I know that on my blog I am usually sharing new restaurants, local events, and travel destinations. While all of those things are a huge part of my life, I also realized that I never really talk about the “wife” of Arcadia Wife. I tend to mention Matt in my posts, since he is the one I am usually sharing all these awesome experiences with, but I don’t dive into more of our relationship. This is likely because our marriage is one of the most special and personal pieces of my life, making it difficult to truly articulate, but I am going to try!
I just spent the last week in Maui with my family, and where better to reflect on the experiences and people that shaped the past year of my life, than the serenity and peacefulness of Hawaii. During that time, I thought a lot about Matt and I’s relationship, it’s beginning almost 10 years ago, and how it has evolved to where we are today.
Matt and I met in college when we were 19 years old. We were married when we were 24. And while in previous generations, this may seem like a traditional age, in our society today, 24 can seem young to make the commitment to marriage. Some people even expressed those concerns to us. They told us we were just becoming adults, starting our careers, and didn’t understand the challenges in life that we would face. And for the most part, those people were right. However, I believe that learning, growing, and evolving is what makes us beautiful as human beings. We always have the ability to change, whether we are 30 or 80, and I believe the biggest factor of whether any relationship is successful, is how you adapt to that change. Always begging the question, can you grow together?
After spending time reflecting, below are a few things that have helped Matt and I continue to grow together, even amidst the change and evolution of life. And although somewhat difficult to write, I felt that this post was especially topical as we all depart from 2016 into 2017 with resolutions of things we will change into the New Year.
Lean In To Each other: Life is hard sometimes. When Matt and I were first married we were figuring out how to pay bills, invest in our careers, and make time for each other. And sometimes we just wanted to retreat and solve our problems on our own. I mean that’s what we did before we were in a relationship, right? But when you are in a relationship it is so important to lean on your partner for support. For us, that looks like making time at least three nights a week to have dinner together to sit and talk. We sit at our dinner table or out at a restaurant, sometimes with a glass of wine, and listen, brainstorm, or just vent. I’ll be honest, there are nights we are tired and would rather migrate to the couch and veg, but after we take the time, both of us feel more connected and supported. Taking the time to lean into our relationship, be vulnerable and open up about anything that is bothering us, allows us to have the grace for one another when we come home from work upset, or are just feeling “off.”
Start with Good Intentions: Sometimes in relationships there are disagreements, it happens. And when anyone has an argument, it is easy to put the blame on one another. Over the last year or so, I have really started thinking about starting with intentions. Matt is not the type of person who would ever intentionally hurt me, so when I think about our disagreement about him being late, or forgetting to tell me something, I think about who he is at his core. He isn’t trying to be hurtful, he has good intentions for our relationship and marriage. I find that if I start there, it allows me to forgive quicker. We all do or say things we wished we wouldn’t have, and most of us have good intentions. When we take a step back to remember that, it helps to reframe our perspective and remember the good in one another.
Know who you are and who you’re not: Like I mentioned, Matt and got married in our early 20s, and hopefully we have a lot of aging and growing left to do. We will continue to evolve as adults, as spouses, and one day as parents. That said, understand who you are and who you are not. And do the same for your significant other. I am the planner in our relationship. Remember when I talked about our disagreement over Matt being late, or forgetting something? I have come to accept that I show up as the planner and organizer in our relationship, while Matt brings many other wonderful things to the table. Once I took ownership for who I was to him (and probably to others in my life), it made me feel more at peace with how our relationship operates day-to-day. It doesn’t mean Matt can completely be off-the-hook for planning, and this is something that he continues to ask my help in strengthening, but as soon as I recognized that’s one of my strengths, it gave me grace to help him develop in this area rather than getting upset. On the flip side, Matt has many strengths that are weaknesses of mine, that he helps me grow in. For example, helping remind me to relax and remember what’s important in life, because sometimes I can over-plan. It’s what balances us, and makes us complete together.
Find Your Thing: In any relationship, you tend to connect with someone based off a common bond. When you get married and the everyday monotony can cause your “date nights” to turn into Home Depot runs, or Chinese takeout because you both worked so late, you can’t even fathom getting ready to go out to dinner. At these times, remember that those little things were what bonded you in the first place, and will continue to over time. Find the thing or things that you and your significant other love to do together, and make sure you don’t let that fall to the wayside. How often, and what that looks like will be different for everyone. Matt and I love to ride bikes, and while the weather here in Phoenix is cooler, we love to get out every weekend for a nice, long bike ride. We also love to travel, and while I wish we could do that every weekend (one day I hope!), that’s not realistic right now. But, we keep an ongoing list of places we want to visit, and try to have at least one vacation planned at all times, even if it’s 6 months away, so that we always have our trips together to look forward to.
Take time for YOU: This seems strange right? We are talking about relationships. Yet, I believe this is really important too. If I don’t take the time to recharge my own battery, how can I show-up the way I want to? Not just in my marriage but any relationship. I am someone that has excess energy, so for me one of the most important things I can do for myself is take time to run or exercise. Find what allows you to feel your best, gives you peace of mind or clarity, and makes you feel more energized. This will in turn, allow you to pour that energy into others.
Amidst all those New Year’s resolutions for change, remember to be grateful for your relationships, and how you want to treat them into 2017. Happy New Year, friends!