Nine Months of Marriage
Hello, it’s me, a fully nine month married wifey, whose more than a little confused about where all this time went…
Nine months married? What?
Also- are we still newlyweds? Gosh I miss being able to wear that title with pride! I have a feeling we’re well on our way to settled!
Nine months might seem like a laughably short time to some, but to me, I can’t wrap my head around the fact that I’ve been a Mrs, somebody’s wife, for a whole nine months. That’s long enough to grow a human. That’s an entire school year. That’s like… almost a year.
That’s a long time folks.
It’s long enough that I’m now more used to being married, than I am to not being married. I no longer find it weird to say ‘that’s my husband over there’, or ‘my husband told me’, or ‘can I get a small hot chocolate with whipped cream for my husband’ (he’s not a coffee addict like me, I’ve trained him but not that well). The word husband doesn’t weird me out anymore.
I haven’t accidentally called him my boyfriend in awhile now.
At this point- I am well and truly a wife.
Deep breath. Take a moment. My 16 year old self would be screaming right now.
It’s weird and wonderful but it’s also totally… normal to me.
I definitely spent the first few months of marriage feeling awkward in my new role, making sure I flashed my ring around a lot to announce my new status in life, still feeling strange about the fact that I wasn’t a total bore and different person to my friends now (that’ll happen when we have a kid. Just kidding. Kind of). I don’t remember when the shock of being a totally legit wife faded and I stopped noticing the fact that I had a wedding band snug under my engagement ring, or when I stopped thinking about how this new role and title now defined me, because that definition had become an everyday part of me. It happened slowly and subtly over time, so much so, that I didn’t notice when it had.
And now I realize I haven’t thought about the fact that I’m someone’s wife, in quite some time.
I would say that’s one of the biggest changes that’s taken place for me in the last few months- I have fully accepted and absorbed my new role, my new definition, the new space I take up in my life and the world. And that’s a pretty cool feeling.
I used to count down the days to every monthiversary (it’s a thing people), but I realized that after the six month mark, that kind fo dwindled a bit. Not out of a lack of enthusiasm, but because this has become my new normal, and I’m not looking out for milestones anymore, not hyper vigilant to the changes and the passing of time in our new roles. But here we are, a few days shy of our nine month monthivesrary (it is a thing people!), and so it felt like the right time to look back over the last almost year and trying to figure out what I’ve really learnt about marriage over the course of my own so far.
Marriage is a long game.
When you first get married it’s really easy to focus in on the now and the next year, and the stuff that’s rushing towards you all at once- where will you live, when will you have kids, how will you mange to still watch your favorite Netflix show when all he wants to do is watch the ones about superheroes and people getting revenge? Like what about Yummie Mummies? I need to catch up here.
What you start to realize once you’re out of the early honeymoon phase is that marriage truly is a long game. It can get so easy to focus in on the now, on the honeymoon, on the first home, on the next year, on the next fives years- but marriage is a life thing, at least from my perspective.
And that’s a really grounding thought.
Sometimes you’re going to have to sacrifice what you want now, for what will serve you then. Sometimes you’re going to have to be patient now, so that you can be happy then. Marriage is a long game and you have to play it like one- smarter, more balanced, and with the big picture in mind.
It’s not always easy but it’s always necessary.
You’ll survive the times apart and it won’t change a thing.
A few months ago (November, so not even six months into our marriage), I went home to Dubai for a ‘short visit’ to see my sister who was flying in from New Zealand. Sadly, things didn’t go to plan, and I ended up flying out to New Zealand instead for an extended period of time, to help her with caring for my brother in law who was in a bad biking accident (he’s fine now!).
The long and short of it was: my husband and I had to spend an entire 21 days at a stretch apart during the course of all that was going on. It’s not the only time that we’ve had to spend time apart since getting married because of my husband’s current job in Iraq.
I’m not going to lie- being apart for 21 solid days after finally living together (we did three and a half years of long distance dating before we got married!), was hard.
But we got through it.
Living where we do most of the month (that’s a rather remote part of Northern Iraq if you’re new around here), being apart for stretches of time is becoming a normal part of our life, especially the more time passes. And I know this isn’t going to change any time soon- in fact, with time it may get more frequent, especially if and when we start a family.
Honestly, it kind of stinks. but you can’t have everything the way you waNt it right? and you manage.
I used to worry, irrationally (I mean, we literally met and dived straight into long distance dating, where we stayed and flourished for a very long time), that time apart would affect our relationship. I can say with certainty that it really hasn’t. Whilst not having to be apart at all would be amazing, most people in today’s world will have to spend more time apart than they wish they had to.
It’s important to remember that it won’t change a thing.
Also- Routine is a good thing.
It’s easy to get sucked into that whole trope, the whole got to make sure my marriage doesn’t get stuck in a rut, got to make sure we don’t get into a routine, thing.
Well, I’m here to say- it’s fine. You can get into a routine. It won’t affect your marriage. In fact ,if anything, it’ll take the stress off and make you feel more at home!
It’s totally alright to get into your married life habits, you’ll develop them pretty quickly and they’re not a sign that things are getting boring or slow, or that you need to spice things up or throw in scheduled date nights. Routine can totally be a sign of comfort and true connection- you have routines with yourself right? They’re what keep you calm and stable in a frenzied world.
So it’s totally fine to create routines, whatever that means to you, with your partner, and to indulge in them night after night or every weekend.
Routines can be a good thing, and you can just… relax into them.
You don’t have to be perfect- they didn’t marry you for what you can do- a good partner doesn’t care about anything but the person you are.
Nine months ago, when I was a brand new baby wife, I had all kinds of expectations from myself.
