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A Marriage That Lasts: Getting past the 5 year wall

As I write this, my wife and I have enjoyed nearly 9 years married and everyday we grow closer together. I know we have many many more years to go, but I feel we have made it past a major hurdle already: the 5 year wall.

What's the "5 year wall"?

When we start a new relationship with that special someone, things are all new and a bit uncomfortable. Some newlyweds feel a magnetic pull to their significant other, a fire that burns and can even blind you to your partners flaws. Over time you feel that fire burn down a bit and those flaws are now easily in sight. At some point in your relationship (for me around the 5 year mark), you have to make a decision if you are still compatible with this person. You see them for who they are. You know them, their habits, and their quarks. And with this information, you will make one of the most important decisions of your life: to stay or to go. And that, my friends, is the 5 year wall.

The hard learned lesson...

In my first serious relationship, I can say with full confidence that I made many mistakes. As a young married man, I would argue and fight often with my spouse. Likewise she would make many mistakes while learning how to communicate, how to express frustrations or issues in a non-confrontational way. From the beginning, I was mesmerized by her and we were inseparable but we would fight as passionately as we got along. We loved each other and genuinely wanted the best for each other but something was always off between us. I tried to be patient and give her space as I waited for our relationship to find it's balance. And years passed like this. Fighting, coming together, giving space and repeat. Finally after about 5 years married, I saw what was happening and realized that I could spend a lifetime like this, in this endless loop. Or I could leave. In that moment my eyes were fully opened and could see my partner for all the good and the bad. I saw her for who she truly is, no filter. I made the hard decision to move on and hope that I would find happiness with someone else. I thought that in the future I might find a partner that gives me the balance I was desperately waiting for.

Falling in love with the whole package...

When I re-married, I was scared to get hurt but again absolutely mesmerized by this amazing woman. Again, there would be arguments but it was different. If we disagreed, then we disagreed. She would ask for some space for a day or two and then get over the disagreement on her own. [Insert jaw drop moment] Yes, all on her own, she would de-charge and get over whatever we were arguing or talking about. Then we could get back to spending time together and growing closer together. After some time, I realized that if I made a mistake, I needed to own up to it and apologize even after she had taken her alone time to de-charge. Years went by like this and around 5 years married, I realized that I reached a familiar point in the relationship. I felt I understood who she is, the good and the bad. And I have a strong suspicion that she knows all my good and bad quarks as well. But in this relationship there was one strong difference. I genuinely love her character at a core level. I know she is a humble, giving and passionate woman. On the surface level, sure we still disagree from time to time. But I know that the real woman inside is one of the best people I have ever known. With this realization was a fear, that I hope she also sees me this way. Am I this amazing person in her eyes?

A symbol...

So I asked her to do something for me one day. After getting dressed for work, putting on my uniform and boots, I approached my wife and asked her to put my wedding ring on my finger. She knows I don't sleep or shower with it, but was curious why I am asking for her to do this. She made a joke about me wanting to run away and slipped the ring on my finger. I continued doing this the next day and the next. I did this everyday for a year until our 6 year anniversary. One day I sat down with her and I told her that whether she knew it or not, I had figured her out. I knew her habits and quarks. I could see her inner character. As if she could unzip the outer layer and there were another person inside that embodied everything she is. I knew that person and had fallen totally in love with her. And everyday I ask you to put that ring on my finger because a marriage is a two way street. I need you to pick me in return.

The takeaway...

A relationship based on a charade won't last very long. A marriage full of resentment may last a while but eventually runs out of steam. A marriage where two people fully understand the character and motives of the other and still choose them every day is the one that lasts. There's no such thing as perfection or a perfect person. We all have flaws and need to forgive them in ourselves as well as our partner. I know I am the steady hand and calm in the storm as well as the stubborn bull-headed guy. She knows all of those parts of me and knows when to push me to be better and when to give me space. We found harmony through the ups and downs of life and we choose each other to pass this journey of life, together.


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