A year ago today I was lucky enough to marry my best friend. Those that read My Gretna Green Wedding blog know that we chose to elope and had an amazing week, with the minimum of planning, completely living in the present moment. We were full of love, joy and completely open to adventure. So what happened when we came home and reality hit?
Well, I learned:
To retain my sense of self - 'They,' (and I am not quite sure who 'they' are) say the first year of marriage is the hardest. I wasn't expecting to have a period of adjustment. After all we lived together and had a family, but surprisingly, I did initially question my identity. I had spent many years since acquiring a disability learning to love and accept myself exactly who I was. I didn't want to revert from having complete acceptance to being labelled a 'wife,' and risk losing a little of myself. It was for this reason I refrained from changing my surname. I may do this in the future but I quite like the feeling of independence retaining my maiden name has given me. Of course, not many people feel the need to do this but it has been a long, hard road emotionally to get to where I am today. I make my own choices, for my own good, because I can.
Always take your partner seriously - It is awesome to feel that someone has my back no matter what I do or say and that support is wholeheartedly given back. As a writer my imagination is often in overdrive (which is why I use mindfulness so much to balance it out). I know no matter how inane the things I think or say are (and I do have some crazy thoughts) Tim will give all my fears, ideas and plans equal consideration. We never belittle each others dreams, or use them as entertaining dinner party conversation. There are enough people in the world who run you down. Love and support the one who backs you up.
Communicate. Talk, talk and then talk some more - There is a tale I tell in my classes sometimes about a couple. She asks 'would you like steak or fish for dinner?' He replies 'I don't mind.' Months later, at couples counselling she recounts this story as 'I asked him what he wanted for dinner and he said he didn't care.' 'Oh no,' he said, 'I was trying to make life easier for you. Whatever you cook is delicious and I really appreciate it.' A basic example but it is so easy to misconstrue what someone tells you. Every day we make sure we are on the same page.
Love yourself first - I wouldn't be able to love my husband as wholeheartedly as I do if I didn't love myself. Those who have issues in relationships surrounding jealously, putting each other down, being over clingy or distant need to work on their relationship with themselves. I take time each day to meditate. By practicing mindfulness I can connect with any emotions and thoughts as they arise and observe them in a non-judgemental, kindly way. I am secure in myself and therefore secure in my relationship.
Make couple time - Urgghh, I almost didn't put this in as it is so cliched but it is so important. It's easy to stop really seeing your partner, to take them for granted. I know as parents we are often so focused on the children weeks go by and we have not really had anytime to ourselves. We diarise us time whenever we can, writing it on the calendar as if it's an appointment (but way more enjoyable). I love my husband so much I have chosen to share the rest of my life with him. It seems crazy to not schedule regular alone time.
Make your love for each other more important than any obstacles or temptations life puts in your way. Always.