If you’ve been following along from the beginning, you’ll remember that I wrote about the following married milestones: being married for three weeks, and then three months. So naturally, I felt like doing a milestone post on being married for THREE YEARS! That’s such a small number, but I believe every year is an accomplishment! And we’ve experienced so much together in this short time, so it gets me excited about what we’ll experience at our 30-year mark!
Obviously, we have grown a lot since those first three months of us only truly learning the basics of marriage! By now I’ve learned more specifics about marriage and OUR marriage in particular. So here are my main three things I have a strong understanding of and am trying to master. I have definitely found more things I have come to realize within three years of marriage but have yet to overcome or master! I’m sure that’s the case for all of us :) I’m OK with this because my motto is “there is always something to work on in marriage”, and I know that in another three years I’ll have fully learned just a few more things :)
In our first three years together, I learned:
1. The value of good teamwork, specifically when it comes to taking on responsibilities.
I think good teamwork means that you recognize each person’s talents, skills, and interests, and give them corresponding positions so that you increase your chances of winning! Or in this case, helping your life together function as smooth and enjoyable as you can. It takes time and life transitions to figure out which areas each of you works best, especially when you are trying to tackle all of the many responsibilities you both have.
For us, Trevor’s talents, skills, and interests are best served in providing our main income. It just makes sense when you compare his field’s salary to my field’s salary. Trevor also hates driving a lot, running errands, and especially shopping (though he will do it on occasion for me), while I love doing those things! So we discovered that my talents are best served being the grocery shopper, errand runner, house cleaner, and cook. We just discovered what my forte was and what his forte was and made our life run well from it.
Going back to the team theme, why stick a team member in a position they hate playing and/or aren’t as good at, when the other team member likes playing that position and maybe is better at it? I think it takes humility to realize this, which is hard when people get caught up in gender roles. Our responsibilities could seem like a traditional gender roles category, but labeling it isn’t what matters. Living comfortably and happily does matter, though, and we are happy and comfortable with our set up :)
My advice for you in this area: Be open to shifting around your responsibilities and roles if it works better for your marriage and circumstances. This is especially for those who are strongly opinionated on what responsibilities a man should have and what a woman should have.
2. Sometimes there are simple solutions to the tough, confusing, frustrating, and seemingly hopeless situations you come across.
There have been times where we let an issue between us get us down for a few days when it could have been resolved in the first hour! It’s typical in relationships to argue and hold so much frustration and hurt towards a person for so long until one of you finally says the underlying reason for their hurt and frustration, and suddenly understanding is restored. When we finally reach this point, I find myself saying, “He’s right I didn’t ________, and the situation wouldn’t have gotten worse had I just done that in the beginning.”
Sometimes the “easy” fixes are validating your spouse’s feelings, listening more attentively, being more supportive/comforting, or even wording something more kindly. Most of the time the tiffs aren’t caused by the content (example: asking your spouse to help out with more chores), but how the content is delivered and then talked about. It took me time to see patterns of this happening, but I think I am taking note of the “simple” solutions I can apply to prevent a conversation from going downhill. Trevor has too, and I’ve noticed we both are working on those little things :)
My advice for you in this area: Take note of your spouse’s suggestions in learning how to handle conflict better. Just remember that good feeling YOU get when your spouse does the exact thing you need them to say or do for you, and know that issues can be resolved so much better when your spouse is having that good feeling :)
3. Don’t get so caught up in what other couples are doing.
Maybe it’s that I’m still in my 20’s and I live in a culture where everyone is getting married during these years. Maybe it’s that we can easily see way too much about what everyone is up to through social media. Either way, we fall into the comparison trap so easily with other newlywed couples, especially when it comes to how far we are “progressing” in life. Progressing could mean other couples have bought a house and you’re still in an apartment. It could mean that your spouse is still in school while other couples’ have their careers established. And it could also mean that others have had babies already and you’re still trying. Whatever the comparison may be, we all progress at different stages at different times, AND IT’S OK. We don’t know each other’s circumstances. That’s what I forgot about, but now it hardly affects me :)
Unfortunately, because I got caught up in comparisons, I was so worried about making others feel the way I felt so I downplayed the good things happening in our life at times. It truly is an accomplishment to buy your first house when you are 23 and we felt very blessed to be able to do that. However, I totally downplayed it because I didn’t want it to seem like I was rubbing it into people. There’s a line of course, but I should have been more confident and excited in our decision so I could have enjoyed it more! Just don’t forget that you have every right to rejoice in your accomplishments!
My advice for you in this area: Be smart and respectful about sharing your accomplishments. There is a difference between rejoicing and bragging. When it comes to posting on social media, we have PLENTY of time to stop and think twice about what our caption or status update says, so make sure to think THREE times about it :)
What are the three things YOU learned in your first three years of marriage?!