Another Year, Another Anniversary
Marriage is such an interesting concept. For many of us, we are told that it is a rite of passage and often get married in our twenties. Looking back, I thought this made sense when I was younger because I was sure I would have my life together by the time I was twenty. Wow, how wrong was I. I didn’t realize that these would be some of the most crucial years of my life and I would just be getting to know myself. So how does someone who doesn’t know who they are yet decide who they want to spend the rest of their life with? This is why I think it’s important to let everyone experience this journey in their own way.
I’ve learned so much over the past 8 years of marriage. And the biggest lesson has been that marriage will never be perfect. It truly is a return on how much both partners put in. And marriage is ever-changing so it’s important to adapt to the changes as they come. Life will hand you new experiences, challenges, and expectations. The moment you think you have it figured out, you find a new surprise along the way.
Our Marriage Story
Personally, I have experienced some low-lows in my marriage. And at the same time, I have enjoyed some high-highs. When we were in the lows, I used to think it was over and there was nothing worth saving. I had to learn that lows are a normal part of marriage. It cannot always be sunshine and roses. What defines your marriage is how you grow from the lows. Are you learning? Are you working? Are you growing?
I hesitated to write this blog post because I didn’t want anyone to think I was giving marriage advice. I don’t pretend that my marriage is perfect. But then I realized, I can give my experience. As a newly married, barely out of school 20-year old, these are some of the things that I didn’t know and I had to learn. Things I now wish someone had told me but I realize I had to go through them to grow through them.
Our Marriage Lessons
A lot of these lessons, we had to learn the hard way. Unfortunately, even when people give you these lessons as advice, you don’t really listen. At least that was my experience. I thought some of these things weren’t a big deal until I went through them myself and realized the impact on my marriage. But I think that’s the journey of life. You keep things in your back pocket and you grow as you learn lessons. Here are some of the key lessons we have learned along the way:
1. Keep our problems at home
I cannot say this enough. Our business is our business. This does not mean that we don’t seek advice, but we quickly realized that friends and family are not as forgiving as we are of each other. The reason is because friends and family don’t have the full picture. If we only go to them when we’re upset, then they don’t know all the good things about our partner that balance the bad. We also realized that they will never be as invested in our marriage as we are.
2. Don’t let our families make decisions for our marriage and our household comes first
I realized that because we spent our entire childhoods with our family, it was hard to draw boundaries between them and our new nuclear unit. It’s hard to separate our family from our household. I had to learn that while I love my first family, this new household is my chosen family and therefore, my new responsibility. And that comes first.
3. Be kind to each other
In marriage, we fight. The key for us became remembering not to say super hurtful things during the arguments. We realized that everything we say in the heat of the moment leaves a mark. So even when we would make up, some of those hurtful comments would linger for years to come. So now, before we speak, we try to think of the impact a comment will have on future us.
4. Ask each other permission
A lot of people make a big deal out of this, but hear me out. I didn’t say, ask your husband permission. I’m talking to the men too. There’s so much power in respecting each other in a relationship. My husband and I try to be intentional now about communicating when we’re doing something. I have found that it has helped us rebuild and maintain trust in each other. This has been key in our marriage.
5. Have our roles
This is another unpopular opinion, I know! I don’t necessarily mean having strict gender roles. I just mean carrying the load together. If you think of a home as 100% effort and everyone has to contribute, you do what makes sense based on your lifestyle. If we both work and pay bills, then we both work together in the household responsibilities. There are tasks that I do that I wouldn’t expect my husband to do on the daily like cook. But there are things that he does that I almost never touch like laundry.
The idea that women can do it all is unfair and unsustainable. One person cannot do everything. I’m grateful to say that my husband is very hands on with our house and our kids. If I cook all day, he will come and do the dishes. If I spend the day with the girls, he will come and do bath time and bed time with them. So it’s a balance for us. No one person should have to shoulder everything or they will fall.
6. Discuss money
It is said that money is the primary cause of divorce. This is one thing my husband and I have been pretty much on the same page about since day one fortunately. We spend money pretty similarly, we donate the same way, and we both hustle. So we didn’t have major issues even early on when it came to money. Overall he maintains me and the kids and the big bills in the house. But, I do most of the grocery shopping and I also have a few bills that I take care of. Beyond that, I get to spend my money how I please. That’s what works for us. Some couples like to do completely joint accounts. Some couples split everything. It’s what works for you but we realized that as long as we communicate about our system, it works for us!
7. Decide your marriage dealbreakers
I realized for me that there were things I could never stand for. Those things are physical violence, spiritual abuse, and aggressive jealousy. It’s important to have preferences AND dealbreakers. I had to figure out what I would leave for and what I would work through because I used to tell myself that everything my husband did wrong was a dealbreaker. I learned early on that that was not sustainable. Because your partner will hurt you; it’s natural. If you say you’re going to leave every time you get upset, you will have no reason to stay. So I had to distinguish between things that would make me angry that he could apologize for versus things that I would be obligated to end our marriage for.
I decided that I would not let a man beat me; I would not let a man use religion to hold me hostage or make me do things I did not want to do; and I would not let a man be so jealous that I lose all sense of freedom and security. Those became my dealbreakers. As long as my husband never crosses those boundaries, I told myself that I would fight through just about anything else. Again, we learn and we grow. But it’s important for me to have baselines.
Today, my husband and I are in the best place we’ve ever been. We support each other; we work together; and we do life together. I can lean on my husband and I don’t feel like I’m in it alone. We have grown as people and we have found a way to get to know the new versions of each other. I married a young man coming out of his bachelor faze and now I have a religious, family-oriented businessman to share my life with. My husband married a fresh-out-of-college hot girl lol. Today, I am someone’s mother as well as an entrepreneur. Who knows who we will be in 10 years. InshaAllah, God willing, we will continue to work on our marriage, learn lessons, and grow together.
PRO Tip: If you haven’t seen the show Black Love, I highly recommend it!!