Sunday morning we found ourselves sitting at the breakfast table a little longer than usual. We spent some time reflecting on the last year, but not in that good ‘ol New Year’s resolution type of way. We’re already welcoming in March anyway. We found ourselves talking about marriage, our marriage, and what our perceptions of marriage were before we said “I do”.
Although, both of us wouldn’t identify as religious, we both grew up in Catholic homes, and so traditionally we were married in a church. As a requirement/prerequisite to marriage in the Catholic faith, you have to attend pre-cana classes. This may offend some people, and apologies if so, but we mostly were married in a church for our families. It was a beautiful ceremony and our favorite part of the day, even if I was an hour late to the church (long story!), but following these traditions weren’t something that was a big focus for us in the beginning. Like many young couples in love, we just wanted to be married and be together, corny but true. Anyway, pre-cana…we weren’t exactly “all for it”, but still till this day something that really stuck with me was a talk by one of the older couples who were there to guide us in these classes. Their advice was simple…”marriage is not love at first sight” (already I was aggravated — stop crushing my young in love heart, I kept thinking)…”marriage is a choice to wake up everyday and love that person who you said ‘I do’ to”. I didn’t realize it then, but now we both agree marriage and growing closer in a marriage is indeed a choice. There are so many unforeseen stressors, ups and downs, changes individually, and ways we’ve been tested throughout our four (almost five!) years of marriage. There have been so many emotions, individual and as a couple, that we have learned to deal with and the right way (for us) to communicate those emotions to each other, so that we can be there as a strong partner.
Also, learning to communicate better, meant learning how to argue and not shying away from it. I feel like one of the things we get asked often is…”how do you guys work together/how do you spend so much time together?” We’ve received a few messages from people saying they love their partner, but sometimes being together often drives them crazy and they feel awful about that. We are not experts by any means, and everything is so specific to each person’s relationship, but learning how to argue and communicate so that arguments don’t get out of hand has been a game changer. You see, I come from a family of door-slammers, yellers or as my family quite comically told me growing up…”we just speak loudly”… 😉 Over the last two years we have learned how to not let that escalate…it wasn’t easy, but learning how to explain our feelings in simple phrases, like..”It hurts my feelings when you say ___” or “Even though you were joking, I felt uncomfortable with ___”. It sounds pretty obvious, right?…but once we became more conscious of how we were actually speaking to each other and reacting when things got a little crazy, the better we became together. It should go without saying that we all argue and that is okay…at least I believe that to be true. We all aren’t in agreeance all the time and that’s okay as long as we can respectfully work through it.
Personally, I’m a perfectionist and when things don’t go as planned (and man, do I do a lot of planning), I can get real bent of shape. I’m working on it. Last week we had a few particularly difficult days around here (work, some upcoming home projects, things like that…) and it built up and got the best of me. I couldn’t communicate my emotions in the best way and just quietly retreated to our bedroom. Something I’m really grateful for that we’ve been working on is giving each other that personal space to just “cool off” and then reconvene with each other. It’s not always easy, but sometimes a bath or 15 minutes of reading really helps to put things into perspective and then we can talk it through and try to be there for each other.
I think in the end, continuously working on being an emotionally present partner for each other has been what has gotten us through so many difficult times…financially, personally, health wise and so on. We both communicate our emotions in such drastically different ways, and learning that is a task in itself, but making the choice to constantly be there for one another and to not give up on each other has been a gift. I guess what I’m getting at is that it’s not always an easy choice, but it is indeed a choice and one that I’m happy we’ve made.
We’ve been talking about this so often with friends lately…engaged and married and The Five Love Languages book keeps coming up. We haven’t read it but from what we gather, it’s all about how partners feel valued in a relationship and feel love from their partner in different ways. I’ve heard so many great things…has anyone read it before? We’re pretty interested.
Anyway, we just found ourselves having a complete laugh attack getting ready to head out for a stroll on a little trail over here in Sedona. Rob asked me where his “Artfully Walls stuff is” and I responded with no hesitation, “over on the chair”…I knew he was talking about an Outdoor Voices sweatsuit he’s been obsessed with lately and was looking for. I didn’t even realize he said “Artfully Walls” until we shot each other a look and completely lost it. 😉 And that is one of the many great things about marriage…ha!