I spent 15 months planning my wedding – 15 months gathering my own body weight in visual inspiration (Pinterest didn't exist back then so wedding magazines it was, RIP the small forest I'm probably responsible for having eradicated for my addictive magazine purchasing habits), 15 months obsessing way too long over the right size of perfume bottle wedding favour, 15 months of excitement and fun and making new contacts online as I shared my plans and the countdown towards the wonderful day on Friday 20 March 2009 when I married the man I love.

It's been 4 years and 6 months to the day since I tied the knot.  For the record, that's 1,645 days.   1,645 days of being 'wife'.  1,645 days of being 'Mrs'.  1,645 days of marriage that has provided plenty of ups and downs and everything in between. 

Photography Copyright (c) 2009, Karen McGowran

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See more photos from my wedding here

I've come to learn a great deal about the value of marriage and a whole heap of stuff about life and love during this time, and I've come to realise a few things about marriage that I didn't realise before.  Maybe I was too naive, lacked life experience, or had a blinkered view that marriage meant perfection (let's get married, it will be perfect and we'll all live together happily ever after! You know the score). But real life isn't acted out on the Disney big screen and occasionally, it likes to throw the odd curve ball your way – situations and challenges that test your values, your commitment, and ultimately, your marriage.

I have a good, strong marriage.  A marriage that I truly believe in and that means the world to me.  I'm in a job where I can't help but reflect daily on the commitment I made when marrying, and through seeing other people's beautiful wedding photographs, that commitment is reinforced every day.  Maybe I'm lucky in that sense.   I'm reminded daily of how lucky I am to be married to someone I love, someone who has gifted me with two precious children and experienced all lives highs and lows with me.  What I'm trying to say is that what I know now, that I didn't know back then when I officially 'tied the knot', is that my understanding and appreciation of marriage is, well, it's richer, deeper. I have a much better understanding of what the commitment of marriage means, what a marriage requires to be healthy and and how I can call on my marriage when life throws you one of those pesky curve balls.

I sat pondering over all this the other night and found myself scribbling thoughts in to my note book.  I found myself asking the question, 'if my readers were to ask me what marriage was like, 4 years and 6 months on, what would I say', and 'what advice would I give to those planning on marrying? What pearls of wisdom have I learned in these past 1,645 days that I could share with others'?  And so this post is a bit of an attempt to share the inner workings of my heart, and mind, as I pause to consider the role of marriage and meaning it has in my life today.

So often, we're swept along in a visually impressive array of weddings through blogs like Love My Dress; vintage weddings, quirky weddings, country garden weddings, all that pretty can be as overwhelming as much as it can be inspirational.  It risks overshadowing the really important aspects of the planning process, like, pausing to consider the reason we're marrying in the first place, choosing thoughtful, loving words to have read during your wedding ceremony, making vows that truly mean something to you both – that make your heart
explode and the tears spill over when you think of saying them in your
head, keeping the whole crazy wonderful day in perspective and not losing your marbles over the right size of perfume bottle favours.  Then we get married, and it is wonderful, a day like no other, dreamy and exciting, and in a flash it's all over, and we have the photographs and maybe the film and our precious memories to remember it by. And so follow a heady, almost surreal few days and weeks where we reflect fondly on that wonderful day where two human beings committed the rest of their days to one another, so strong is their love.

The rest of their days.

A lifetime commitment.

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Via Pinterest

How do we know what's going to happen in our life times when we get married, when we commit the rest of our days to loving, respecting, supporting someone else? We don't and our eyes are filled with a rose-tinted perspective when we tie the knot. But marriage equips us with a resource for life from which we can draw strength, hope and optimism when we most need it. It is a wonderful source of support for turning to when life throws you those curve balls.

So, getting back to my musings - 'if my readers were to ask me what marriage was like, 4 years and 6 months on, what would I say', and 'what
advice would I give to those planning on marrying? What pearls of
wisdom have I learned in these past 1,645 days that I could share with others?'.

This much, dear readers, I have learned:-

1.  Marriage is like a flower - show it regular love and it will grown and blossom, and set it's roots deep and firm.  But it may suffer otherwise.    Make your marriage a priority in your life. As the days, weeks, months and years pass after your wedding day – don't slip in to the habit of neglecting what you tied the knot for in the first place.  After your amazing wedding day, it is your love and your marriage that will see you through for life.  Look after it.

