a look back

If you are involved with social media at all, you’ve become acquainted with hashtags. More specifically, you’ve become acquainted with themed days brought to us by Instagram.  There is #ManCrushMonday, #TransformationTuesday, #WomanCrushWednesday, #ThrowbackThursday, and #FlashbackFriday.  I was skeptical about the use of hashtags at first, and I admit that the majority of the time that I use one, it’s because it adds a splash of irony or humor to my post (at least, that’s what I tell myself).

But I have to admit that I have grown to really enjoy these different themes throughout the week.  I like to see acquaintances, coworkers, friends, and family members sharing pictures taken during their childhood or their adolescent years with that silly little #TBT or #FBF thrown in.  It spurs reminiscent conversations, jogs collective memories, and sometimes even gives you a peek into the life of that person before you were a part of it.  I’m sure I am not alone in this sentiment.

Bearing that in mind, I have some things that I’d like to share with you, my acquaintances, coworkers, friends, and family members.  (We’ll call it #SelfReflectionSunday, just to make it feel more legitimate.)  As my husband and I approach the one year anniversary of our marriage, I have been thinking about some things that I have experienced, learned, or had affirmed over these past almost-twelve months.

To those of you who are impatient brides or grooms-to-be, consider this some unsolicited advice.  To those of you who have been married far longer than I, who have faced situations that I can’t even begin to comprehend, feel free to smirk at my youthful naivete and call me out if it needs to happen – I can take it, I promise.  To those of you who are single, I still feel like this stuff is important to know.  I could be wrong, but what’s the harm in reading, right?

Get premarital counseling. Lots of it.  Gather advice from seasoned veterans, newlyweds, divorcees, and those who aren’t that happy in their marriage.  There is a lot to be learned from all sides.

Don’t look forward to the wedding day. Look forward to the day after. Seriously.  The wedding day will be tons of fun, but there will be things that go wrong. Don’t be upset about that! At the end of the day, you will be married.  And being married is SO much more enjoyable than being strapped into a dress that hinders your ability to go to the bathroom by yourself.

Don’t try to change your spouse.  Change yourself.  I mean sure, if he leaves his towel on the floor or she never changes the toilet paper roll and that drives you bananas, then say something.  But if it is an issue of personality differences or communication styles, don’t try to convert them to your way of thinking or feeling.  Learn that when he says something logical, he isn’t trying to be cruel to you.  Learn that when she cries, she isn’t trying to manipulate your emotions.  Above all else, learn each others’ languages.  It will save you many fights.

Crockpots are your friend.  I don’t think I need to explain this.

Do not stop dating each other.  You have snagged a catch – don’t let them forget it!  It is too easy to let the romantic gestures fade away with time and familiarity.  Kiss, hug, and say I love you every day, and don’t forget to have fun. Period.  It’s important.

Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.  That being said, if the argument is spiraling into nonsense because it is 3:30 A.M., do both of yourselves a favor and get some sleep.  Nothing productive is happening.  Call a truce and talk it out in the morning.

In-law relations: navigate with caution.  It doesn’t matter if you really get along with your in-laws or your relationship with them could be a plotline on Everybody Loves Raymond, your spouse’s family will probably do something that really gets under your skin at some point.  When you vent about it to him or her, remember that while they side with you now above all others, that’s still their family.  Try to make your relationship smooth, even when it feels like you’re doing 99% of the work.

Fight fair This sounds so hokey, but trust me, it’s true.  You need to have boundaries when arguments arise – and believe me, they will arise.  Don’t bring up the “d” word – it doesn’t exist for you.  Don’t imply that you regret marrying your spouse or give ultimatums that imply separation.  Don’t fight in front of other people, physically or online – your marriage is sacred and so are your arguments.  Keep to the topic at hand.  Keep an open mind and be respectful.  And above all else, don’t be afraid to say that you’re sorry first. Even when you believe you’ve done nothing wrong.

Having the same worldview is not an option.  Conflicting religious beliefs?  Contrasting political views?  A great friendship can be born out of such diversity, but not marriage.  Be on the same page about the important stuff, and save the differing opinions for movies you want to watch or restaurants you’d like to visit.

Spousal telepathy is not a myth.  It is, however, a great time saver.  I predict that by our forties, my dear husband and I will no longer have the need to physically speak to each other.

Love really is a decision, not a feeling.  It’s actually way more romantic than it sounds.

I’m not even sure if my ramblings will strike a useful chord with anyone, or if they even made any sense.  I guess what I’m trying to say here is that marriage has been, in my very limited experience, both easy and difficult, exciting and mundane, romantic and ordinary.  The decision that I made 345 days ago is easily the best one I have ever made.

I love you, John Daniel Ard, jr.  And in the words of Howard Wollowitz, “I’m your idiot. FOREVER.”

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