I never thought I'd be married at 25.
In fact, before I met my husband, I wasn't sure I would ever get married.
Marriage isn't for everyone. And that's not just my opinion; marriage rates today are seeing a dramatic decline. An article by TIME recently stated 25 per cent of millennials will never get married.
My own doubts about marriage started early. I'm a child of divorce. I witnessed at a young age all of the ways the "union of matrimony" can backfire. I never wanted to go through what my parents had to endure.
There weren't any religious ties pushing me towards a life of wedlock either. I looked at marriage as more of a label than anything else -- and I'm not one for labels.
But when I met him, my perspective changed.
We dated for four years before we got married, three of which were spent living together. I had done the legwork. I'm a journalist, after all, and the research is the most important part of my job. I quickly discovered his habit of leaving worn socks on the living room floor. To this day, he still doesn't always put the dishes away in the right places. But he cooks, he cleans, he makes me laugh after a hard day. He surprises me with a bubble bath when I'm feeling stressed. Of course, these tendencies are small in the grand scheme of things.
I remember thinking nothing would really change after getting married. We were already living together; we knew how we felt about one another; what difference would it make?
On August 23, 2013, I put on a white dress. I saw the tears in his eyes as I walked down the aisle. It was the happiest day.
Those weeks and months after the wedding, friends and family would approach me with a smile and ask: "How does it feel to be married?" I couldn't really explain it to them, but it felt different. I just wasn't sure how or why.
I'm 27 now, and I still have a lot to learn about married life. But I already know the choice to wed my husband was the greatest decision I've made so far. Being a wife has changed my life in ways I hadn't ever considered:
I am more confident in my body image.
Perhaps this is something that comes with life experience and personal growth. But we all have those voices of self-doubt when we look in the mirror. My husband is always driving them away.
It's one thing to hear someone tell you you're beautiful and to feel flush in the cheeks. But when he says it, I can see in his eyes he truly believes it.
We haven't even been married for two full years yet, but I know when my husband is stretching the truth to get out of plans, or when he's trying to win me back after an argument.
This is different.
I used to wish I could enhance this part of my body, and hide that. But now I've come to accept -- and even love -- every line and curve that makes me unique. I can see my body the way he sees it, and I've never felt more confident.
I am building my dream career.
I always wanted to be a writer. I'm pretty sure I would have found a way to write for a living whether I got married or not. Perhaps if I stayed single, I'd already have a best-seller under my belt. I'd be travelling the world to attend book signings and speaking engagements. I'd be writing from the patio of a café in Paris, like the great minds on my bookshelf once did.
There's no way of knowing for sure.
But what I do know is I am building a career I love, doing work that fulfills me and makes me happy. And I wouldn't be where I am if it weren't for him.
He is the one who gave me the courage I needed to quit the security of my full-time job and steady paycheque to become a solopreneur, even though it meant he'd have to make certain sacrifices. He's the one who keeps talking about that book I'll write (and publish!) one day, and how it will change our lives.
He's the one who does the laundry, sharing equal responsibility of household chores, even though I work from home. And he would be perfectly content "staying home with the kids" one day if that's what it took to make my career dreams come true.
I am smarter about money.
My eye-opening moment about the real value of money came when I graduated from university with over $25,000 dollars of debt. Suddenly, expensive nights out at the bar were not so appealing, and over time, neither was that cute dress on the sale rack.
Now, the choices I make when deciding how to spend my paycheque take a lot more thought. It's not just my money, but ours. With every swipe of the credit card, it's our financial future I'm impacting. Of course, we all have our moments of weakness. Fortunately, he's the voice of reason when I'm tempted to hit the checkout button on that online shopping cart.
"Do you really need another knit sweater?"
And I talk him out of that impulse purchase at Best Buy. "Could we find a better deal online?"
At the same time, he's also the one to encourage me to register for that $400 business course, because it's an investment in my career and I'm "worth it," even when the thought of spending that kind of money on myself makes me break a sweat.
I have found the best version of myself.
Some might argue I would still discover this part of me whether single, married, or cohabiting -- but I don't think this is 100 per cent true in my case.
I'm not one to rely on someone else for my happiness and well-being. I've never jumped from relationship to relationship. Instead, I spent a lot of time embracing the single life, trying to figure out who I was, and who I wanted to be, without feeling like my values and goals were swayed by the visions and opinions of someone else.
Some might think your identity takes a backseat when you enter a marriage. After all, you're now making decisions based on what's not only best for you, but for your partner and your relationship. And quite often, you're putting the other person's interests first.
But this goes both ways, which means you come first for someone else.
My husband is my greatest fan in life. He is constantly encouraging me to chase my dreams, pushing me to face my weaknesses. He inspires me; he balances me. He supports me in everything I do.
When you have someone standing beside you, ready to nudge you forward and catch you when you fall, it feels like anything is possible.
What started with a kiss on the doorstep of my run-down apartment building nearly six years ago has now been transformed by a promise to be in this together, side-by-side, 'till death do us part. I'm a writer, a woman of many words, but the two words I will always be most grateful for in life are a simple "I do." And saying them back was the best decision I've ever made.
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