When I was six years old or even when I was sixteen, I used to frown upon hearing the word ‘marriage’. My mom used to teasingly ask me if I’ll ever get married and without any thought, my quick response used to be a big fat “NO”.
I was of the belief –
There is more to a girl’s life than marriage
For someone who was modern in her thoughts, extroverted in her opinions – getting married at the age of 26 was indeed unexpected for many, including myself. But here I am, counting marriage as my most precious blessing.
Time flies fast and the first year of a marriage is always special. Even as we are a few months away from celebrating our first anniversary, I often find myself reflecting over my experiences.
The past nine months of my marriage were extraordinary. Living with my partner, as a married couple has taught me so many things already. It has broken a lot of stereotypes related to ‘marriage’. Marriages are widely perceived to be limiting, patriarchal and unhappening, and yet – I am here to defend the exact opposite.
Here are 9 lessons I learned about marriage:
#1 A healthy marriage helps you grow and discover your individuality
A marriage that is built on love, trust and respect can never be limiting. In fact, it will set you free. It will make you feel empowered, in ownership of yourself.
As a young girl in her late twenties, I used to and still have a lot of things which are unsorted. Transitioning into adulthood comes with its own set of challenges, and seeing yourself change into a grown up is one of them.
Adulthood makes you realise that you haven’t always been like that but this is who you are now and the sooner you accept it, the better.
An unhealthy marriage could have made it worse, but a healthy marriage, a supportive and respectful partner is helping me sail through my challenges rather smoothly. I have discovered so much of myself in the past nine months. Of course, writing has played its part, and moving abroad has its share in making me independent but the role of my marriage is equally crucial. This is how it manifests:
- In my marriage, I have never been asked to “not” do something unless it’s harmful.
- In my marriage, I have always felt safe and far from being judged.
- In my marriage, I have always been pushed to do more, to better myself and to aim higher – all for my sake.
- In my marriage, I have never been expected to be a wife, just be supportive.
Therefore, a right marriage will never set you within boundaries. Instead, it will help you grow, spread your wings and fly.
#2 It is the small things and moments that matter
I think this is true of every relationship. I am huge believer in “small things matter” philosophy and my experience of married life has only affirmed my belief.
I did not have a honeymoon in the Alps, nor was I proposed with a fancy, diamond ring 💍. My husband barely brags about how much he loves me on social media and no he didn’t just gift me a laptop already (because mine broke and I feel paralyzed as a writer). But what he does is share proudly in his family that I cleared my diploma with distinction. He never almost let’s me enter the kitchen when I am tired from work. He listens to me when I sit besides him and share my feelings.
So yes, those small things mean so much more than a fancy honeymoon or an expensive diamond ring.
A successful marriage is all about appreciating small gestures of love, care and trust.
#3 Expressing your feelings goes a long way in bonding with your partner
Communicating is the key – not just to resolve differences but to bond with your partner too.
The first nine months of our marriage are also the first nine months of us living together, under the same roof. Arranged marriages are less organic and more gradual. The more time you spend with your partner, the more you understand them. Therefore, to make the bond stronger, it is important that you express your feelings with them.
Some months ago, my husband was going through a rough patch professionally. He was in a toxic work environment and it was affecting him. It is during that time, when I saw him talk about it so effortlessly and feeling better thereafter. I listened, rendered support and strength to keep going. I learnt so much about his attitude, his personality and his approach during that time.
This is how companionship works.
So talk to them. Don’t wait for them to ask.
#4 Learning to be responsive rather than reactive will save you your mental health
Is a married life complete without disputes and disagreements?
My marriage isn’t picture perfect. There are at least a dozen things I don’t like about my husband and I am sure, he feels the same about me. Occasionally, we fight and argue and say mean things to each other.
But we have learned to deal with our disagreements respectfully. For instance, neither of us give out while the other is off for work or just starting. We respect each other’s time, mood and energy levels. This also gives us time to think through the matter more rationally and talk it out more maturely.
A year ago, I would have been the one to react and so I know how unpleasant it is. Instead “empathizing”, “reasoning” and “patience” makes it much much easier to address an irritant.
#5 Respecting your partner’s space and boundaries is crucial
This is also the secret to not feel “bound” in a marriage.
Carving out time for your own self in a marriage is just as important as giving time to your partner.
These nine months have taught me to not be hopelessly in love and to not dissolute myself off my identity.
If I need my time, my space – my partner needs his too. Some weekends, he just wants to spend in the bed, watching Netflix and I respect that. Some days, he is all excited for going on a long walk and completing 10k steps but I am just not in the mood, so he goes by himself. Even as we normally do these things together.
#6 Have patience. Give time to yourself and your partner to work on the marriage
Who doesn’t want an ideal marriage?
While any relationship is ever far from perfect, it is only natural to try and want the best for yourself.
I was wrong about this. I wanted everything to be perfect, right from the start. If there was one value I had turned a blind eye to – it was patience. But not anymore. Marriage has taught me to be patient.
If you are new to marriage, so is your partner – give it time. Approach it bit by bit. Don’t expect perfection, work towards improvements. Embrace the flaws in your married life and know that things will improve. Stop chasing fairy tales. Create your own.
#7 Focus on your individual growth but also refrain from being too self centered
As I mentioned in my first lesson, a healthy marriage will help you grow. It will allow individuality to bloom. It will give you avenues to work on yourself. However, there is a fine line between working on self and developing a self centered attitude.
Remember, marriage is a union of two persons. The very premise of marriage is in partnership and so being mindful of your partner is a big must. Often, we go through phases in life where we unintentionally become selfish and make it all about us. But that is unfair to your partner. I would like to share the example of my husband.
He is extremely career oriented. He will always accord the first priority to his work. He is hardworking and dedicated and any organization will be lucky to have him. But as long distance fiancés, his attitude towards work always came in the way of our bonding. For instance, on some days he would suggest we don’t talk because he was tired from work or he would not respond to my chat message until he finishes work, even if he is not engrossed in anything urgent or important. He would also defend himself for not having the time for me. He portrayed himself as if he is the only one who works and rest have no clue of how important work is.
We got into many fights during that time. I was giving more of my time and energy and it was clearly not reciprocated. After a year now and after at least a dozen intervention talks, things have changed. As a partner, he is making efforts to balance his personal, romantic and work life. I appreciate that.
I am guilty of this charge too. Somewhere, we all are. The key is to be mindful of our behavior and what impact it may have on our partner.
#8 Do not jump to conclusions or draw judgements about your partner
Because many a times, things are different than they appear to be.
In such situations, you are only inviting problems in your relationships by cooking stories in your head. This is particularly true if you are a highly sensitive, emotional person like me who suffers from anxiety, insecurity, and low self-esteem. Thanks to all of this, I embraced extremes and wasted a ton of time in anticipating the worst.
Now, every time I realize that I am building theories in my mind or reaching conclusions, I make it a point to stop, and talk about my concerns with my partner. It helps me understand the situation clearly and thus saves us both from an uncalled quarrel.
#9 Life is not a fairy tale, embrace your challenges with maturity and grace.
I am yet to witness the better share of marriage in years to come. I am sure of two things:
- Things will change
- Those changes will make or break us depending upon how we respond to it
So yes, I know my marriage is not a fairy tale, filled with all feel-good experiences. Clashes are bound to happen. At some point, ugliness will creep in. But in the end, it is all about having faith in the foundation — the marriage.
I am not preaching you to get married. Perhaps, I am still too young to comment about marriages. But,
Well begun is half done.
Being 26 and married is my most precious blessing.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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