things I didn’t know about marriage

Hi friends! Hope you’re having a wonderful morning. I’m off to an appointment, and then we’re going to head to the zoo later today. 

Yesterday, we went down to Newport to watch the waves,

Fam at the beach

and walk around for a little while. Check out the latest OB sand sculpture:

Sand sculpture

Not bad so far, right?

My sand art usually looks something like this:

Sand castle desktop background

Source

So for today, I thought it would be fun to talk about marriage, especially since we’re heading into wedding season, and I know some of you have nuptials on the horizon. Such an exciting time. <3

I’ve had a few requests for posts on this subject, and it’s one of those subjects which I’m not at all qualified to write about. It’s like when I would get requests to blog about parenting while P was screaming and spitting up all over me, and Liv was simultaneously having a melt-down. (Thankfully, both the aforementioned events have tapered off lately.) With parenting, we’re all in unique situations and circumstances, but still have a lot in common: we’re flying by the seat of our pants, educating ourselves, and doing the best we can with what we have. You lead with love and learn along the way.

The same goes for marriage.

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Tom and I got married at a younger age. I met him while I was still in college and spent my senior year engaged to him while he was overseas. I still love our love story, and after all of the years that we’ve been together, thinking about the night we met at Starbucks still gives me goosebumps. We’ve been though a lot together: time apart, moves across the country (a few of times!), adventures, grieving, happiness, puppies, and babies. 

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While we’ve had an amazing love, it certainly hasn’t been perfect. I have a classic Latina temper (which has mellowed out a lot over the years), and he is methodical and wants to fix everything. This is amazing, because he genuinely wants to help everyone and everything, but is sometimes missing the emotional component of an event in the determination to solve it. 

Things i ve learned about marriage

some of the things I’ve learned along the way:

-It’s not always 50-50. This is something I learned from my great aunt and uncle, and it’s so true. Marriage isn’t always 50-50. Sometimes it’s 40-60, 30-70, 80-20… There are some times when one partner has to give more to help the other. Right now, Tom has certainly been giving more in our relationship to help me recover, and pick up extra parenting duties as I’ve been healing from the surgery. When he’s out of town for work, I’m the one who picks up the extra tasks. It all balances out, and even if it doesn’t, it doesn’t really matter. It’s not a balancing act, and it’s not about being “even” all the time. More importantly, this applies to the intangibles. There are times when one partner finds themselves a little out of it, and sometimes that phase lasts for a while. That can affect several aspects of the relationship, but with patience, understanding, and determination from both people, it too will pass. 

-Where does it rank on the stress meter? I used to get stressed out about the smallest things. It’s part of my Type A personality, and little bumps along any of my plans would drive me absolutely bonkers. The Pilot has experienced a different kind of stress in his life. You know, like the life-threatening kind. That’s given him a bit of a unique perspective on what really matters. He always used to tell me that if it’s not a 7 out of 10 on the stress scale, it’s not worth freaking out about. This has helped me a lot in our relationship, and a lot with life in general. I’ve been able to really dial down my stress and how I allow external factors to affect me. As my therapist says, “If you react to everything, you’ll drive yourself crazy.”

Us in pedicab

some of the things I did know:

-You work as a team. We’ve known each other for so long that this has become second nature. We swoop in and help each other out where we need it. We’re usually on man defense at our house: one person is giving P a bath while the other is in bed with Liv, reading stories. If one of us needs to do something (or even just needs a break to go work out or do something alone for a while), the other person swoops in and takes over. It’s funny because we rarely have to ask each other; I think we’re pretty good at seeing what needs to be done to help out and stepping in. 

-Don’t be an a**. This is just good advice for life in general. It can be difficult to show kindness and love, all the time, especially when someone else is being a grouch. We feed off each other’s energy, so if one of us is feeling *off* or grouchy that day, we each try really hard to show love and not let it affect us. This can be challenging (especially if he’s feeling stress from work, or if I’m burned out from all of the plates I try to juggle), but it’s worth it. 

-If you love someone, you make it work. Sometimes marriage is easy, while other times it can be really, really hard. One of the most challenging times we experienced was in the first year after Liv was born. We were both mentally and physically exhausted, I was suffering from anxiety and what was later assessed as undiagnosed PPD, and we found ourselves in roommate mode. Even though we felt like partners sometimes instead of husband/wife, we pushed through this challenging time and made it work because we wanted to. At the end of the day, that’s really it. You both just have to want to make it work. You have faith that the love you share will is worth the work. So, we planned dates and quality time with each other, and we learned how to still show each other love while taking care of our house and family. 

