Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Why My Husband and I Never Had "The Honeymoon Phase"

Since we’ve said “I do,” my husband and I have been asked “how’s it feel being married?” more times than we can count. Our answer is always a smile and “it feels the same.” And the smile is because we know what's coming next: “ah well, you’re still in the honeymoon phase!” We always laugh at that, but we also give each other a look which is really an inward eye roll and a groan because that's always the response we get, but we don't believe it's true.

Unlike in the past, or in those countries where a man and a woman might meet only a couple of times before marrying, we knew each other before we married. And I mean, really knew each other. 

According to a recent study published in the Council on Contemporary Families, cohabitation has increased by nearly 900 percent over the last 50 years, and my husband and I were among those couples who lived together before our nuptials (scandal!). As a result, there were no surprises after we married — I didn’t have any horror stories or frustrations I had to vent to my friends about over a glass bottle of wine. 

There was no question as to the correct way to squeeze toothpaste (the answer is bottom to top, people!) or arguing over chores (teamwork is key, as is utilizing each others' strengths. For example, I can cook but he can't. So I'm in charge of mealtime, and he handles clean-up.) 

In addition, long before we moved in together, we were up front with one another. Right from the get go, we put everything on the table. “Here. This is me. Take it or leave it, but don’t waste my time.” 

My husband had already spent more than enough time on destructive relationships, and he was done. He was ready for something worthwhile, something with someone who he could totally be himself with, something with “a woman who makes me better” as he once told me. And if he couldn't find that, he asserted, he was ready to remain alone. 

As for me, I’d never been a “serial dater.” I’ve always been independent, and never felt like I needed a boyfriend to “complete me.” Having a relationship for the sake of having a relationship was never enough for me, and dating someone who I couldn’t at least *see* myself marrying always felt completely pointless. 

We discussed all this almost as soon as we started talking (heck, we had our wedding song picked out years before he proposed!) And then we talked some more. And talked some more. And talked even more. And we learned everything about each other. We learned about our past mistakes, our quirks, likes and dislikes, our hopes, goals and fears; we experienced plenty of hard times and overcame numerous obstacles before there were rings on our fingers, so we knew we could handle any other storms that may come — and come they will. 

For our one-year dating anniversary, I gave my husband a scrapbook of our first year together. It's pretty detailed, and includes screenshots of some of the conversations we had via text. We love looking back on it as time goes on, because we get a kick out of the fact that we still do all of the things we did during those first 365 days; we act the same and talk the same and are still crazy about each other.

And it’s because of all this we’ll continue to assert, “It doesn’t feel any different” when we’re asked what it’s like to be married, and we’ll continue to inwardly roll our eyes if someone says we’re in the “honeymoon phase.”

If there is a honeymoon "phase,” we both believe that means either a. the couple didn’t truly know each other prior to marriage/were pretending to be someone they’re not to make a good impression or b. they stopped putting in the same amount of effort after the glitz and the glamour of the wedding and the honeymoon faded away.

Is a relationship the exact same 10, 20, 40 years in as it was in the beginning? Of course not. There will be changes. But if those involved are honest, open, willing to put in the constant work a healthy marriage requires, and never ever stop communicating, the relationship will only grow in those changes, and it will never be a matter of being in a “honeymoon phase” or not.

"Great marriages are built brick by brick, day by day, over a lifetime." - Dieter F. Uchtdorf

"A great relationship doesn't happen because of the love you had in the beginning, but how well you continue building that love until the end."

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