Two months into marriage and there are still a lot of things that I learn. But what I realized is there is also a lot that I have to unlearn. Merging two upbringings and different cultures sure offer a lot of surprises, but nothing that two people who choose to communicate can’t overcome.
Here are five things I realized I need to unlearn in marriage:
Unlearning that everything will go smoothly
TV dramas and movies almost always show that love can conquer all. That rich leading man will fall head over heels with the poor leading woman, the hopeless romantic girl who has attended 26 weddings will find love, the guy who got cheated on will eventually learn to love again.
But coming from a broken family, I grew up hearing that love and marriage isn’t always butterflies and rainbows. Despite being two peas in a pod, no matter how open communication is, or how long you’ve been together, fights will happen, disagreements are inevitable, and one of you is bound to get annoyed over something trivial.
But it’s okay that not everything goes smoothly. Because it lets both of you grow into better people. What’s more important is honest communication and accepting each other’s flaws so even when the roads aren’t all paved and concrete, it’s you and your partner against the gravel.
Unlearning that there is one right upbringing
I’m pure Chinese, and despite being born and raised in the Philippines, there are a lot of Chinese traditions and cultures that I grew up with. Dane on the other hand is pure Filipino and he also had a different upbringing than I did. Sure, our parents raised us differently, but there is really no one right upbringing because circumstances, environments, and how we’ll respond and adapt can be different from one another.
Not because I’ve been raised a certain way means it’s the right way or the only way. And what I might think as odd or different may not be for Dane, and vice versa. That includes managing the household, living together, and merging our families together.
I come from a very small family line compared to Dane. They love get-togethers and it’s not unusual for them to gather 50 people to celebrate a birthday of a loved one. If there are games involved, it’s also pretty ordinary. On the other hand, my upbringing is very different. We don’t usually meet up with relatives to catch up and even if we do, it’s pretty relaxed and only filled with conversations. One or the other is not right or wrong. But it’s definitely a different experience when I join them, or when Dane joins us. It’s fascinating.
Unlearning you’re alone with your problems
This may seem obvious, but it took a meltdown to realize that I was so used to dealing with things by myself that I forgot there is a pair of ears ready to listen and another brain to help me problem-solve.
I was going through some personal issues and couldn’t stop myself from crying. Just like all the other times before getting married, I wanted to be alone, sulk, and pick myself back up. Dane was around when this was happening, and he was insisting on comforting me so I told him I wanted to be alone.
“Why? You’re married now.” He said.
And that hit me and I couldn’t stop thinking about it since.
It’s true. I don’t need to feel like I have to handle everything alone and that includes facing problems or simply having an outlet to vent to. I’m not alone anymore.
Unlearning independence in decision-making
A lot of the things I used to decide on only considered me and maybe a little bit of my immediate family.
If I found a good job opportunity in another country back when I was single, I would have jumped at it immediately, no questions asked. But being in a relationship with Dane would make me think about how our relationship will be if I left and if I was willing to risk all of it for better employment.
Now that we’re married, that’s definitely not something I can do without consulting him and talking through if it’s the best decision to make not just for myself but for both of us.
Being married means asking my partner about the important (and sometimes even mundane things) that may affect either party. That includes flying off to another country for a career, or even deciding what to eat at lunch later today.
Unlearning wanting to be right all the time
I have the itch to be acknowledged as right all the time. Not so I can rub it in your face and say “I told you so”, but I grew up in a traditional household where I was made to believe that adults can never be wrong. That influenced my upbringing so when I became an adult and I’m proven to be right, I want people—adults specifically—to recognize that they can also make mistakes.
But in marriage, being right doesn’t always mean being happy. They aren’t mutually exclusive.
Sometimes, being right can cost you a small part of your marriage. Whether that’s a crumb that leads to your partner’s annoyance or a full-on wedge that chips your relationship.
At the end of the day, it’s a question of whether or not you want to be right or happy. Sometimes choosing your battles is the way to go, even if it means accepting defeat, not pressing issues so it doesn’t become bigger, or letting it go even if you’re right.
Unlearning helps us grow into better people that learn to appreciate differences and become one with our partners. It’s a step to Grow Up and Grow Old with them as you pave the journey to happily ever after.