Birthdays always are a time for reflection for me and in turning 34 this month I have been thinking a lot about my new marriage of barely a year and my first marriage as a naïve 20 year old. I find it funny how integrating two lives together bring about the same challenges whether in your twenties or thirties, but how I handle them are so vastly different.
Making decisions to please your family vs. Following your true path: This was a big one for me. I was raised a Jehovah’s Witness and abstaining from sex before marriage was expected, which led to a high percentage of very young marriages. We got married 5 months after meeting and at age 20 I had no idea what marriage really meant. We were the best of friends, but didn’t have sexual chemistry, which I didn’t know until it was too late. Now I’m not encouraging young women to go out whoring around, but test drive the car before you purchase so you no you aren’t stuck with a lemon. I divorced at 25 years old and left the religion to follow my own path. It’s caused a major rift in my relationship with my family, but I go to sleep at night knowing that I am being true to myself and making decisions out of love, not fear of disapproval.
Emotional manipulation vs. Honest communication: As a young wife I really didn’t know how to communicate my feelings and as many young women do, I put my partner’s needs before my own, and then resented him when I didn’t receive recognition or reciprocation. In fights it was always about “winning” whatever the aftermath might be. There wasn’t a victor, just two people who co-existed till we called it quits. As a woman in my thirties and married to an emotionally mature man, when we have conflict the goal is to come to an understanding and grow from it, without having to be “right”. I take care of my own emotional balance so that there isn’t that expectation on my husband, because when we set up parameters in how we think we should be loved, our partner will never live up to it.
Keeping Healthy Relationships Outside the Marriage: I don’t mean affairs, unless that’s what keeps your marriage happy, so be it! I am talking about being proactive in keeping your friendships alive and well. When we are young and in love it is so easy to become totally consumed by it and forget about your friends. In my marriage now, I can see the value of my male and female friendships. There are activities and interests my husband and I don’t share and instead of getting bummed out when he doesn’t want to spend an hour in Sephora drooling over the new Nars cosmetics, I go with my girlfriend. I don’t want to trek for hours in the mountains and he has friends that do. Trust me, it saves you from fights of “you never want to go ______ with me!” If you just maintain your friendships that fulfill other needs you have and not expect your partner to be your “everything”.
I have no regrets about being married in my twenties; I learned a lot of great lessons that make me a better wife in my second marriage. Lessons like focusing on what I bring to the table to make our marriage run smoothly. Showing gratitude and love in lots of ways whether it’s verbal praise, tokens of affection, gestures of thoughtfulness or initiating a good romp in the sack. Marriage is work, but totally fulfilling if you are passionate about creating the best experience to share with another person.
Tiffany Vitale has been a writer since age 5 when she won a young authors award for a book she wrote and illustrated about her friend named Angie. As a clinical aesthetician she hears the trials and triumphs of her client’s relationships and is often looked to as a sounding board. Tiffany writes beauty blogs for In With Skin magazine to impart little gems of knowledge about how to keep your skin glowing from the inside out.