Advice

Maybe it is the flurry of positivity and “Congratulations!”  Maybe I am still running on the endorphins that only love can generate.  Regardless the source, I have love on the brain.  

When you get engaged, people ask you a million questions about your pending wedding.  Then you get married.  To fill in the void that once was wedding banter, people now ask you different questions.  Well, mainly two questions.  The first question – which can feel more like a demand at times – is when are you having children.  Not if, but when.  (I’m already having to pull myself off of that soap box – moving on.)  The other question is “How does it feel?”  I ponder over this question because it suggests that there should be a difference in how I felt on May 19 versus how I felt on May 21.  And if we feel differently, should we now behave differently?  

The short answer:  I don’t feel differently.  I don’t love him more, I don’t expect more, and I don’t need more. But I never thought that I would feel differently.  While there is something more formal (and certainly legal) about being husband and wife, we have been committed partners for much longer.  My devotion to our relationship is no greater and the rings on our fingers will make us no more faithful.  Truthfully, loving Bradley has always felt like the easy part.  Before I moved to Virginia, the distance felt like an obstacle at times.  Trying to raise two dogs together, and talking about bringing in a third dog and possibly a human or two , can make our lives feel like a circus.  And sharing a bathroom can be challenging (we actually gave up on that – I have commandeered the guest bathroom).  But loving Bradley has never been the hard part.

So…what will change?

While the loving won’t change, the way in which that love is expressed and used will.  For us, it already has in some ways.  When I first met Bradley, I needed a love that was free of judgment and that could give me a sense of security without sacrificing my independence.  I wanted the freedom to pursue my educational and professional goals without guilt and needed flexibility.  Moving to a new state without the luxury of friends or family nearby has me needing a different expression of love.  I need more of Bradley’s time and attention than before, especially as I continue to attempt to make a life for myself here.  I still have bad days – days when I’m homesick and doubtful that I fit in – and I require a love that is more patient and gentle.  Despite having been in a long-distance relationship, I need more phone calls and Face Time dates when he travels now than I did before.  As our lives continue to evolve, so will our expression of our love.  I’m not sure that the love changes, just the way we need and share it.  Then again, I’ve been married for roughly one month. Take this with a grain of salt.

As I continue to think about what we have needed up until this point, another take away is to be honest about what you need.  If you need flowers and phone calls, ask for it.  If you need space and more independence, ask for it.  If you need reassurance and patience, ask for it.  Bradley has never laughed at me or refused me a request that I made in earnest.  He knows that I will not take advantage of his grace and will reserve my requests for those things that I need.  So honestly ask for the things you need of your partner.  If you are the one receiving the requests, honor them genuinely.

I asked some of my friends and family for their own marriage advice.  As expected, they did not disappoint.  A few of their responses are listed below.  Some things that I noticed:  don’t get worked up about things that are trivial (which begins with being cognisant of what is trivial), touch is important, and create space for privacy so that you can enjoy one another without distraction.

  • Booze, kisses, and skin on skin cuddling every day. All you need.  (married 6 years, together 10)
  • Date nights/days are important! We make resolving arguments a priority and we don’t hold grudges against each other for anything. Lots of cuddling, kisses and sweet texts to let each other know we’re thinking of each other each day.  (married 6 years, together 10)
  • Okay… patience, love, support and lots of I love you. Show love through your actions, but you have to say it and you need to hear it. Know when to keep your thoughts to yourself. What pisses you off now will be forgotten later. Don’t sweat the small stuff.  (married 37 years, together 40 years.)
  • So my advice would be to take a deep breath and let the little things go..sometimes things drive me crazy, but in the scheme of our life together, there is no need to harbor resentment over the way he folds my shirts when he does the laundry or insists on washing every dirty dish before we eat.  And also to make sure to laugh…my husband has talked me down from many a freak out by just making me laugh.  We also have a little routine right before we go to sleep, that we started early in our relationship, where i always rub his back right before bed.  It’s time for us to be close and to talk, and we both look forward to it.  Having those little moments everyday is really important.  (married eight months, together 3 years)
  • Don’t get angry with each other.  We were married during World War II and he spent much of the first two years of our marriage in the war.  I had had enough of war – I refused to be at war with my husband in our home.   (married for 46 years, together for 47)
  • We never asked anyone for their advice because we never gave a damn what the other couples were doing.  We were confident enough to know that the bad times were temporary.  And when things were good, we soaked up every minute.  So my advice is not to take advice.  Go it your own way.  You’ll know if you’re doing it right or wrong.  (married for 59 years, together for 62)
  • … I feel that it’s a sign of maturity, that willingness to give so much during that period while not receiving as much as I give. It’s called love and compromise and the willingness to get through this. I don’t know that either of us would have been so willing in our younger years, but you realize that commitment you made to one another and you fight through it and come out stronger. I can think of so many instances thumbing through the memories in my mind but you know what? It makes us stronger and looking back on the experience and changes in our lives and after so many years I have come to realize we are “growing old together”. Love, compromise, determination, and passion these are only a few of the things that keep you both going in a relationship and going strong. Time flies in life and it only goes by quicker as you get older. I have learned and come to realize don’t waste your precious time on the small things or focus on the irrelevant items that can slowly eat away at your marriage. Focus on one another and making each other happy.   (married 6 years, together 14)
  • -Always remember to kiss each other and say I love you before bed each night
    -When your spouse is stressed (work, etc), go out of your way to make them feel relaxed at home from cooking dinner to taking care of extra chores around the house
    -Don’t forget about the importance of letting your spouse have girl time or guy time
    -Take time to learn more about your spouses interests from learning more about NBA basketball, cheering on their college basketball team, watching their favorite shows, etc
    -Enjoy all of life’s milestones together from buying a house, adopting a dog, or starting the adventure of raising a family. And be thankful everyday that you have your best friend by your side for the wonderful ride of life!  (married two years)

LIFE UPDATE:   We are Las Vegas bound this Friday!!!  Bradley has a work convention in Las Vegas, and I was determined that I would tag along.  His typical work trips are not nearly as exciting (no offense to Nebraska or Illinois) so this is a great excuse to do a little traveling with my husband.  We arrive in Vegas late Friday evening and are there for a few days before driving to Corona, California on Tuesday.  We are crashing in Las Angeles Wednesday night before making the long trip back to Virginia on Thursday.  We have a few days at home before we load up in the truck on July 4 and head south west for Asheville, North Carolina.  We are staying at this amazing cabin (or at least it looks that way – final review after we get back) and planning on enjoying the privacy and the quiet.  Las Vegas is our time to be social and adventurous while Asheville is an opportunity to relax and spend quality time together.  I can’t wait!

Some things change and some things don’t.  Either way, we will tackle it together.

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