2.  Commit to protecting your time together – Make that date night when you down tools and don't check any social media for the night once every week – at least do the same thing once every month! Nurture it, feed it, help it grow and no matter what is going on in your life, no matter what exciting new opportunities or distractions might be occuring, make your marriage, and your family, a priority. Always. 

3.  Marriage is a resource of strength and hope when the going gets tough -  I'll be brutally honest.  Marriage is not always easy and it's always easier to be committed to your marriage when things are going great.  But your marriage gives you the best reason ever to fight and try all the harder when things aren't so good.  Use your marriage to get things back in to perspective.  Remember those vows you said on the days things might be really tough.  Let's face it, all couples have their ups and downs, married or not. There are days we see nothing but sweet, sweet love, and days we couldn't want to be further away from the other half if we tried.  But I believe marriage makes a difference in these situations.  If you ever find yourself in a particularly challenging place, remember the promises you made, remember that no good was ever served from bearing grudges and not being able to forgive and move on. 

4.  Marriage is the most amazing resource of happiness, fun and joy - You have a partner who has committed to you – for life! Make it the best life.  Have fun! Watch goofy movies together, make jokes at each other, relax, laugh, dance like no ones watching, take baths together, go on long walks and reminisce together.  Make home movies, print out photos and create precious albums.  Don't let life distract you – take a moment to pause and smile at all the good stuff your marriage brings you.

5.  You can never say 'I love you' enough - I've heard people say that if you say it too much, it devalues the  meaning. To that, I say 'rubbish'.  Tell your husband/wife every single day that you love them.

6.  Marriage is a great reason to learn to make decisions together -  I've been a bit rubbish in this department, I'm quite an independent person and for years was used to having my way.  I've learned through my marriage that its kind, considerate and ultimately so much more fulfilling and rewarding to work with your spouse to make decisions together.

7.  Your husband/wife will never, ever tire of receiving breakfast in bed.  It's a marital fact. Set your alarm and get up when it goes off and get those eggs on the hob.  Mine's poached on hot buttered toast. Thank you.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on your perspective of what marriage means to us modern-day couples.  For all those newly (and longly!) wed, what are your thoughts?  Have you thought beyond your wedding day plans about what marriage symbolises and means to you on a long term basis?

Have a gorgeous Friday afternoon everyone.

Much love as always,

Annabel

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P.S. You might also want to explore our posts on marriage vows and readings and our other posts in our Life and Love section.

Leave a Comment!

19 thoughts on What I’ve Learned About Marriage, 4 Years and 6 Months Later…

  1. What a gorgeous, thoughtful post Annabel – thank you so much for sharing. I definitely felt a weird pressure before I got married to have that Disney marriage but the day after I realised just how wonderfully imperfect life should be. Your post actually really shines with the love you two share and the real true happiness that can be found in a marriage – not just in a wedding.
    SO much love x

  2. A beautiful post Annabel and being married for 17 months (tomorrow!) I would echo a lot of what you’ve said here. One thing I would add to the above is to remember to cherish and recognise the little things.
    Every night my husband strokes my hair until I fall asleep, his smile is the first thing I see every morning. If I wake up in the morning and tell him I’ve had a nightmare he is annoyed that I didn’t wake him up at the time so he could tell me it would all be OK.
    Those things are the most important things to me in the world….far greater and more valuable than any big gift or gesture and since we’ve got married these are the things I notice, value and cherish more than ever.
    x

  3. Thanks so much Bella, I really appreciate your reply. I’ve had this post half in the making for a while now and wouldn’t usually have posted it on a Friday afternoon, but something told me I needed to post it today.
    I love the notion of your life being ‘wonderfully imperfect’ – that to me sums it all up.
    Thanks again xXx

  4. Wow, 17 months, now doesn’t time fly :)
    The little moments you share here Vicki really touch my heart. I love the way you’ve summed up the love and marriage you have together though these beautiful little gestures.
    Thank you so much again for taking time to reply xXx

  5. My thoughts are being upstaged by an overwhelming rush of warm fuzzy feelings! lol! LOVE this Annabel.
    Marriage is not one thing. It is an investment, a journey to happiness, all consuming love, mixed with a nice combination of frustration and sometimes pain. Life can be hard sometimes. Having the foundation of marriage is magical. Someone on your side, someone to laugh with you, someone to cherish and get p***ed off with you (or at you!), Someone to nag (lol!), someone to smile with you is both powerful and irreplaceable.
    Hubby and I have not yet been married a year yet and have been thrown some of life’s curveballs. This post has inspired me to reflect on our own marriage and what it means to us. In my vows I promised to say I love you every day. “I love you” never wears thin in our household. ;o) Gorgeous post Annabel
    PS. Happy Anniversary dear Vicki! xxxx

