One of my favorite musicals of all time is called The Last Five Years by J. R. Brown. I know it by heart and although it’s a sad story, it’s also enduring. Two people tell the story of their five year relationship, she from the end to the beginning and he from the beginning to the end. Sounds confusing, but it’s really lovely. Each tell the story from their point of view and only meet in the middle, where they sing one song together and then are back on the path to their ultimate demise. The point of mentioning this story, and the reason that I think I love it so much is that it accepts and confronts the truth, that marriage is hard, it’s complicated and it’s rarely what you see on social media. It’s getting to know someone more deeply than you ever thought possible. It’s teaching each other things, staying curious and being champions for one another. It’s being vulnerable long past the first few dates and in new ways. It’s good at times, it’s bad at times, but it’s also so rewarding.
Today I’m celebrating five years of marriage with my husband and it’s so amazing to look back on the last nine years of our life together. The places we’ve gone, the journey’s we’ve been on together. The moves we’ve made, the push and pull of two upstaging, ego filled Leo’s trying to share their feelings, work together and understand who we are together. It feels like a lifetime already, but there’s so much more to go. I can’t believe how much we’ve both grown, both together and individually.
I wanted to share a few things that I’ve learned and then I asked my other half, W, to be a guest on this post and share his thoughts as well:
What I’ve learned (and am still working on):
Stop striving for perfection and be present with the person right in front of you. The day after our wedding was a hurricane, not ideal, but oh well, it was still an insanely perfect day.
Growing together and as individuals is equally important.
Meet halfway, and also decide what’s truly worth arguing about. Let it go. Don’t pick fights because you’re scared.
Feed the whale. Before we got married, Wyatt and I did a marriage success course (yep, it’s a real thing and I totally recommend it!) and the thing I remember most is that you have to reward good behavior, that’s especially true for men (their words, not mine :).
Have integrity. If you say you’ll be there, be there. Make your relationship a priority every day.
Don’t fear change. Thinking that a relationship will ‘change us’ causes us to become guarded. Call it growth instead of change. Growth is inevitable (and amazing) when we choose to share our lives with someone else.
Listen. Seriously. Put your phone down and hear what the other person is saying, be curious, be understanding.
Sometimes going to bed mad isn’t such a bad thing, resolution is often easier after a good nights sleep.
Keep exploring. Each other and the World.
What W’s Learned:
Focus on your own individual happiness. This way you can bring joy and love to your partner when you get to spend time together.
I consider my wife my best friend, I share everything with her good or bad. This friendship is imperative to our relationship.
Time apart is awesome, every time I’m away from my wife, I miss her – we are independent souls and individualists so this time apart is an important space to create and then get to refill!
Make decisions together and be OK with the answer when it’s NO. The more important decisions you work through as a couple, the stronger the bond.
Touch each other – even just a pat on the butt or holding hands often – it’s something to remind us that we are sensual beings and to take it easy.
Learn the signs of a bad argument and draw lines around the communication. My wife and I occasionally get stuck and dig our heels into an argument. It’s better to take a walk, blow off steam etc. before saying something that leaves a mark.
Sex – often, it matters.
You can’t make the relationship be anything other than what it is. Life is too short to try to change people. I accept my wife and love all the nuanced behavioral traits as a part of what makes her whole.
Explore the world together. For my wife and I, rarely are we as alive as when we are visiting a new country- Romantico!
Be curious, learn about what makes her happy. I often ask to try something out that she’s interested in. Right now we’re cooking Blue Apron together.
It’s been an awesome journey and I’m so excited for the next five years to come.