Jonathon and I have officially been married for 30 days!
(Well, we’ve been married for a little over 30 days but blog posts – especially those with two busy authors, like this one! – take time to put together! :-P)
In honor of our one-monthaversary, I thought it would be fun to sit down and share the 30 things we’ve learned in 30 days of marriage. Jonathon’s been thinking of writing a guest post on The LITMO Life for a while (he’ll probably be a regular contributor soon enough – it’s his life too! :-)), but for now, we decided to each take 15 important things we’ve learned and talk about them here.
But first, “meet” my Jonathon – my husband, partner, and man of my dreams:
Hey everyone! I know you’ve heard a lot about me and have probably wondered who this weird Jonathon person is that she married. Well, it’s me and I am super excited to finally be getting to “meet” you all on The LITMO Life!
So – here we go! Jonathon’s 15 will be in bold (and the blurbs are his!), mine will be in italics.
1. Kindness is the most important.
It’s easy to be kind when you feel good. It’s less easy to be kind when you’re tired or hungry or just moody AF for no reason. But it doesn’t matter – part of being married is remembering not to take your shit out on your spouse. Be. Fucking. Kind.
2. Teamwork really does make the dream work.
You all know the speed at which we got married: QUICK! That quickness of falling in love and getting married meant we had to learn to adapt to each other just as quickly, both in how we get things done individually and in learning when the other needs help. And we did: we are first and foremost our own team of 2. Teamwork is critical.
3. Having lots of intentional fun is also really important.
“Intentional” fun is key. It’s nice to accidentally end up in a fun situation, but you should be trying to create those fun situations, every single day! We have fun whether we are at a rave listening to some loud music or folding laundry with an audiobook on. We have fun because we love each other and we make everything we do together as fun as possible.
4. Get involved in one another’s hobbies.
This one should be obvious! Everyone’s heard the phrase “put yourself in their shoes” – but it usually means see how someone is handling something they are going through, with a bit of a negative connotation right? Well, erase that negative connotation: put yourself in your partner’s shoes by experiencing what makes them happy and trying to see it through their eyes. Anjali loves CrossFit, and I’m going to a WOD with her. I love EDM and one of the first things she did was go to a show with me. Try to experience your spouse’s happiness and you’ll grow with them in a way you couldn’t have imagined.
5. Be grateful for the incredible love you’ve been given – every minute of every day.
I don’t mean “write down something you are grateful for in your journal” every night. I mean be grateful EVERY SINGLE MINUTE. Whether he is standing in the kitchen cooking and looking cute or passed out on the couch with a cold, every time I look at him I am reminded that I am the luckiest woman on earth. I often tell him so, but in the moments I can’t, I pause to myself and just let the gratefulness wash over me.
6. Smile. At each other. For each other. With each other.
Seriously, just do it. Anjali often catches me smiling like a maniac at her and she always asks me why I’m doing it. (Note from Anjali: it’s because I always feel like I have something on my face!) Well, it’s because I’m always showing my happiness for her, for what she’s doing, and for choosing to put our weirdness together. I smile at her because I can’t NOT. She’s my beautiful bride and I am the man that gets to smile at her forever.
7. Never stop saying thank you.
Say thank you for the big things – like dates out and birthday celebrations and doing things for each other that aren’t that fun, like work events. But also say thank you for the little things! I thank Jonathon for taking the puppy out, or putting the clothes away, or bringing me tea. Because he doesn’t have to do any of those things – he isn’t obligated to me for anything. He does them because he’s a wonderful husband and partner and I say thank you because I want to let him know I know that.
8. Having a safe place – like our bubbles – is very important.
Everyone has feelings. They can feel hurt just as easily as they can feel happy. The “safe place” that Anjali and I have created through our bubbles (which she talks about here) allows each of us to prepare for vulnerable conversations, and to remind ourselves it’s all in love and respect. Remember, you’re both human, allowed to feel what you feel, and a good relationship needs a place for open feelings.
