Do you know what I hate about men?
The fact that they can exert almost exactly ZERO effort and lose weight — and meanwhile, I am busting my buns to every workout that Jillian Michaels and her manly muscles have ever created and do you know what happens to me?
I gain seven pounds.
Yeah, that’s right. Since giving birth to my fourth child and ballooning up to the biggest I’ve ever been in my life, I still continue to be biggest I’ve ever been in my entire life. I’ve been working hard to maintain a positive attitude about it, telling myself that my body tends to hang on to weight when I’m breastfeeding and that I will get there with patience and exercise and a healthy lifestyle. But dang if I’m not freakin’ annoyed that my husband can drop 20 pounds by simply cutting pop out of his daily diet just like that when he decided to hop on my healthy-living bandwagon.
What a jerk.
There’s a lot that I’ve learned about my husband and myself over the years in our marriage and last night, as I attempted to run three miles in a desperate plea to the universe to help me button my jeans, I thought about all of the ways that I’ve changed since I first walked down the aisle as a young and naïve bride of 21 years old.
1. I’m more secure in who I am as a person.
I realize not everyone gets married as young we did, but I spent the first few years of our marriage in a frenzied, frantic state to figure out who the heck I was as a person. I had the husband and the baby right away, so I felt like I had to have the rest of it figured out too — turns out, it is OK to learn along the way.
2. But less secure with my body.
On the flip side, (my advance apologies if this is TMI) I’m actually a lot less secure in my body, which shows, of course, in the marital bed. I’m still trying to figure out this weird phase I’m in, but it’s almost like I’m in the process of re-learning my sexuality after having kids. Which, I guess makes sense since I am basically dealing with an entirely new body. But it’s been eye-opening to realize how much power a wife’s confidence can have on the entire relationship. Shakira was right, my friends — the hips don’t lie.
3. I’m way more calm.
I often wonder if my hormones have just leveled off after having kids, because holy crap was I a crazy person when we first got married. Or maybe I just have less energy to get worked up about stupid things because I have four little people to keep alive every day, but in general, I’m a much more calm and relaxed person than I was as a newlywed.
4. I’m much more open about my feelings.
You may be expecting that marriage causes couples to eventually run out of things to talk about, but I’ve actually found the opposite to be true — I talk my husband’s ear off about everything now. I used to be the absolute worst about bottling up my feelings, emotions, and stress, shutting down, and then eventually exploding. It took us a while to learn the ropes, but now that I know I have the tendency to shut down, I go overboard to open up and prevent that from happening.
It might mean my husband has to hear about all my feels, all the time, but it’s better than the alternative, so so be it.
5. I accept my husband for who he is.
I had a lot of hopes and dreams for my marriage — I envisioned weekends spent together, cutesy bed-and-breakfast getaways, and of course, traveling the world together in retirement. But it’s taken me exactly seven years and counting to realize that my husband just is not the man who enjoys any of those things. Every weekend means more work in his shop and there will be no world travels in our future, because my husband hates to travel.
There will never be any cutesy weekends spent browsing antique shops and drinking coffee. My husband is just not that person and I had to accept that before I could learn to be happy in my marriage.
6. I know the importance of giving my husband his space.
Again, call me crazy, but I kind of thought that to be a successful married couple, you had to find your solace in each other — almost like spending time together would be the way to charge our respective batteries, so to speak.
But I’ve found that exact opposite to be true. Alone time has always been important, of course, but it took a long time to witness the long-term effects that a severe lack of “me” time — for both of us — can wreak on our relationship as a couple. When you have young kids, sometimes couple time might not even be as important as me time, because that’s truly what recharges our batteries and makes us an even stronger couple.
7. I know how to ask for what I want.
I have learned that our marriage really and truly works better when I ask — specifically for what I want — instead of hoping that my husband will know or getting angry that I have to ask in the first place.
Sometimes it looks like asking for help with housework or telling him I just need to vent or even tossing him a baby and running away for 10 minutes, but whatever it is, I’ve let go of any resentment about asking for what I need. My husband is happy if he knows exactly what I want and need and as a result, so am I.
How have you changed as a spouse since you got married?