We almost missed the realization we’d been married for 6 months. It’s not because we’re falling into the “old married couple” category yet (although some of my friends might disagree), but our half-year anniversary fell on Easter this year. And it fell on the day after an overnight girls’ trip to New Braunfels to see my idol, Maren Morris, in concert. So, you know, there was a lot going on.
It was also my brother’s birthday, and the reason I realized it was John’s and my half-anniversary is because my brother beat me to the punch, texting me first thing in the morning to wish us a happy 6 months before I could send him a birthday note. I remember when we announced our wedding date more than a year ago, he made us laugh because he immediately said, “That’s my half birthday!” What can I say? We Swansons like celebrating our birthdays, half or whole.
So, we didn’t do much to commemorate 6 months last month, partially because we did plenty to celebrate all the big Jesus-is-risen stuff (which, c’mon, is way more important). Plus, 6-month anniversaries haven’t ever been my thing. Celebrating 7 months just feels so much more right…
So, in honor of 7 months after “I do” coming up on May 21, here are my 7 biggest takeaways from marriage so far.
Does that sound bad? I don’t mean it to sound bad. I actually freakin’ love that we really can’t get out of this. Somehow, that legal binding has made me feel a lot more chill anytime we have a tiff (which, by the way, we do still have tiffs). We can be like, “I’m mad at you, but you’re stuck with me,” and that’s pretty great. It’s even romantic in some ways, if you squint your eyes and think real hard.
Of course, I’m a child of divorced parents, so I know we could get out of this. But my whole idea about marriage is so impacted by my parents’ split that it would take something really, really horrendous happening (I’m talking abuse or infidelity categories, which I pray are roads we’ll never encounter) for me to go down that path.
So I find myself, even in our quarrels, even when I’m feeling testy or impatient, with a deep-down sense of calm that, although we may not be seeing eye to eye on some things, we will figure it out together. Because we don’t have any other choice. And that’s kind of beautiful.
John and I are both big planners. I like to figure out the details, and he’s good at making sure everything goes according to those details. We’ve also further reiterated in marriage that, unfortunately for me, he can’t read my mind about said plans if I don’t share them, and I can’t stop him from fully marching forward with the details when I suddenly want to cancel or shift or change my mind, like my flexibility-loving nature is often inclined to do.
For us, we find synchronicity when we map out our days, at least roughly, with each other and keep the other updated with changes or spontaneous shifts. We have very different jobs and demands, so we aren’t attached at the iMessage every minute of the day. But we do keep each other in the loop so we can both be aware of how the other is doing and what might shift in our normal routines.
We’ve been prioritizing date night one night a week for a year or two before getting married, but it doesn’t mean fitting it in gets any easier now that we’re locked and loaded for life. Sure, we eat dinner together most nights, but often we have hurried meals or we’re exhausted from the day. A date really allows us to connect and enjoy each other’s company in a different way than a regular Tuesday at home.
What really helps us is keeping a low-key approach to dates. Sometimes, it’s just getting a beer and ramen at Whole Foods (okay, fine, this is MOST of our dates) because all we want is simple, good food and a casual place away from our normal environment. Other times, it’s a trendy, cute restaurant we’ve never been to but have wanted to try.
It could also be a thoughtful home-cooked meal if we’re feeling like homebodies, a game of tennis, or working out and going to a brewery. We trade off being “in charge” of picking dates every other week to keep things fresh and fun, and so neither of us feels like we’re carrying the weight. I think this is such an important habit to form now to keep when things get even crazier in our work lives and whenever we eventually have a family.
John is literally the most easygoing guy when it comes to where to eat, what to watch on TV, what music to listen to, or what to have for a meal. He is so laidback and doesn’t mind letting me choose most of these minor decisions, which is great for a bossy-as-heck, overly decisive person, aka me. I realized this one day when he suggested something and my automatic response was to say “no,” with no questions asked.
I thought about how unfair that was to him. He truly does not ask for much at all (except to lock all the doors all the time, which I’m still trying to remember to do…). So I’ve been working on being more open to his requests and suggestions, even if they’re as small as wanting to go to a museum he likes that I’ve driven past a million times without an inkling of desire to step inside.
The thing about marriage is that you won’t always like the same things, but you can still commit to experiencing some of them together to bring a small sense of joy to your partner. After all the Bravo shows I’ve forced him to watch (although, I think he’d admit he likes most of them now!), that’s the least I can do.
John recently got hit in the mouth after the wind blew the lid of our big outside trash can into his face. We were worried his tooth might be damaged since he said it felt a little loose, and it had a faint vertical line going down the middle of it. After seeing the dentist a few days later, we learned he should just keep an eye on it and not bite into anything hard, but it should be okay, thankfully.
The next week, he asked me to make a coffee for him while he took Piper for a quick walk, but I also realized he was going to be short on time to have breakfast. We didn’t have much, but I threw some granola in a plastic baggie and cut up an apple into bite-sized pieces because I remembered what the dentist had said about hard foods. I never make him breakfast, and he texted me later that day how much it meant that I’d thought to cut up the apple. It was seriously the smallest consideration, but he was so happy from it.
He’s a lot better at small acts of thoughtfulness than I am, but I’m trying to get better. He sends me sweet texts and tells me I look cute even when I have pimple cream on (which is bold, on his part). He brought home my favorite snacks and some flower last week just because he thought of me on his drive home, and he’s never turned down my requests for a backrub. I’m in awe of his generosity and know it’s only making me a more generous person by being his partner.
We’d gone on a handful of trips together before getting married, most of them to see our families. But after our honeymoon and another celebratory trip we took with my mom, I realized how much I adore traveling with John. We are in our PRIME while on vacation. (But maybe this is all couples?)
It helps that we’re both planners, so we like to have a few activities and meals set up. But we also like some open time to choose what we want to do on the go and based on recommendations from locals. It’s so fun because we’re both easily impressed by the smallest things, and we both love trying new food and experiences. I just love it and I’m always trying to find ways to fit more trips into our schedule.
When it comes to disagreements, it’s almost always me getting upset about something silly and then creating a bigger fuss out of a non-issue. I mean, just to generalize things here and be totally transparent. Obviously, he has his faults, too, I should mention, but I gotta be real and admit it’s almost always me attaching nonexistent intentions and stories to insignificant occurrences. My single friends sometimes joke that they need to be as crazy as I am to get a guy. I mean, it’s not NOT true. (I’m totally kidding! Crazy only gets you so far. Haha.)
But really, I can get emotional and attached to the stories I tell myself in triggering scenarios, which are often untrue. And John knows exactly what to say and do to bring me back to planet earth. I never appreciate it in the moment, because isn’t it so true that we’d almost always rather run away with that false story tirade than face the truth that things aren’t as bad as we’re making them out to be?
I’m not saying this happens all the time; in fact, I think it happens less and less now that we’re married, or maybe just as we grow deeper into our relationship. But when it does, I’m learning to come back to a place of trust rather than fear a lot quicker, and that’s in no small part thanks to his patience and nonjudgmental love.
I love that we are so different because the way he thinks about things has taught me to be more analytical, thoughtful, and logical (especially when big-time different opinions are involved).
It’s been a really lovely, affirming, joyful 7 months so far, and based on how things are going, I can’t wait for the rest of our months together. What have YOU learned from your meaningful relationships lately?