Before Nick and I got married, I thought I knew just about everything there was to know about both of us. I definitely thought we had a leg up on most couples because we had already known each other for 10 years. I still think our extensive friendship made the transition more natural but that didn't mean there wasn't stuff to learn.
Growing up in the Mormon bubble and the wayward world led to a lot of different and conflicting ideas about marriage. On the one hand, the world sells the idea that marriage is a relationship of convenience. It is meant to enrich ones life but can be ended or thrown away if it becomes difficult, or inconvenient to ones personal desires and goals. The church, on the other hand, teaches the opposite. Marriage is one of the primary reasons that we were sent to earth. Marriage to a worthy spouse is to be sought after, nurtured, and put at the top of one's priority list. On Monday I will have been married for two years. In those two years I have learned a lot about myself, about Nick, and about what marriage can be if we let it.
One of the first things I learned during our first year was about me. I had never considered myself overly sensitive. I had always kind of been a say what you think and mean what you say type of person. But, the rules changed when I was with Nick. As much as I had always appreciated when people were blunt with me, and vis versa, I could not handle him being overly blunt with me. This served me right because I was suddenly married to someone who was as open and tactless as I was. I learned what kind of effect words can have on a person regardless of how they were meant. This taught me to be more careful and patient with others. And, to keep my mouth shut when my point is mute.
On the other hand, the open bluntness we both jumped into marriage with, has saved us what I would guess could have been a lot of time and pain. If one of us has a problem with the other we have learned to discuss it quickly and tactfully. Nick knows that sometimes I just need to say something to feel better and I know that he is never trying to hurt my feelings.
Another thing I have learned, has to do with running our marriage smoothly. Early on, I realized that the way in which I treated Nick often dictated the way he acted. If I was grumpy or corse with him he quickly became grumpy and corse. If I was to busy to give him attention he reciprocated. When I made him a priority and treated him like a hero, he acted like a hero and would put down his work long enough to spend time with me. I thought I had it down. I just had to treat him the way I wanted to be treated and everything would be fine. However, one day I realized that it wasn't all up to me like I had arrogantly supposed. I definitely had a huge impact on the mood of the marriage but he had the same influence over me that I had over him. I mimicked his actions and reciprocated his attitude as much as he lived up to my expectations. This has led to having our highs be very high and our lows be very low. If one of us came home grumpy the other quickly followed suite. If one of us was happy and full of gratitude the other usually started feeling the same. We have discussed this particular point several times and have learned to be positive as often as possible. We try to pull each other up instead of down and we work as hard as we can to put each other first always.
This leads me to my third point. Marriage can't be selfish or it's miserable. When we first got married it was an interesting jump to worry about another person when before we had only had to worry about ourselves. How can I put both of us first? I used to wonder when I thought about our different jobs and schedules and needs. Then one day it hit me. I couldn't. I could only put one of us first and it had to be him. So, I really tried to do it. I thought about how I could meet his needs, and make his life better, and be what he needed me to be. I noticed two things. First, he became happier because all of his needs were being met. Second, I was fine too because he had been doing the same thing for me since day one. In essence, when we both put each other first, all of our needs are met and we grow closer together in love (gag).
My next point, has everything to do with relying on the third party in our marriage. Everything goes better when we trust Heavenly Father to lead and guide us. In order to that we need to be ready to be led and guided. We try to go to the temple regularly, we read our scriptures together, we pray daily, and we go to church. Every time one or both of us falls out of one of these habits we can both feel it. We drift apart from each other and from God. This makes days harder, longer, less peaceful, less productive, and less healthy (emotionally and physically). The trick is to pinpoint the problem and rectify it as soon as possible.
After two years, I am so grateful for Nick. People told me before we got married that the first year was the best. I thought that was a bit depressing because ideally people only have one first year of marriage. I thought that if the first was the best then what on earth could people look forward too for the rest of their lives? So far, I disagree with those skeptics. The second year was better. We learned a lot. We experienced the death of a loved one, we bought a house, we remodeled a house, we traded roles, and we got to know each other even better. I expect things will continue to improve and I look forward to our third year of marriage.