What comes to mind when you think of the term "marriage"? For me, I've always thought of forever.
I pictured my parents, who after over 30 years of marriage, have never had an argument in front of me or my siblings, who stuck by each other's side through things that have may broken other marriages, who were there for each other through the deaths of both of their mothers and grandmothers. I think of cooking competitions, and laying in bed on lazy Sundays. I think of pure, simple, happiness.
So, why didn't I feel that in the months, weeks, and days leading up to my marriage? Why wasn't I walking on a cloud of sunshine and rainbows?
The truth is, in the words of Tamar Braxton, everything was not lingerie and Marvin Gaye in the time leading up to my marriage, or even the beginning of my marriage. My expectations of whatever issues we were facing before we got married suddenly disappearing the moment we said "I do" were obviously never going to happen and the bad habits of mine that I carried from being a girlfriend, to fiancee, to wife were not going anywhere unless I decided to put in the work needed to fix them.
I found myself using the phrases, "Well, as a husband you should..." or "Well, I'm your wife now so..." far too often and felt like I only used the terms "husband" and "wife" to lay out my expectations of what I felt wasn't being done that I wanted them to immediately change.
The beautiful enduring terms of "husband", "wife", and "marriage" became a poison I would spew out to in some way gain leverage during a disagreement or to start one.
It was hard for me to see past what I wanted and take in what he needed in our relationship and marriage. I still found myself holding things from years prior against him and found it hard to let even the simplest offenses go, constantly thinking of what could go wrong, what shouldn't have been going wrong, and the possibility of it going wrong again, as opposed to being happy for all the many things that had continuously went right.
After countless talks, come to Jesus moments, reading (The Four Agreements is amazing if you've never read it) and gut-wrenching, ugly before it became beautiful, simple self-reflection, I was able to start becoming the person, the woman, the wife I've always wanted to be.
Though yes, I was married a year ago, I honestly did not embody what I felt a wife should be nor the person I would have wanted to marry until quite recently.
Neither one of us are perfect in our relationship or marriage, and like most married millennials, are simply trying to figure things out day by day. I can truthfully say I'm in a much better space than I was in last year and am constantly growing to be better.
Now, just a few weeks after our one year anniversary of saying "I do," I can acknowledge how much I've grown, how little I knew, and how arrogant I was to assume just because we had dated for so long that marriage would be a cake walk.
I was lucky enough to marry my best friend, and while most nights feel like an adult sleepover, we still have our hurdles, preconceived notions, and mirrors through which we've been groomed since childhood to see the world, that we are forever breaking and creating anew.
If you too struggled within the first year of your marriage, know that everything gets better but only if you let it. Remember to never base your relationship or marriage on any other couple and acknowledge that all you can do is your best in this game we call life. At least, that's what I'm learning.
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