“This is the best feeling in the world. How did I ever live before?”
“I can’t breathe – something is not right.”
“I feel like throwing up. Things are going to change and I’m scared.”
“I don’t remember who I used to be.”
“Wait, things are different… in a good way.”
“I can do this forever…. I think… “
These are just a few (of many) comments associated with ‘marriage’ because let’s face it, perfection in relationships is something only Hollywood can create. Like everything, there is always an exception to that rule… In this case it is that person. You know, that one perfect lady who makes it a habit to mention how wonderful her life is with her romantic, muscular and ever-so-polite Prince Charming. You all know exactly who I am talking about… but guess what – she’s lying.
It is 2020, even though this year was cancelled quite a few times, it’s about time we replaced the lies and unfulfilled dreams with reality. While some have thrived during this pandemic, using the lockdown period to learn new skills and bond with their loved ones , others have found spending so many hours with their partner quite difficult. Well, friends, I am here to tell you that marriage is not perfect nor is it meant to be easy. Toni Bowman (from Hanging With Lady B) and I have decided to dig a little deeper into what marriage looks like, covering several topics through an eight part series. What makes this quite interesting is that our views reflect that of an American marriage that has lasted for more than ten years vs that of an African marriage in its early stages. We are excited to announce that this series will be covered on both blogs over the next seven Thursdays so make sure you visit both pages to keep up!
Before we kick things off, we thought it would be fun to interview each other – here is what Toni had to say.
Toni, I’m very excited to go through this marriage series with you. I’ve been reading quite a bit of your marriage journey but I don’t think that even comes close to an ounce of the experiences you’ve had. As a fairly newly wed (two years in) I always love hearing stories, both good and bad, from women who have been with their partners for over ten years. For the benefit of all the readers, please could you answer a few questions before we jump into the series. I’ll do the same for perspective.
- Even though you are a wife, you are also your own person. Could you please tell us a little about yourself?
I was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. Despite being shy and far from outspoken, I’ve always had a dream to help others (specifically girls and young women). I became a teenage mom at 18-years-old and started working for a large corporation four days before my 19th birthday. I worked for the company for 18 years before turning in my 3-weeks notice. Three years ago, I started a wedding and event planning company that I continue to work on a part-time basis. For the past 6 months, I’ve been blogging about my life as a wife and mom, in hopes that I can help others by sharing my personal experiences; both good and bad. Each adventure I’ve experienced has given me transferable skills that I continue to use on every part of my journey through life.
- How long were you dating your husband before you decided to get married? Were you living together before tying the knot?
My husband and I met when we were 16, became engaged at 17 (although the original plan was to wait to marry after college), and married at 19. We built our first house a little over a month before we were married. I spent the first night in our house with him and our twin boys, then my mom suggested I come back to her house before trying to stay for a second night. I was born and raised with a religious belief that living together before marriage was not okay. My husband and I had committed to no more sex until our wedding day (unfortunately, I had already gotten pregnant), but we kept our promise. My mom felt like we would break that commitment if we continued to stay the night together, so I respected her wishes and went back home with her and my stepdad until our wedding day.
- How long have you been married?
My husband and I have been married for 18 years and will be celebrating our 19th anniversary in less than three months.
- What were the biggest adjustments that you had to make after you said your vows?
Being a 19-year-old wife and mom and having to provide and care for a husband and two babies was the biggest adjustment for me. I could no longer just worry about what I wanted, but I had to consider three other human beings in any decision that I wanted to make.
- Have you noticed a change in behaviour (both Im him and yourself) from when you were first married till now?
Honestly, we are both pretty much the same. He’s very outgoing and busy and I’m an introverted homebody. However, having the added responsibility of children and a house to maintain did take away the innocent, spontaneous fun for a while. I believe he became more focused on providing for us that he lost the thrill of chasing me and doing those specific things that used to make me excited.
- What advice would you give yourself on your wedding day knowing everything you know now?
I would tell myself to set a standard for your marriage. Be reasonable, but set expectations for your relationship. Be sure to effectively communicate everything and be present in the moment. Make sure that you are a team player and keep things fair in your finances. Set a budget and stick to it. Save for your sons’ college and make sure you have an emergency savings and retirement fund.
- Children… without sharing too much, how has having children affected your marriage?
I believe having our kids before marriage affected our opportunity to grow as husband and wife and as individuals. We came into the marriage with babies, so providing for them became our priority.
- We’ll dive into this deeper as the series progresses, so for now please just answer with a yes or no. Different sex friends, yay or nay?
Nay for us.
- Is religion a big factor in your marriage? If yes, how does that translate into your values?
Yes, religion is a big factor for us. We were both raised as Christians and we continue to follow the same religious beliefs today. This belief translates into our core values of how we love and treat one another. The vows we made to each other was based on a commitment to God because of our religion.
- Before we dive into he series, what would you like our readers to keep in mind as they go along the journey?
Know that although I’ve been married for a while, it is a constant roller coaster. Some days are good, some days are bad. We are always learning something new and having to make adjustments in different seasons of our lives. We are far from perfect, but consistently choose to be intentional and work on our marriage.
Now that you all know a little more about Toni, Stay tuned for next week’s post where she will be discussing “Things You Should Ask Yourself Before Getting Married”.