I had to keep the house exceptionally clean, change the sheets and launder them every day, have every surface shining, create incredible Michelin star level meals and bake every other day, I had to wash clothes and iron them the moment they came off our backs, and have diffusers running in every room (picked for the time of day of course), I had to have the cushions constantly plumped, the wardrobes organized perfectly, and be always smiling, attentive, interesting, and ready to take my husband’s laptop bag and keys from him when he stepped in the door, home from work.
Are you ready to gag? Maybe just a little.
I’m exaggerating just a wee bit but I really did want to be epitome of wifely perfection. I’ve managed to keep a home and space that to be honest, comes pretty close to what I demanded of myself, but it’s not perfect. It will never be perfect.
And it’s been hard for me to grapple with all the bits I can’t get just right, and all the bits I perceive myself to be failing at.
But that perceived failure has taught me something really important about marriage: a good partner doesn’t care.
My husband does not care how well I’m doing this whole wife thing. He does not care if I don’t make a bit of effort at all. It has zero bearing on what he thinks of me or how he feels about me.
In fact it goes way further than that. Forget about what goes on in our home, my husband does not care one bit what I do or don’t do, what I achieve or don’t achieve, what I know about, what I can bring to him- he does not care one bit. He adores me for me, and me alone. Maybe this is cringe inducing here, but it’s super important to highlight.
When you’re dating or when you’re in the early stages of a relationship you often feel like you need to bring something, bring some value, to the table.
That’s great and all- but what I’ve learnt now in my nine months of marriage is that all of that is irrelevant- I don’t need to be anything but me and my husband doesn’t need to be any thing but him- and that’s all, and that’s enough.
And honestly? It’s such a weight off. Three cheers for marriage!
Marriage will teach you that you married a human- and that they need care and attention no matter what you’re going through yourself.
My husband and I were super close before we got married- it’s not like there was tons to discover after the fact. Three years of long distance will really stretch you to your limit and require you to step up and be a better communicator, you know, all of that stuff that they say goes into making a good relationship.
And yes it’s all true.
But you can think you know a person as well as any one person ever can know another person, and still be surprised to discover, once you’ve walked down that aisle and up that path to your married home- that you’ve married a human.
Your partner is a human being, not just the person you’ve adored for so long. Human beings are flawed yes but more importantly- they need a lot of attention and a lot of care.
I know what you’re thinking- it took marriage for you to realize that? Nine months of it? What were you doing before?
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I didn’t know my husband needed care and attention, and affection, before we were married. I totally did, and in many ways I possibly made more of an effort before we were married (I don’t buy as many cheesy cards anymore, although note to self, I should). But getting married and being in the same home 24/7 really drove home to me all the little foibles and insecurities and tough moments that we, and our partners, face, on the daily.
And how much all those small moments need your attention, need your response, need your care to smooth them over.
No matter how you’re feeling at the time.
It’s a little like being a parent I think.
Good practice hey?
Everything- every thing- becomes easier and more manageable with time.
I suspected this really early on in our marriage: the things I was struggling to get used to (being away from home, sharing a space with someone new, being responsible for our home and for every bit of my husbands life at home, sharing a bathroom with a boy, losing my own personal space when I went to bed and shut out the world at night), I would eventually get used to.
But a part of me, I have to be honest, worried that I might not.
It can be super overwhelming to be thrown into all these things in one go- and none of them are tiny little changes that take up an hour of your day… this is 24/7 change right here. And there’s nowhere to hide!
But nine months in, I truly feel like I have acclimatized and found a totally new normal. In fact it’s become such a normal normal for me that I find myself struggling to remember what everyday life, what my everyday normal, was, before getting married.
And this new normal is a healthy and happy place. So hang in there. The changes do get easier. And you almost don’t even notice it happening!
They truly are your best friend.
Your friends will always have the same space in your life as they did before. I am not culling girlfriends or diminishing their importance- I’ve written about it here on the blog too, and trust me, girlfriends are super important in my life.
But your partner will always be your best friend in a different way. They’re not your BFF- they’re your best friend in a way that your BFF really doesn’t even want to be.
It can feel scary declaring a lifelong commitment and sharing every thing with someone, no matter how much you love them or how close you are. Marriages fail right?
But nine months in, when you’re in each others face like all the time, I’ve come to realize that that whole slightly cheesy line of ‘I married my best friend’ is really true. There’s a comfort level with your partner that almost makes you feel like you’re working as one and the same person; there’s no more pretenses, there’s no need to try to be anything you don’t feel like being, there’s no pressure anymore, and yes sharing a bathroom is kind of fun.
And finally- you really do have to put them first.
Not sorry though.
Marriage really is a commitment in every sense of the word. It’s a commitment of your time and life and love, but it’s also a commitment of your intentions and resolve. And part of that commitment really is putting the other person before you, whenever you can, as much as you can.
And they need to do the same, don’t worry.
But I do believe that a successful marriage can only really flourish when you put the other person first, before you, before any thing else in your life. That doesn’t mean neglecting your needs, neglecting yourself, or not caring for how you feel, how well you’re doing, how much space or time you need.
None of that needs to be compromised by putting your partner before you. It’s not black and white. It’s not an all or nothing game.
In the early days, putting someone before me consistently was hard. But now, it gives me a sense of happiness and contentment, so it’s a selfish, in a way.
I’m not perfect. I don’t do it all the time. I don’t get it right every day.
But I try.
And there it is: some of the lessons I’ve learnt from nine months of marriage.
Cheers to married life, husbands who don’t hang the towels back up, and celebrating monthiversaries.