I never thought I would be giving advice on marriage, but 20 years later, here I am with a wonderful husband and a marriage that has truly tested the hands of time. Chris and I have been together for 20 years and married ten of them! I feel fortunate to have just renewed my ten-year anniversary vows with him, and I wanted to give my advice on the top ten things that have helped us to get to where we are today.
Let me first say we are not the perfect couple, and as a matter of fact, you won’t be the perfect couple either, sorry to burst your bubble. One of the things Chris and I have come to learn over time is that we choose to make our own rules for our relationship, we don’t allow other people to influence how we should be as a couple. Well ok, maybe more he then me, but I feel safe in following his lead. We have also learned the following ten things:
Find your own identity as a couple, make your relationship and its rules apply to who you are as an individual. It’s nobody’s business on how you choose to be a couple. Chris and I do a lot together and can be very co-dependent. From me enjoying making dinner every night to him helping me zip my coat or putting sunscreen on! I take care of him, and he takes care of me.
It’s ok to do things on your own: For a long time when we first got married, I thought we had to do everything together, isn’t that marriage after all? What I have come to learn is that it’s ok to have your own identity. We have come to enjoy our time apart doing things on our own. I like going to the movies or taking a long walk, and he likes watching movies at home or going to hang with the guys. Just because I am a spouse doesn’t mean he has to love everything I do, and Vice Versa, when we’re apart, it makes us miss each other much more. It’s ok to have your individual life and a married one! I have my mine, he has his, and we have ours!
Going to bed mad: I am so tired of hearing everyone say, don’t go to bed mad with each other, always apologize and move forward. What if I don’t want to apologize, what if he was a real piss-ant to me and I want to stew in it for a bit. Vice versa for him with me, as I can drive him nuts! My point is you’re going to have arguments, and you’re going to be mad. That’s ok, as long as you both understand that you still love each other and will forgive one another when you’re ready. We have spirited discussions often, and most of the time it’s over stupid shit. Most of the time, we agree to disagree and move on. Being mad with each other is a part of being a couple and learning how to communicate your thoughts and feelings better.
Communication: Have you ever found yourself wanting to pull your hair out because your spouse is not communicating with you. We have all been there! Men & Women communicate so differently, and I often want to turn on Mr. Rogers and say, can’t we all just think like this. With ten years of marriage, the thing I have learned about communicating is that were all different in how we understand things, being patient and finding unique ways to get your point across is always helpful. When Chris and I are having spirited discussions, we often turn to the Eagles and listen to their music, which always draws us back together. What is the one thing that you know you both will understand without a doubt?
Listening: With communication comes listening. I don’t know about you, but when I am pissed off I tend to tune out. The words, sure honey, come out a lot. That being said, you cannot communicate effectively if you’re not listening. Take a step back and try to hear the words your spouse is saying. Don’t just listen, actually ask yourself why do they feel this, what was the action that triggered this feeling. When you listen, communication naturally happens, even if it is to hear your spouse vent about a horrible day. Listening is an act of love.
Gratitude: If you’re in a lasting relationship, one that has been a part of your lives for some time, you tend to get comfy in your roles. Remember though the simple act of saying Thank you makes everyone feel good. Thank you for helping me with dinner. Thank you for making me laugh, thank you for whatever you each do for each other.
Ebs & Flows: Life happens, and there are going to be just as many ups as there are downs. Chris & I love each other so much that the sheer thought of not being together is terrifying! In that very same breath, I could loathe him the same day as much as I love him. Marriage is not a Mary Poppins movie with singing birds every day, marriage is hard work, and knowing that you will have ups and downs and being open & honest goes a long way. For me, I think marriage is a balancing act of finding the middle ground. It’s not about who is right and who is wrong; it’s about allowing compromise when those ups and downs happen. The Middle ground gets you places as a couple. The birds singing you a happy perfect song day in and day out leaves for a very dull marriage in my eyes.
Annoyance: I remember when I met Chris, I had several annoyances with him and vice Versa! You know the small stuff like leaving dirty socks on the floor, leaving the toilet seat up, only for you to fall in, Leaving the bed unmade or starting something only to leave it ½ unfinished. All the little quirks that can make you want to pull your hair out. This is one thing I work at every day is dealing with both our quirks. Instead of not making the bed, when you get out of it, take a moment to make it, make your partner smile! Put that toilet seat down guys; the ladies will love you so much more for this small act of kindness. Take a moment and know each other’s quarks and don’t do them or help make them better.
Your Words: Listen, we all have said things we had wished we had not. Words are very powerful and can make you feel on top of the world or at the bottom of the barrel. The saying, “think before you speak,” really applies to your marriage more than I can ever express. Let your spouse know how very important they are to you, and as my grandmother always said, if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.
Let it go & have silence: This leads me to my last piece of advice of letting go. A novelty for many of us. I tend to use silence as a time to reflect and let go. I have come to learn that sometimes it’s just better to walk away from something you disagree with. Silence in itself is very powerful and can take on many forms of communication; it can be your best friend when your united and your worst enemy when you’re divided. It allows you to take the time you need to truly let go of whatever just happened and see the bigger picture.
Chris and I wish you a lifetime of happiness, unforgettable memories and spirited discussions that help you grow as a couple!
Photos Captured by Jag Studios