"It's Not About Communicating, It's About Connecting," or, "What 548 Days of Marriage Have Shown Me."

Sometimes I get scared about writing publicly about my marriage (okay well to the maybe two of you who might read my blog, but that’s still a lot to me) because it’s so sacred. Before I was married, I always knew marriage was sacred, and I think I even knew why it was so sacred, but I didn’t fully understand just how sacred it really was, and how much you have to do to protect it. Marriage is both the easiest and hardest thing I’ve ever done. Everything is exacerbated in that everything you do affects another human being’s life so intimately and the until death do us part side of things also adds to that intensity. And yet, marriage is so freeing and beautiful, so easy. I am entirely myself with my husband, feel entirely safe next to him and being married to him is simply so much fun.

We’ve been married for exactly a year and a half, to the day. That is such a crazy thought to me! I spent 27 years of my life unmarried, and now here I am married and it’s only the beginning and yet it already feels like I’ve known my husband forever. How did that happen?

I’m a huge self-help book junkie, so much so that in the past month I’ve had two individuals come up to me and ask if I could specifically recommend some self-help books to them (ha!). The one I’m reading right now is called “Keep Your Love On!” by Danny Silk and both the title and the cover image are uber cheesy but this book is incredible. It’s a religious one, but not overly religious and I would recommend it to anyone whether they’re religious or not. There’s so much you can learn from it. The part I’ve been thinking about this past week went something like this:

1. It’s my job to control myself. I do not get to control other people.

2. My number-one goal and priority in relationships is building and protecting connection. 

My husband and I are really great at fighting, and I share this while laughing at the same time, because one, it’s true, and two, I never thought it would be true and yet here we are. The thing that’s great about fighting is that it means two people are standing up for themselves and what they believe in, even if it’s hard. In my past relationships, my exes and I didn’t fight at all and guess what? It’s because I never stood up for myself and was always lying about how I felt. It ended up making things worse and thus we broke up. With my husband, we are entirely ourselves, 100% of the time, and while this is one of those freeing aspects I described above, somedays it can make things hard, causing us to get into arguments. 

I’ve read it over and over again, communication is the key to lasting relationships, but I don’t entirely agree. It doesn’t matter how great you are at communicating, life is still going to happen and things are going to come up that cause tension. The key to getting through hard times isn’t about proper communication, the key is about remembering your connection, and that means letting stuff go, even without a resolution.

This means that my love for my husband and my priority of connecting with my husband are more important than who is right and who is wrong. It means connecting with my husband and protecting our love and connection is more important than coming to a conclusion or settling a matter. It most definitely means that we will probably agree to disagree (and not with pride but with acceptance!), because often it’s not about what the issue is, it’s about how we will choose to get through the issue together. That how being us choosing to connect, rather than continuing to debate an issue. 

Pride so often gets in the way and I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been arguing when we both realize we don’t even know why we are arguing, we’re just being stubborn and prideful. This pride often blocks my ability to love my husband and show him that he is my priority, not the dishes, or bills, or health concerns, or whatever. It’s him and I, together, that matter. One night, instead of continuing to argue, I told my husband that building and protecting our connection is more important to me (cheesy, I know, but you should have seen his face light up). He’s told me the same thing a few times during heated discussions. Almost instantly, the problem dissolves and we’re back to focusing on what really matters: our love and connection.

This part of the book was so beautiful, too:

Each display of love, no matter how seemingly small, is a powerful act of spiritual warfare that removes anxiety from the environment, replaces it with freedom and safety, and invites each person to bring his or her best self forward in a relationship.

Religious or not, I really do believe that love is a spiritual connection. It’s something that we cannot necessarily see but instead, we feel it intensely. Love is sometimes not even something we feel, but something we choose, much like faith. It binds people together with a belief in something greater, Love. I’m reminded of all the times my husband has shown me small bits of love, and how much they’ve meant to me. The big bits of love obviously mean a lot, but the small bits are almost more meaningful. They show me that he cares despite everything else going on. He remembers me. He chooses me. He loves me. I’m reminded of how those tiny acts of love and kindness have drowned out my self-doubt or insecurities. It doesn’t take much to fill someone’s cup. It can be small, but the consistency of these small amounts of love add up.

So that is that. I cannot control my husband, or anyone else, but I can control myself and how I react, and I can choose to react in protecting and building my connection with my husband, and those else around me. 

The past 548 days of marriage have been the best days of my entire life (even the feminist side of me agrees). I have learned so much in the past year and a half and I just feel so grateful for it all. I know life is a rollercoaster and we’ve barely dipped our toes into marriage. Thus, I don’t have a conclusion, just snippets of what I’ve learned through this journey so far. A journey I am so blessed and excited to be on.