3 Things I Learned from My 10-Year Relationship

Yesterday marked four years of marriage for me and Marlon, and today marks 10 years total together. I truly don’t know why God has blessed me with such a healthy marriage, but I’m grateful and smart enough to know not to question a blessing 😂😂.

In all seriousness, I’m very thankful to have been with my husband since I was 17 years old. Many people gave us grief for being in a relationship at such a young age, and plenty of people told us that 24 years old is too young for a marriage. We ignored everyone and fought through many trials and obstacles to get to where we are today. By no means am I saying that we’re perfect or that our marriage is perfect — that is far from the truth, and I’m sure that Marlon would agree. However, we’ve learned so many things about commitment and partnership over these 10 years, and I’d love to share what I learned.

1. Don’t be afraid of change. Don’t be afraid to change.

Alright, I’m putting myself on FULL blast right now, so don’t judge me! When we first got together, I had no clue how to be someone’s girlfriend. This was my first serious and committed relationship, and I didn’t know anything. I thought that arguing meant that the relationship was doomed, so during every single argument, no matter how small, I was ready to be done with the entire relationship. I had no clue that arguing was completely normal. Therefore, I was constantly telling Marlon that I couldn’t do it anymore. It wasn’t until a year or two into our relationship that I realized that everyone argues and that there was no way that I could make Marlon feel safe and secure with me if I was always so ready and willing to give up. I didn’t want to make him feel this way anymore, so I learned what it took to be in a relationship — loyalty, respect, and communication. I had to change to make this work.

Now, Marlon wasn’t perfect either in the beginning. He lived in a house with 12 opinionated people at one point in his life, so he learned that if you want to be heard and, for lack of a better phrase, “not messed with,” you had to yell and be blunt about your feelings. Naturally, he brought this into our relationship every now and then. I don’t respond well to yelling and I tend to not respond well when someone is being what I interpret as mean, so I would always shut down or cry — a reaction that Marlon didn’t respond well to. It was a cycle that was doomed to repeat itself. After some self-reflection and many conversations about it, Marlon learned to vocalize his thoughts and opinions without yelling and being “brutally honest.” It wasn’t an easy change, but it was one that he was willing to make.

We both had to unlearn a lot of things that were familiar to us, and these were difficult sacrifices that we were willing to make over time and with lots of patience to make this the relationship that it is today.

2. Never stop dating your partner.

My favorite thing about dating Marlon was getting to know him and his interests, and soon, our interests overlapped quite a bit. Our ideal weekend involves staying in the house to play video games, watching anime, and maybe going out to dinner. However, if you were to ask me what my ideal weekend looked like when I was 17, I definitely would not have said playing video games or watching anime because I wasn’t into those things as much. I had a Game Boy, PS1, and PS2 when I was a kid, and I would sometimes watch Sailor Moon and Pokemon when I was younger, but I didn’t have much of an interest in those anymore. It wasn’t until I met Marlon who introduced me into his world that I realized how much I love video games and anime. It was important to us that we at least try each other’s interests and hobbies to allow more opportunities to bond, and that was one of the best things I did because I discovered new and exciting interests that we now share. Similarly, Marlon likes to go on hikes, watch reality shows, and do puzzles with me – all things that he didn’t do when he was single. He often tells people, “If my baby can get kills in Call of Duty with me, I don’t mind Keeping up with the Kardashians!” We never stopped diving into each other’s interests, and it always gives us something to talk about.

Another thing that I love about dating is, well, the dates! There’s something so effortless yet fun and meaningful about it. We make it a point to go out to a nice dinner, sit at a diner for breakfast, or go on a coffee date together at least once or twice a week. It doesn’t matter if we’re in sweatpants and sneakers or nice jeans and a fancy shirt — going out every once in a while is important. It grants us time to experience new things together and strengthen our bond.

3. Being a team isn’t just working together. It’s also about giving selflessly and taking gratefully.

Everyone knows that being in a relationship requires a partnership. Chores have to be split and financial responsibilities must be divided; that’s obvious. What I want to talk about is the importance of giving and taking responsibly. My favorite thing about Saturday mornings when Marlon doesn’t have to work is when he wakes up before me and walks Sophie for me while I sleep in. Everyone knows that I’m not a morning person; I could get 8 hours of rest and it’ll still feel like I didn’t sleep enough. Marlon knows this about me and does this not as a favor to me but because he wants me to sleep in. He does this without expecting anything in return, and for that, I am grateful.

Similarly, I enjoy getting Marlon ready for work by getting his clothes together and packing his lunchbox. It’s something that I do for him without expecting anything in return, and he tells me all the time how thankful he is that I make his shifts easier. As a giver, we have the responsibility to give and do out of pure kindness and love, and takers have the responsibility of not taking advantage of this kindness. Hence the importance of giving selflessly and taking gratefully.

Final Thoughts

I’ll keep this short and sweet because this post is a bit on the longer side! I don’t want to talk as if we know it all because we certainly don’t, but I do hope that this post can help someone else. Relationships and marriage are hard work, and both people involved have to put in the effort to get something great out of it. It can be something as simple as asking your spouse how their day was or buying small “just because” gifts; it all adds up to show effort, appreciation, and love. I’m super thankful for the love and support that Marlon shows me on a daily basis, and I hope that we have many more years ahead of us.

“Most people get married believing a myth that marriage is a beautiful box full of all the things they have longed for… The truth is, that marriage at the start is an empty box. You must put something in before you can take anything out. There is no love in marriage. Love is in people. And people put love in marriage. There is no romance in marriage. You have to infuse it into your marriage. A couple must learn the art, and form the habit of giving, loving, serving, praising, and keeping the box full. If you take out more than you put in, the box will be empty.” – UNKNOWN

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