Thursday, March 31, 2016

1,000 Days of Marriage

Greetings faithful readers.

Today, Brendan and I celebrate the kind of occasion that only someone with an abnormal focus on the passage of time (me) would even notice: we have been married for 1,000 days.

I've learned a lot in that time period, and, like all opportunities for reflection, I'm excited to share. It's not advice so much, but just what I've observed about our relationship and how it has evolved since we married. Here's what I now know!

Change is Inevitable
Though 1,000 days isn't a particularly long period of time, our lives have changed a lot. A month after marrying, we started working together as faculty members at the same school. Being colleagues feels pretty natural to us (since we met in graduate school), but it was totally different than working at two different schools. Our financial priorities have changed as well: we decided to start saving more for retirement and also made the decision to purchase a house, which changed how committed we are to the city we live in and also our daily lives. When we married, there was really no way that we could have predicted all the changes that were going to occur. I feel like though our goals may have changed, we still have the same core values as people that we did when we married. For instance, we'd still both rather spend money on experiences and on seeing the world than on material things. I think what I've learned is to realize that priorities are flexible and ever shifting. It's good to be open to new ideas and goals. Change is inevitable but also good, as long as both people are involved in the decision making process.

His Problems Aren't Necessarily Mine 
I've learned that, when it comes to conflicts with others or inner conflicts with ourselves, it's best if we just let each other fight our own battles rather than getting involved in each other's problems. If someone asks for advice or help, that's different, but otherwise, we just deal with our own stuff. This is different than my views at the beginning of our marriage, and it's easier said than done, but it's something I remind myself of now.

Share Your Goals  
Whatever my goals are: wanting to write more, stick to my exercise routine, get a conference submission turned in, I have learned that I am much more likely to be successful with Brendan's support. Spouses can help each other in ways that are HUGE and make all the difference. The key is good communication. If Brendan knows that I'm working to meet a goal, he will pitch in more around the house to give me more time to work or help me by providing feedback or motivation. I do the same for him. Every week is different. Some weeks, we're cooking fancy dinners and spending a lot of time together in the evenings, other weeks (like this one) dinner is easy and quick, and we spend our evenings working on separate projects.

Marriage Takes Effort, But I Wouldn't Call it "Work"
I don't really relate to the phrase "marriage takes a lot of work!" Each person should make an effort to prioritize the other person, and each person should make the effort to contribute equally to the relationship. This requires being conscientious and considerate, but I would not call this "work" but rather "paying attention." We say "I love you" a lot, make time to spend together, and mutually take care of all that needs to be done. To me, marriage feels like having another person to help me and love me. Sure, you have to remember to express gratitude for the other, apologize when you have been a jerk, and listen to each other, but those things don't feel like work.

Relish in Separate Strengths 
I'm great at managing our monthly spending, and Brendan is our retirement savings guru. We have completely different teaching and grading styles, different tastes in literature, and different approaches to writing. Brendan can make an amazing dinner using ingredients we have on hand, and I like to follow a recipe every time. I'm our social planner, and he's our landscaping planner. I've really learned how to embrace and appreciate all of our differences. The fact that we're good at different things means that together, we make one extremely capable person :)

A Part of Each Other's Families 
One thing that marriage definitely changed is our relationship with our families. I feel closer to Brendan's family and truly think of them as my own family. What I mean by that is that the unconditional love part of my brain has expanded. It has also been amazing to see Brendan form his own relationships with my family members. As we've learned more about each other's family dynamics, our own relationship has grown stronger as well.

Love Grows
This is cheesy, but when I married Brendan, I thought it wasn't possible to love him anymore than I already did. Love isn't something that's easily measured or quantified, but what I'm trying to say here is that the more we go through together, the more I see how much we mean to one another. We've truly seen the best and worst of one another, and our love for each other is constant. Of course, I loved Brendan on our wedding day so much, but now, I have even more memories of times that he has been there for me, and I see all of that every time that I look at him. His presence is so calming to me. When Brendan is with me, I know that, whatever I'm going through, it is going to be okay.

Today, I surprised Brendan with a special cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes, and we made a wish together:

Happy 1,000 days of marriage Brendan; I am grateful for each and every one.

<3 S

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