1. Always Put Each Other First
When we first got married, I would notice how easy it was to take small matters too far. I have seen that, culturally, men and women are taught that marriage is not between the couple, but two families and that makes my head spin. Within the first year, I had to work on reminding myself that down the road, it will just be my husband and I. Children eventually grow up. Family, work, and education sort itself out, but if we lose our love, nothing will be worth it. Parents ultimately must go through the empty nest and by then, I want our relationship to be strong enough to let out children fly and transition with ease. Putting each other first also meant to not judge one another. I practiced stopping negative mental chatter because it breaks trust and vulnerability.
2. Friendship/companionship over husband/wife
After marriage, as we became closer and learned more about each other, I realized friendship needs to start all over again. It is another reminder I give myself every day that my husband and I are a team. We have both learned over time that it is so easy to forget that the purpose of marriage is companionship, especially when children come along. Now, the way I make decisions and how I perceive situations changes considerably as soon as I tell myself that my husband is my friend. I did have to push through discomfort and awkward feelings to become vulnerable enough to say, “You are my friend”. It is not easy, but it is worth it. I have seen this beautiful relationship become all about comparison and competition between couples and I did not want mine to go down that path. So, I knew I had to work on my patience, kindness, and forgiveness
3. Never go to Bed Angry
This is a tough one! There are still some days when we do end up going to bed angry, but we both try to make amends if we can. Some matters require more mental processing, so we need more time. One thing we both have worked on is using humor because not everything needs to be dealt with as if it is the end of the world. I would notice that majority of the disagreements, in the bigger scheme of things, are not a big deal. Recognizing and reflecting by taking a step back always helps me lighten up the situation. You can turn it into a playful fight *wink wink*.
4. We will Continue to Evolve
Before getting married, we are all naturally at our best behavior (or try to be). We are conscious about what we say and what we do, but after marriage as comfort sets in, we become relaxed in our interactions. We are not in the “gotta do everything to make him/her happy” phase anymore, and this is when we see each other’s silly, funny, weird, and ahem, immature side too. The first year showed me that as a couple, we will always have things to work on (that is if we want to). Just because we are adults and married, does not mean that we have reached our full potential. I told myself that as we build our companionship and raise little humans, we will learn to be more mature, wise, and each other’s biggest fans.
5. Do not Keep a Grudge
When we first got married, I let my emotions get the best of me. I would hold on to things that were said and think about them for days on end. Of course, that left me feeling miserable. I learned that we have a choice to either step out of our emotional zone or stay stuck in it wasting our precious time that Allah (SWT) has blessed us with. In my first year of marriage I learned that if you choose to be positive, you will see your spouse’s potential, their abilities, their talents (and your own) that lead you both to achieve bigger successes. I saw the choices that I could either live my life sorting through emotions or set goals to achieve. Companionship means we let each other become the best version of ourselves through this journey and resentments cannot let that happen.
6. Always Express your Happiness
I was not always an expressive person (or should I say positively expressive haha). It takes time to open your heart and come out of your head. So many of us are stuck in our heads, meaning our insecurities, fears, judgments, and past experiences get the best of us. My husband taught me how to voice gratitude even for the smallest things such as when I bring him tea or clean his car (okay maybe that is a big one). Our egos (which need a whole new post on its own), are always ready to point out every little thing that goes wrong, so why not let the ego take the back seat and practice saying “I love it when you….”. It is all about taking one little step at a time.
7. Individual Goals
It took me a while to realize that if I truly want my relationship to thrive, I must push past my mind. Learning to appreciate another human being required that I felt confident and complete within myself. Being able to set my own goals could not happen if I were fixated on every little move that my spouse made. Having our best interest at heart, allowed us to learn to support each other toward our opportunities rather than trying to fill our personal voids.
8. Insecurities are not a reality
Our insecurities are just that, insecurities. They stem from many different parts of our lives and are not necessarily reality. I used to spend so much time dwelling on and living through my insecurities, but that had to change because Allah (SWT) has blessed us with so many resources to build our lives and live to the fullest. It would just not be fair if I chose to live in my head instead.
9. Set Boundaries
I learned that it is not only okay but is healthy if we share with our spouses what is acceptable and unacceptable to us. We both would share with each other our limits around different matters, especially dealing with extended family. I have seen a lack of boundaries becoming a big issue in a couple’s life because the majority of the time we are fighting other people’s battles. When it comes to my husband’s family, I know when I need to keep my opinions to myself and vice versa. We both trust and believe that some matters need to be managed individually not collectively.
10. Be Curious
It all depends on our mindset, we can either grow with our spouses or grow apart. We make the choice. My friends and I often have conversations sharing relationships boosting ideas and whenever it comes to gifts, we feel stuck, which reminds us that it is time to find out more about our partners. There is always something new to learn whether it is their interests, habits, beliefs, lifestyle, or relationships. They are always growing and so are we. Each new day is a new beginning and I am always learning to walk along.
In the next posts, I will be sharing how I practiced overcoming my ego, which is how we can learn to look at others around us holistically and optimistically.
What did you learn within your first year?