I’m not new to the marriage game.
I’ve been married twice. One that ended too soon because of the age-old issue of being “too young.” I wasn’t fit to be married. I had been sober for eight months and was only 22. Emotionally, I was still a child myself. My own mother had never gotten married and was completely against the whole thing, but that’s another story in itself.
Besides my beautiful 21-year-old son and a guy who I still consider my brother or best friend in my life, the benefit of my first marriage is that we did a ton of therapy. I learned how to apologize. I learned how to ask for what I need instead of stomping around and peeling out in anger.
I learned to tell someone when they had hurt my feelings or took something the wrong way. I begrudgingly learned how to accept constructive criticism. (Which can still be a challenge, but I’m getting better.) Through that first marriage, I learned to be a mother and wife. I learned life skills, such as how to clean and cook food properly.
I was single for a while and did the whole dating thing as a single mom. Let’s just say it was rough. I desperately wanted to be in another relationship, which meant I had blinders on with the guys I was seeing.
Today I will tell you I am happily married. Yes, of course, we have our issues, but we had both been married before, and I believe we both learned a ton from that experience. I’d say mostly about money and making big decisions as a team versus independently. We have learned to blend our interests and differences and create some real unison. I feel like I have a partner—a team player.
We have our own child together, and my husband really steps up to the plate in all aspects of husbandry and fatherdom. When I read the insights below, there were a couple that made me catch my breath. I would say he is a giver, and I’m a taker. He is selfless, and I am selfish. I have some work to do, but for the most part, I find us to be on the same page and looking to grow together in our marriage and as individuals.
The most important thing I ever did was spend time in Al-Anon meetings learning about codependency and how to keep my side of the street clean. It helped me to lower my expectations of other humans; it helped me worry less about others and more about myself.
When my expectations are not too high, I am rarely disappointed by something my spouse did or did not do. It keeps things pretty chill. I know I can speak up if I need something, and I think he knows the same. There just aren’t any big explosions, and I can’t say that for the marriage in my 20s.
The truth is, marriage isn’t always rosy and perfect, but in my opinion, being willing to own up to things and create a dialogue about issues is pivotal to being one another’s partner.
I was listening to the radio recently, and I heard Dr. Randy Carlson talk about these 10 insights. He segued into them, saying, “Do not get married if…”
My current husband and I did not take the traditional route to marriage. We started dating, had a child, and married when our son was four. So we have been together for 12 years—married for seven. We did premarital counseling before we got hitched and couldn’t foresee any huge issues, so we got the green light to tie the knot, and here we are.
I still gasped for some reason when I heard these insights. I hope they strike a chord. I would love to hear others’ experiences.
Do not rush into marriage if…
1. You are unable to put the needs of someone else above your own.
2. You are easily offended, carry grudges, or have a hard time forgiving.
3. You are an abusive person, not just physically, but mentally or emotionally as well.
4. You are unwilling to commit.
5. You have unresolved addiction problems.
6. Your career is the most important thing to you (over humans and relationships with others).
7. You don’t share the same beliefs, values, or life priorities for current and future life. (Including money, family, and religion.)
8. You are unwilling to be an active sexual partner.
9. You are unwilling to plan with money and stick to a budget with your spouse.
10. You expect your spouse to change.
These were such pivotal insights when I heard them. As I mentioned, I have been happily married for a while. But there are still a few of these I currently need to work on.
It’s not too late to resolve and seek help for some of these issues if they are prevalent in your relationship or marriage. Even as a single person, I wish I could have learned these to prepare for a happy, successful marriage or relationship.
I feel like I am lucky that my husband doesn’t expect dinner on the table (ever) and is pretty easy going. He picks up my slack, and I hope I do the same for him.
My hope is to continue growing together in our life goals, such as travel, parenting, and our faith, but also to give each other room to grow individually by realizing we can’t be everything for one another. We must have other outlets and people in our lives to fulfill us. Like they say, “You can’t give from an empty cup.” And I have learned it’s not my husband’s job to fill my cup.
I would love to hear others’ experiences. I am also curious from veteran married people how to keep the flame alive after the kids leave the house. And how people are keeping it interesting during COVID-19. I’ve been hearing of many relationships ending as of late (Rachel and Dave Hollis in the media and other people near me, not on social media). I wonder if COVID-19 and quarantine have something to do with it?
Thanks for any insight into the dialogue about married life.