Updated: Feb 22, 2021
The scene I type from is not a romantic one. I'm propped up on the living room couch, wrapped in a bathrobe watching Bob Ross paint happy little mountains. My tea is hot and comforting, but I can't taste it. I'm still recovering from a septoplasty that has my sinuses congested and running. It's not sexy, but it's a sight only my husband gets to see.
All weekend, I've been looking rough. Ravi simply tucks me in to bed or sits me up, brings me medicine whenever I need it, fills up my ice pack when the ice has melted. It's the most nurturing I've ever seen him. In my cloudiness, either from medication or from the pain that lives mysteriously in my teeth, I'm still able to feel gratitude beyond anything I've ever experienced.
Rashmi Bedi from New Jersey reached out to me yesterday to ask if we wanted to be on her Facebook web show today for the Valentine's Day special. I love to be asked about our love story and Ravi is funny in interviews, so I accepted. Before I donned the bathrobe, I was draped in a pink satin saree with a green jewelry set. I washed and dried my hair and finally put some makeup on. I definitely looked better than I felt.
As the show began, footage of our wedding played. Last year, I was so afraid that we'd lost the videos from the week we got married, but when we moved into the big house last month, we found the drive that held them. It was the first time in a year I'd gotten to see the videos and they hadn't been shared with the public before.
One question Rashmi asked us is whether Ravi's a better husband or boyfriend. This question aims to gauge the level of excitement that we have together. We've been married since July 4th, 2016 and I remember my mom saying that some years would be harder than others and I also get the feeling that the romance will dwindle, but I hope to keep the fire burning for the long haul.
YEAR 1 - Oct 2015-Oct 2016
No one ever talks about the first year being a hard year, but it is. This is the year that changes your whole lives. Two single, independent people with their own space and routines give up a significant portion of their lives to be together. Ravi lived with roommates (that he got along with) in the suburbs and worked full time. His friends were wild and loud and had very few responsibilities. I lived in downtown, had a full time job and went to school full time. I didn't have a car, salsa danced 6 nights a week, and didn't keep a lot of close friends. Our first year together, I moved into the house with him and his roommates. I finished school, had to find a job in the suburbs, and had to get a car. It was a year of major changes. It was a year of breaking bad habits and deciding priorities. We were kids and this was the first year we even had to consider being adults. This is the year we got married. The sweet excitement of a new relationship pads all the stress of those 1st year changes.
YEAR 2 Oct 2016-Oct 2017
At the beginning of this year, we'd just gotten an apartment together. We were both stubborn as hell. We didn't have enough space to stay organized and Ravi didn't want to help with housework. We were still kids. Both of us had jobs and had adjusted our schedules, but the Seattle metropolitan area was draining us financially and we wanted to start establishing ourselves. We started exploring businesses. This was a very strong year for us. We developed our roles within our family and started spending time improving our situation. We learned each others' values this year. It's also the year we celebrated our marriage in India. Fights were minimal and insignificant. It was a honeymoon year for us.
YEAR 3 Oct 2017-Oct 2018
At the end of our second year, I'd changed jobs and we moved into a bigger apartment in Edmonds, WA. Half-way through our third year, I quit my job due to stress and spent the rest of the year "figuring it out" financially. We had tried to keep our finances separate and never talked about how we were doing as a family. I tried to stay independent , which caused me to make a few stupid purchases that put me into a hole. We started to realize that the business we'd been involved in wasn't helping us as much as it was costing us. It was our "trial and error" year. It was stressful, but it wasn't a terribly difficult year because we spent most of this year avoiding difficult conversations. We had our first big fights, but they were often a result of pride or ego that blew up. Looking back at it, it was a bit of a stagnant year for us. We weren't moving backward, but we weren't moving forward either.
YEAR 4 Oct 2018-Oct 2019
Our 4th year, Ravi and I moved to Texas. This was a year of major growth for us, in all aspects of our life. As I've said a hundred times over, Texas was a major improvement for us. The weather, the people, the political attitudes. It's all been in our favor thus far. Our living expenses dropped 30%. Ravi got a significant promotion. I finally secured a career. It's the first year we discussed children. It's the first year we've felt confident financially. We started discussing finances. It was a good year. It was an improvement from the year before, but it also caught us off guard to have excess money and new friends to spend it with. There were new bars and restaurants to visit. New things to try. We were a little bit resistant to growing up this year, which was fun for the romance, but hard on our stability as a couple.
YEAR 5 Oct 2019-Present
Arguably, this has been our most difficult year. It will take more energy this year to have a healthy relationship than maybe any prior year. That's okay and it's expected that some years will be a challenge, but this year is sure to be the most rewarding. We've stated managing our finances together, like a business, which put us on the fast track to lifelong security. A baby hasn't come, which may or may not have brought unnecessary stress to our lives, so we're taking it easy since it doesn't need to be forced or planned. We moved into a huge home, so responsibilities are everywhere and the to-do list is endless. We're growing up, that's for sure. We go our to restaurants and bars a little less frequently. I do laundry a little more frequently.
It's easy for the romance to be lost when you finally settle into adulthood, but today I've had a unique opportunity to understand how romantic our situation is. We have a home that is a stable structure that houses our family. We have put effort into nourishing one another and maintaining the possessions that we've collected together. We've built something so beautiful together, just the two of us.
I think we're lucky to have been able to wait to have kids. These years taught us very unique things about one another, as well as lessons on how to be a couple. I just learned how to be an effective wife and I'll likely be refining those skills for the rest of my life. We just learned to provide for one another.
To answer Rashmi's question- Ravi's a better husband than a boyfriend. He was fun and chivalrous and playful as my boyfriend, but he has worked to hard to be my partner and establish our life together. We've grown up together and he's invested time and energy into our life in ways a boyfriend wouldn't. Excitement in a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship is all superficial. Excitement in a marriage is moving into a home together or accomplishing a major financial goal. It's finally learning to cook your spouse's favorite food or being able to host Thanksgiving. It's getting a new chair for the office so you can work from home some days or one day eventually getting to surprise your partner with good news.
Romance when you're dating is about learning. It's meeting up and finding thing out about each other. Romance when you're married is exercising that knowledge. You know her favorite flowers. You know his favorite movie. You know if she likes surprises. You know what he thinks you look most beautiful in. It's also about vulnerability- there's not much vulnerability when you're dating. I used to think dating was so safe because you could just leave and never speak to that person again. That's the opposite of safety, though.
Marriage will get you so frustrated that you lose your sanity entirely. Marriage shows you at your worst, which for me was post-surgery with a swollen face and hair that hadn't been washed in 3 days. Marriage will force you to decide between being right and being happy. It will fundamentally change you if you let it. It is secure and humble and comforting and joyous. It's never being alone. It's always having backup. It's getting a song in the morning (in my house, at least) and a kiss goodnight. It's something to be proud of.
Being married fucking rocks. Celebrate that this Valentine's Day.