By: Dani Kessel
I don’t usually write about my romantic life, but my partner and I have officially been married for two years!
He and I are extremely happy. He’s my best friend, confidante, and rock. I fill those same roles for him. It’s important that we have that balance. We go through our fair amount of struggles. We negotiate and work through issues together as a unit. It’s us against a problem, not us against each other. We’re equal participants in our marriage, and that’s how it should be. After seven years in a relationship, we really know how to communicate our needs/wants. We aren’t perfect–far from it actually, but we do love each other enough to work on ourselves and our relationship.
In honor of our anniversary, I’m doing a Q&A. I reached out on Instagram for questions and got a good amount. So, I widdled them down to my favorites, and here we go!
Q: How did you propose?
A: I get asked this question a lot! Once people find out that I proposed and not him, they are really fascinated. He and I had been talking about the future and marriage for a while. We knew it was heading that direction. So, I decided I wanted to propose to him. We were still at a long distance, and he was coming to visit for Halloween. Thus, my plan started. I called the Denver International Airport requesting permission to put on a flashmob. I asked my family and friends if they would help out. I created signs for people to hold and dance with. I picked out an upbeat proposal themed song. I spent three weeks practicing my own singing and dancing. I wrote out and practiced what I would say. When the day came, everyone got in their Halloween costumes. I got all dolled up. We piled into cars, drove down to DIA, and the rest is history!
Q: During your wedding reception, people wrote in little books to be opened on your various wedding anniversaries. Have you, indeed, opened them? And, if you want to share, is there anything particularly interesting in there?
A: Yes! We had books for guests to write in on each table at the reception. Every table’s book was for a different anniversary. So far we have opened the one from our first anniversary. We are going to open the second-anniversary book this weekend. The messages are mostly personal and celebratory of the milestone. Rather than sharing what people said, I’m keeping them as something special just between my partner and me.
Q: How is being married different from dating for you two?
A: There is a bit of a misnomer in this question. My partner and I still date. We are married, but we never stopped dating. Dating while married is important because it’s so easy to fall into patterns and become complacent. My partner and I try to have a date at least once every few weeks. It allows us to put energy and thought into maintaining our affection. If you’re referring to living together and seeing each other every day though, the biggest difference is small annoying things that we have to communicate about. He doesn’t want me to use his towel. I want him to put his toothbrush away instead of leaving it on the counter. Little things like that.
Q: What’s your favorite inside joke that’s been created since you got married?
A: Most of our inside jokes came from our ten years of being best friends prior to getting married. More recent ones include the trash monster, Gryffindor vs Ravenclaw, ketchup in mac n cheese, him being an honorary LGBTQ+ person, my love vs his hatred of coffee, Padfoot (my ESA dog) being the tie-breaker, and some really nerdy stuff.
Q: Of the “when you’re married” advice you received leading up to your wedding, what’s turned out to be the best and the worst advice?
A: The best relationship advice I ever received was this: “Don’t forget to say I love you every day because you never know when will be the last.” I say I love you to my partner every time we leave each other. It brings me comfort to know that, if anything bad happens, he will always remember me expressing my love. The absolute worst advice I ever possibly received was this: “Don’t go to bed angry.” I actually wrote a whole article (read it here) examining why that advice is psychologically incorrect. Besides that, not going to bed angry is simply impractical. Not every problem can be solved in a matter of one day.
Q: Is there a prankster/prankee aspect to your relationship, and if so which one are you?
A: No. I love pranks, but my partner doesn’t. We do pick on each other, tease each other, and joke around basically all the time though. Everyone says we are essentially already an old married couple.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge of married life so far?
A: I think that the biggest challenge so far has been the strain my mental health and disability have placed on our relationship. (He may disagree. I’m not sure.) I’ve struggled with mental illnesses my whole life. Anxiety in every form is particularly brutal on relationships. My partner constantly is reassuring me of things that I already have heard 100x before. He’s also had to put up with awful depressive episodes, nightmares, flashbacks, panic attacks. As he doesn’t personally experience mental illnesses, there was a learning curve. It’s taken cooperation and communication for him to learn how best to help me in those moments. I’ve also tried to keep myself accountable so as to minimize the stress on him. Furthermore, my spouse sometimes acts as a caretaker for me with my disability. Especially after my spine surgery, we had to renegotiate jobs around the house, expectations, etc. It is never easy to be a partner and a caretaker. My hubby is extremely strong and understanding. I’m grateful to him for all he does.
Q: Any challenges you didn’t expect?
A: We went into marriage with a pretty realistic vision. We prepared for most of the challenges ahead of time. One struggle I didn’t expect to come up though was apartment hunting. Apartment hunting was difficult, put pressure on both of us, and took a long time. We both got so stressed that we were snapping at each other. We had to remember that we both were trying to achieve the same goal, finding an apartment, and taking our frustrations out on each other would not help the situation. The good news is that we eventually found a place we both were happy with.
Q: What’s the best gift you gave to each other? (Not necessarily a physical thing)
Q: What relationship advice would you offer newlyweds or newly engaged couples?
A: I’ll offer up three tips here. My first piece of advice: Listen to understand, not to challenge. When you’re working through issues, especially if you disagree with your partner, it may be tempting to argue your point. This is counterproductive though. The best way to find compromises and work through things is to really understand where each other is coming from. Let your partner have the space to communicate, and actually absorb what they are saying. Then they should give you the space to express your thoughts in a productive, healthy manner. Treating each other with this mutual respect during conflict is crucial to working together against the problem. My second piece of advice: pick your battles. Try to keep a clear head and distinguish between what’s worth fighting about and what’s not that important. I’ve found that eight times out of ten the small things aren’t worth fighting over. The last suggestion: Do not expect your partner to be your everything. No one person can or should be expected to fill all your needs. That’s too much pressure. Your partner isn’t responsible for your happiness. They may care about it, but it’s your job to build happiness. Make sure you take time for yourself, your friends, your family, your job. It’s healthy to be your own person, even in a marriage.
This was really fun to write!
The past two years of marriage have been a whirlwind. Things get crazy sometimes. I’m glad I chose the life-partner that I did. I know that we can make it through the hard moments and share in the wonderful moments. We’ve already had many adventures together. I look forward to journeying further into the unknown together.
I hope you enjoyed reading this. Like the post if you did! Should you think of any more questions, leave them down below. I’ll try to get to them later.