“I never want to get married.” These are the words I whispered only to myself as a little girl. The words I told myself as I left church as a teenager hearing a pastor utter phrases like, “a woman needs to be submissive to a man.” The words I told myself as I applied to graduate school, deciding I wanted to dive head first into my career and dreamt to be a successful girl boss one day. I told myself I didn’t want to get married as I looked to my own family and realized that children have never been something I dreamt of.
And let me tell you quite frankly, I was very wrong.
I look back on the little girl I was, and I am proud of how brave I was then. The courage was buried deep inside of me for years with words I never spoke out loud until a drunken evening in college with a childhood friend. We were standing in a tiny bathroom, which four messy girls all shared. The door was never locked as it was a constant stream of someone always needing to shower, put makeup on, or simply sit on the windowsill as I was doing this very evening. “I never want to get married,” I simply said with heavy makeup on my eyes as we sipped our low calorie vodka cranberry cocktails. The universe and fate had different plans for me: just 10 months later, I met the man I would marry seven years later, while studying abroad in the romantic city of Barcelona.
I’m only two and a half years into this adventure called marriage. I look at it exactly that way: an adventure. A bit of a different spin on it than most women might think of marriage. I don’t have the secret sauce to marriage, and the real secret is no one else will. But each of us has the power to start a damn good sauce – finding the right ingredients to get us going and move to that beautiful simmer. But here is what I have learned both from my own marriage and listening to the wisdom of others in healthy marriages.
1) Dream big. Each and every year, sit down with each other and write out your own ‘State of the Union.’ What do you want to accomplish this year? What’s your mission statement? As a married couple, in your career and as an individual. What do you want to focus on this year and make your rallying cry? Write it down and save it. Look at it often. This will get you through those days where the world feels like life is crumbling around you, or you feel like you’re broke because you have to turn down the exotic vacation a friend asked you on because you’re hustling to pay off your student loans. Revisit those dreams throughout the year and for those type A people out there, check the goals off as you accomplish them.
2) Share. Have the courage and confidence to listen with your whole heart. One of the reasons I feared marriage as a girl and young adult was because I thought I would have to change who I was to fit in and be someone else’s companion. I slowly opened my heart up to my husband year after year, and have been rewarded with him saying to me, ‘I love that. Tell me more.’ We say those words to each other frequently, building courage and confidence to keep sharing with each other. To keep being true to whom we are. We don’t have to agree with each other. But we both know we can say some of our deepest fears, evil thoughts, confessions or dreams and know we won’t laugh at each other. We respect each other and all of our crazy ideas, which has brewed a beautiful confidence in me. A confidence I didn’t always have, which has allowed me to be exactly the women I should be. Never stop sharing your crazy thoughts.
3) Date night. We learned early on the power of a date night. One night a week or every other week, we go out and don’t look at our phones, don’t check email or social media and plan an evening together just focusing on us. Usually this involves wine at our house and then dinner out somewhere. It doesn’t have to be super formal or fancy. It’s an intentional evening together sharing what’s on your heart and mind, slowing down for just a few hours and enjoying being together. These nights have made such a difference in our marriage and have been something we’ve each protected when other opportunities arise. So many times I’ve had to say, ‘Sorry, I can’t that night, it’s date night for us.’ And you know what? Your true friends, the type of people you should be surrounding yourself, your tribe, they will understand. They will support your decision to put your marriage as the most important relationship in your life.
Writing about these three lessons, I realize I wasn’t looking for a man to complete me or a man to define me. A man to tell me how many children he wanted. A man to tell me what meals he wanted for the week or tell me no to a business trip. And the reverse was equally true – he wasn’t looking for a woman who wanted to stay at home all day, or a woman to tell him no to the next trip he wanted to take. No, we were both looking for a partner to run with towards our dreams together in life.
Your story and dreams will probably look very different than mine and I love that. I love all of the messy stories behind each marriage. The beauty lies in what you make of the mess. My husband and I have taken these 3 ingredients above – dreaming big, sharing, and date night – and daily made them a part of our marriage. Building a sauce that isn’t so secret and filled with beautifully messy ingredients.
Author: Kelly Dawes
Author Bio: I’m passionate and fearless about exploring this beautiful life. A restless spirit was born inside me that makes me run out in the sun and hop from one airport to the next from all ends of the globe. I’m a career-driven woman whose side passion is writing both fiction and non-fiction articles, short stories and books.
Link to social media or website: http://kellydawes.blogspot.com/