Tuesday, December 05, 2017

What I Wish I Knew Before Saying I Do

I don't know if I have ever had a bigger mix of feelings than the night before Gary and I got married. I realized the magnitude of what was to be – til death do us part. There was deep excitement and a whole lot of fear, to best honest. We had a rocky dating relationship (date, break up and repeat) which I never imagined would be the case with the man that I was supposed to be with forever. I figured that when you met "the one" it would be easy from that point on because it was meant to be. Maybe working through those stages helped realistically prepare us for what was to be in a lifetime together.

What I wish I knew before saying I do

The next day, as I stood with my parents about to approach the aisle, I asked my mom to tell me a joke because I could not handle the range of emotions. She told me one about a cow that I wasn't able to processs it but it allowed me to walk down the aisle while staying emotionally intact. It ended up being the best day of my life.

Our marriage is so much more than I ever imagined.

More work. More joy. More depth. More love. More vulnerability. More growth. Just more. I am thankful that I walked down that aisle towards Gary and in doing so, towards all that would become in our lives together including self-awareness. It has not been an easy road and these are the words I wish I could give to myself before walking down that aisle...

Dear Louise,

I know you are nervous and excited. Nervous about the idea of forever and excited for a house and babies and travelling adventures. Let yourself feel all those feelings, there is no right or wrong way to go through it. You will be the emotional one in this relationship which may make you feel out of control sometimes but just keep working through it.

It's okay that it took you a while to get here, probably longer than you wanted, but I am so glad that it did. You were able to grow into you through experiences in travelling and volunteering and starting your career. Why do people make us feel like we should be in such a rush to get married? Travelling was and is such a transformative highlight.

What I Wish I Knew Before Saying I Do
Our engagement
You love adventure and guess what? Marriage is full of it – the excitement and the unknown. You can't control everything and spoiler alert: you don't know everything. Be open to his ideas and trust them. Listen to understand and not just thinking about your response. It's harder to be angry and frustrated when you understand his intentions. Assume the best because he loves you so much.

Enjoy yourself. The fun feeling of the sleepover that never ends will fade but there is still a lot of joy to be had in each day. Don't forget to be playful as you tend to be a bit serious as you manage the kids, house and calendar. He will learn early on that jumping out of a closet to surprise you isn't actually that funny (especially when you're pregnant) but having a dance party in the kitchen is always a good thing. I promise you that Gary does not care about the size of your belly so just be proud to be you – a strong, beautiful woman.

Just because you can be vulnerable does not mean he will be as well. Honour the feelings that he does share so he will be more willing to do so in the future. When it feels like he is taking forever to get his thoughts out (when you can blurt them out in nanoseconds), be patient. He's taking a long time because he doesn't want to hurt you with what he says and he's trying to think of the best way to say it; you're a bit...sensitive.

I know it's scary to not have life planned out. You can have your five year plan but be open to change. Having kids may not happen according to your timeline. Your health won't always be what it currently is – watch out for stress because it will affect you more as you get older. You can't control everything which will be a hard but important lesson for you.

Becoming parents is going to be a game changer. I know you think you can do anything and that life won't change once you have kids but, well, I'll tell you now that pregnancy, childbirth and the sleep-deprivation of a newborn is not something you can just willpower through. Just because you can climb a mountain does not equal the mental/emotional exhaustion of all there is to do. Don't worry, you'll do it, and do it well, but maybe understand that it's not failure if you find it difficult. When your friend says childbirth is like a marathon, don't believe her. It's like an Ironman with new events thrown in along the way.

Treat him well. You may see the calm and confident man before you but I now see him as a culmination of the stages that he has gone through. He still needs affirmation that he's capable and awesome and the reassurance of connection just as we do in childhood. It may appear that he rock steady but underneath that is some fear and insecurity. Learn his sensitivities and approach them gently.

Love languages, yo. Learn this early. Just because you thrive on a "Thank you for cleaning the house today, I'm so lucky to have you" it may not have the same effect on him. There's definitely a need for some more of the cuddling as far as he concerned. Oh, and it actually matters to him where stuff goes in the fridge so try to learn the system earlier than later. I think leftovers are supposed to go on the bottom shelf.

What I Wish I Knew Before Saying I Do

It's always worth it to have "the conversation". There will be times when you are so mad (you may even throw a bag of potatoes) or so sad (when you feel unappreciated and nobody cares) but it is always worth it to initiate the conversation and work through it. You can't grow by skipping over or avoiding it. You need to wade through the mess to get through it. There will be valleys. And peaks. That's normal and you are not immune. Just because you can get an A in Chemistry doesn't mean you can study your way into one for marriage.

I promise you that it is worth it and the best adventure of your life. You've got this. Have fun.


PS Buy a house as soon as possible.

This is part of a writing challenge and the word of the week was "Letter". Here are several other pieces written with that theme:

Robyn at Creativity Strikes
Tamara at Discovering Parenthood
Shannon at Shannon Lee Blog
Dana Dykema on Facebook

As always, I'd love to see you on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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What I wish I had known before saying "I do". Marriage is hard work and I wasn't prepared.

1 comment:

  1. I love how much you talk about marriage and the hard parts as well as all the good parts. I think too often we just share the good about marriage, the easy stuff. It's really those hard parts that make us strong together. Now, the working through the hard parts is a lot of work and can feel so uncertain....but when you make it through..WOW! The closeness is amazing.