Despite all the advice we were given by people from all walks of life (all unsolicited, of course) my husband and I decided to embark on this journey blindly and do things our own way. After all, our relationship up until the point of marriage had been anything but conventional so why stop now, we thought.
For us, this meant not living up to he standards and expectations of others but instead truly marching to the beat of our own drum.
My maternal grandmother would drop to her knees if she ever heard me say that in our house, my husband and I share the domestic duties. Then she’d proceed to lecture me to change my ways. Bless her.
*Cue African parents criticizing the millennial way of life*
Our first year of cohabitation has been nothing short of amazing. I’ve come to learn that with the right partner, the transition can be a smooth one. However, I can’t pretend that there weren’t and still aren’t any major learning curves that come with getting to know someone whilst living under the same roof, all guards down. No filter.
I’ve learned that contrary to popular belief, it’s actually okay to go to bed upset and without resolving an issue.
I won’t take credit for this one because God knows I can talk anyone’s ear off until I feel better. My husband can attest to this. But if there’s anything he has taught me it that it’s sometimes necessary, and perfectly okay, to take a step back and calm down, regroup and allow yourself to sit with your feelings. This helps a great deal to understand why you feel the way you do and to figure out if your emotions are influencing the problem in front of you. More often than not, you’ll wake up with a clear head and can better have a productive conversation at a later time.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t struggle with this one but with growth and self discovery, you learn to understand what makes you tick on a deeper level and are better able to confront those triggers with yourself. It helps with learning to separate the emotions from the situation and realizing that they’re not one in the same. This one is still a work in progress for me but I can now say I understand the process. The emotions are usually temporary and subjective but after careful observation (and time!) you find that they are not, then there is an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.
You can’t live up to unrealistic expectations.
For the first 2 or 3 months that we lived together, I tried make sure that the house was always vacuumed and mopped daily, and that I cooked a hot meal every night. I wanted to be the ultimate wife. I still do, but a more realistic version. Along with going to work, school and living life in between, I basically thought I had to be a superhero in civilian clothes.
I thought that this is what I was meant to do as a wife. Not that there is anything wrong with the above, but I quickly realized that I couldn’t keep up with this routine and I broke down. I felt defeated and exhausted. It wasn’t until I expressed these feelings to my husband (who had no idea up until this point), I came to understand that he didn’t expect me to be superwoman and wait on him hand and foot.
Being raised in an African household, you are constantly told that your home must be polished from floor to ceiling, regardless of the day of the week. You must be the perfect representation of your upbringing. But what’s missing in that backwards equation is everything else that comes along with life, especially in the western world. This one was a major lesson for me. Once I overcame it I finally realized that it’s perfectly okay to leave the dishes in the sink for tomorrow and for the dirty laundry to end up on the floor. Through this realization I found relief and peace.
Weekend getaways and date nights are a must.
This one gets me every time when people say to me (usually single friends) “you live together with no kids, what do you need to get away from?” Hmm, where do I begin? How about wanting to snuggle up and watch a movie in peace without the dishes taunting me from across the room. Or my favorite- letting someone else cook for us and not having to worry about cleaning up. Or realizing that though you live under the same roof, days can pass without being able to have a face to face conversation because of opposing work schedules. Your daily check-ins then start to come in the form of text messages and two minute scattered phone calls throughout the day.
The list goes on. Sometimes a change of scenery is good and allows you to focus on each other without the distraction of everything else that constantly requires your immediate attention. This is something we’ve prioritized in our marriage early on and have no intentions of compromising. We believe in being able to take care of responsibilities while also enjoying the fruits of our labors. They’ll come a time when quality time will be hard to achieve and I don’t ever want to look back and wish we had spent more time together, made more memories, and stopped to enjoy the newly wed bliss.
What have you learned since taking the leap with your partner?