Later this month marks our very first wedding anniversary. We made it! We survived! What will we do to celebrate? More importantly, which photo of us will I post on social media? And when I say us, I obviously mean which one do I look the best in? It will be a professional wedding photo of us, of course, after I gave my left kidney to pay for them. What am I going to say in the caption? Because, you know, it’s not a real milestone unless it’s on facebook. Or instagram. Or snapchat.
I’ve been noticing more frequently, over the past year or so, wedding anniversary announcements on social media. Maybe it’s because I pay more attention to these posts since getting married, or maybe it’s because I just know more married people these days. Makes sense. I read these posts – the elevated expressions of love and affectionate words for their other half. How being married is the best thing that ever happened, how they can’t wait for more fun amazing adventures together, how they are excited to see where the future takes them. It’s like those made-for-TV Christmas movies: they’re all different but very much the same. I don’t know why, but these posts make me go ‘ugh’. Double ‘ugh’, if said anniversary post is made by the husband. Ok, ok. That’s a lie. Maybe it’s more like “Awww omg they are so CUTE and PERFECT!! insert love heart eyes emoji here”… but then followed by an ‘ugh’.
I am genuinely happy that these people are all loved up and happy and marriage is everything they dreamt of and more. I get it, I love my husband too. Marriage is good. Life is good. But let’s be honest, it ain’t always sunshine and roses. It’s hard work in between all the great bits. Writing a sappy loved up post to mark our anniversary wouldn’t depict our reality for the past twelve months. Not in its entirety, anyway. It’s not that we don’t feel all those feels, we just don’t feel them 24/7, 365 days a year. I know people don’t purposely intend for their posts to come across that way. I’m guilty of sharing only the good shit. I suppose social media just isn’t the place to expose real life. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be no Negative Nancy either. I’d just like to read something real and honest, and think “Yes! Me too! I’m normal after all. Phew!” Actually now that I think of it, I’d rather look at bunch of memes… how good are memes?! The best! Seriously though.
Reuben and I are pretty in sync as a couple. We love food, we love travel, we love socializing. He enjoys my crazy impromptu dances in my baggy pyjamas and I laugh at his lame jokes. He doesn’t like my singing (that’s OK – nobody does, but that won’t stop me). He doesn’t stress about money and he teaches me things about… well… things. He likes my cooking, and I like his. We enjoy brunch and numerous other activities – yes, brunch is an activity.
Our wedding day was pretty amazing. The only thing I would go back and do differently, is eat more food. Yep. What I would give to try everything on that menu… That menu was made for me. Sigh… Since that day our marriage certainly hasn’t been a Sunday drive. We have been working incredibly hard at us. Like…. really hard. Those who know us well, know our whole relationship has been somewhat of a rollercoaster. You know how you have those crazy seconds on the ride when you’re going down a rapid decline and it’s all scary and you scream and scream and cry and you want to get off because you think you’re going to die but then it gets fun and awesome and you laugh and laugh and laugh and then get off and decide it’s the best thing ever and you want to get back on? Yeah! That’s us!
I won’t go into the details of our history together, that’s some serious novel material. Immigration services have a copy on file, if you ever want a read. Long story short(er), moving to Canada for love seemed like a simple enough adventure. How hard could it be? The extent of my thinking at the time was something along the lines of “Oh my god, I actually get to live with the guy of my dreams!!!” and the only concern I had was “Shit….what if I can’t sell my car in time?” That’s. Literally. It. I had some learning to do.
In the beginning I was incredibly homesick and experiencing FOMO like nobody’s business. I missed my family, my job, my income, my friends, my own place, my independence. I missed cheezels, Cadbury Easters, greek food, meat pies, warm weather and the beach. Did I mention food? When my visa ran out after two years, I made the move back to Australia. Life was good, but it was STILL missing something. I was finally achieving goals again, but Reuben wasn’t there. I was fulfilled in all the areas lacking whilst living in Canada, but suddenly had this new void that was bigger than all the previous voids combined. Neither of us wanted to give up what we had created for ourselves, but we weren’t willing to give up on each other either. So we waited it out. It was tough.
I eventually went back to Canada for a visit. I loved every minute of the trip and finally came to really appreciate this place. Now it was the cheap bars and restaurants, my Canadian friends, Sephora and cheap flights to Vegas that I missed. I decided on a whim that I was going to move back in the new year and try it all again. Suddenly my career wasn’t the number one focus anymore, it was Reuben. Home was wherever he was – it was clear now. For the first time in a long time, I knew exactly what I wanted. I was no longer confused about whether or not to stick to my life ‘plan’ (which was to someday become ‘Australian Teacher of the Year’ and own my own home with ocean views). I no longer needed a plan! Is that the definition of finding myself? Perhaps.
I spent a few months back home first to make sure I wasn’t making an impulse decision, but nothing changed my excitement: I was ready to go. My first year back in Canada was perfect – we built ourselves a new home in a lake community, travelled to Jamaica, reunited with friends, made some new ones, and got engaged. I was content with where my life was at and no longer looked over that fence to see what colour the grass was on the other side. It was as green as it gets right where I was.
Then the wedding planning commenced. That’s when the next drop on the ol’ rollercoaster approached. Or maybe this was the loop-de-loop part. Either way, we strapped ourselves in for one hell of a ride! This time it wasn’t distance getting in the way, it was us. In true Papas/Teichroeb fashion, we pushed through it. A friend recommended counselling, so off we went. We chose the one that had the best looking website and was the cheapest (but not cheap) and commenced in letting everything out to some random stranger. She didn’t say much throughout the entirety of our pre-marriage sessions, but it worked. It was emotional and overwhelming and we let it allllll out. Everything. For a hefty fee, we took away some effective communication tools which come naturally to us now.
I also started reading more. The more I read, the more I paid attention to my actions and behaviours. I learned about the different vulnerabilities between men and women (shame vs. fear) and how to control them rather than spur them on. I started understanding why he was saying and doing what he was saying and doing. I became more patient and less reactive. I figured out how to control my emotions rather than be controlled by them. I try to focus on what’s important, not the little things. A relationship shouldn’t be 50/50, but 100/100. There will always be new issues to deal with and you can’t control them but you can control how you respond to them. Books, guys!! They help, I’m telling you. Good ones though. Not bad ones.
If I have learnt one thing about relationships, it’s that they need work. Even after you tie the knot. Sometimes it’s amazing and sometimes it’s a shit show. We’re a work in progress, but we are progressing. It’s a consistent effort and we have become very intentional with it. Social media will never show that side of us between all the smiles and travelling and great dinners, but know it is there. We aren’t perfect. Remember that when I end up sharing some sappy loved up post on our anniversary!
Effie Papas is a Greek girl, from Australia, living in Canada. She loves to eat and she really loves to travel. Gin is her drink of choice. Effie is a junior high school teacher as well as an entrepreneur. She’s working towards financial freedom and retiring by the age of 35.