What I Learned During My First Year Of Marriage

I was never the person who dreamt of marriage. I didn't imagine myself in a dress or envisioned a family and the white picket fence. If you would have told me that I would eventually have a wife and not a husband I would have thought you were crazy.

Growing up my mother always instilled in my sister and me that we should be hard working women who would never have to depend on any man to do for us what we were capable of doing for ourselves. My mom is a single mother, and I think because of her journey she raised us strong. Take-no-shit-from-anyone type of women.

In life you will have to take shit so you might as well start learning.You'll especially want to become an expert on how to choose your battles.

I met my wife Melani during a drum circle on a night of the full moon- we almost worked out the first time but as life would have it timing is everything, and we needed to grow and come back to each other. Eventually, after some years in between, she reached back out to me, and we tried again. I always felt like we had unfinished business and from the moment she came back into my life I never looked back.

The way life has moved forward for us in this partnership is because of Melani. She is a determined, goal-oriented person who holds her morals close to her heart. She knows what she wants out of life and the people around her. Her parents are still married, and despite their triumphs and difficulties, they've remained together. She's always lived with the image of the nuclear family and starting one of her. I, on the other hand, I've also been more career driven. I love my mother and sister dearly, but I always knew I needed to spread my wings and find myself. Nothing or no one grounded me in one place- not even them. Melani says her life purpose is to be a mother. Mine has always been to be a journalist.

Before we got married, she sat me down, and we had a heart to heart- that went something like this....

Her: "Do you know that I believe marriage is forever and with one person?" ME: "Yes, but you do know that I wasn't raised to see marriage this way, and I never considered it before you." Her: "Yes- but you do understand that I was raised like this, and eventually I don't want you to be my girlfriend- I want you to be my wife and start a family." ME: "I hear you, and I'm open to this idea because I'm not scared of taking risks and I love you, and I'd do this for you and us. Just promise me we won't change and become those people who forget to put each other first before anything else."

Today March 15 is our one year anniversary as wives, and we've both learned so much about love and each other, but there are some of the lessons that stand out to me:

It's More Than Just A Paper:

I hear many people say that marriage is just a paper and I thought the same for many years- until I married my wife. I quickly realized that we do not have the same protections as a hetero marriage and it was essential for me that I have rights over my lover should anything happen. With that being said- the moment you get married- nothing changes right away, but subconsciously you FEEL a greater sense of responsibility. It is serious and more than a paper because you're documenting, in the eyes of the government, a contract that you are responsible for another human being. It's like dating and then becoming boyfriend-girlfriend, nothing changes right away but then it does- because you take each other more seriously. Same thing with marriage and if you ask me - in marriage, you should never stop dating your partner- even after the wedding.

Finances Matter- What You Do When You're Single Will Haunt You When You're Married:

If your partner's credit sucks, HYPOTHETICALLY yours will suck too because you need both of your credit scores to purchase a house. If your partner's spending habits suck- yours will suck too because their financial decisions will impact you - even if you keep all your accounts separate. Same thing as if the person has a criminal history or owns properties-etc. Marriage is the union of two people all their baggage or awesome things you inherit and vice-versa. If you're just dating you can walk away, and no harm was done, but marriage binds you in a contract with someone else. My best piece of advice is to come clean to your partner about anything you have going on that they need to know about before you leap- especially finances. It's not sexy, but love is about honesty- it's not always steamy and hot.

Cultivate Love Daily:

Marriage and relationships are about cultivating love daily. You can quickly fall into monotony because #life. Sometimes we get tired, or we're so busy and on the go - especially for us career people. Living in a city like Miami their is always something to do and somewhere to go and friends to do these things with BUT you need to cultivate your relationship. Make time for sex. Explore sex. Talk about fantasies, Watch porn together-if you're into that- explore intimacy with each other. Think back on the things you used to do for each other while you were dating. Bring the roses, take showers together, leave her/ his slippers by the bed, open doors, give affection, surprise each other with gifts, acts of service or quality time, listen to each other and never stop being curious about each other's lives and interests. Make sure you create enough time alone without friends. In my home, Melani always needs a glass of water on her night table before we go to bed. It doesn't matter how late we stayed up partying or how tired I am after a long day, I'll get her cup of water and make sure it's there for her. Another thing we like to do is sit on the couch and ask each other questions we would as if we were friends. I'll ask things like "Hey babe what new artist have you gotten into lately?", "Have you gotten into any new brands of clothes?","Have you followed anyone new on Instagram I would like?" This way, I get to stay up to date with her interests, and I make myself a part of them. For example, lately she likes Vic Mensa - so I'll go out of my way and send her an interview of his I watched. Recently, she got into the brand Calvin Klein- so I bought her some undies because I knew she liked the brand. A big part of this is active listening and communication.

We're In This For The Long Haul:

If you're married or thinking about getting married, you need to change your state of mind and put yourself in a realistic place that marriage with that individual, if you're traditional, is for the rest of your life. Unless you're in an open relationship, this means this is the only person you'll have sex with for the rest of your life. The person you'll be building your future with. The person you'll be starting a family with. The person you'll move across the country with. The person you'll spend your finances on. The person you'll take care of when they're sick. The persons whose habits good or bad you have to share, etc.- With that being said this is where you need to put love on the side and ask yourself if you LIKE this person as much as you love them. Ask yourself questions like: Do I like how this person treats their family? Do I like how this person treats themselves? Do I genuinely like my partner as a human being? Do I like how this person moves around the world? Sometimes love can blind us but always being honest with yourself about these things can save you time and heartache later on.

You're Not Only Marrying Your Partner- You're Marrying Their Family:

The beautiful thing about getting married is that you inherit family members and you grow an unbreakable bond with your spouses family- sometimes, however, this can be negative if you do not like your partners family. Remember that you are inheriting any generational traumas and pains that may have happened to them before you. You inherit the pain bodies these family members may have caused your spouse, and you may inherit troubled family relationships. You may inherit great in-laws or you may not, but before you make the leap, you should spend a lot of time getting to know about your partners family, visit with them, call them, and explore the intricacies of these relationships. Speak often with your partner about their family and how they were raised- what they liked about their childhood and what they didn't, what traditions are important to them and simply do the work. You'll find yourself unpacking and healing from pains you both never even knew you needed to recover from. For me, I needed to do a lot of healing in my bond with my mom and my sister- we still have a lot of work to do but when we are disconnected Melani makes it a point to make sure we get right again because she knows how important they are to me. She also understands what I need from her when it comes to my mom and my sister and since she knows them she respects my space- she just gets it, but we have had to do the work as a family.

Today on the first year of my marriage I am grateful God and the Universe gave me a life partner who makes me better as a human being. Thankful because although we are opposites, we find common ground in the things that matter the most like morals and goals. I have a beautiful blended family, and I gained a second mother because my mother-in-law loves me like if I was her daughter. To my wife who doesn't know I wrote this - babe- I love you more than you can imagine and I'm excited to do life with you. Thank you for pushing me to be the higher version of myself every day and helping me grow as a woman. You're my life's greatest blessing.

With love, <3 CP