Over the years I’ve read numerous books, blogs, and posts about what it means to be a good wife or have a successful marriage. And, frankly, I have yet to find one that seems applicable to me.
Before I got married I genuinely thought marriage would be the hardest thing I ever had to do; that’s what all the literature told me. I thought I would struggle to honestly communicate with my husband, have a hard time “respecting” him, feel like I would constantly need to fill his unending sexual desire, have a hard time balancing work and marriage, and never have a perfectly clean house…
That’s what the books told me to expect. But you know what? We really didn’t struggle much with any of those issues. At first, it made me feel like something was wrong or that a big jolt was going to come after the honeymoon period was over. The word out there was that marriage is really hard and it takes a lot of work to make it good. But that has not been my experience.
Before anyone gets their panties in a wad let me state my personal belief on the issue: Life is hard, but marriage can be easy.
Philip and I have been married for almost five and a half years, been together for almost ten years and known each other since middle school. We both went from living with our parents to being married. We also began working together as business partners and were together every day, all day overnight. I thought there would be a huge culture shock but in reality it was a pretty natural transition and only a few conflicts ever arose. Having known and dated Philip for so long I knew his personality extremely well and also knew most of his habits. It wasn’t until we had been married for some time that I also realized that we had a jump start on our communication skills. We talk a lot. If we have a thought or idea, we tell one another. If we are bothered by something the other did, we talk about it as soon as we can (never bringing up issues in public). If we want to make plans with friends, we mention it to the other (not to get permission, to simply check and see if they had plans first). If we want to make a purchase over a certain amount (predetermined by our specific budget), we talk about it. In general, we are 100% open with one another and talk about anything that might effect the other.
But this isn’t the whole story. There was a reason that we decided to get married: we deeply wanted to do life together. And, as I said, life is hard. Many nights have been spent in each others arms in tears because we are overwhelmed with life’s mountains. But when we encounter a mountain in life (such as infertility, renovating a house, running and growing a business, watching all our friends have kids and forget about us, etc) we climb that mountain together, instead of climbing over one another. Doing life together only works when you support one another instead of yourself. This simple, yet profound choice to support one another does not make life easy, but it can make marriage much easier.
Occasionally, we get asked how we are so happy. How around each other 24/7 as both business partners and spouses and still love, let alone like, one another? Simple: we make it a priority to communicate and fully support one another.
Over the years I’ve observed countless marriages. I’ve noticed one undergirding fact with all these marriages: each marriage is 100% unique to the couple. I’ve never once seen a marriage that was like another one. Each couple has their unique way of communicating with one another. Each couple has their specific needs and wants. Each couple has their own set of mountains that they must face. We understand that we have an advantage that most couples don’t have in that we spend almost all of our time together. When life is hard or an issue comes up we get to tackle it right away instead of having to wait (we all know how time can let things fester as well as calm us down). Our marriage is not your marriage. All marriages can’t be lumped together as the same. No marriage book (or blog post) will tell you exactly how it will be for you as a couple. The only thing that is true for all couples is this: you chose to go through life together, life will throw you curve balls and struggles, and you can go through it full of happiness, together.
A couple of months ago we had one of our friends document us in our newly renovated house. With this post I wanted to share these with the world. Five and a half years into marriage and we couldn’t be happier together. This past year threw us some curve balls and it brought us closer than we ever thought possible. We wanted to forever have a record of this specific stage of our lives, simply happy. We live a very simple life but it is a good life, a very good life. We aren’t perfect but we are happy and that’s all I could ever hope for. Life is hard, but this relationship called marriage is a lot easier than I thought it would be.
(all images by our dear friend Joey Miller)