love always winsTwo years of marriage has taught me more about relationships than the rest of my life combined.

Saying, “I do” can be the catalyst that helps evolve a relationship. Once the knot is tied, and both parties are equally committed, the upside to marriage comes in strong.

Here are some of the good things I learned over the past two years.

The Good…

Ride or Die

we rideThe best part, hands down, about marriage is that you legally solidify a relationship with someone who would do anything for you and has your best interest at heart. If that’s not the case, you married the wrong person.

Being tied together through the legal construct of marriage changes the dynamic of a relationship. My wife and I dated for seven years before getting married. We knew what it was like to be girlfriend & boyfriend, and we were past the new couple phase, so we didn’t think being married would change much. We were wrong about that.

Once you’re legally wed, there’s a sense of entitlement.

I immediately felt a sense of belonging. Like I belonged to my wife, and she belonged to me.  We felt like extensions of each other.

At the level where you feel like extensions of each other, life gets fun.

When you feel, deep down inside, that your spouse is, metaphorically, the equivalent to one your you body parts, or even half of your body, you now have a real ride or die. Your spouse should feel the same way. This is the paradoxical pinnacle of being in a relationship and it’s only a good thing if both people feel the same way.

It’s a paradox because you should both be two independent, complete beings that came together to enrich each other’s lives. But, to make a relationship work, it seems like each partner needs to be incredibly selfless and willing to put the other partner before themselves. At the level of ultimate selflessness, a mutual trust is formed that strengthens the bond of the relationship.

angelsWhen your spouse becomes an extension of you, you KNOW with absolute certainty that they would never do anything to intentionally harm you. You know, with absolute certainty, that your spouse will only try to help you prosper and live a fulfilling life.

Your right hand would voluntarily put itself in harms way to protect the body. It would get in front of a blade, stop a rabid animal, or even catch a bullet to protect the body from the danger. When you and your spouse become ride-or-dies, each of you become willing to act as if you’re body parts to the other, putting the other person’s needs before your own.

Having a ride-or-die spouse is different than a family member who would die for you. While your parent might be willing to take a bullet for you, they are usually not willing to do anything to help you prosper and live a better life. They aren’t willing to put it all on the line and ride for you.

Often the things well-meaning family members do for you are really for them. And sometimes they will help another family member out who also needs help, and forgo helping you. Your spouse would never choose to help someone else over you.

It’s entirely different than having a spouse there for you.

Everyone Takes You More Seriously

vip statusThis may seem small, but it’s not. It adds up. It’s a breath of fresh air, and air is life.

To finally have the world view your relationship the way you and your spouse have seen it for years is a great thing. All of the people trying to swipe your or your wife can finally give up (although some won’t). All the people who viewed your relationship like, “just boyfriend and girlfriend” get to STFU.

Your insurance companies take you more seriously, giving discounts for married people and even more discounts for combining policies. All of the respectable people in the world steer clear of people wearing rings, allowing you to spot the scumbags easily.

People come at you differently when they know you’re married or see the ring. They treat you with more respect and assume you’re a matured individual. You open your mouth and change their mind in a second, but it’s nice to get the benefit of the doubt.

It Truly Is The Little Things That Count

In the past two years, I’ve learned that it’s truly the little things that count. This becomes evident when you start taking your spouse for granted and slacking on all the cute little stuff you used to do.

pool partyAll of the little things add up and make a really big thing. It keeps the flame burning and keeps it fun. We know that humans respond best to random reward, also known as surprises. When you surprise your spouse or make a little kind gesture, you’re rewarding them for being amazing.

That reward makes them want to be even more amazing. Humans move toward reward and away from punishment, so it only makes sense to reward your spouse as often as possible. They will keep coming towards that reward, creating a fun and exciting marriage.

Even if the reward isn’t random, it can still be a great motivator for your spouse. Every time I pick my wife up from acting class, I pop some popcorn in the air popper for her and bring it with me. She loves it!

Her acting class is 5 hours long, and she’s always hungry by the end of it. The first time I popped the popcorn, she was ecstatic. My reward was seeing how happy she was, so I was motivated to do it again. Her reward was the popcorn. Now, she looks forward to me picking her up from class every week.

If she ever became complacent and started taking my little act of kindness for granted, it would turn into a burden and would no longer be a reward for me. At that point, not being random would have backfired on me.

Given the fact that her class is a scheduled event, it’s hard to be random. I’m not going to skip weeks of bringing her favorite treat. Being random works better when there’s no schedule. Randomly making dinner can be a good one.

marriage is coolKeeping those little treats in our relationship has made a whole lot of a difference. It keeps it fun, spicy, and exciting.

I’m only two years into this legal construct of marriage. It has its ups and downs, but overall it’s not so bad. I’m sure my wife will tell me to go back and read this post when I start slipping. What have I done to myself!

It’s been an adventurous two years, and here’s to many more! Now I need to go cook this surprise dinner! Peace.