It is 5am in Los Angeles, and I’ve just woken up after an incredibly emotional evening with my family. Today is my brother’s wedding day, and I’m alone and missing my husband and kiddos so much because we just couldn’t pull off bringing everyone today. The trick about weddings is they bring out the best and worst in many people.
We’ve all heard the bridezilla stories and laughed, or the parent / parent-in-law from hell disasters. But there is so much more emotion than that. Weddings bring out the memories of our own wedding successes and failures. It brings home the “happily-ever after” fantasies that all girls grow up with but then learn quickly are truly fantasy and that’s probably better. Beyond that, it brings out the fears and hopes for the newlyweds, both those that you truly know are meant to be, but every once in awhile, also those that worry you just a bit more than usual.
The truth about marriage is it’s hard and it’s beautiful and it’s exhausting and it’s worth it if you find the one that is willing to walk the path with you. It also constantly evolves as two lives evolve, so it never really stays the same. The foundation must be strong, to get through the shaky times, but how you work through challenges in Year 1 may be different in Year 5 which is likely going to be different in Year 25.
Here’s a few things I’ve learned so far in my 12 years of marriage, and I know that I will continue to learn and grow with my hubby as our lives continue to grow and change around us in the years to come.
- Love your spouse for who they are, not who they could be – Know your spouse’s fundamental self and love that. We all know that there are quirks that we won’t like. They will not change nor go away, nor should you want that if you truly love them. I tend to be serious, loud, passionate but protective of my privacy, and my husband is the class clown who shares EVERYTHING. It drives me nuts. But we are who we are, and have been, since we met 18 years ago. It’s that difference in him that pushes me out of my boundaries and makes me better, as I hope he gets pushed by me sometimes.
- Change together, not apart – As a couple you will continue to change and adapt to each other’s styles as you learn to truly respect each other’s style. You both come to the marriage with hang ups and expectations that aren’t realistic. If you learn to work together to get through those hiccups, you’ll be good. If you instead wait for the other person to change, without adapting to his or her style too, then you end up in something one-sided.
- Laugh often and for no reason – Laughing is cathartic. It gets you through the good and the bad, but it also helps you find the good in any situation. If you can’t laugh with your spouse, not only about the good things, but also for the times when one or both of you act like stupid assholes – WHICH WILL HAPPEN OFTEN – then you won’t learn to look beyond the stupid mistakes.
- Marriage = Teamwork – The trick with marriage is it brings to minds to a problem so you aren’t alone. You become a team, and a true team tackles life’s situations with the approach that two minds really are better than one. If one person dictates the rules and solutions, and one simply listens, then something may be broken. Spouses aren’t structured as boss vs. employees because you quit bad bosses. Spouses aren’t parent vs. child, although you each may feel that way once in awhile when someone acts dumb. Marriage is two adults bring different perspectives to a life that becomes better because of the differences and the willingness to work together.
- Know your bench – Every couple has a bench. It’s the people that travel half way across the country to be there to support you on your wedding day, and the people who are local and get to watch the couple you will grow to be. Neither group is more or less important. Family is family, regardless of their connection. You’ll need your bench, often, and they will be there for you no matter what. Remember that as you work through the hard times, and be open to the beauty that new members bring, particularly as you bring two families together.
So today, I celebrate marriage and the newlyweds. I celebrate my brother and his soon-to-be wife. And I feel blessed that I’ve had 12 years to start to learn what marriage is about and look forward to what’s to come for everyone.