5 lessons I learned in 5 years of marriage
Of course I am not a relationship guru. I have only been married for 5 years and in these past 5 years I have learned a few lessons and I am still learning as I go. My husband and I recently celebrated our 5th year anniversary and it made me very reminiscent of the past 5 years as a married couple and what I have learned thus far.
Here’s a little backstory about us. I got married at the relatively young age of 24 to my husband who is 8 years older than me. We met each other in Med School where he courted me like the perfect gentleman he is. From the moment we started dating, we knew we were working towards marriage and dated for 4 years before our wedding day.
We’ve had our ups and we’ve had our downs like any married couple but that is what marriage is about… for better or for worse. We’re in it for the long haul and look forward to many more years and many more lessons learned.
Here’s 5 lessons I learned in my 5 years of marriage….
- Communicate, Communicate, communicate
Of course everyone knows communication is key in any relationship but for some reason poor communication seems to exist in most relationships anyway.
Communication is not only about talking and letting your partner know how you are feeling, what is bothering you, what would make you happy, your insecurities etc.., it is also about listening and being ready to receive what your partner is trying to communicate to you. Listening is just as important as speaking up. It isn’t about hearing what you want to hear, it is about making the effort to understand what your partner is saying, this includes keeping an open mind.
Communication is also about asking questions. Sometimes just asking the necessary question can strike up a much needed conversation. Asking questions also helps with clarity and understanding. If you don’t understand or don’t know something, simply ask.
It isn’t advisable to bottle up thoughts and emotions as this just leads to an explosion of emotion or an argument later on. It is better to let your partner know how you are feeling and what is wrong sooner rather than later. However it is also important to ensure it is at a neutral time and place when and where your partner is more likely to listen, understand and come to a compromise.
At the height of an argument is not the time to release all that bottled up feelings and thoughts you have been keeping locked away. Your partner is less likely to receive what you have to say if emotions are already running high or he/she is in a rush or tired or in the midst of an important activity.
It is also important to remember to not raise your voice no matter how upset and frustrated you get. Remain calm and take a break from the conversation if things may be getting too heated.
2. The Honeymoon phase does not last forever
As a relationship progresses, it isn’t expected to stay the same. That magical beginning phase filled with newness and excitement isn’t going to last forever and that is perfectly normal.
As the marriage progresses, financial obligations arise, children come into the picture, and so do career changes, added responsibilities, shifts in family dynamics and time constraints. With all these added components no wonder the honeymoon phase is replaced with a more realistic and less magical version of marriage. And that is okay and completely normal. The end of the honeymoon phase just means the marriage has graduated to the next level.
3. Be open to change but don’t force it upon your partner
The person you marry is not going to remain that same person forever. As the years go by your partner is expected to change, adapt and mature as life goes on. Of course you can’t expect the man or woman you married at whatever age to remain the exact same way 10-20 years later after some kids, a few hardships and some added maturity. Change is inevitable and you need to be open to receiving that change.
However at the same time you shouldn’t force change upon your partner. You can’t expect to mold the person you married into whatever version you want them to be. You married them a certain way and can’t expect a completely different person a few years later. That’s just not fair to the person being forced to change.
If there are things you dislike about your partner before marriage, you should ask yourself “Can I live with this for the rest of my life if he/she doesn’t change?” If you can’t live with it, then it probably isn’t a good idea to marry that person. You should never step into a marriage thinking you can change a person to whoever you want.
This doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible for a person to decide for him/herself that they want to make a positive change in themself for the sake of the relationship.
4. You’re on the same team
Disagreements are not about who is right or wrong and who won or lost. It is about understanding and compromise. Married couples are like teammates that should not be fighting between themselves but instead work together as a team.
You should think of a disagreement as ‘husband and wife vs the problem’ and not ‘husband vs wife’. If you think of an argument in terms of who won or lost, then you both lost because you’re both supposed to be on the same team. If one person loses, the whole team loses.
Fighting dirty is also an absolute no-no in a marriage. In a marriage, disagreements are inevitable of course but it should never result in fighting dirty or low blows. That is counter-productive to the main goal which is to work together, communicate, compromise and come to a solution.
5. Know your partner’s love language
We all have different ways we express and receive love. It is important to understand your partner’s love language. For some people love is shown by gift giving, while others need quality time spent together to feel loved. Some people love to hear words of affirmations, while others need physical touch to feel loved. Then there are those who see acts of service as love.
Your love language may not exactly be your partner’s love language and it is important to learn and adapt. For example, if your partner’s love language is quality time or acts of service, and to them gift receiving is way down on the list of how they perceive and feel loved, then giving them all the gifts in the world will not convey the love as well as intended.
Hence it is important to know each other’s love languages so that you can better show your partner your love in a way that they can be more receptive and appreciative of it. If you need help understanding love languages, I suggest reading the book ‘The 5 love languages’ by Gary Chapman with your partner, or taking the online quiz.
I hope these 5 lessons I touched on here were helpful to you in some way or the other whether you are married or not.