Last month, my husband and I completed 7 years of being married. My greatest emotion is that of immense gratitude for all that this relationship has brought in my life – both the joys and the struggles. The beautiful hikes and the not so pleasant arguments. The lovely experience of being a parent and the not so lovely experience of cleaning up our kitchen together in exhaustion on a Wednesday night. The peaceful weekend mornings before we had our two munchkins and the energy filled mornings with the kids where it can feel like forever to get out the house to drive to the beach! The joys of seeing our creative pursuits (my blog, Sumit’s Sahi Nahi) come to life and the support, sacrifice and planning it takes to fit it all together. While there are parts that of my marriage that I wish were different, I know there is deep meaning and purpose behind all the things that don’t always go the way I want them. As my dad reminds me, it’s a package deal, you can’t really pick and choose the parts that you like and those that you don’t. And honestly, when I am with my wise and peaceful self, I don’t know if I’d really want to choose either…

So, what I have learnt and what does this relationship mean to me today? I thought I’d make this an annual ritual like I have been doing on my birthday to pause and reflect on my truth today.

My first truth is that it takes effort, a lot of effort, every single day to make a marriage thrive and not just get by. There can be lots of reasons to not be empathetic or kind, to not speak in a language important to my spouse, to not forgive, to nag, etc, etc. And it all comes down to being truly invested and to make time not just in the sense of “go on a date night” frequently (though that has its own benefits!!) but to pause, reflect and see what the relationship needs at any given point in time and to make space, make room for that change to happen. And it’s effort that on some days comes with great ease and on other days not so much yet it’s always (okay almost) fulfilling and joyful.

My other big truth is the incredible power of “kind communication” and patience. I say this because I see it first hand as these qualities are very innate to my husband yet I struggle with them. I can be a lot more impulsive, quicker to give him unsolicited advice (when there are healthier alternatives) and lose my calm. I have learnt that it’s absolutely important to speak my needs and share what isn’t working but with immense kindness, every time, no matter what. It’s easy to blame him for the parts in me that aren’t feeling fulfilled but when I start with kindness and compassion, the hard times becomes so, so much easier…

I have also learnt the importance of respecting and accepting our differences. This one is again hard for me. My ego and fear can often show up in unhealthy ways. It means accepting that my husband is a person different than me, with his own do(s) and don’t(s), his own moral standards and own ways of resolving his conflicts and managing relationships. When these differences arise (which they always will), I need to focus on speaking with full honesty and kindness in a way that helps our relationship flourish and not just focus on my own needs in the moment. Sigh, a work in progress and mindfulness practices help!!!

I have also learnt that as much as my husband is an absolutely incredible partner, he can’t and shouldn’t fulfil every need in my life. I am going to set my marriage up for failure by having such expectations.

And yes, I have learnt that you can continue to love someone even more over the years, though the manifestation and the expression of that love changes. I don’t think about him ALL the time as I probably did at one point in my life but my respect, appreciation, gratitude and admiration has for sure grown over time. Yes, some days are dark and sometimes there are even weeks and months where marriage feels difficult yet in the end it’s all worth it.

Looking forward to more diaper changes (oh yes!!), camping trips, disagreements (with kindness), the scarce child free conversations, cleaning our ever messy house (that will someday be cleaner!!) and the abundant hugs.

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