Now that summer is in full swing, it feels like there are couples getting married or engaged everywhere I go. Each time I see a couple set off on their new journey, I think back on what I was feeling when I was in their shoes not too long ago…
Marriage. For some people, the word stirs happy thoughts, draped in flowers and white. They imagine a happy ever-after full of laughter and footprints in the sand. For others, the word brings about a flood of negativity, darkened by clouds of anger. They imagine conflict and living in a restrictive box. Before I got married, I was more on the positive end of the spectrum. I was blessed to be able to witness my parents’ fulfilling marriage, but I was not one of those girls that read bridal magazines and planned their wedding day from the moment boys became “oooh” instead of “eww”.
In the months leading up to the big day, people gave me various insights into what to expect. Usually when you prepare for something new, you learn about it and observe it as much as possible; however, I believe that in the case of marriage, this is completely flipped. Looking back, I think the most beneficial information I received was about what NOT to expect. Instead of building up what you perceive your marriage will be like, strip away any connotations and expectations. Every marriage is different, and chances are your preconceptions are unrealistic.
The definition of marriage is complex and unique to everyone, so begin writing yours on a blank page that begins with “I do”. At the utterance of those magic words, your life does change, but at the end of the day, you and your partner are still the same people. If you want your relationship to flourish in new ways, you will have to make an effort to do so, because the legality of marriage alone won’t change how you interact with each other.
While I know I just said not to put too much faith in what works in other couples’ marriages, there is something that my husband and I have started doing each night that I highly recommend. Before we go to bed, we ask what each other’s favorite part of the day was. Not only are we ending our night thinking about the happiest moments of our days, but we also get insight into what we each enjoy the most. It’s a direct route to understanding each other’s love language and passions. If particular activities or situations become a common answer, then we know to keep incorporating them into our lives. We have even started using our answers to help us decide how to budget our money, because more often than not, we end up having the same favorite part of the day. For example, sharing a specific meal together or going to the gym are the most recurring answers for us. Knowing this, we have decided to spend our extra money on buying food that we enjoy and fitness-related items.
It is so much easier to fall asleep when you know you and your partner are on the same page and are actively loving each other. Don’t go to bed holding a grudge or feeling negative, and make sure to resolve any tension that may exist. While asking one question may sound simple, it is amazing how much of a difference it can make in your relationship.
If one of those bright-eyed couples were to come up and ask me for advice as they enter a new phase of their lives, I think I would just tell them this,