Part 4: 10 things I learned in 10 years of marriage.

Salaamz!

As I publish post after post on the topic of love and marriage during my 10 things I learned in 10 years of marriage series, I thought it would make sense if I gave a little more context to where my advice was coming from.

I was 22 years old when I was married. I was naive and very idealistic. I’m embarrassed to admit that Hollywood was my primary teacher when it came to relationship expectations.

Though my parents are the perfect example of a successful marriage Alhumdullillah, I didn’t recognize it as such back then. For some reason I felt like Monica and Chandler were more similar to the type of relationship I was going to have. I assumed the rules by which my parents abide wouldn’t apply to me because they had an arranged marriage that barely factored in their personalities – it was more of a merger of families. I was going to marry someone who shared my  vision and was compatible with me. Someone who made me laugh and ‘got me’ (and scored within the appropriate range in the ever accurate SEVENTEEN Magazine personality quizzes).

Monica and Chandler from FRIENDS

Monica and Chandler from FRIENDS

So, you can imagine the enormous amount  I learned in these past 10 years of marriage! The learning curve was pretty steep!

 

I must admit I was pretty short sighted when it came to married life.I thought that as long as you had two compatible spouses dedicated to the relationship , it was pretty much all you needed- it should  be smooth sailing from then on. I used to think that love is something that naturally happens and that if you had to ‘make it happen’ then it really wasn’t love.

How wrong I was!

 

#7 Marriage is a full-time Job.

Marriage is hard work (image from yourstory.entrepreneur.com)

Marriage is hard work (image from yourstory.entrepreneur.com)

A compatible spouse is just the ideal prerequisite to a successful marriage; it’s not the end all, be all. Most of us are so engrossed in finding that perfect match, the one who can finish our sentences and shares our love or hate for sushi that we don’t think about the actual union. We are under the incorrect notion that the hard part or exam time is over and now is the time to enjoy the fruits of our labour. Truth is, that if we applied even half the effort we exerted in finding the perfect match, to working on our marriage , most of us would have marital bliss.

Like in any profession, it’s not enough that you have all the criteria needed to fill the position; you actually have to work. Everyday you need to show up and complete your job requirements. If you want a promotion then you will have to perform above and beyond basic expectations. Your marriage truly is a product of how much you put into it. Do you want an outstanding relationship or do you want to simply stay married?

We all know that co-worker who does just enough work in order to not get fired. Unfortunately many spouses fall under this category as well.

best selling book on relationships and gender differences.

best selling book on relationships and gender differences.

If you want to truly excel in your profession then you will get ahead by keeping up with relevant field information, taking extra courses and  getting higher education/ certifications.The fact that  you’re reading this article testifies to the fact that you have amazing taste in blogs and are already on the right path when it comes to making your marriage work! Reading up on or attending workshops on marriage should be part of your regular routine. Why wait until you’re in the middle of a domestic dispute to look for answers?

 

Self-help books on topics such as conflict resolution, communication skills, and gender differences are a good place to start. I’m always reading blog articles on how to be a better spouse and how to maintain a healthy relationship. My personal favourites are longitudinal studies on couples that have been happily married for over 40-50 years.

Reading about the male perspective or Top 10 ways to Improve My Marriage, actually does wonders for my relationship. I’ve learned to look out for and avoid common relationship pitfalls such as the tendency for new mothers to neglect their husbands as they bond with their baby. After reading about that I was ultra careful not to make that mistake.

We can never know everything there is to know about relationships and our partners. Marriage is a static entity, forever changing like its members.

Change with the times

What sets a thriving business apart from an unsuccessful one is its ability to adapt to its customers needs and to change with the times.

The spouse you so meticulously selected is going to change. You are going to change. The degree to which you expect and accept that fact will determine how fluidly you will adjust to life’s plot twists

There’s your typical phases that marriage and people go through and then there’s the unexpected curve balls life likes to throw your way every now and then. When we are stressed and our limits are tested, different sides of our personalities emerge. Sometimes altering us indefinitely. Each of you will change. A lot of times it might be for the worse, this is where the unsuccessful marriages are weeded out.

Supporting your spouse through illness(Image from thechart.blogs.cnn.com)

Supporting your spouse through illness(Image from thechart.blogs.cnn.com)

Can you hold your spouses hand as they battle an illness which makes them unrecognizable? Can you remember their true character as stress of infertility, a loss of parent or terminally ill child gets the better of them? Will you stand by their side as they undergo a drastic identity crisis?

I don’t mean to scare my unmarried readers or newlyweds, but in just 10 years so many unexpected things have happened in my own marriage. If you had asked either of us 10 or 15 years ago if we would stay in a marriage that deviated so much from our expectations, I’m sure each of us would have said No. But that’s the beauty of genuinely loving someone, you would do anything for them, more than you ever thought possible.

Finding your Chandler is 1/4 of the journey. The best is yet to come for those who are willing to work hard enough for it.

 

Chai later

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