As you saw this past weekend we kicked off wedding season and for 2016 it is just the beginning! By the time summer is over we will have been to 4 more ceremonies. So as I looked at the calendar a few weeks back I thought how fun it would be to do a post on marriage. Yes, wedding season is fun, beautiful and one of our favorite ways to spend an evening (stay tuned for posts about wedding dance floors). But when all the wedding fan fare is done that is when the main event begins, marriage.
It was within the first few months of being married that I made a promise to myself – never would I ever judge another couples’ marriage. I had only been at it for a few months, but this was hard work – and we had been dating for 5 years prior to our matching left rings! The act of joining two people with unique personalities, varying preferences, and from different families – I don’t care who you are or how relaxed your life may be – it is hard work!
Before I was married a received a lot of advice. Maybe this is true for most brides to be – but I couldn’t help but to be sensitive to it because a lot of the advice we received was because Danny had CF. The advice ranged from how to be a good wife that is also a nurse, to financial burdens of medical needs on a marriage, to flat out “don’t do it”. Some how by putting on that engagement ring and posting our happiness for the world to see, since we got married in the age of Facebook, I was open to A LOT of “words of wisdom”.
My pleaser personality just listened to the advice, but my stubborn side cursed it. How could they know? Who are they to judge? Danny and I – we are different. And I am happy to report that almost 6 years later I know that we are different, and my choice to become his wife will forever be the best decision I ever made. My marriage is my single most impressive accomplishment. The reason though has nothing to do with proving the advice wrong, or because Danny has CF, or because we live in a blissfully beautiful union that has nothing wrong with it. My marriage is my proudest accomplishment because it is the one thing I stand up and commit to every single day – and my husband commits back. There is not a day that does go by that Danny and I don’t have to work on and be present for our marriage. Certain days are easier and oddly enough some of the darkest moments are the easiest – we cling to each other and find comfort that is a gift. But the goodness, the part that feels like a gift, is the direct result of lessons learned, hard work, and commitment. So for that I am very proud.
The truth is though this pride was discovered by pure faith, love and hope. We took pre-canna, came from parents with long time marriages, and we have a lot of friends cheering us on – and yet we weren’t prepared AT ALL! Its true – marriage and life throws things at you that no text book or class could every properly prepare you for. No matter how ready you may be, there will be moments you just have figure out and it was in those early lessons that I realized I would NEVER judge how others make it work. So it is very odd that this post has been on my heart – I don’t think advice is the best thing to give and here I am giving it! But thanks to all these weddings I have been thinking a lot about what messages I would share for a newlywed couple. Once the cake has been cut, the dance floor cleared and thank you notes sent – what would I suggest to make it all work? So today I am sharing 6 things (for my almost 6 years of marriage) I wish I had known or done a little better in our marriage.
So if you decide to read on please know this is what we have found to be true – I don’t know if it works for everyone. In fact I venture to guess it might not! We aren’t experts in marriage, but we are people that have found a way to choose each other every day, in all types of circumstances. We are not perfect (or even close….. I can give you some names and phone numbers if you want to know the truth) – but we are honored to carry the titles of husband and wife. So here are a few things we think makes life with those titles a little smoother:
- When life is pear-shaped, let them be your joy. I am an a-type, fixer, who wants it all perfect and pretty ALL.THE.TIME. Yup – all the time. And when its not…. I am the crier, emotional mess. If it can’t have a pretty bow put on it to make it all better then I want nothing to do with it. But this doesn’t really work with real life. So I have learned to cope (coffee…. mani/pedi…..shopping…..), but far be it for me to let Danny be the one to make me smile. In fact, I am going to let him be the one that gets the sobbing calls and told that nothing can be done – “LIFE IS AWFUL!” as he tries to calm me or make me laugh. But the truth is life isn’t awful…..its usually just that one thing that is terrible. And even if his calm makes me crazy as he points out the truth – it can be what I really needed after all, if I let him in. Although every one in awhile it really is something terrible/life altering/devastating – the moments I have sobbed and cried and kicked and pouted….. and then let Danny make me laugh, or taken the hug, or escaped the world with him (we LOVE the movies), I do become grounded. Focusing on him as a source of joy, often turns to strength I never knew I had. In fact, I have fallen more in love with my husband in the moments I am most unlovable and he chooses to love me anyway. I highly recommend giving your spouse the chance to be your joy.
