally. We give up our family to create a new family because the man we loved asked us to join him on this crazy ride called life.
10. Perfection is for the Birds: There is no so thing as a perfect marriage, but there is a perfect version of what your marriage looks like to you. Perfection is boring and it’s the ride of life that is beautiful, crazy and fun. I don’t know what our future looks like and that’s okay because I am enjoying the now. We are enjoying the experiences and opportunities that are coming our way and taking everything in stride.
I hope you enjoy the peek into our wedding day!