Sunday, October 21, 2018

Lifestyle: Five Things I've Learned in the First Five Years of Marriage

Learning With Love - A Five Year Reflection

On October 20th 2013, my husband and I tied the knot. It was a beautiful, meaningful ceremony and we were surrounded by the love of friends, family and well-wishers. We were ready, committed and excited to begin our lives together. 

But now, looking back, I realize what a leap of faith that was - because how much can you truly know about being married until you actually live it for yourself?

Experience is a great teacher and I think now I can say, I've learned and grown so much since our wedding day, five years ago.

I'm so thankful for the challenges, windy roads and twists and turns, because those have brought us to where we are today - my husband is my best friend in every sense of the word. 

So what are some of the big lessons that 5 years of marriage have taught me? Sharing them below as a personal reflection on this milestone anniversary. 

1) The first year is the hardest

Yes, you're in the honeymoon phase, but you also get hit with the reality of sharing a life with someone. It's challenging to combine schedules, family time, your likes/dislikes, the finances and to learn all sorts of things about one another that you couldn't have known until you shared a roof. 

My hubby, for instance, learned that I need to be reminded to turn off the lights in a room once I leave and that all of the kitchen cabinets will remain open while I make a big meal. I learned that he wants to watch sports or listen to music at all times and is meticulous about putting things away.

The first year is a great lesson in bonding and romance but you also end up discovering all those little habits that can get under your skin, leading to arguments and annoyance. It's tough and you may even wonder if you ever really knew the person at all. All I can say, is ride it out and get to number 2.

2) Acceptance is Key

One of the biggest lessons I've learned is how to accept your partner for who they really are. Not the person you met on dates or at parties but the person they are all the time - at home with their family, at home alone, at work, in social settings, when they are happy or feeling low - the first year gives you a glimpse into who your person is on so many levels - and who YOU are. Seeing yourself up close and through someone else's point of view, is extremely eye-opening. 

Accepting yourself and your spouse for who he/she is and digesting each other's quirks takes time and endurance. This lesson was one of the most important ones for me, because it gets you to a place where you can be at peace with who you are as individuals and begin to establish who you will be, going forward, as a married couple. If you can start to laugh lightheartedly at the quirks (yours and his/hers), you're getting into a good place.

3) You're Two Different People

This one sounds like rocket science, I know, but really - marriage or any relationship, is about two separate people with different interests, personalities, upbringings, experiences and skill-sets coming together and trying to walk as one.

It will take awhile to walk step by step and get a rhythm. It's healthy to disagree at times and you learn to remind yourself that you can't expect someone to think or react exactly like you under every different set of circumstances.

Learning to celebrate what makes us different, aka giving up on "being right," was tough in practice because we had no idea we were doing it! Once we began to expect the other to have an alternate view, the more happily surprised we were when we seamlessly agreed on something. 

4) Communicating is hard but well worth it

I've heard my whole life how important communication is. Learning to communicate in marriage though, means so much more because there are a lot of tough conversations that have to take place to build a life together. You won't always agree and how you get your point across becomes extremely important. Not only in disagreements, but also in expressing your love and happiness. Two books I read early on, which really helped internalize this lesson were Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus  by John Gray and The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. They won't make you an incredible communicator overnight (I'm still working at my own skills), but both are excellent reads that affirm how individuals communicate differently and how we all receive love in different ways. 

5) Changing your thinking from 'Me' to 'We'

I think one of the greatest lessons I learned in these five years is that it takes time to go from the single mindset to one of togetherness. No matter how long you've known the person you're with, or how well you know him or her, this is a life transition that takes time - your brain literally has to rewire to work for your new life and goals.

I am one of the most compassionate, family-minded people you will meet, but it still took some time to truly understand how to adjust my expectations and actions to suit my partner's needs (and I'm sure he'd say the same).

Going from me to we is a shift that happens gradually; communicating and trying to put yourself in the other's shoes really helped with this one. 

It's only now that I really understand what our family priest, Pt. Bhoj, said at our wedding ceremony five years ago: "(it's about) no longer saying MY parents, YOUR parents, MY family, YOUR family - it is OUR parents and OUR family and OUR life together, starting from now."

And really, I couldn't have said it better. 

Looking forward...

These are just some of the more important lessons I've learned in these past five years being married to my love and forever friend. Sitting down to write this post was so important to me, in reflection and appreciation of all the growth that has taken place for me as an individual and all the changes that we have gone through together as a pair.

Have to thank him for walking through this journey with me - it's not always easy and by no means perfect, but as we are learning; year by year, challenge by challenge, it only becomes more meaningful and more and more worth it with time. 

Here's to all of the growth, challenges and changes in all of the beautiful years to come - cheers! 

A special thank you to the talented Joti From Oottum Fine Photography for partnering with me on this post with our 5 year anniversary photos. As always, all views and opinions are my own. 

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