It’s no wonder that many new (and old) couples become disillusioned when it comes to romantic love. We are raised on Disneyland images of Cinderella and stories of knights rescuing their fair maidens. It is easy to romanticize marriage and secretly expect a perfect journey of never-ending bliss! How enticing it is to believe that all will be easy and perfect once we say, "I do!" Yet, the illusion of living "Happily Ever After" is just that—an illusion. In fact, no marriage—even the best of the best—is ever completely free of worry, cares, or change. Just like other areas of life, marriage is naturally filled with times of joy, sorrow, stagnation, growth, difficulties, and delight. In accepting this truth, the journey becomes one of increasing awareness and ever-growing wisdom. And so, as I wrap up the adventurous tale of my first year of married life, I invite you to smile, laugh, and find the magic in the quirks, hiccups, and triumphs of your own marriage.
This morning I found myself staring, once again, into the sweetest set of brown eyes I’ve ever known. As he sipped his black coffee, I noticed that the hooded orb of his right eye seemed slightly smaller than the left. Although others probably wouldn’t notice it, this little droop tells me my sweetheart is extra weary; he didn’t sleep well. Such little oddities are endearing and important to me, for they help me know and understand my husband more deeply.
In learning to read his face, I have discovered a wealth of information. When my hubby is disconcerted, his eyes turn a paler, driftwood shade of brown. When he’s striving to be patient, his twitching right jaw muscle is a giveaway. One of my favorites, his "jumping eyebrows," signals supreme excitement. Those same eyebrows, when mildly furrowed, indicate concentration and thoughtfulness. Transformed into a deeper, straight set, that very brow portends a dose of anger. All of these little bits and pieces—and so much more—have become part of my natural awareness. What a gift it is to learn one’s partner from the outside in and the inside out.
As we lingered over dinner on the evening of our first anniversary, I asked my sweetheart to share three things he’s learned about me in the 12 months of our marriage. Sitting in the sushi restaurant where we had our first official date, his eyebrows furrowed in concentration. Then, as he began to recount the details of his internal foray, those eyebrows began their beloved dance. I listened intently—not just to the words, but to his tone and inflections. I listened with my ears, my brain, and my heart. I have learned so much about him and so much about myself by seeing me through his eyes. Indeed, through my husband, I have learned so very much about the essence of life and love. In turn, I began to recount the bits and pieces I’ve learned about him in during the course of our newlywed year.
“I have learned so much about him and so much about myself by seeing me through his eyes.”
My three thoughts turned into four, five, and then 20. Offering an array of delightful discoveries that included observations of quirky habits and learning experiences, I chattered away. Laughing in wonderment, my sweetheart begged me to stop. I did, for a moment, and then began again.
It’s difficult for me not to share the depth of my love and learning of my beloved, for the exploration and discovery is fascinating and eternal. Just when I think I understand or know one aspect of him, another shift occurs somewhere. I learn more. I see more. I find more to love. And that, in essence, is why I am lovingly devoted to my husband more now than ever. He is precious. He is fascinating. He is quirky. He is changeable. He is a work of art. We are best friends. We are teachers. We are partners. We are much the same, and we are quite a bit different. We learn from each other. We challenge each other. We want each other to grow.
Isn’t that what makes life so wonderful? As much as we might think things stay the same, we are always changing. When love is in play, the secret is to pay attention. If your eyes aren’t wide open you might miss the opportunity to notice your beloved smile, shed a tear, or offer an embrace. If your heart isn’t wide open, you might neglect the most vital gift you’ve ever been given. If your attention and dedication are turned toward your marriage, then the other elements—work, household tasks, and other bits of life—will fall into place. What we value most in life—be it marriage or something else—will grow and blossom from our devotion and dedication.
“As much as we might think things stay the same, we are always changing.”
My marriage has given me the opportunity and the challenge of learning what it is to place my husband above all else. I smile as I write these words, for it’s a "new" me—the best version of me—that has allowed this to occur. Marriage has taught me that "love" is not just a word. It is not a romantic ideal. Love is an action. Love means that I do whatever it takes to create love and to be a loving, ever-giving partner.
And, so, to summarize my newlywed year, I would say: Marriage is a never-ending book of discovery—a journey into learning ever more about oneself, one’s spouse, and the partnership of marriage. The first year is just the wild and unpredictable first chapter of the story! Nothing is more beautiful than the journey of a conscious, loving relationship. It’s tough. It’s confusing. It’s magical. It’s amazing. It’s hard work. It’s a spectacularly fascinating and challenging privilege. And, it’s a truly incomparable adventure that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
“Marriage is a never-ending book of discovery—a journey into learning ever more about oneself, one’s spouse, and the partnership of marriage.”
Adventures of a Newlywed: The Third Quarter
Adventures of a Newlywed: The Second Quarter
Adventures of a Newlywed: The First Quarter
As a clinical psychologist in Sonoma County, California, Dr. Carla Marie Manly maintains a focus on helping clients transform their lives and their relationships. Using a body-mind-spirit approach that underscores the importance of overall wellness, Dr. Manly works with her clients on a highly individualized basis to uncover the core concerns that often manifest as psychological, behavioral, and somatic symptoms. Combining traditional depth psychotherapy with somatic therapy, Dr. Manly offers her clients a specialized approach to creating passionate, joy-filled lives. Working in both individual and group settings, she strives to promote change by increasing her clients’ personal self-awareness and insight. A devoted writer, speaker, and yoga instructor, Dr. Manly is dedicated to helping others create the lives of their dreams. California License: Psy25539. For more, visit www.drcarlagreco.com and follow her on Google+.