5 major lessons I’ve learned from my first few years of marriage
Article Written By: Bianca Ilunga
After three years of marriage I can confidently say I have no regrets about the man I chose to spend the rest of my life with. It has been an intriguing, fun, challenging yet beautiful journey.
Here are some major lessons I have learned in my marital journey.
It wasn’t a honeymoon stage, it was a reality stage
Mike and I got married on 24 August 2013 after two years of courtship. Very soon after our wedding, we started living together, and we realized that the ‘honeymoon’ stage was short-lived. It became evident that marriage was not a fairytale, instead it was a reality of sharing your space, your views, your opinions – and the more you get into each other’s most private space, the more you realize the imperfections in the other person. Moreover, we soon got into the routine of life, how to manage chores, cooking, making time for each other and making sure we are at the top of our game in our different jobs. These things came with their own difficulties. Our upbringings had an enormous influence on domestic issues. i.e who should wash dishes? When should the dishes be washed? Etc.
We had cultivated the date night culture during our courtship and that discipline helped our connection as we ensured that Friday night was for us to catch up and connect again on a deeper level after a week of routine. We work hard at making this date night a fun and enjoyable night, we don’t use this time to discuss our differences but to celebrate our similarities and to catch up on life.
Building my character
You usually hear people say ‘that the partner that one chooses must compliment them instead of complete them’. Entering a marriage with unresolved issues, childhood trauma, negative personality traits and the likes can cause a problem in the marriage because as the saying goes ‘hurt people, hurt people’. I came from a matriarchal household with five older brothers. I grew up a tomboy as I had no sisters and I was the last born; my parents got divorced when I was 15 years old.
It was only in my mid-twenties and about a year into my marriage that unresolved issues from my childhood started finding their way in. This required me to search deeper into myself and find inner healing instead of thinking my husband would heal me or even worse, projecting my fears and deepest hurts onto him.
I opened up to people that were great examples and those that spoke life into me. Those people helped me to navigate the things that held me back to truly open up and be free in my marriage.
Inner healing is not a once off event, it’s a continuous journey. As long as one is willing to own up to their flaws and make a decision to change and overcome.
Personality differences are a good thing
The length of the honeymoon stage, after couples say ‘I do’, varies for each couple. No matter how long it takes, eventually couples reach a stage when the butterflies in the stomach start fading and couples start to see each other’s good, great and not so good traits. I’m a naturally detailed person and somewhat a perfectionist. In my perfectionistic ways and looking back to my 3 years in marriage, I realize that at times I tried to make my husband become more like me, talk more like me, and do things the ‘Bianca’ way, sadly for me J, my husband is a man who is grounded in who he is. He gracefully allowed his personality to shine through my sometimes unreasonable demands.
This taught me that we are different and our differences actually complement each other. I had to love him for who he truly is and make our differences work for us.
Finding our rhythm
Continuous business acumen, financial success and climbing up the corporate ladder are goals that my husband and I strive for. We believe that we are positioned well in our occupations and vocations at this stage in our lives and the sky is the limit.
However, one of the big debates in our discussions has been that of finding a balance between life, work, and marriage. A balance would require dividing our time amongst the different needs that our responsibilities require. In the second year of our marriage, we had a dinner with a couple who shared two points with us. Firstly, how couples should rather find their rhythm and giving time to those important day to day tasks and duties. Secondly, acknowledging that there’s a season for everything. At different times in marriage, work, family time, intimacy building and other commitments may individually take centre stage and require more efforts and time allocation that will take away from the others; however these should not mean that other responsibilities, hobbies and tasks should be abandoned.
Discovering our love languages
During our pre-marriage counselling offered by our church, Mike and I were introduced to a book called the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. This book opened our eyes to discovering how we express love to one another and how we receive love. Through this book and having open discussions with Mike I learned that he feels respected and loved when I tell him truthful words of affirmation and show him acts of service. This helped me to know how to show him love in a way that spoke to him. Likewise, he learned that I thrive and blossom when I am verbally affirmed and when he spends quality time with me.
We use other tools and constantly engage on where we see each other in the future, what keeps us happy in our marriage and what needs change. It has been a lovely three-year journey and we are looking forward to decades together. I must say though, that having a superior common point of reference helps a lot. Knowing that whatever our differences are, when our two worlds oppose, there is a superior place that both Mike & I can submit to, for us this place is Jesus Christ.
Article Written by: Bianca Ilunga