Girl Talk: Happy anniversary!

Girl Talk: We made it to three! Triple whee!

Loyal GWAS followers might recall my post 'Marriage is like Magda', in which I described the "Les Misérables" skit Husband and I were in the habit of performing for all and sundry in order to deflect the fact that we were well and truly, well, miserable.

Following that post, I was commissioned to write a story for CLEO titled 'What No One Tells You About Marriage', which painted a pretty bleak picture of life after "till death do us part". I broke that down into six pointers: he will treat you like his mother; you marry his family and his ex-baggage; men want sex ALL the time; it's all about the "in-betweens"; and you must invest. Of course, I concluded on an upbeat note: "you may even find it within yourself to laugh at his fart jokes". Some people were aghast, but it was absolutely a projection of our growing pains.

Now, I'm happy to report that three years into this crazy thing they call marriage, we are going great-guns (less guns blazing, more peace fire). In a sort of ironic turn of events, life literally conspired to tear us down (career burnout, financial issues, health issues, people issues), but rather than run away or turn on each other, we rolled with the punches together. Playing different roles but on the same team, we talked long and deep and prayed hard (and occasionally bit our tongues). Like Princess Buttercup and Wesley facing the fire swamp and defeating Prince Humperdinck (see The Princess Bride), adversity, it would seem, turned our marriage around. That, the grace of God, and a little thing called The Marriage Course.

A few months ago, we agreed to join two other couples (one with three children; the other with a baby on the way) in a marriage course called, yes, The Marriage Course! We met each Wednesday night for seven weeks to watch a DVD, complemented by a workbook (which Husband doodled all over – symbolically defacing our marriage!), and discuss our "issues" together. While Husband still declares the whole process was a patronising exercise in Wasting Time (he being the marriage expert and all), I know we gained a lot of insight into our inherent differences, needs, desires and hopes, and how we can adopt practical measures to keep the love alive. The top three things I learned?

1. That looking after myself is one of the best investments into our marriage I can make. My happiness = husband happiness. Obviously, my eating disorder had a drastic impact on the health of our marriage – like an addiction or infidelity, it crept in between us and created a vast chasm. Closing that gap has been tough. Really tough. But, as Husband said to me: "You don't have the choice of going through this alone." For him, it's meant trying to understand, learning to be empathetic and being patient; for me, it's been a willingness to let him in to help me heal. I've also had to turn my mentality from victim to victor: taking that dance class, eating well, sleeping well, pursuing friendships, getting career satisfaction, buying that new dress... it's all part of becoming whole again.

2. That we need to spend quality time together OFTEN, which does not include being in the same room attached to our Apple Macs. Husband and I are both workaholics. Not for financial gain or status, but because we're passionate about our work and living out our life purposes. No matter the motive, if work takes over, there's another wedge in your marriage. Sometimes the wedge is deliberate: rather than deal with our problems, we'd burrow further into our respective jobs. While we have more boundaries about our home office now, we're working towards moving our office space off campus. And, shock horror, having no internet connection at home! We're also aiming to pursue joint interests, do new things and take more mini-breaks to keep from burning out (again).

3. That love is about putting yourself in your partner's shoes... even if they're big and clumpy and uncomfortable. Going camping is something Husband loves, so agreeing to do such activities is a way for me to ensure I'm doing my part for his happiness and to make him feel loved. Alternately, he loathes stinky old bookshops and going to the ballet, but knows they make me happy. Selflessness is a really hard thing to achieve, especially in a society that deems you're only as good as your last great career achievement, your wardrobe, your body weight and even how much time/money you gave to charity. The onus is on "being our best selves" but often we forget that the best way to be our best is to perform selfless acts for other people. Even our spouses. Part of this is learning to speak your partner's "love language" (I'm a mad gift-giver but gifts barely register on Husband's joy radar).

Oh, and then there's sex. That came up a lot. It's closely related to points #1, 2 and 3! Who'd have thought marriage would be SUCH HARD WORK?

Husband and I celebrated our third anniversary today with coffee, macaroons and friands at Hart's Cafe on Mount Tamborine (owned by Pro Hart's son, Kym, and his wife Debbie, if you're curious – thank you for the special treatment, guys!).

Tomorrow he goes on tour with the JC Epidemic crew before departing for China for a week of show riding (he be a freestyling motocross madman). For the first time, I'm not afraid to say out loud that I will miss him and that I prefer having him around. No kidding.

Artwork by Olivia, our 3-year-old niece.

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

27 comments:

Rachel said...

Yay! Congratulations :-) So happy for you. xo

Annabel said...

Dear Erica,

Thank you for your honesty in your post. I am about to embark on the adventure of marriage but the reality of a lifetime commitment and making it work is a bit scary in this divorce-prone world! Thanks for talking about what often isn't spoken about: marriage and what comes next. It's really important for everyone to hear and has definitely reassured me! (and I've sent your post to the Husband2B)

(PS: I did the Alpha Program with Nicky Lee in London - great to see they have a Marriage Course too!)

SquiggleMum said...

Congrats on three years. Marriage is hard work but so worth the effort. I thought of you on the weekend - hubby and I were at Tamborine celebrating our 10th!! (Two nights, no kids... bliss)

Ms Curious @ CCM said...

