Today is my 11th wedding anniversary with my husband, Rich. I can't believe it's been that long! Sometimes it feels like we've been together forever. Other times it feels like we have so much more life to live together. I like lists so I figured why not write one on what I've learned about marriage through the last 11 years. If even one person gleans something that could help them in their marriage, well then this post is worth it. So here goes:
- Going out for ice cream cures most arguments. Especially if I started the argument… cause Rich loves ice cream.
- “Puppy piles” on Saturday morning bring the family together. Literally… our family is us and two dogs.
- Encouraging your spouse to live his/her dream, encourages you to live yours. I’ve never been prouder of Rich than getting that letter from SU every semester telling us he’s made the Dean’s List… again!
- When God is at the center of the relationship, things get better. When God is not at the center, things get worse. There’s something special about when Rich and I have conversations about Jesus, love and justice. We connect and remember that we’re in this together for a greater purpose.
- Making decisions together automatically increases trust, respect and admiration for one another. Making decisions on our own does the opposite. I have examples of the latter but some things are better left unsaid.
- You and your spouse will be happiest when you are doing what each of you enjoys doing. Ignore what people outside your relationship say about who should do what. Every marriage is different. Rich enjoys yard work and would love to have a garden some day. I enjoy figuring out budgets and making to-do lists. We do what works for us.
- It’s really easy to gain weight together, but it’s a lot harder to be healthy together. In both cases the key word is “together.” If you need to make a lifestyle change, both partners need to be committed; otherwise it’s not going to work. When Rich lost over 70 pounds a few years back, I lost 25 as well, without even trying. It’s all because he had set things he could eat and couldn’t eat, and I just kind of jumped on board.
- Find out what you enjoy doing together and do it! When we were younger, Rich and I went to a ton of concerts together. Our history has rich stories from cities across the northeast seeing bands like Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Pearl Jam, Ben Harper, Pearl Jam, and some more Pearl Jam! Now, Rich and I love taking walks together. I think it’s when we are our most real selves with each other, with nothing to hide behind. We are honest, joyful, and closer than we’ve ever been.
- Sentimentality is a good thing because it reminds you why you fell in love and got married in the first place. For us that comes mostly in the form of music. Certain songs remind us of events and times in our relationships. It’s good to revisit those once in a while.
- We should always be thinking about our spouse’s needs before our own, and communicating in a way so we really know what those needs are. If both spouses do that, then all needs should be covered without either person appearing to be inconsiderate or selfish. Even though I haven’t been good at this in the past, I’m now realizing it’s essential to having a happy marriage.
- One hug and kiss a day will keep the divorce lawyer away… Yep, that’s about right!
And a bonus... one to grow on!
When things get hard, don’t pull away but draw closer. Your spouse is supposed to be the one person you can turn to in hard times. For many people like myself (introverted and stubborn) this can be hard. But I say let your spouse be that person! That’s what marriage is all about. In my darkest moments, it was Rich who looked at me with love, concern and encouragement. Even as I wanted to curl up into a ball, he would still remind me he was there for me no matter what.
That is why I love my husband more today than yesterday, the day before, and the day we got married. Even when things became hard, we pushed through, and we’re stronger today than we’ve ever been. So many people get divorced after just a few years of marriage… if you just stick it out a little longer and do what you need to do to show the other person you’re in it for the long haul, hopefully things will get better.
What advice do you have for married couples going through a hard time? What have you found to be essential in maintaining a happy marriage?