3 Lessons on 3 Years of Marriage

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photo courtesy of AJ Dunlap Photography

 

I fully believe nothing, I mean NOTHING, can prepare you for the process of childbirth. In the same way, it’s hard to prepare for marriage and living with slash relying on slash supporting slash loving another person every day. There are pre-marriage classes to help you prepare but they’re a lot like Lamaze classes – they teach how you should ideally handle every situation, but not how you will actually handle the situation. I know what you’re thinking here: “This girl is comparing her marriage to childbirth… her marriage must suck.” Stick with me here… I haven’t explained the whole metaphor. Marriage, like childbirth, is hard and a lot of work and there isn’t much to prepare you for the whole process, but what you get out of it is something pretty awesome and great and really fulfilling.

Today Blake and I celebrate 3 years of marriage… we are still amateurs in the marriage world but also we’ve learned a lot in 3 years. For this post I will only speak for myself. I have probably learned dozens if not hundreds of things over the past three years (from the run-of-the-mill “communication is important” to the always- gross, “gosh boys farts smell awful”)  but here are 3 not-so-common lessons I’ve learned and am still learning.

1. Try Not to Add Extra Stress (especially in the beginning)

When you first get married you are dealing with a lot of change and stressors (such as learning to live with a boy and finding out that your grocery bill actually more than doubles because boys eat more than girls) so it’s important not to add any extra stressors- like buying a new house or starting a new business.

About 6 months before we got married, I encouraged Blake to pursue his dream of owning his own landscape business… I don’t regret that, but the timing could have been better. We dumped all of our joint savings into the start up and Blake quit his job to work the new business full time.  Basically we dove in head first and there may have been some rocks in the shallow waters. The landscape company – Murray’s Landscape Services– (shameless self-promotion) has grown into a sustainable and successful business but the first few years were tough. Honestly, it’s still tough, but the beginning was forreal tough. Money was tight, we were both working a lot and sometimes the pressure was too much. I felt pressure because I was the only financial provider (and tired because I was bartending 30+ hours per week in addition to my full time job to make sure the finances were there), Blake felt pressure to succeed, and we both felt pressure to work together as business partners as well as marriage partners. That’s a tough combination. Blake will tell you that I was/am supportive of him and his business, but I know that wasn’t always true. Over the past 3 years there have been many times that I literally wanted to smash his PS3 with a sledgehammer because there was billing to be done or receipts to record and we had no time to relax; there were times I wished he had a normal job with regular hours and regular pay, but then I remember I don’t want “regular” for us. I know we are capable of so much more than that. I don’t want either of us to be stuck with a job we don’t love or that doesn’t allow the freedom and flexibility to enjoy our real lives outside of work.

Yes – the timing could have been better in starting a new business right before we got married. It added a lot of stress on our relatively new relationship. Still today we rarely have a dinner together that doesn’t involve some type of business discussion (we should really expense those more often!). I still have a hard time separating our business life and our family life and that is definitely something we have to will get better at. But we are still here and our businesses are taking off (I recently started my own business to replace the bar tending income and have more time to spend with Blake and the fam!).

I am a huge believer in pursuing your dreams especially if they are big, giant & scary ones….but maybe, just maybe you should hold off until you’re at least 6 months into the marriage. Enjoy all the little changes of finally being married without the extra stress of a major life decision.

2. Do Everything You Can To Make Your Spouse Happy Even If You Don’t Want To! Note: Continue to Improve in This Area

I am a sucker for a back massage. I love them. I will shamelessly ask for them. When we were dating, Blake mentioned one time that as long as I was with him, he would give me a back massage when ever I wanted… I knew then I was going to marry him. He wishes every day he could take those words back. I know Blake doesn’t love giving me back massages but he does it anyway. It makes me happy.

Blake knows this “lesson” and he is good at it. Me on the other hand, not so much.

I like to do things to make Blake happy. I intend to do things to make him happy. But if I get busy, or it isn’t convenient, I don’t always do them. Blake likes things clean. I want to like things clean, but usually I have kind of a “meh” attitude towards it. I leave my dishes in the sink. I leave my shoes everywhere. My relationship with laundry is hostile. If I spent a little more time just being a neater person, it would make Blake happy, but I don’t always do it. I know Blake’s Love Languages but I am not fluent in them.

With this one, I’m aware there’s a problem (that’s the first step right?) so now it’s all about improving in this area. This is my main area of concentration for the coming months.

3. A Baby Changes Everything.

I’m very tempted to leave that last lesson at just that sentence because I think it speaks for itself, but I’ll elaborate. A baby adds a whole extra layer of complexity to marriage. They change everything in the best way possible but also in some ways that aren’t as great. I’m not going to lie – this past year has been a struggle… definitely the hardest year yet. If you’re a parent you know the drill – 10x less sleep, 100x more emotion = less patience and more chaos. Roles change, schedules change and in many ways the relationship itself changes. I became a wife and a mom. Blake became a husband and a dad. I think we both struggled with reconciling the two roles. But the amount of love and overall cuteness this little nugget adds to our family completely makes up for the hard parts.

Year #3 has been the hardest so far but it has also been the best by far!

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