This is something I’ll be continuing to learn about, especially as our kiddos grow, we have new experiences as a couple and family, and how our jobs and dynamics will shift over time. I’m just happy and lucky to have this guy by my side. <3

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I’d love to hear your best marriage/life/partnership tip in the comments, if you’d like to share, especially we’re heading into wedding season! Or maybe it’s something you saw your mom and dad or grandparents do or did that you’d like to replicate?

Have a wonderful day and I’ll see ya soon with a new musical strength workout!

xoxo

Gina

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Comments

  1. Amy Ramos says:

    Love this post! My husband and I will be married for eight years in September but we have know each other for over 20 years (high school sweethearts). We have gone through ALOT of things while were dating and married.
    The first year was ROUGH, especially with dealing with my mother’s death.
    The second year we were going through infertility. That is something they don’t tell you about marriage. It is a rough ride for sure.
    Third year we bought a house. Yah, that is stressful.
    The fourth year through now has had its bumps in the road but we always come out together as a team.
    And something they don’t tell you about marriage-counseling. Even the best couples go to counseling. It is can do wonders on yourself and as a couple.

    I remember reading somewhere, as a married couple, you may have good days, weeks, months or even years. It is your job as a team to make those bad days even out with the good days.

    As my hubby says, we are a righteous team and we will always come out on top. Indeed we will, indeed we will.

  2. Thanks for sharing really beautiful tips ! I have been married 27 years. Everything was beautiful, 2 boys and great marriage. But sometimes he wold hide certain things thinking I’ll get upset but I always told him I’ll be more upset if I find out later, to sum it all up. Went through rough times because of that. Lost trust in things he said sometimes, went for therapy too. But we still loved each other. So recently he went to Vegas on business trip. For the past 2 years I did go with him. This time he said that I will be busy and cannot give time. First I cried and all got him to take me too but in the end pulled out.he went for 5 days I was really mad like where he is,etc. he got back and was nice to me and apologized that I should have taken you etc. but the damage was done! Now I keep asking him if he did anything that I should know he swears that he’s extremely loyal to me. But I’m satisfied sometimes and others get mad and cry. He used to snore non stop before. After coming back he didn’t snore at all. I was checking him all night. I got even more suspicious! I’m driving myself crazy. He has never cheated on me before but like trainer with British accent for 6 months finally I woke up and stopped it! She was married with a kid. These little things makes me suspicious if he’s telling me the truth or not.Either way I’m upset right?Please advice. Thanks.

    • Adrienne says:

      I highly recommend any book about being anxiously attached. Attachment theory, while being a theory, has been a very helpful and popular way of understand how and why people connect the way they do. For example here are two of my favorites:

      Insecure in Love: How Anxious Attachment Can Make You Feel Jealous, Needy, and Worried and What You Can Do About It, by Leslie Becker-Phelps

      Wired for Love: How Understanding Your Partner’s Brain and Attachment Style Can Help You Defuse Conflict and Build a Secure Relationship, by Stan Tatkin

      Take care of yourself first and foremost…each time you wonder about things that are not based in reality (suspicions around cheating) it is pulling you away from your happiness. Not worth it!

  3. Great post, Gina! We just got married last year, so I don’t have much advice at this point. I can say, though, that I agree with your points – especially that you have to want it, that things aren’t always going to be perfect, and that there is a natural flow of imbalances that all seem to work themselves out in the end. Thanks for posting!

  4. This is a great post! My husband and I have been married for 7 years next week. Two kids later, I think we have a strong marriage, but it is not without trials. Recently, I have been feeling frustrated and have been keeping everything inside. I don’t know how to talk about all the things that are bothering me, but I feel like things are starting to fester. This was a good reminder that ups and downs happen to everyone and we will get through it. THANK YOU!

  5. angie kilar says:

    Great advice! My hubby and I have been married for 12 years and have 2 kids (I also have an older son from a previous relationship) What works for us is COMMUNICATION!!! Don’t sweep things under the rug. Like you I have a latina temper (which thankfully has mellowed out as Ive gotten older). But my hubby is soooooo mellow, does not get angry much. I can count on one hand how many times ive seen him mad.
    I do agree you have to TRUST your spouse. If you don’t then you need to reevaluate the relationship.

    Every couple has their ups and downs. we definitely have esp in the last couple years. Our daughter was born with complications which we are dealing with. Thankfully we leaned on each other, having him by my side esp after her birth and being in the NICU really helped me and lifted me up. Then he was forced to retire from the AF right after that. But it made us stronger. As long as you work on things together you will be fine.

