What One Year of Being Married Has Taught Me

Juan and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary in August last year. It was an important milestone for us, so we celebrated the special occasion by taking a short trip to Puerto Rico. The trip was also to commemorate a double celebration as it was also Juan's birthday. We love double celebrations! It just so happened that the 'Ricky Renuncia' protests took place while we were there and I did what any responsible netizen would do — I dove right into the action to capture this historic event.

So, how about some real talk? 

Ever since our first anniversary, I've wanted to share what I've learned about marriage so far. To begin with, the moment you're married your life isn't just about you anymore. Juan and I think about how almost every decision we make could affect each other — from how much money one spends on clothes, books and house plants (obviously, this is about one of us more than the other) to how late one should stay at work. We want to protect each other's feelings and interests and build a home and relationship that is secure.

"They (your spouses) are your garment and you are a garment for them." (Quran, 2:187)

In fact, I'm finally publishing this after 2 weeks of writing and editing, and after spending 7 hours in the emergency room on Tuesday followed by being sleep-deprived for the past 3 nights because Juan had a stomach flu. Marriage takes a lot of dedication. It's not always fun, exciting and 'Instagram-worthy'. Sometimes it's challenging, messy, and exhausting. The great paradox of marriage is that it is both comforting and triggering to learn how to live and thrive with another person and build a meaningful life with them. This paradox is what makes marriage perfect for growth.

As the late Toni Morrison said,

"People say, 'I didn't ask to be born'. I think we did — and that's why we're here. We are here and we have to do something nurturing that we respect before we go. We must. It is more interesting, more complicated, more intellectually demanding and more morally demanding to love somebody, to take care of somebody, to make one other person feel good." — Toni Morrison, Love is a Metaphor

Love, followed by marriage, is one of the most sought-after life experiences. Hence, all the more reason to reflect on our notions of love and marriage and where they came from. You can imagine the amount of reflection I've done during this one year of marriage, and figuring out what I've learned so far.

I've simplified my thoughts and came up with five things I learned after one year of marriage:

In the vlog above, I discussed two pre-requisites of a healthy, happy and balanced marriage: a heart and mind of abundance, and the intention to grow together. I also shared five lessons one year of marriage has taught me:

1. Love is a practice. 8:42
2. Keep things 'fresh' by having a routine. 11:46
3. A good attitude goes a long way. 17:16
4. Don't despair, repair. 22:00 (I forgot to include a title in the video, sorry!)
5. Happy wife, happy life. 27:15 (Happy husband, happy nothin', joked Juan.)
6. Five Things Juan Learned After One Year of Marriage. (BONUS) 34:00

In a time when many people are becoming increasingly disillusioned by various aspects of social life, such as marriage and its necessity in creating a happy and fulfilling life, perhaps it's time for a paradigm shift. Could it be that chasing 'happiness' isn't all it's made up to be because ironically, our notions and ideas of happiness are preventing us from feeling joy and contentment? In love and marriage, we can be stuck on our ideas of happiness instead of choosing and learning how to be happy. (This isn't applicable in abusive relationships, of course.)

"When we're caught up in a belief that happiness should take a particular form, we fail to see the opportunities for joy that lie in front of us." —Thich Nhat Hanh, How to Love

When you practice self-awareness, many situations will challenge your idea of happiness. Marriage would be one of those things due to its hyper-romanticization. Does searching for Prince Charming or 'The One', ring a bell? Out of curiosity about other perspectives of love and marriage, I read a post entitled 'The Reality of True Love' several years ago. Now that I'm married I can attest to what a difference it makes to see marriage from a spiritual and religious point of view.

The normalization and glorification of instant gratification, individualism and hedonism have become ingrained in our lives. We don't even question them. However, instant gratification and individualism won't work in love and marriage because a deep, genuine connection takes time and investment, and intimacy and partnership require vulnerability, compassion, trust and collaboration.  After getting married, you might find yourself reflecting on society's normalization of hedonism, individualism, instant gratification, materialism and pursuit of status, like I did.

 Exploring the charming Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. One of our Instagram-worthy moments.

Marriage coaxes us to see the humanity in this person who is so close to us yet so mysterious. And for that, I thank my husband for being a part of this infinitely soul-shifting and life-changing experience with me.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day." - Albert Einstein, 'Death of a Genius', LIFE Magazine

To be mindful in life and love, I do my best to be curious, be unafraid of not always having answers, and relish in the process of discovering new things about myself and the world — even if it takes time. A constant desire for instant gratification is one of the reasons we miss out on the simple joys of this life. In New York, we seem to be in a rush all the time. Urgency is important to seize the day but it doesn't mean we have to rush the process. Love is one of those things that can't be rushed. At the same time, love does need attention, care and sincerity.

But don't take my word for it. Reflect on it yourself.