I complete 9 years of being married this week. If I had one word to describe these last 9 years, I’d say – beautiful and if I had more I’d add purposeful, joyful, challenging. There is something incredibly powerful, (much more than I would have ever realized when I was tying the knot) about spending your life so intimately with another human being with whom you share a lot in common but yet you are two different individuals. The ability to be so vulnerable about the tiny details of your life and mind and be loved back unconditionally is a gift that I am always grateful for (okay, maybe not when I am mad for him going off schedule!!). And then add the magic (and chaos) of raising kids together and I find both the love and the struggles of marriage both go to a different level than when we were just the two of us.
So, I haven’t figured out all the secrets to a perfect marriage (if that term is even true) but I have had my fair share of lessons for sure that I am taking into our 10th year as I wrap up a year where we both learnt and grew significantly as individuals and as a unit.
- My Oxygen Mask – This one has been showing up in almost all my blog posts lately and couldn’t be more relevant in my marriage. When I am nourished and full, I have more to give, more to express, more empathy, more forgiveness. You get the point. Sometimes, a 90 min yoga class can benefit the marriage more than a glass of wine on the couch.
- Growth Mindset vs. Acceptance – It’s an incredibly fine balance in knowing when to accept your partner’s habits and values vs. when to push towards a growth mindset to learn something new that can benefit the marriage and family at large. No magic bullet here but the key is to speak with kindness and respect in those hard moments and to have brutally honest conversations on the cost of one person’s behavior on the system. It’s equally important to respect and understand that something that comes naturally to me (or Sumit) may be very hard for the other person and to celebrate the action being taken and the small wins we are having. I am still learning to stay calm and be less impulsive and this is clearly an area I need to grow…
- My Spouse Can’t Be Everything – While it is incredibly beautiful to experience a lot of your life with your spouse, I also believe that there are other relationships that are important and that there will be interests, hobbies and people that we will not share. Not only is that beautiful, it’s also incredibly healthy to step away and come back with more empathy, respect and appreciation for the experiences we do share together.
- Make Time – Nothing can beat the simple act of prioritizing and making time especially in a season of life when there are so many competing demands. Making time to experience the good and bad of life together is incredibly important in any relationship but perhaps the most in close relationships where its easy to take things for granted or over index on work or kids and doing that for too long creates wounds that then take more time to repair…
- Do the hard work – It is so easy to say no to the hard conversations – to raise your hand and ask for what you need, to be vulnerable and share what’s making me insecure but, in the end, the hard conversations are worth it. Yes, sometimes a comedy movie is what the relationship needs but if I am doing that to escape the real stuff, the payoff isn’t huge. On a similar note, learning to be a better communicator is also a big one.
- Rituals – There is something grounding about rituals, doing things with intention and integrity repeatedly. This year our most beautiful ritual was a weekly date night and a weekly walk to our local mountain view downtown. Some weeks we could do both other weeks it was just one, but we were on track most weeks for at least one reflecting on our week, appreciating what we loved about each other, addressing issues that needed to be fixed and planning for the week ahead. In this season of our life, a few hours a week focused on each other was a beautiful time that we could count on every week and made a huge difference.
- Gratitude & Kindness – This one is my most powerful lesson, and nothing beats words of appreciation for one another and truly communicating and acting with kindness especially on days and moments when its hard. Almost all our hurt feelings and arguments can both be prevented and healed with loving words.
- Double Dates – There is something beautiful about connecting with another couple and listening to and sharing our own stories in a real, authentic way. Hoping to invest more into this in the new year.
- Start Again – Finally, its the simple mindset of starting afresh, again the next morning. Choosing love, when love is hard, choosing forgiveness when anger feels easier, a hug over an unkind word. For the relationships that matter, sometimes you have to hit the gas pedal after hitting the break, over and over again.
Happy anniversary my love, grateful for these 9 incredible years and excited to experience the next 9 (and more) together.