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10 Things I’ve Learned About Marriage

{What up, handsome?!}

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret.  When I got engaged, I had an adverse physical reaction.  No, really.  I got a rash that started at my engagement ring and slowly crept up my left arm.  It was like a scene straight out of SATC.  My nervousness at the thought of going from a Beyonce-level independent young woman to spending the rest of my life with someone literally physically manifested itself in me. But unlike Carrie, this Karrie knew a wonderful, kind, loving guy when I saw him. I knew he was the one for me, but still… the unknown that is marriage freaked me the EFF out.

Well.  Fast forward four years.  Tim and I’ve been hitched for 2 1/2 years (wedding pix here, thank you) and I can say with 100% certainty that it’s getting easier and better as we go along.  But daaaaaamn Gina, marriage is… wait for it… oh yes, W-O-R-K.  If you’re one of those people who say it isn’t, I seriously know you’re full of it, respectfully.  And there are a lot of people out there who like to act like it ain’t tough.  But it is.  But when I got hitched, I didn’t have a ton of married friends, so no one told me this.  No one told me over a glass of wine with a tell-it-like-it-is Dr. Phil-type smirk and said, “It is hard sometimes, so buckle your seatbelt and get ready.”  I had to figure that out on my own.  So with that said, I wanted to jot down some of the things I’VE learned over the past 2.5 years – and keep in mind a) we do NOT have kids yet, and b) we’ve been married just 2.5 years.  Here goes: 10 things I’m learning as I ride this wave called marriage with my man, my sweet, ornery Midwestern man:

1. You’re going to bring some baggage into the relationship. Listen, unless you’re a Duggar and getting married at 17, you’re going to have some accumulated life experience that rears its ugly little head into your marriage occasionally.  The trick is trying to internally acknowledge when your past is having an adverse effect on how you look at and react to what’s going on now.

2. There are going to be times when you will really not like each other. And that’s ok!  Your marriage, like your feelings for each other, is going to be an up and down wave. Thank perspective, thank the ability to look back and look over my marriage, but now I can see that it is a constant flowing wave, up, down, up, down. Low points caused by blowouts caused by tempers and miscommunication and general immaturity; to high points (pretty much right after the low points) where we’re happy and I couldn’t feel more in love.  Knowing it’s n-o-r-m-a-l and part of life has made me a lot more calm when we are at a low point.

3. Going to bed mad is ok. In fact, going to bed in separate beds is just fine too. As I write this I’m lying in my guest room bed ’cause I’m annoyed with my hubby and I don’t feel like sharing the same bed as him.  Yeah I said it.  But so what?  We’re gonna have a convo eventually, we’ll iron it out (when I feel like talking to him), and we’ll move on.  Which leads me to..

4. Forgive, forgive, forgive. Don’t hold on.  As hard as it is, don’t hold a grudge. Neither of you.  Grudges are like greasy stains on the soul which you need to get out as soon as you can.  If you don’t, they’ll stay there, and get bigger and fester until one day you explode, and you don’t want that.  Get it out now; air your grievances. Hopefully you married a man who listens and allows you to say what’s on your mind. Which leads me to…

{Our first date-ish. San Diego 11/5/8.  PS: I just realized we got married exactly three years to the day}

5. Say what’s on your mind. Easy for some, very hard for many (I can’t believe I’m writing this – but myself included).  I don’t know about you, but sometimes I tend to want to say something but stop myself because I don’t want to be a nag or too emotional or whatever. I’ll never forget when our therapist told me I deserve to say what comes to mind because I’m an equal part of the relationship, and my thoughts are as valid as his.  She said Get it out!  Don’t play the silent partner because you feel badly about speaking up.  Which leads me to…

6. Therapy is your friend. We first went for pre-marital counseling (which I highly, highly, highly recommend) and sporadically go even now.  My philosophy is – we work out the muscles in our bodies – why not work out our brains and our hearts? Therapy has opened up our minds to alternative ways to look at things and issues, and it’s been incredibly healthy.

7. Make time for each other. This means different things for different couples.  For me it means prying my pale hands off my phone and other electronic devices to spend uninterrupted time focusing on whatever it is I’m doing with my husband – whether it’s watching Real Housewives (*cough, not that he’d enjoy that show) or taking a walk around the neighborhood.  If I’m present, he can pick up on that, and it goes a very, very long way.

8. Remember that you both have friends for a reason. He is not your girlfriend. This means as much as he is a good listener, he can not give you the same kind of attention and feedback as your girls, nor should he be expected to.  This one took me a little while to realize before the lightbulb went off.

9. Try not to be the couple who bicker. And then fail.  Whoops.  My neighbor once told me a story.  In the middle of a party at their place, he and his wife got into a super heated convo in front of everyone.  Just as you could cut the tension with a knife, his friend spoke up and said “Listen everyone, I know you’re probably feeling awkward and not knowing what to do.  But know this: X and X are going to be married a long time, because they get everything out then and there, and then they move on.”  I’m not suggesting you throw knives at each other in front of others War Of The Roses-style, but… ya know.

{One of our first dates.  La Jolla, San Diego 11/8/08}

10. Don’t compare your marriage or your man to others’. You know that super extroverted couple who are always the life of the party?  Well he has major Peter Pan syndrome and she’s insecure. The hot guy my friend was with?  Mom issues. Big ones.  Repeat after me: There is no perfect guy, there is no perfect relationship, and there is no perfect marriage.  Every couple has their dark days, their struggles. As hard as it is, don’t compare.  Don’t do it.


So that’s what I got, folks.  I’m just a lucky girl who found my Jewel of the Nile: A boy with a huge heart, arms always open and ready to embrace me in the best hug ever, a boy who loves me for exactly who I am, and who has just about the cutest smile this side of the Mississippi.  I’m just as in love with him the day we married, if not more.  Ok.  Guest bedroom status is over starting tomorrow.

Got any advice yourself?  Would love to hear.  Agree or disagree with anything?  Talk to me, people!