I. Much to my surprise, I found that being married feels a lot like not being married. To which some might say, “You must be doing one of them wrong then.” But I don’t mean that nothing has changed. It’s just that how I feel about him and how I feel about spending time with him has changed much less than I expected it to. Marriage is better than I expected it be. Four years of it have not been enough for me to lose the sense of wonder that this is my life. This. Here. With HIM.
II. A lot of people believe that making babies is the sole (or at least, greatest) purpose of marriage. Therefore, if you are married for more than one year without making a baby, people will wonder why not. Most of them will not have the courage to ask you.
III. Either I married a very rare man (possible), or 84% of the stereotypes about men in marriage are false. Example: that whole thing about husbands being oblivious to their wife’s feelings. Ha. He is often more aware of my emotions than I am. Other examples: he has more social graces than I do and is generally better at reading people. He is a better cook than I am. I am more coldly logical than he is. He is more fascinated by fashion than I am. He is just as attuned to the romance and poetry of life as I am, sometimes more. I could go on, but some things are not your business.
IV. Food is delightful. I really did not know this before I was married; I kind of hated eating. But he is a foodie in every sense of the word, and he brought me into a whole new world. Now I relish eating good food, trying new tastes, and even cooking. Every meal with him is an adventure.
V. Lots of people will tell you that fighting is part of a healthy relationship. And it always made me feel faintly guilty and confused, because we just never fought. I don’t repress my feelings – actually, that’s a total lie; I absolutely repress my feelings when I think they’re illogical and incorrect, but as I mentioned he’s really excellent at reading me and since I believe lying is morally despicable and therefore I’ve never become particularly skilled at it, my feelings usually come out anyway. And he says he doesn’t repress his feelings, and I tend to trust him. So, I wondered, why didn’t we fight? I didn’t particularly want to fight because it didn’t actually seem that fun, but still, did our lack of fighting mean there’s something deeply wrong with our relationship and we’re doomed? But then, thank God for humans who have the gift of wisdom and say things like: “Conflict is part of a healthy relationship. Contention is not.” And the heavens opened and the stars aligned and the angels sang and Jenny understood a thing she had never understood before. Because we do have hard conversations and sometimes they are very hard and I feel wrong and misunderstood and he says things like “I’m just not gonna say anything right now because if I do, I’ll hurt you.” And to some of you that may sound like a fight. But I disagree, because if you are fighting, you are trying to defeat the other person. When we have hard conversations, we are working towards a greater understanding of ourselves and each other and whatever the conversation is about, and we are trying to do it without causing each other unnecessary pain. I cannot remember ever once wanting to hurt him, and he has never been cruel to me.
Conflict is part of a healthy relationship. Contention is not.
VI. On the other hand, physically fighting with someone who is far stronger than me is so much fun.
VII. The way we communicate is not the way most people communicate with each other. I just said that we don’t fight, which I believe to be true. But it’s also true that someone once asked us if we ever don’t fight. This is because we do challenge each other constantly. There is much teasing, and even more debating, and we like it that way. I secretly feared that I would marry a man who wouldn’t be able to challenge me intellectually (I know, that sounds arrogant, but I also know how it feels to lose brain games on purpose because you know people will feel bad and like you less if you beat them all the time. I know my weaknesses and they are legion, but they don’t include a lack of intelligence and for years I felt guilty about that, like I needed to keep it concealed). I am so grateful that he can, and does, and enjoys it as much as I do.
VIII. He does not particularly enjoy eating desserts. This does not stop him from being delighted when I bake them for him.
IX. I don’t have to work through everything on my own. I don’t have to work through everything on my own.
X. He cannot be my solid rock, my guiding star. He is my protector and provider, he is home to my heart, but he cannot be the center of my universe. And if I try to put him there, I will hurt us both.
XI. It’s okay to ask for compliments. It’s okay to believe he means them even when I asked for them.
XII. When it comes to relationships, there are many people with opinions and there are even several with wisdom. There are many people whose marriages appear healthy and completely different from ours. We may learn something from everyone, but at the end of every day, we go home together and we have to work out what a healthy relationship looks like for us, regardless of anyone else’s thoughts on the matter. Comparison is poison and expectations are deadly.
XIII. Giving in is the fastest way to make him stop teasing me.
XIV. We don’t understand anyone. You can have a close relationship with someone for years and be living and sleeping with them for 1,461 days and nights, and you still don’t truly, fully know them. (You may think you do. You’re wrong, both from a biblical and a psychological perspective. You don’t even know yourself.) But that doesn’t mean you can’t feel safe with them…because trust. And yes, there is definitely danger in joining yourself with something which you cannot understand and which you should not be able to control, but so it is with any kind of relationship, because so it is with the Divine. And honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. The human soul is deeper than human comprehension, and that means I need never be bored of him, unless I choose to be.
The human soul is deeper than human comprehension.
What is one relationship-thing you have learned in the past 4 years?
7 thoughts on “14 Things I’ve Learned in 4 Years of Marriage”
This is amazing, Jen ! I like it a lot.
Who knew you were such a wise little one? It’s refreshing to read your take on marriage. I feel very similar to you and hesitate to speak of it so much because as one of my coworkers once told me “You make me sick! You are so lucky and have it so good!” And I agree. I am lucky. It’s nice to read about happy, healthy relationships.
“A lot of people believe that making babies is the sole (or at least, greatest) purpose of marriage…” 😂😂😂 cracking up over the accuracy of this one.
Also there’s so much truth in the fact that what works for someone else’s marriage is probably not going to look like what works for you.
One thing I’ve been learning the last few years relationship-wise is just how precious relationships are. As an introvert, that is a significant thing to learn. 😂
Yay for fellow writers who understand the importance of specifics! Thank you so much for this 🤗 and thank you for answering the question! Yes, can definitely relate.
This is beautiful! I have a quiz on my website aimed at better understanding yourself and your spouse that talks about a couple of the things you mentioned.