    • angie kilar says:

      Also..I always looked at my grandparents on both sides as encouragement. My moms parents are STILL married, they are both in their 80s and had 13 kids. My hubby and I are just like them too. I am outspoken, where as my hubby is quiet. My grandmother is also outspoken, my grandpa is mellow.
      My dads grandparents were the same way. Regardless my grandmothers were always the backbone to hold the family up. I have always tried to copy that.

      I agree about not being an a&$. When I am in a bad mood I just go hide in the room for a while and watch tv. He will come in and check on me, give me a kiss and let me be. He knows when I am ready to talk I will.

      The biggest thing though is ALWAYS let them know how you feel. I don’t see my hubby during the week, I work nights 3pm-midnight, he works 7am to 7pm. But we text all day, tell each other I love you at least once. Then on the weekends we are stuck together like glue. I love being with him and having family time with our kids.

  6. My husband and I are lucky to have parents that stayed together through thick and thin and that’s the biggest lesson we have learned from them. Life is filled with ups and downs and so is marriage, because it’s about sharing your life together. It’s natural, and knowing that makes me feel better during the tough times.

  7. That comment regarding Tom missing the emotional component – I thought you were describing my boyfriend!!
    I actually had to tell him that when I’m upset, it helps me more when he just says something like ‘yes, this situation is annoying and I can see why you’re upset’ instead of talking about the solution to my problem 😉
    We had many arguments about this one…

    • Fitnessista says:

      haha it seems like it’s pretty common! we’ve had a lot of talks about it, too. once i was really upset about something and i said, “can you please just tell me it sucks?” that’s all i needed to hear 🙂

      • Haha, that’s EXACTLY what I told Andrew

        • Same here. My husband (of 3 years) is so calm and unbothered by things that sometimes I have to say “Just let me be upset about this. It’s okay to be upset sometimes!”

          Also, the two best pieces of marriage advice I’ve received are:

          (1) “Marriage is not 50/50, it’s 100/100.” My grandma wrote this in our wedding card, and I love it. To me, it’s not saying we both need to be at our 100% best all of the time, but that it takes full commitment to the relationship from both of us to make it work.

          (2) “Your job is to get your husband to heaven, and his job is to get you to heaven.” When we did our Catholic pre-marriage course, the deacon said this to us as a way to explain supporting each other in our personal/romantic lives and keeping religion/faith involved. I like to think of this as a higher purpose to our marriage – helping each other to be better people along the path of life.

      • Have you seen this animation of Brene Brown speaking on empathy? I sat my husband down and made him watch this video and now he brings it up to me – like “Remember empathy?!” It’s awesome!

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Evwgu369Jw

  8. Love this post Gina! Totally agree!

  9. Great post, Gina! While I am not married yet, my boyfriend and I have been together for about 3 years now, and living together for 2. It wasn’t until we moved in together that I truly understood what people meant when they said relationships take work. Prior to this I had such a naïve view on relationships, I thought, “If it takes that much work then it must not be meant to be.” How wrong was I! I loved the part in your post about how everything isn’t 50/50. That is probably one of the biggest things I’ve learned in the past 3 years. Being able to recognize when your partner needs a little more help or maybe some time to just ~be~ is essential. There is no reason to keep score and try to balance it out, like you said.

  10. Oh man. I am so glad to hear Thad someone else has fallen into roommate mode with their spouse. I hate that feeling, but I’ve felt it more since having kids than I ever expected. I love this post so much, thank you for writing it! As a fellow high stress person, I’d love to hear your secrets on taking it down notch! I overreact SO much to some stressors….

    • Fitnessista says:

      i feel like it happens to so many people! with kids, it takes more work to make time as a couple, but is so worth it for the kids to see a mom and dad who love each other
      as far as the stress thing goes: meditation, yoga and therapy have all helped SO much
      xoxo

  11. I couldn’t agree with these tips more!! I feel like I learn something new about marriage every day!!!

  12. I love this so much!! <3 <3 <3

  13. Great points! Your feisty side and your husband’s methodical nature remind me of my relationship. 2 things that my husband and I do…
    1. Go to bed angry – I’m sort of kidding about this, but usually when we get in an argument for some reason it’s always at night! After discussing a little and not totally resolving it, we “go to bed angry” and we wake up a little more rational and are able to see both sides. (And there are those occasional times when I know an “I’m sorry” is in order).
    2. Before we go into a stressful situation (home for Christmas/big event) we make a list of things/situations that will irritate us. When the situation comes up it’s hard not to laugh! One Thanksgiving we made a Bingo board for each topic.

  14. Gina! Do you have advice for significant others of men in the military? 😉 😉 I actually have some specific questions for you personally, if you’re game to email a bit.

    xo
    M

    pS – baby P is just getting cuter and cuter each day.

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