As of New Year's Eve, John and I have been married for five years. We didn't give each other presents (as usual) but it's nice that we always have a party to go to! Have to give my brother credit for suggesting December 31 for our wedding date. The intention was to eliminate any possibility that John would forget our anniversary. Not that we do anything really special on our own -- doesn't matter to me. Just happy to be together.
Looking back on our relationship, I realize that it's just gotten better and better for me throughout the years. The growth of our relationship is definitely correlated with my own personal growth. In the beginning, I was a lost soul, not knowing what to do with my life, not knowing what was really important to me, doing what I thought was expected of me, doing what I thought would make other people happy. That was pretty much my twenties. You can imagine I wasn't that happy. I would blame my unhappiness on John and feel resentment towards him because he was always doing what he wanted to do while I had tied my own hands behind my back. And in our relationship, I was not strong because I was not strong for myself. I was very subservient -- did everything I could to please him, sacrificing my own needs. He never asked this of me -- it's just what I thought I was supposed to do in a marriage.
Over time, I found my own voice -- made my needs known to him. They used to come out once-a-month, corresponding with my PMS. I would just blow up and complain about everything that had been bugging me for the last three to four weeks, John would calm me down, we'd try to make a plan, and John would promise to follow it. A couple of times, I resorted to letter-writing because I was actually too embarrassed to make my demands of him. Now, I do it normally. Gentle reminders once in awhile -- such as, "We haven't had our daily fifteen minutes of talking for awhile," or "We really need to do something as a family," or "Why are you still spending hours on the internet reading about the Ohio State Buckeyes? It's not football season!" (that was in the spring and summer).
The last two years I have been so happy inside my own skin. Which is probably why I've also been so happy in my marriage. I speak out (without sounding naggy), never take a back seat when something is important to me, and not feel guilty when I'm doing something for myself that doesn't involve John or Maylin.
I've also given up on having unrealistic expectations of John. I don't get mad at him for not cleaning the toilet or the shower because I know those are clearly unpleasant tasks for him. It's just one of those battles I'm not going to pick. When he cleans the kitchen, I consider it a gift instead of an insult when he doesn't. And I don't expect him to read my mind. When preparing for company coming over during the hour countdown, instead of letting him pick up around the house his way, I spell out my needs. Please vacuum these rooms, please wipe down the tables, etc. I'm fortunate that John is always happy to help. I just have to tell him what to do. Women, don't forget this: men do not read minds, no matter how hard you try to send those telepathic messages. Also, show thanks when he gets things done for you. Don't take anything for granted. He should be doing the same for you.
I appreciate John now more than ever. Before, I was blinded by resentment, but now I can appreciate him for all the wonderful things he is. Super-understanding, sensitive to my moods, always willing to help, calm and calming, rarely angry, and values the balance between work and family. It doesn't end there, but those qualities are the most valuable to me. Happy Anniversary to us!