Congratulations Erica!

It was interesting reading your post, I blogged earlier today about needing spending more quality time with my other half too.

http://confessions-of-a-curious-mind.blogspot.com/2010/04/where-did-time-go-part-2.html

Unlike fairy tales, we cannot take "happily ever after" for granted.

Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

Rochelle said...

Congratulations to you both. And what a beautiful pic!

I love these introspective posts. You're so honest, and I like that you don't always project an image of sunshine and rainbows. Life is hard sometimes. But it can also be really sweet. Thanks for showing us both sides of the coin.

xxx

frangipani princess said...

Congratulations!
I think it's awesome that you're so willing to open up and share personal realities with us, not many big-name bloggers do that :)

x

Susan Bonaci said...

Congratulations and thank you for sharing your honest story. The top three things you learnt from 'The Marriage Course' have come as a very welcome reminder of what's important. Sometimes it's easy to slip into the habit of thinking that you don't need to work on a marriage - that it's self-sustaining.

Rachel @ Musings of an Inappropriate Woman said...

Great post, Erica - thanks for sharing your wisdom. Boyfriend and I are also both workaholics (surprise, surprise) and balancing a desire to Get Stuff Done with an intimate relationship can be tricky stuff.

Weirdly, we actually find that it helps us to make sure we keep up our personal/laptop time even when we're in the same city (we've been long distance for the past 6 months) - not to disconnect, but because going into that internal world makes us both more interesting to be around when we exit it.

Obviously, I suspect we'll have to be careful not to go too far the laptop way when we're living in the same city again in a couple of months.

Happy anniversary and congratulations. :)

jess said...

Congrats, Erica! I'm nowhere near that stage of my life yet, but it's great to hear realistic experiences on marriage and how much hard work it is. Wishing you many more anniversaries! x

Esther said...

Thanks for such an honest reflection of marriage. I can really relate to what you are saying, my boyfriend and I have been together for six years and the past year has been really difficult (his depression, my ticking biological clock, unemployment, debt, a rushed marriage proposal). Communication and compassion really are the cornorstones of a great relationship and I have recently discovered point #1, taking care of myself so that I am happy, which then makes him happy. I guess its better late than never :)

Laura said...

Congrats Erica, 3 years is a big achievement. I've just made 1 year with the hubby, and it felt like a long time. Definitely hear you on doing things for yourself - and I now realise that I can't expect to find all my happiness through hubby, I have to generate it too!

Lizzie said...

I think my husband and I took the marriage test two years into our relationship (before we got married) and at one stage hadn't seen each other for over a year (only phone calls, emails, and cards). 9 years later and we're still 'a work in progress' but having fun and learning a lot - in the same country thankfully!

Just LOVED this post. Beautifully written - thank you for sharing!!

Anonymous said...

First of all congratulations on three years. As we all know, you and your husband have definitely had your ups and downs. Second of all, and most importantly congratulations on working on where you both need to improve and how to show each other your love for one another. That's so massive. And just think, your anniversary wouldn't have ever been so special if you didn't go through that and the self realisation.

Congrats again x

anna said...

Congratulations on 3 years :)

Thank you for giving your honest, open reflection on marriage.

All the best for the many years ahead :)

Anonymous said...

cute picture, I love your candid stance on marriage.xo

milsnash said...

Congratulations and what an honest insight to marriage. No relationship is perfect and it's great that you are willing to open up about the problems you have overcome.
Gorgeous photo too!
xxx

PinkPatentMaryJanes said...

Thanks for such a lovely, honest post. And congratulations! Marriages are hard work - but a good one is so, so worth it! {we've been married for 8 years, together for nearly 17!} Thank you!

Jes said...

Congrates on three years! i said "i do" almost 4 weeks ago so am still in that 'honeymoon' stage but know that we will have some hard times. I have just read a book called "Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs" by Emerson Eggerichs. I strongly recomend it!

Rachel said...

Congratulations Erica! I love the honesty in your posts and especially this one about marriage. It is definitely hard work and something that requires commitment from both parties, but totally worth it! xx

Tara said...

Congratulations. Your readers really appreciate that you are so candid and forthcoming about your life. Glad you are happy and all is well!

petal said...

oh erica, you remain my ultimate girl crush! i think you're a very wise woman.

Sally said...

Congrats on your anniversary Erica and thanks for such an honest and thought-provoking post! My hubby and I will be five years this year and we're a constant work in progress, especially post baby. Thanks again!

Ella said...

Congrats Erica :)

*this daisy said...

Congratulations and Blessed Anniversary, Erica! I can't believe it has been 3 years already! I still remember reading your posts about your wedding preps when you first started your blog... time surely flies! I'm truly encouraged by your life and marriage. Thank you.

May God's hand continue to guide you two in your blessed marriage and Jesus' love be an example to us all.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on reaching 3 years. I hit it about a month ago. I liked your article too, particularly the start when you say you have no reference point for a happy marriage. That's a realisation most people spend years trying to come to.

Christie - Childhood 101 said...

Congratulations Erica and thank you so much for those honest words. Marriage takes work, you are right, but it also offers so much comfort and reward. I look forward to hearing how the no internet at home idea goes :)

Julie said...

Such a lovely post! Congratulations Erica.