This month as I celebrate my ten year wedding anniversary, I’m reminded of all the sweet moments my husband and I have had together in our marriage. In some ways it feels like we just met yesterday – and those nights where we stayed up way too late to go driving, watch movies, or to dance in front of the jukebox at Denny’s after a midnight burger still feel fresh in my mind. Ten years of marriage and two kids later, our late nights look a little different now, but I still treasure those memories of when we were younger.
While a decade of marriage may not seem like a long time to some of you (and I am by no means a marriage expert) there are a few things I’ve learned over the years that I’d like to share. These are the tidbits of advice I like to remind myself of as much as possible to help keep my marriage strong.
It Takes Work
When we first got married, I had no idea marriage took work. Of course, I’d heard people say that before but I thought we were exempt from that – we were happy and in love, so naturally spending forever with each other would be easy. Call me young, naïve, or whatever else but that was how I felt. Now I know that marriage is work, hard freaking work but that work is what brings happiness. If someone tells you it’s easy, they are lying to your face. Make the decision to be in this together. Always. Even when you don’t feel like loving them.
Never Give Up
Many years before Lance and I got married, I got some advice from my General Manager at the time. He told me that the key to having a long marriage is that you never give up on loving your spouse. He said that naturally people fall in and out of love in their relationships, but it’s rare that it happens at the same time for both people. When you feel that other person falling out, that’s when you need to hold on a little tighter and stay committed to your spouse – fight to stay in it together.
I have never forgotten that bit of advice from him and have thought of it often in my ten years of marriage. I do think there is some truth to what he said and I do believe that marriage is a choice you wake up and make every single day. Being with someone for years and years means that you both will change and grow, but you need to choose to fall in love with them over and over again.
Assume The Best
As moms we all know that the late afternoon hours can often be the hardest. With dinner needing to be cooked and eaten, plus bed time on the horizon, we are often on high alert and (dare I say) waiting for our partner in crime to come through that door and lend a hand. But there are those days when its 5:59 and you get a text from your husband saying he will be home late. You have two options here: A) Be pissed because he is late AGAIN and didn’t give you any notice or B) You can give him the benefit of the doubt here – chances are he isn’t late on purpose and he really isn’t out to get you.
It just takes one simple choice in how you respond and it can make a world of difference. Always assume the best and you’ll be surprised how much happier you both are.
Surround Yourself with Happy Marriages
Quite a few years ago someone told me to never put down your spouse in front of others and it’s something I’ve made every effort to practice. While you may want to vent about something your spouse did to a friend, just remember that we love them and will easily forgive them for whatever they did, but that friend? She doesn’t have that love to fall back on and will likely remember that fault for quite some time. I’ve found that speaking highly of your spouse to friends makes all the difference in their attitude towards them.
One thing we did unintentionally but it’s been so positive for our relationship, is to spend time around people who have marriages we admire. Surrounding ourselves with happy, healthy marriages has really helped us see the good in ours. Being around unhappy couples or friends that constantly have negative things to say about their spouse will cause you to look at the negative things in your marriage.
The Power Of Touch
With kids it can be so hard to do this, but make spending time with your spouse a priority. Find something you have in common to enjoy together, just the two of you (as in no kids) and have fun. Make an effort to have regular date nights, at home or outside the house – no excuses, just do it! Just because you have kids, doesn’t mean you should ignore the physical side of your marriage – you need to touch each other. Hold hands, kiss, cuddle, make love (yeah, I went there…we are all adults here). Even just adding a hello and goodbye kiss into your daily interactions can make you two feel closer.
Ten years in and I can honestly say that strong marriages don’t just happen. You have to actively take part in it to make the relationship with your spouse flourish. I’m excited to see what the next ten years will bring to our marriage and our family.