I remember growing up as a young girl and having dreams of what the future would hold. Truth be told, I was quite uncertain of what the future would be. Life as a child wasn't always peaches and cream. But then again what is life without struggle, right? Unlike many women, my dreams never consisted of that quintessential fairy tail wedding. Instead, I would often have dreams of the "perfect marriage"---and for the record it did include a white picket fence. So when it was time to wed the man of my dreams in 2005, the details of my big day were quite sketchy. Intentionally. We decided that $5000 would be our total budget, which included my dress, his tux, the venue, invitations, reception and all else. Surprisingly we managed to stay under that initial budget, leaving us with a couple extra cash in the end. Obviously the concept of a lavish and extravagant nuptial affair wasn't my cup of tea. Neither was a trip down to the local court house. So we opted for something in the middle. An all inclusive affair where we would invite an intimate number of friends and family on a local dinner yacht on a muggy September evening.
The Dress. Ha. So the budget fashionista in me happened to be scouring the racks at a local Ross Dress for Less and stumbled upon this awesome (so I thought at the time) perfectly simple and whimsical wedding dress. It was nothing special. A couple ruffles at the top,spaghetti straps made out of chiffon. It was 2002 when I had purchased the dress. Yup, it hung patiently in my closet for three whole years where I would make frequent closet drop ins for the sake of admiration. Fast forward to 2005----the wedding was right around the corner and two weeks before----I hated that perfect $20 chiffon dress I had enthusiastically scored three years prior at that Ross Dress for Less. Panic set it. Oh, the stress. Five days before the wedding---I found it. I had found a modern version of my so called "perfect dress" that I once adored. It was a Cache clearance special. The problem? It was a size 10 and I was a size 4. I scooped it up in a hurry and rushed to the register. I wasn't sewing at the time so I had to rely on my local alterations lady to put a rush on it. So she did, barely in the nick of time. Whew! But all of the wedding day drama and circumstances bared minimal significance to the life long partnership that the Mr. and I had vowed to continue through holy matrimony. Nothing! Not the wedding day pomp and circumstance, rumors and innuendo---and certainly not even the naysayers who may have doubted whether our union would withstand the test of time. I'd be dishonest to say that marriage is a cake walk, but certainly honest in saying that it takes sacrifice, communication and respect. What has fourteen years (we dated 5 years before tying the knot) of togetherness thought me?
- Shut up and listen. It can't always be about you. If you are doing most of the talking and minimal listening...you are being selfish.
- Do you. No marriage or relationship is the same. What works for mine, simply may not work for yours.
- Keep folks out of your life. Now, I'm not saying that you can't confide in mama or your the BFF. Know the limits. Not everything should be told. And not everyone's opinions on your marriage and relationship should be valued. Honestly, I'm simply not going to take much or any (for that matter) advice on parenting from non-parents. Same thing with marriage. If you've been there and done that---all advice and experiences are kindly accepted. No one is an expert at a particular subject matter unless they've lived it.
- Communicate. Always speak your mind----truthfully.
- Have Respect. This one is pretty simple. Know the boundaries of respect in your marriage. If you don't know what they are, find out. Nobody wants to be disrespected--- and shouldn't be. This is the foundation of any relationship.
- Stick to what works. There are many life events that requires personal adjustment. For me---it was college, marriage and motherhood. These three life events presented me with a challenge of defining who I was and who I wanted to be as an young adult, wife and mother. There is an old saying--if it's not broken, don't fix it. When you discover what works in your marriage, don't change a thing.
- Put your pride and ego aside. Lord knows there will be disagreements. We've had our share. You have got to know when to put your pride aside and own up to your crap (for a lack of better word).
- Never stop laughing. One way to tell if your marriage is in trouble is if the laughter is gone. If there is no laughter, then more than likely there will be no happiness.
- Never stop dating. No matter how busy and crazy life gets, never stop dating. It will keep the spark alive.
- Know your purpose. This has gotta be the most important aspect of a marriage in my opinion. Just like dating. You want to know what is the end game? Is it marriage? Or is it simply a good time? Marriage works the same way. Why are you married? The reason has to reach far beyond love. Love just simply isn't enough. For me, the concept of having someone who would love and accept me unconditionally while I'm at my best and worst moments certainly was attractive. But building a strong family structure and a life long partnership that included selflessly giving to someone who would also selflessly give to me could only yield nothing less than a lifetime of goodwill. Teamwork makes the dream work.