“A successful marriage
requires falling in love many times,
always with the same person.”
As I started to close in on my mid-twentites, I knew marriage was right around the corner. It was a definitive; just a matter of when, where and to whom. Not having have found a partner myself, it was certain that my family would find me a match, fortunately the decision would be mine.
I was, however, mentally prepared for it. Like I said, it was only a matter of when, where and to whom I’d me marrying. But I knew that it was going to happen and had made peace with my early adolescent spirit that had a skewed sense of feminism wrapped in a fairytale bubble (you can only imagine how messed up and confusing that can be) .
Right up until I got married and moved into my husband’s home with his family that was now becoming mine, I didn’t realise that all my education and exposure had not managed to protected me from having preconceived notions about what it means to be a married woman and a daughter-in-law… imagine my surprise!
Through household chatter, experiences of my family members, media and popular tales I had sub-consciously gathered and consolidated data on what it means to be a married woman. I had created a mood board of sorts which was painted by putting woman and their struggles on a pedestal and normalising the negativity that came with it. I knew I was suddenly going to be an adult with responsibilities and unspoken/ declared duties and expectations. I knew for myself that being a married woman there would be a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law angle, the Bermuda triangle between the mother son and myself, etcetera.
After being married for almost two years and starting a new journey along side with the on going pandemic here are the things I’ve come to experience and realise that I wish someone had told me but no one told me about being a married woman.
1. It begins at the end of “Happily Ever After”
..”Yes, I do”…. “Yes, I do”… And they lived happily ever after!
It is after this that a marriage truly begins. I do not know what I’ll feel in retrospect after having have lived my life, but I now know that the meaning is to make the most of it, the best of it and hope you can look back and say that “.. and then we lived happily ever after”. Marriage is like playing with lego, you imagine, aspire, create and hope you’ve gotten it right.
2. It helps you discover yourself
There is so much I’ve realised that I never knew about myself. There are times that I surprise myself. It could be about things that you are protective of and things that you are accommodating about. It could be your new found level of patience and ability to persevere. It could be about how accommodating you truly can be and the strength to stand up for yourself in ways you never thought you could. And sometimes it’s about finding out that being vulnerable and feeling safe at the same time is a possibility. I’ve had moments where I broke down for no reason at all and still knew that I’m loved and there was no judgement being thrown at me.
3. Finding your new family
The thing that sticks out to me the most is that my birth family is the family that I was born into, it has loved me since before I was born, I’ve had years to build my relationships there and create my own space. And I’ll always have a home in their hearts- which goes without saying.
But coming to my marital home- at first it felt like a house with people who occupy it. It is after all these months that I’ve realised that these are relationships that I have to nourish and build for them to mean anything in my life; because otherwise they will just remain my husband’s family.
4. I have two mothers
Here I speak for myself and I know I’ve lucked out. Marriage gave me two mothers- my birth mother will always be the one who got me into this world and taught me everything I know about life thus far. But it is my Mother-In-Law who held my hand when I stepped into a new territory and helped find my comfort zone. She is the one teaching me things going forward.
She helps me understand my partner better which in turn helps me nurture our partnership better as a wife. She asks for my opinion and shares how things have been done thus far- what better, right?
“Marriage is not a noun;
it’s a verb.
It isn’t something you get.
It’s something you do.
It’s the way you love your partner every day.”
– Barbara De Angelis
5. Marriage changes you
Many of our friends and cousins have complained that we’ve changed as individuals but I don’t say this as a bad thing.
We have both made upgrades to our behaviours and patterns in order to support each other better and stay in sync. from being two singles, we’ve gone onto becoming Mr. & Mrs- that entails changes in order to survive and grow as a unit.
6. It makes everything more serious
That’s true, suddenly the intensity of everything is heightened. Conversations about future, plans for the weekend or just as argument- everything is more serious than it has ever been before. It could also be because you know this is it- this person in front of you is it and you both want to get it right and do not want to just settle for average.
7. THERE ARE NO HIGHWAYS ANYMORE
The attitude of “it is my way or the highway” doesn’t apply anymore. I’ve realised that it is rarely about being right, but mostly about finding the best option available. I’ve found myself actively avoiding quick fixes and wanting to talk it over with partner to find a long term solution to issues.
I once read it somewhere that marriage is like weight. It is not like once you’ve achieved your ideal weight you can go about living your life, similarly once you’ve sorted something in your marriage that is not it. It has to become a lifestyle, where you constantly and proactively keep working on it.
8. IT IS THE NEXT LEVEL OF TEAM WORK
Marriage doesn’t just take work, it is hard AF.
It is an amalgamation of too many factors at once with no manual and one fits all solutions. A happy marriage is a symbiotic relationship where not only do we support one another but also become the foundation to our children and an assurance to all the others intimately connected to us.
“A husband and wife
may disagree on many things
but they must absolutely agree on this:
to never, ever give up.”