From the time we got engaged we’ve heard an array of “advice” from some married folks offering their guidance or wisdom. We’ve also heard grunts and complaints from those same married folks who had nothing positive to say about marriage, which was quite frustrating to be frank. Maybe we’re naive, but those complaints went in one ear and out the other because we just don’t feel that way towards each other. We’ve been together for 4 years total, lived together for 3 1/2 of those years and lived AND worked together for about 2, and with each day of learning about the other we only became stronger and stronger. We’ve found that we don’t just love each other – we actually really like each other! So, we want to put some positive thoughts out in to the world and talk about 3 things we’ve learned about being married in our first year that doesn’t include “don’t go to bed angry”. Because sometimes, we think you should just go to bed!
1. Respect each other’s interests.
Anyone who knows us can vouch that Gabe and I are very different. Upon first impression Gabe is a bit reserved and quiet, while I’m more talkative and outgoing. Gabe is a computer wiz who loves superhero socks (he knows he’s a nerd), while I love beauty products and pop culture. Of course we have overlapping interests as well, but what we’ve learned, not just through being married but in our relationship as a whole, is to love and respect the other person for who they are. Do I love the aesthetics of having three computer monitors in our apartment’s living room like we’re running surveilence? No, but it’s OUR living space and he should enjoy what makes him happy there. Does he love that I have way too many beauty products and still come home with more sometimes? Probably not, but he knows I love trying out new products so he turns a blind eye to it. The point is, let each other be who they are and support their interests, even if it’s not your thing.
2. Be supportive. B-E supportive.
In our opinion there are several layers to being a support system to each other. On the surface there is the obvious encouragement to chase dreams and don’t give up, to work hard towards our goals. But an added layer of support comes when one has multiple false starts and failed attempts that can get frustrating. This is where I’ve found myself to be the most grateful for Gabe’s support. I have had so many false starts from business ventures and career paths, to diet plans and work out regiments. And with each new beginning Gabe never threw up his hands and said, “Enough already!” He would talk me through my plan and if through that conversation I didn’t talk myself out of it or find a few holes, he’d tell me to go for it. Another layer, is knowing when to step in and extend your hand recognizing the other may need it. Gabe has a high pressure, often high stress, job and through out our relationship he has had to work nights, weekends and holidays on many occasions and I know it’s just the nature of the beast. But there is a threshold that he can reach, where he just needs to step away and hit refresh. And that’s where I come in. I don’t need to understand what he’s working on or be able to help him solve the problem, but I can offer mental and moral support and take him for a walk, engage him in a light conversation that makes him laugh, or offer to grab some wine to decompress. To us, being supportive doesn’t just mean being a cheerleader – it’s being the mirror to reflect off of and a clean lens for tunnel vision.
3. The Golden Rule applies in marriage.
Whether we’re requesting a task to be done or having a disagreement, we try to treat each other the same way we would hope to be treated ourselves. Neither of us responds well to a confrontational approach, and it never yields any result, so even though tempers may flare or we’ve made a simple request several times, we’ve set a foundation of respect that works well for us. But aside from disagreements, this is really all encompassing from how we treat each other in public to how we make decisions. Gabe once said “If it’s a ‘yes’, that means it’s a ‘yes’ from both of us.” We always seek each other’s opinion and attack decisions as a team, because we’ve learned that’s what we prefer.
Gabe and I are by no means perfect, and we still have so much to learn. But what’s encouraging is that so far those negative comments were wrong and being married is, above all, awesome. Our first year of marriage has brought major changes in our life, but we continue to learn more about each other and what it takes to make it to forever.