What I’ve been surprised to learn after after two years of marriage
My husband and I have been married for two years, and together for almost six. We’ve been through a lot together, including moving to a different state, adopting animals, and living with various family members when times were tough. We recently suffered through a move 1300 miles away from our previous home, and we are trying to handle living paycheck to paycheck while the dust settles.
I don’t pretend to know everything about how to make a marriage work — we are both 23 years old and don’t have children, so there are definitely many milestones and challenges to come.
But for those who are newly married, or approaching marriage, here are a few things I’ve encountered as a young wife the last two years.
You will probably low-key regret getting married, at least once.
Now hang on. That doesn’t mean that you aren’t in love. It doesn’t mean that you don’t want to stay married, or that you’re considering divorce, or any of those extreme things. It just means that you might look at all your single friends and sigh every once in a while. You might sort of start wishing that you could still go out to the bars and flirt with random dudes. Or maybe you’ll daydream about a cliché random encounter with a handsome stranger at a coffee shop, and imagine what it would be like if that was still a possibility for you. This is normal. It ties in with FOMO (fear of missing out) that many people experience.
It doesn’t help that you may have family members, friends, and complete strangers blessing you with unsolicited judgment about your choice to be married “at your age.”
The important thing to remember here is that you may be sacrificing your ability to meet new love interests, but you are getting so much back in exchange.
Personally, today’s dating scene looks scary to me. It seems like a lot of “let’s hang out” texts that never develop into real plans, and a lot of dudes pretending that they want to be exclusive, when they actually just want a hookup. If you’re into casual relationships, great! More power to you, seriously.
But personally, I love having that aspect of my life already taken care of. I’ve got a built in best friend, automatic partner-in-crime, and sexy-times basically whenever I want them (assuming we’re both feeling it). Also, being married does not mean that you can’t hang out with your single friends. In fact, you’re kind of the best wingwoman (or man) ever because there is 0% chance that you’ll snag the dude (or lady) that your friend is interested in. Playing matchmaker can be super fun, if you’re down to fill that role.
You’re both going to change. A lot.
There’s a very small percentage of people whose personalities never change — I don’t even know if that’s at all possible, actually. With all the changes happening around you, every day, all the time — it would be impractical not to adapt. The old soap-opera line of “You aren’t the person I fell in love with!” isn’t as dramatic and farfetched as they make it seem.
The tricky thing to consider here is whether or not you are going to stay compatible. Are you both willing to continue to work for your relationship, and compromise, every day? We’ve all heard it — marriage isn’t a one-time commitment. You don’t say the words one time, and then just continue living your life the same way that you always have. You must honor that agreement constantly. If you and your spouse grow together, and you keep the conversation open about what you both want and need, then you can make it.
You learn new things every day, about yourself and each other.
My husband is pretty much an open book, all the time. He doesn’t hide things, nor does he feel the need to keep his opinions to himself — even when it might not be convenient to express them. That said, I still find out new things about him all the time, whether it’s his view on a subject or an experience he’s had before – even something as simple as finding out that he hates hummus (it’s a texture thing).
I actually find out a lot about myself through our relationship as well. I had a tough childhood, and sometimes the way I react to our conflicts reveals that I’m not looking at the situation rationally due to an emotional prejudice, leftover from abuse. I’ve become braver and more outgoing under his influence. Similarly, I think that he’s become a little more sensitive and more empathetic.
If you think you know everything about someone, then you might just not be looking deep enough. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you should sit them down for weekly interrogations about their favorite flavor of popsicle — just pay attention and slip in little queries to help you learn more. Knowing little details about your SO, like their favorite scent, the particular way they tie their shoelaces, etc. — it all helps you feel more connected to them as a person.
Treasure your time together — because you won’t spend as much time with one another as you’d think.
If you are anything like the average young adult, you’re probably really freaking busy. And if you and your honey work conflicting schedules, then it can be hard to carve out time together, with no distractions or obligations. When you can get that time, hold it sacred. Be present in that moment, and appreciate the person that you’re with. It can be too easy to take your husband or wife for granted since they’re always around. You become more roommates than anything –splitting up the chores, bickering about the electricity bill, silently judging the amount of hot water they use in their shower…etc. etc.
Don’t let it stay that way. Make an effort to keep romance a factor, and don’t be afraid to speak up if you feel neglected.
Do it gently, of course, to avoid further bickering — but do say something! Because one thing that will undermine your marriage — faster than just about any other issue — is refusing to talk about your problems. I’m definitely guilty of this sometimes. It’s one of the things I’m working on, along with not trading favors (“I’ll do the dishes if you take out the trash”), or being passive-aggressive about expressing my opinions (“That’s fine, do whatever you want”). Appreciate your partner, and make changes when you notice that you’re not treating them the way you would like to be treated yourself.
At the end of the day, we’re a team.
We’re working for the same goals. We’re empowered by each other as we navigate this crazy circus of a life. I’m excited to see where we go from here. I’m so excited to see him as a parent someday. I’m rooting for him in his career, supporting him in whatever he does. That’s what it’s all about.
And in any relationship, you get out what you put in. So put yourself all in.
Corinne Carlson, born and raised in Northern Idaho, now lives in sunny San Diego, CA with her husband and two cats. When she’s not attempting (and failing) to put cute sweaters on aforementioned cats, she enjoys playing Pokémon games, cooking, and reading. While she wishes that she could get that contour, makeup is not among her skill sets. She dabbles in photography and painting: any way to express herself.