- Marriage is not 50/50. This one is pretty darn easy…. its just not 50/50….. in fact I am pretty sure it is 150% from both of you! The truth is there are seasons in life where you can’t hold up you 50%….. many days I can barely bring 25%, but that is when Dan’s 150% keeps us going. And the times when Danny has to just stop, I can be the 150% and keep our life moving forward, ready for him to jump back in when he can. If you look for 50/50 you will be disappointed. If you strive to always give as much as you can, the partner you have that wants to give too will sustain you. And somehow the percentages work themselves out.
- It’s okay to go to bed angry. I actually read this in a Real Simple magazine and it was like I had found the words in the Bible. Yup – you can and you know what? Most of the time – we probably should have! Sleep provides that pause and necessary space that more often then not, brings clarity. Because just in case anyone out there fights like me (we have to fix whatever started the fight and EVERY OTHER THING we have ever fought about) – putting that hard stop can help resolve the issue better! In fact every since we started to respect the need for a time out – we find ourselves truly addressing the issue way better than the 3AM disagreements that require a coffee break to keep untangling. Resolve what you can and when you can… but your love is bigger than the space so don’t be afraid to take it.
- You two are your own team – PERIOD. Danny and I came from families that are very close, emotionally and physically. We spend a lot of time together and we need them more than the average marriage. We need them often and we need them in high-pressure situations. By nature, our marriage has a lot of cooks in the kitchen. For me this always meant that I had to factor in ALL of their feelings and opinions in every situation, because I needed their help. By the time I got to Danny’s opinion I didn’t have the ability to even listen anymore. This is a problem. Danny is my partner, Danny is my family, and our decision-making together is the most important. Period. And a little secret for you other pleasers out there – when I put Danny FIRST he gave me the strength to find my own voice AND helped to better manage the family relations, instead of it being my responsibility just because I like using planners and talking on the phone.
- Choose your counsel wisely. This one goes hand and in hand with #4. Here is the deal – when you get married there will be two ways to do everything… I mean EVERYTHING. The great dishwasher debate of 2010 still haunts the Bessettes! In those moments – even though you love your spouse – you will find they are the dumbest person walking God’s green earth and you will want to gather your posse that agree with you. And just in case it happens to be a topic that is a little more important the then hygiene of your dishes, these differences of approach can be really delicate. It can be really healthy and necessary to get an outsides perspective, just make sure its someone who won’t remind you of it, hold the final choice against you or your spouse, and gives you advice – but won’t let you lose your voice. I have been told not to let it be family or friends that are close to both of you – but the truth is that can be hard. So I can’t say for sure who is perfect, but I will say just really think about it and if you make a mistake, don’t worry about making everyone happy. You are married to one person and at the end of the day that is the only opinion that matters.
- Dream together. When your dating or even newly married dreams are something that you share a lot. Big ones and little ones and all the in-between. At some point though life can take over – especially as married life picks up and you are sharing everything. Conversations can turn to schedules and to do lists and errands…. and although their is a part of me that loves the fact that you do share it all, it also can become all business real fast! Danny and I have often lived life a little too much with our heads. We try to play it safe and be really smart with every footstep….but the truth is – sometimes you just gotta live and go for it. The go for it part for two planners can be sorta hard….. but the part where it is your spouse that is encouraging you to move forward and just jump, instead of helping you to worry what could go wrong – those are some pretty life-altering moments. So really share your dreams, that way you can chase them together.
Over our almost 6 years married and 11 years together there are countless lessons, many words, and so many reactions we have had to experience and learn from, sometimes repeatedly. Danny and I are about the furthest from perfect you could ever meet – but we have loved with our whole beings and would never trade what we have learned together, knowing it has only made is stronger, happier and even more excited that we have chosen each other to do this life thing with. So for all you brides and grooms to be – we don’t think we have it all figured out…. there is no secret weapon or one size fits all – but if you can find a nugget of wisdom, awesome! And if you can’t then please use this example to celebrate that you too will have to find what works for you. Happy wedding season!
Thank you for reading and remember to make it a great day!