A Year in Full

So I failed to post on Sunday night (again), but this time I had a good reason. Sunday, September 30th marked my one year wedding anniversary to my wonderful friend, husband, lover, and partner. We pretty much spent the whole day at home lounging after a ridiculously heavy home-cooked breakfast (thank you SmittenKitchen!), the power of which we vastly underestimated. This anniversary, the first of many, proved a good time to pause and reflect on the challenges and accomplishments of the past year as well as the lessons learned. I am no expert on relationships and being married hasn't changed that. But here are a few insights I think are worth sharing:

There will be things that drive you crazy - I know this is not news but I can honestly bear witness to the fact that there will inevitably be things that your partner does that will annoy you and you him or her. If your 'list' of ideal qualities and deal-breakers includes things like 'organized and neat' or 'has the same idea of romance/communication/social activity as me' you might want to rethink how important these are. Admittedly my husband and I were really lucky to have recognized our love and compatibility rather quickly, so we skipped over a lot of the 'learning about the quirks' process until after we were engaged and then married. We've since discovered that we both have unique ways to annoy one another - he embraces disorderliness and seems to think I can predict the weather and I frustrate him by making plans and revealing them to him as an after-thought. Being married takes getting used to. But we love each other and we acknowledge this in words and actions every day. So be sure to discern the subtle distinction between simply having high standards and being picky and uncompromising. No one is perfect and you will be surprised how flexible love can make you!

It's all part of the game - Remember that awesome Micheal Douglass movie, The Game, where he plays a wealthy but bored-to-death bachelor who signs up for a mysterious game with a company that then begins to terrorize him? The entire movie you ask yourself whether or not the whole thing is a giant con or really a game. Well I can't tell you how many times this year we have referred to that movie in order to put tense situations into a larger, life-size perspective. Believe me, dealing with U.S. immigration and living on literally $20 for a couple of weeks until the next student loan disbursement comes through is no fun. But having a perspective-shifting mechanism as an individual or a couple works wonders.

Empathy and Evolution are key - One of the most important lessons my husband has taught me is the importance of empathy in any relationship. He constantly challenges me to think and feel and consider beyond boundaries I have set between myself and others, including him. I am learning how to be more considerate, selfless, and thoughtful. Mind you, I wasn't a horrible person to begin with, but I feel like I've evolved in this past year. My younger sister has already attested to this - to my chagrin. Even admitting this takes a level of humility and the realization that we all have room for growth along various dimensions. Allowing people to impact you positively in these areas is part of what relationships are about. It is a constant give and take.

Ladybugs, lots of Ladybugs - If you know me, you know that one of my all-time favorite movies is Under the Tuscan Sun. Though it fits squarely under the dreaded 'chick flick' category it is actually full of profound insights about life and love and happiness...no gagging please. One of the stories told to the main character played by Diane Lane by a friend is that when said friend was young she used to search in the grass for ladybugs for hours in vain. Finally, frustrated and tired, she would just give up and nap. When she would wake up she would have ladybugs crawling on her. The message is simple: sometimes the best way to find what you are looking for is to just relax and be and let it come to you. Whether what you want is your partner, your next professional opportunity, or some standard of 'happiness.' While I know this to be true, I am still coaching my over-stimulated brain to sometimes slow its pace. I am still learning to appreciate the pauses, the in between times, the lazy moments without plans, and empty spaces. I find this an even greater and perhaps more important effort in a couple. Not only am I constantly thinking and wanting and planning for myself, but my stress level, anxieties and lengthy to-do lists are obviously impacted by the thoughts, actions, wants and needs of my husband. Relationships of any kind, especially a marriage, do hold the possibility of double the stress. Celebrating the present moment, however unfinished or incomplete, rather than the constant search for future fulfillment is so necessary.

All in all, we've had an awesome first year. It went by in the blink of an eye, as if I had walked down the aisle a month ago. We are blessed and never fail to acknowledge this to ourselves and each other and try to live in a way as individuals and a couple that is deserving of this blessing. It helps that we have a loving community of family and friends to keep us in check. May the adventure continue!


bigwordgirl said...

...love your post as well as the title of your blog...thanks for sharing your thoughts with the world...your words remind me how important it is to have patience with your partner and to, of course, be kind...hope you are well!

Courtney said...

Thank you for the words of encouragement bigwordgirl! I sometimes wonder if anyone is reading! I'm glad this post touched you in some way. Keep reading and feel free to share as well!