In six months, my husband and I will be celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. My marriage was arranged when I was 19 years old, and my husband was 22. I was expecting it to happen—although not as quickly—since in our Tajik culture, the majority of the girls are married off between ages 17 and 20. I have friends who rebelled against our traditions. However, there were many reasons why I did not. I hope to write another article with those reasons.
I am glad I did not rebel, as I feel blessed to be with the man I was arranged with. We were both young when we got married and of course, the first couple years of our marriage were bumpy. But even then, I felt the man was a confidence booster for me. He is a great listener, holds a wise perspective, and knows how to sell his advice. I have many mentors and advisers, but my husband is one I depend on most often.
Here are five of the many confidence boosting lessons my husband taught me over the past ten years.
1. Not everything is worth worrying about.
I have a Type A personality, and so does the rest of my family. Worry, anxiety, planning, and controlling are part of my everyday rituals. My husband, on the other hand, is the most laid-back person I have ever known. Although I still get amazed (and frustrated) at how a person can be so forgetful, wasteful, and careless, it is this personality that I depend on to balance out the chaos inside of me. For a not-so-religious person, my husband has taught me to trust God and be flexible to the flow of situations. Additionally, he has taught me to let go of things I could not and cannot control.
One of the situations that comes to mind is when I found out I was pregnant with my son. My twins were 20 months old, I was studying for my master’s degree, and had a part-time internship. We were living on one paycheck and also had education loan payments. Memories of sleepless nights with twins had not left me yet, and I had just lost the 60 pounds I gained with my twin pregnancy. It was not the optimal time for another baby; it was a definite surprise. Being a Type A, I was overwhelmed and scared out of my mind.
I told my husband the news and could not believe the light in his eyes. He smiled, kissed and hugged me and reassured me that we would be just fine. Any objections I spit out, he had an answer for. His ultimate mentality was that worrying and anxiety will not help anyone.
Even when my toddlers didn’t eat, I used to get worried. No matter what I tried, I didn’t succeed in getting anything in them. My husband used to say, “Believe me, when they are hungry, they will eat. Let it go.”
2. Not everything is about me.
Remember, I was basically still a teen when I got married. Any misunderstandings or arguments with my friends used to devastate me. Upset, I would come home to my husband to pour out my frustrations and disappointments. He would open my eyes to the outside perspective I really needed. He taught me to give the benefit of the doubt to each involved person and view the situation from their perspective instead of reacting to my emotions. He taught me to be humble, understanding, and rational in analyzing the events when my ego constantly whispered otherwise.
When I worked at a bank as a teller through my undergraduate college years, there was another teller who seemed to find joy in making my hours on the job miserable. Her behavior included anything from reporting me to the manager for things I did not do, micromanaging me although she wasn’t my superior, and speaking negatively in and out of my presence to others. It brought me to tears once in a while.
And my husband preached to me not to take things personally. He asked me to view the situation from outside, understand the circumstances, and evaluate her behavior from a perspective of a neutral person. Following his advice, I made an effort to get to know my coworker better, to understand her daily struggles, and speak to my superior on why he thought she behaved this way.
Although, she made me a victim, with the help of my husband, I was able to keep myself from submitting to a victim mentality. I soon learned that her behavior was not a reflection of how she felt about me; it was her response to personal issues she was facing.
3. I am good enough.
Being a perfectionist and growing up in a family with high expectations, I fought a constant battle of not being good enough for my family members, especially my parents. Being a parent-pleaser, I would drive myself to burnout to avoid disappointing my family. My husband taught me that the fact that my family had high expectations was their problem and not mine. I soon learned to not care about meeting other people’s expectations and instead seek contentment in what I had and could enjoy now. He made me recognize the things I was good at and feel sufficient as is.
Coming on as a product manager at a software company after receiving my MBA was the most confidence-draining time of my life. I did not have background in food science or software. Anything “techy” usually breaks as soon as it reaches my hands, which I now realize is why I am successful at catching software bugs. Being around genius software engineers and programmers, I felt lacking in intelligence and skills my fellow coworkers displayed.
It was with time, fruitful efforts, and the mentorship of my husband that I finally realized my skills were a great complement to those of my team to bring our company to the next level. I just needed to let go of my own expectations of being able to match what others had acquired through years of learning and experience.
4. Take time for me.
Busy defines life in the U.S. I feel like I have been busy since we came here. There is so much to do and you are expected to do so many things. Checking off to-do’s is what I do best. And quite frankly, there is no end to a good to-do list.
This lesson, I picked up through observation. I apologize for the generalization, but men are fantastic at taking care of themselves. My husband doesn’t get many weekends off, but when he does, he makes sure to treat it like Sabbath. Here I am running around like a chicken with no head cleaning, laundrying, picking up, taking kids to swimming class, grocery shopping, etc. And he tells me, “I’m making sure to relax as much as I can.”
I absolutely envy him. And once in a while, I let myself not feel bad for leaving all the dishes in the sink, ignoring the messy rooms, leaving dinner on the table, and walking right past a minor hill of toys. I can just imagine the cringe on my mom’s face when she reads this.
I will not forget the day when I came home to a messy house on my husband’s day off and I asked him why he didn’t clean a little bit. He says, “Well, at least I didn’t make more mess.” And he was absolutely serious.
5. Spend on myself without guilt.
I used to shop in the clearance aisle because I could not get myself to spend money on myself. And quite frankly, I used to get sick of my clothes really fast because I was not in love in the first place. Through all my shopping trips with him, I learned to be patient, seek, find, and purchase pieces that fit perfectly regardless of the price or brand. Now that I only buy pieces I love, I do not feel the need to shop very often. I’ve come to a point where I know exactly what styles, color, and pattern fit me. When a piece gets worn out, I replace it with another one I love.
And I have to say, the man gets me the best presents ever. A professional chopping knife I take out every time I cook, earphones that finally stay on, Blentec that makes my shakes smooth and creamy, a laptop I am using to type this post—these are some of the presents I have received from him. Most of his gifts have been pretty expensive, but they are items I use on a regular basis and get joy out of using them.
My marriage was arranged at 19 and I married the man 10 days after I met him. As dramatic and scary as that sounds, I often say my life truly began when I married this man. Nobody in my life has made me feel this loved, cared for, needed, and empowered in my life. Although our marriage is not always hearts and roses, it is a marriage that’s made me a better person. I truly believe every person needs a mentor to listen to them and support through analysis of ideas and situations. Finding a mentor in someone you live with is even better.