9. Respect each other’s need for personal space.
We’re in love. We got married in 8 weeks. We live together. That doesn’t mean we need to be in each other’s shit all the time. Jonathon and I both have fairly high needs for personal space and we do as much as we can to respect those needs. I encourage him to create space for the activities that matter to him – without me – like rugby and working out and crafting. He does the same for my solo hobbies – like running and CrossFit and reading and writing. And we take entire days to ourselves, to give our marriage room to miss each other and grow in love, instead of constantly being attached at the hip! (Side note: this book, Mating in Captivity, is one of my absolute favorites on this topic.)
10. Get mad at each other.
That’s right. GRRRR! What are you doing? Why did you do that? What were you thinking? Have friction! Connection as individuals happens in love, yes, but it also happens in the form of arguments. It’s healthy and lets face it: people are different! Besides, bottling things up is why people start bickering about little things in the first place. It’s a true cancer to keep things inside, because by the time you see the symptoms it may be too late. So talk and let things out.
11. Communicate about it all.
The laundry? The dishes? Your views on monogamy? Children? What happened at work last Tuesday? How you feel about that new movie? Talk about everything under the fucking sun. You are going into a marriage with the idea that you are going to make it last forever. The only way to do that is to be honest and open and let your partner in.
12. Flirting is key.
One thing I think that really positively affected our relationship – both in speed and now in our marriage – is that we still flirt and hit on each other. Sure – call it the honeymoon phase, call it “we haven’t been together” that long, but it’s more than that. Of course, we both like sex, but why does any sexual interaction happen between two people in the first place? One of them was flirting and the other was into it. BANG! (Get it? Lol) Literally, though, you can’t expect a fire if you aren’t trying to spark the flint, and we constantly do. Whether it’s me grabbing her and pressing her up against the wall in our living room or her waltzing around in front of me with no clothes on in the middle of the day, we’re always trying to get the other revved up.
13. Kiss, a lot.
No explanation needed – especially after Jonathon’s point above. Do all the kissing. All the times.
14. Don’t say no to spontaneity.
Look at local city events. Go to a park, see a movie, check out the rock concert you found last minute. Talk to the people there. Interact and hear their stories. Anjali hates housework – it’s true – but what I love about that is that she is never going to think the dishes being done are more important than our life being lived. She doesn’t care if things are put away, she cares if we’re truly going out and LIVING. She’s always going to choose the adventure over the mundane – and that’s one of the best parts of being married to her.
15. Turn toward your spouse on every chance you get.
Do you think hearing about their day at work is boring? They probably think hearing about your whiny girlfriends is boring. It doesn’t matter, though, because when your spouse has something to share, you should be engaging. Ask them questions, be interested, show your spouse that what they care about matters to you, as well.
16. Be protective of each other.
Everyone wants/needs to feel like their partner cares, but sometimes we put too much of a premium on taking care of ourselves. Relationships – marriages – are about partnerships. Be protective, whether it is holding hands walking through a crowd or standing up for one another. I even raise an arm to brace Anjali when I pull up to an intersection if she isn’t ready for the stop.
17. You are not the same person. This is a good thing!
I like really terrible Internet memes (like seriously, so bad that no one should ever laugh at them.) Jonathon likes quippy one-liners. Sports are important to him. The LITMO Life is important to me. We aren’t the same – and it’s our difference that add spice to our marriage.
18. Humor should always be welcome.
Corny jokes are a specialty of mine – as Anjali mentioned above! But Anjali also happens to be pretty goofy and funny herself! Don’t take yourself or the other so seriously that you don’t appreciate a joke even if the timing is horrible or it’s not funny. They want to bring joy into your life just as much you want to expose them to yours.
19. The little things are the big things.
The things that you work yourself up over – the huge wedding, the big trip coming up, the family event that you have to go to – are the things that you won’t even really remember several years from now. But the little things that you think don’t matter – the random Thursday night you got drunk together at home, the Sunday morning where you should have been running errands but instead stayed in bed fucking til 3 PM – those are the moments that you’ll look back on and realize how much they defined your marriage.