  6. Lovely post Annabel and I agree wholeheartedly with everything you’ve said and as Vicki has said too it’s those little things that count as much as the big gestures. My husband and I are coming up to our 12 year wedding anniversary (next week in fact!) and I can say hand on heart our marriage is stronger now then ever as is our love for each other. Hope you have a lovely, weekend, we’re off to look at bikes tomorrow as having recently returned from a family trip to Centreparcs we’ve decided its time mummy got a bike as well as daddy ;-)

  7. Thank you so much Andri, and it’s so lovely to read through your comments.
    12 years eh? Congratulations !
    I love the idea of both getting bikes. There was something on the radio today about how everyone should ride bikes. I used to have one and LOVED it. Maybe it’s time I got a new one :)
    Have a lovely weekend and thank you again xXx

  8. I absolutely love this reply, it’s basically a more succint and superbly put way of what I was trying to say above.
    Those vows and promises, each individual word, at times it can be easy to forget and overlook them when life throws you challengs, but it’s wonderful when you remember and can draw strength from them too.
    So happy this made you feel all warm and fuzzy Nu Bride :)
    Have a lovely weekend xXx

  9. You are so right, sometimes looking at all the glitz and cost of some weddings, one wonders why people are doing it. Ithe commitment and love for each other is the paramount part and so many people seem to be swept along with a tidal wave of escalating costs and stress. I value every minute with my lovely husband, timmy, as due to work we only get to spend weekends together for how and live in separate houses until we can work something else out. I miss him so :(

  10. Oh Anna, I so understand. For the first 2 years of our relationship we only got to see each other at weekends too, we lived about 180 miles apart!
    I really do sympathise.
    Hopefully your personal situations will change for the better very soon and I’m sending lots of love and luck for your lucky break to come along quickly!
    Thank you for taking time to leave a comment, it means a lot.
    Much love,
    Annabel xXx

  11. Thank you and much love to you too. It makes me feel better to know that others have been in the same situation but that things worked out for the best. At least we are only 135 miles from each other

  12. This is a brilliant post and for me what marks out LMD above the other wedding blogs – just when you start to worry that you might have looked at one too many gorgeous dresses and pretty bouquets and lost focus on what really matters, you throw in a post like this that refocuses and reminds us that the wedding isn’t the end goal, it’s a glorious, exciting beginning. I’ve been married 4 months now, so can’t give any great pearls of wisdom, but one thing that ties in here that my husband and I feel strongly as we set off on our marriage, is that love is a verb, not a noun – it’s something you do, you have to practise it and act it out, not just expect to feel it.

  13. I love this… I’m just two months into being married and am still basking in the glowy aftermath but really do feel more excited about the beginning of our new adventure together than the wedding day minus the extreme nerves, last night we bought a new kettle together, only a tiny thing but the pleasure in choosing things for our flat together and the fact that we actually have very similar tastes is just great! Your post has filled me with happiness as I was worried about the post wedding bubble pop but I think it just gets better! Roll on marriage xx

  14. Really warm words here. I’m only 10 months into my marriage and it is so wonderful to hear a perspective on it similar to my own. Keeping things fun and remembering that you can trust and discuss literally anything without harsh judgment keeps the open conversation rolling any the closeness you felt on your wedding day lasting a lifetime.

  15. Wow, what a lovely, wise bunch of people LMD readers are! This is a beautiful post and I love what Rachel says about refocusing on what really matters. We’ve only just started planning our wedding and it’s so easy to get carried away spending hours looking at pretty pretty things… and then stressing over how to afford it all. Thank you, Annabel, for a timely reminder of what we’re really working towards – not a day, but a lifetime. And hopefully many, many poached eggs on toast!
    xx

  16. thank you so much for your very inspiring post, I am planning away and if I feel it getting a bit overwhelming, bring myself back to what matters. Its easy to get swept up in the detail and I am keeping the importance of the commitment and its significance in my mind and heart. I care less for florals and themes than I do about committing to the love of my life. The aesthetic of one day is immaterial and you can have the most well executed day and a less successful marriage. The wedding is the start of a journey and not the end journey in itself. Rather than aspiring to perfection on one day; its best to aspire to a fun day and a ‘wonderfully imperfect life’. Happy Friday and thanks again x

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