In my previous life that was not so long ago, I made terrible decisions. Specifically, I “dated” a man for the better part of 7 years who was a pretty terrible person. He lied about everything from what he had to eat that day to whether he had a newborn son (he did and it wasn’t mine). Aside from the lies that were enough to leave me in a downward spiral of anger and hurt every other day, he wasn’t reliable, he was overly critical, had an explosive temper and was rarely supportive of my goals and achievements.

As I detail all that was wrong with that relationship, it’s easy to see why I consider investing seven years, give or take, a terrible decision. On top of that, the men that followed him in hopes of dating me, didn’t have much luck with me because I was stuck on this guy…until I met my husband.

Now, before you blow out that deep sigh assuming this is one of those “my life is so great, my husband is perfect stories,” don’t worry, it isn’t, because one of the hardest things about being a newlywed is finding people who will for lack of better terminology, keep it real. While I love to hear stories of how great married life is for people and how it’s all roses, sunshine and unicorns, I also like to hear about the stories of struggle and every day issues. Not because I revel in other people’s misery, but because I want to understand how other similarly situated couples have made it through their hard times.

So back to me and my terrible decisions. When I finally yanked myself from the horrible clutches of the most dysfunctional relationship I’ve ever voluntarily subscribed to, I had baggage and damage, lots of it. I was combative, cynical, untrusting and a whole host of other things. And while I list those qualities in the past tense, quite frankly, and my husband will tend to agree, I am still those things (in moderation, but nevertheless, that’s me).

My previous relationship created the proverbial monster. I became a “get-you-before-you-get-me” kind of person. Any disagreement my husband and I had while dating and even as a married couple, I found ways to manipulate those instances as examples that my husband did not care about me and in fact, had some ulterior motives that I had yet to discover. And when my husband did not react to our disagreements in the explosive way I was accustomed to seeing, I automatically took that to mean he was indifferent and wasn’t invested in the relationship. Twisted, right? Indeed.

So while I’d love to tell you that I have completely changed, that simply isn’t true, but I am learning. My husband and I still disagree, in fact, we just did this morning. And while I rant like a lunatic, my husband makes his disagreement known in a less dramatic way than I (although, he’s been known to pull a few theatrical performances himself during disagreements). I still have moments during our disagreements where I stop and think about what my life was like before my husband. I was sad and unhappy and didn’t even know it. But then I think even in the midst of the worst disagreements with my husband, I somehow happened to actually make a good decision.

I married someone who respects me and my feelings. Someone who won’t lie to me about what he had to eat today because for goodness sake what does it matter. Someone who will get up and feed the baby at night because he knows, I have a harder time getting up for work than he does. Someone who supports my goals and dreams, despite the fact that many are lofty and some would make us absolutely no money.

My husband isn’t perfect, nor am I. I would never sell anyone the illusion that we are because it simply does a disservice to those seriously considering marriage and all that comes with it. In the short nearly eight months that my husband and I have been married, I have realized marriage is work and growth. And while both of us are absolutely in need of the former and the latter, had I not made the terrible decisions I made in the past, I wouldn’t be in the position to appreciate the good decisions I am making now.