After two years of marriage, eight years together and looking ahead to a life that will surely be emotionally indebted to our future children, I find myself reflecting upon how different life is now than our early days. As a young impressionable college age millennial, I viewed marriage as a contract to which two people entered and became one, or in other words, each person became half, but that is not so in our case. Marriage has gifted me with more independence than ever.
Consider the marriage idioms that we’ve become accustomed to:
Tie the knot. Tied together.
Ball and chain. Held down, or held back.
Old lady. If you get married, you pass your prime and accept your role as someone’s “old lady.”
Become an item. Two people get involved with each other and morph into some sort of “item.” What are you when you aren’t “an item?”
You get the idea. It’s no wonder as a young woman, I often felt as though I needed to cling to my identity for fear of losing it. While it’s true that there are many people who change their identity to the tune of their current love interest, when the right person enters your life, you become more the person you already are and blossom into the person you were meant to be.
5 Ways Marriage Taught Me To Be Independent
1. He’s My Cheerleader
Happiness comes from within; we’ve all heard this and it’s true too. When it comes to the most painful insecurities, it helps to have someone who sees me not for my flaws, but as a human and helps me around those dark corners. You can’t hide who you are when you’re married, flaws will show themselves and if you’ve got a good one, he’ll lift you up. Having him by my side, I feel like I can do anything. It doesn’t end with the insecurities, it’s also about having someone who pushes me to reach my potential. He’s been really excited about the blog since I started it and I love sharing this journey with him. The blog has become a huge part of my life and I value his encouragement. Every day he texts me something cute to let me know he enjoyed the post and it’s become one of those little things that I look forward to.
2. Being a Goofball is Ok
As a single girl dating, I was never fully myself around any guy. It was easier to separate myself on a date from myself at home. Dating Kate is fully made up, personality on, chatty, witty (or at least I try), while my inner self is more introverted, quiet, and probably even more witty when I don’t try. I don’t think my husband saw me without makeup for a year, that’s embarrassing to me now because I think about how gross it was that I didn’t wash my face. Over time, I’ve become much more comfortable being myself around him and he’s even helped me to relax and be more goofy. I used to tell him that I hated nicknames and now I’m an active participant and I even accidentally outed him as “BooBear” to our friends. Life is more enjoyable. I’m more comfortable and confident being myself now than ever. I’m sure part of the confidence came with just growing up and maturing, but we did that together.
3. Pencil Yourself In
My husband is my best friend, but he isn’t my only friend. In order for me to be the best wife and friend to my husband, I need to take care of myself. That means engaging in friendships outside of our marriage. It also puts a lot of expectations on the other person when they are your end all be all. My husband can be a great stand-in girlfriend for me, but there are still things I’d rather (and I think he would rather I) do with my girlfriends. I’m also more of a loner than my hubby. I need purely quiet time because I’m a bit of an introvert. It’s exhausting for me to make small talk and I do a lot of that at work. I need the time I spend writing to you, sipping my chai and listening to nothing. Keeping my sanity makes me a better wife and a better person.
4. A Life Shared is More of an Adventure
When there’s always someone around asking me to try new things and go on adventures, especially someone who is so different from me in many ways, I’ve done things that I never imagined I would. I have learned a great deal about myself. Our whole life together feels like an adventure from the small things like trying new foods to the big things like moving across the country to a new place where we have no friends, but no matter what the nature adventure, I always come out on the other side feeling like there’s a new little piece of me, a spark that wasn’t there before and I own it.
5. Settling into Your Roles is a Good Thing
The word settle automatically makes me shudder, but let’s get past that. Over time, we’ve accepted our own roles within our marriage and our household. Not only do I appreciate my wonderful husband for everything he does, because let’s face it, he’s a catch, I also appreciate what I bring to the table- even if I bought the dinner instead of cooked it. We each have our strengths and our marriage works equally because of both of us.
Yesterday, my patient’s visitor commented to me, the nurse, “You must be married to a doctor.”
I replied, “Yes, actually I am.”
His response, “My sisters were nurses married to doctors, so I guess you could say that nursing school worked out for them.”
My response, “Well I would say that medical school worked out for my husband.”
He laughed because he thought I was joking and didn’t think what he said was all that offensive, but on some level, he got it.
Years ago, I wouldn’t have said anything back to a guy like that. I would have just taken that. The woman I am today is stronger and more confident.
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