20. Remember, remember, the sex from November!
We love talking about our sex life. I mean – don’t get me wrong – we love having and living our sex life. But the memory is also an important part of the experience! Anjali once told me that she read that experiences are made up of three areas: the anticipation, the actual experience, and the recall. And she is always doing this: she will recall the one time we…. or the place where…. or how that one thing even happened. And it’s awesome, because it connects and bonds us all over again.
21. Without trust, you have nothing.
Seriously: nothing. Without trust, you have no peace. Without trust, you have no comfort. And without trust, you have no space in your marriage to help your spouse trust you in return. Don’t break your spouse’s trust. Nothing – NOTHING – is ever worth that.
22. A crisis will never be the same.
A team never faces a crisis alone. In a marriage, it’s important to always be there for what the other needs. On the other side of the equation: if the crisis is between you, that means confronting it head on. Avoiding a difficult conversation is allowing the big bad wolf to blow over a brick house. Have the talk, find a solution, apologize, forgive. People make mistakes. That doesn’t go away when you’re married, no matter how long the couple has been together.
23. Stand up for your spouse in public. Always.
This is similar to Jonathon’s point about being protective of the other. Even if you think they are as wrong as the sky is black, in that moment – in front of others – stand up for them. Let the world know that you are on their side no matter what.
24. Choose empathy over activity.
Sometimes a good venting is all that a person needs: being there and listening is so overlooked across relationship lines. We men like to fix things and jump on a problem right away. We just want to know the bottom line and to run with it. Well, women want more than that: they want to be heard. And the devil is always in the details so hear her out. That, in itself, speaks volumes about how much you cherish and value her.
25. Always be scanning for positive behavior.
Does it matter to Jonathon that I can’t put dishes away from the life of me? No, because it matters more to Jonathon that I am his cheerleader. Similarly, it doesn’t matter to me that I’m an early sleeper and he is not. It does matter to me, though, that he never hesitates to make it known to people that I’m his number one priority. Forget the negative, annoying traits. We all have them. Focus on the positive, every chance you get.
26. Encourage, every day.
One of my favorite things is that we connect over things that make us individuals. Her new Kandi art is really fun for her and it’s endearing to watch her work on it because I’m watching her find an expression of self. It’s the same watching her write or reading her writing and seeing how her ideas blossom. She, in turn, listens to my sports stuff and how I view the story I just read on ESPN. Or what I think about the strategy of a team. Growth requires energy and fueling that for one another brings us closer together and lets us be more ourselves at the same time.
27. The chores can wait.
Jonathon said this when he talked about spontaneity. Fuck the fucking chores, dude. Go live life. It doesn’t matter if that life means jumping out of an airplane or just sitting outside listening to your husband talk about his Board exam coming up. Fuck. The. Chores.
28. Cherish what makes her her.
The little things are always important. Little unique things – the nuances of a person’s every day being – should never go unnoticed. I’m talking about the ones you hear in love stories describing the silly way they brush their hair, how they like to eat a weird dish (Anjali likes to dip cold – uncooked – veggie hot dogs into Veganaise and eat it all raw like that), or their stubbornness over a microaggression. Enjoy them and recognize your loved one for the one of a kind they are.
29. Expectation is the mother of disappointment.
Your husband – or wife – doesn’t owe you anything. They aren’t contracted to clean the litter box or go to the family dinner or take you to see that movie just because they are your spouse. They don’t have to get you flowers. They don’t need to plan a birthday celebration. Even if they take the puppy out every morning at 6AM and clean the littler box every day at 8AM – they still don’t owe you this. They do it because they love you and they love the things you love and they love their own things and they believe in a partnership. When you start expecting is when you start adding obligation into your relationship and that’s when you start getting mad instead of being grateful. So ditch the expectation and be grateful and excited for everything they do.
30. Never say no to sex.
I mean…it’s fun, it’s connecting, it relieves stress, and my wife is irresistible. Don’t let adulting get in the way of any of that: embrace the attraction you have for your spouse. I do – every chance I get.
There you have it. 30 things we’ve learned in 30 days of being married. The list will probably change, and evolve, and grow, but we’ve had a hell of a first month of being married and can not wait for the rest of the months to come!