What marriage has taught me about life … and myself

I’m gonna be honest, I really never thought about or dreamt about getting married. There are some people who have their wedding day planned out down to the colour of the dinner napkins; but I was not one of those people.

What does a piece of paper have to do with it?

I never thought love needed to be defined by a “legal commitment” to marriage. I always had the view that a marriage license couldn’t define my relationship. what’s the point of that little paper?

When my boyfriend – now husband – asked me to spend the rest of my life with him, I didn’t hesitate. This was someone I knew I loved within months of our meeting. I absolutely wanted to spend the rest of my life with him…but did I want to be married? I have nothing against the institution of marriage, I just didn’t have it high on my priority list.

Marriage was never a goal for me. It was never something I dreamt about. I have the unique opportunity of being part of an interesting family so I’ve seen a wide spectrum of relationships and many times the common law partnerships outlived the marriages. So why get married? What’s even the point?


Episode 19: Marriage is not an accomplishment

We were in no rush to seal the deal, but also knew we couldn’t elope – because I have a huge family and a wedding is basically a family get-together 😩. So I guess I was getting married 🤷🏾‍♀️.

There are those people who have everything planned out for their “big day” down to the colour underwear they’ll be wearing…and then there’s me. I changed the colour of bridesmaid dresses and the design of invitations so many times (and who has the time to even send a save the date?). Luckily my mother and his mother enjoyed planning so they did their things.

But marriage is a lot more than the wedding and signing those pieces of paper. After the fanfare of the wedding day, the real work started. At first it felt like nothing changed…and then suddenly it did. I was not prepared.

The difference between marriage and being in a relationship

Prior to getting married, I thought nothing much would change because we’d been together for so many years – what could possibly be the difference between a long-term relationship and a marriage? It turns out – a lot.

I asked Frederica Hendricks Noble this question in episode 69 of the podcast and it’s a pretty tough question to answer. Because on one hand nothing has changed, but on the other – everything has changed. The main difference is that it’s not so easy to walk away – and I don’t mean to get a divorce, but to walk away from problems or arguments. You feel this compulsion to work things out, because you can’t just leave the house every time you have an argument.

I know you might be reading this and saying – well, you don’t need to be married to feel the need to work things out. That’s absolutely accurate. But I think what made the major difference for me was the compromise that had to take place in this whole process.


Episode 14: The Dating in the 21st Century Series – Part 4: First Comes Love, then Comes Marriage

What I’ve learned about life…and myself

I’ve learned many lessons since getting married, that I thought I had already learned but this seems to be the advanced course. These are the lessons so far:

1️⃣ You don’t really know anything: Forget everything you knew about your partner and about relationships. Marriage is a clean slate and you have to get to know this person all over again. I don’t know if this is just an experience exclusive to me, but all the childhood trauma seems to come out of the woodwork after those few honeymoon months (or even years). They say people don’t change – but your partner has some unpeeled layers there and years of togetherness will eventually uncover them. So the first lesson is really about unlearning.

2️⃣ If you don’t have good communication, you have nothing: Okay, that’s a little harsh but kinda true. In any relationship effective communication is key; however, it is especially important as you continue to discover hidden parts of yourself and your partner. You should be communicating clearly when things are going well and when they are not. You have to learn, really learn your partner’s language. Or relearn it if you’ve been together for a while. People evolve and transform over time. You probably aren’t the same person you were when you two met, so who is to say that what worked then will work now? Take the time to feel out what works for your partner now and what works for you. Remember, to build any kind of solid relationship you need a firm foundation of effective communication (or at least a commitment to effective communication).


The secret to effective communication

3️⃣ Sometimes you are the problem😬 : Probably the hardest lesson ever. It is easy for us to see other people’s mistakes and what they’ve done to hurt us but it is much much – did I say much? – harder to identify when we’ve done something wrong. The other difficult part is accepting the blame/taking responsibility for your actions. Trust me, I definitely know that it’s tough to own up to your mistakes (especially with your partner), but keep in the back of your mind that you’re not tallying who is wrong more often. The ultimate goal is for you both to be in a good place. It’s always you and your partner vs whatever the problem is – you’re on the same team.

4️⃣ Love is just the beginning: You’ll realize that love isn’t enough. People love each other and hurt each other all the time. So love really isn’t enough then, is it? In addition to love there must be some greater commitment to your relationship; and not just “to your relationship” but to your relationship in its healthiest form.

5️⃣ You don’t have it all together all the time, and that’s okay: The façade you present to the world comes down when you get home/ when you’re with your partner and you will have to come to terms with the fact that maybe you are not as “together” as you portray yourself to be. Those moments of vulnerability between you and your partner (in addition to working on those killer communication skills) will bind you closer together. You don’t have to pretend to have it all together, it’s okay to let your guard down and figure things out together. Work on creating a safe space where you can both be your most authentic selves.


Episode 24: Is there a sex recession? with Patrice

6️⃣ There’s an “I” in marriage: During your wedding ceremony the officiant might have said something along the lines of“two hearts becoming one” – but never forget you are a fully formed individual. In your efforts to meet your partner’s needs, do not forget about your own. I recall – in the early stages of marriage – whenever a family member asked me how I was doing I would start with “we are…”. I think I started doing this initially to save him from another weird conversation with a relative he barely knew (because they would inevitably ask if he’s close by), so answering for the both of us nipped this in the bud. But, I saw how this could become a bigger thing. There’s a lot of space for “us” and “we”, and there’s also space for “me” and “them” (because your partner is also an individual). Make time to do things alone and to hang out with friends.

Still learning everyday, so this is not a fulsome list. What have you learned since entering marriage? Drop the knowledge in the comments.

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