Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the night my husband proposed. Thinking about this past year, I've been reflecting on the outside factors of our relationship - our families, friends, exes, and money.
I've come to realize that the outside factors are a heavy influence on how we get along as a couple. During the past year, and the first few months of our relationship prior to our engagement, we've hit some major bumps on the road. We've encountered and tackled numerous obstacles. We've had arguments about our past relationships because they've somehow influenced us as a couple. We were raised very differently, and so we've argued over different values, beliefs, and even the way we do laundry and handle money. Our friends are different, so there has also been conflict over how we spend our time away from each other. No matter what, nothing has broken us (so far!). We're living testaments of the overly used cliche, "What does not kill you makes you stronger."
Our parents are still very much involved in our lives. After all, we live in my parents' basement and they are helping us buy a house. Both sides of our family tell us how we should handle certain situations, how we should make time for each other, and how we should raise our son.
My point is, a couple can hear everyone else's opinion on their relationship and their growing family. Money is hands down one of the hardest things to communicate about, which explains why it is the cause of most divorces. I think that couples should always listen to the advice of other people, but ultimately go with what they believe is best for them.
It is so easy to be overwhelmed by how other people, especially parents, expect you to do things the way they want you to. Sometimes we try to meet those expectations because we've grown up trying to appease and please our parents. However, it can be hard to fulfill those expectations while trying to learn and grow as a couple and/or a family. It's also hard to ignore those expectations when they are constantly being brought up and...well, expected to happen. It can become a struggle of how to make everyone in your world happy and satisfied.
The way you were raised does not necessarily have to be the way you raise your children. The way your parents handle their marriage does not necessarily have to be the way you handle yours. Life is not about "copying and pasting" others' ways of life. It is about molding your SELF.
So, when other people tell us their opinion of how to argue, how to manage our finances (okay, we actually do need help with this!), how to take care of our kid, how to do pretty much anything they think we need to learn...I try so hard not to be annoyed or frustrated. Instead, I think about how the two of us are doing. Despite a financial blow and the need to move out of our apartment, we are taking everything in stride, rebuilding our life together, and trying to keep levelheaded. Because of this (rather large) obstacle, we are being criticized, analyzed, and publicized (which is the worst of all - my dad is quick to tell everyone how much he's been helping us). We feel inadequate, unreliable, irresponsible, untrustworthy, and most of all - like leeches. We do not want to be any of that, and we are fighting and working hard toward the goal of standing on our own. We will always need (and always appreciate) guidance, but we want to rely on others as little as possible.
Sometimes I feel like a big disappointment in the eyes of my parents and my in-laws. However, sometimes I need to forget how they feel and remember how my husband feels. In the end, he's the one I am going to live with for the rest of my life. He's the one who will be affected the most by my opinions and decisions. He's the one to whom I'm married.
Above all obstacles, we have to remember that we're dedicated to each other and our son before anyone else. We have to think about how we are doing as a couple, despite everything happening around us and to us, and despite what everyone else is saying, thinking, and trying to make us do. As long as we continue to love and respect each other, we will always be happy no mater what.