Today is my husband and I’s tenth wedding anniversary. We have actually been together for seventeen years, but ten years ago today we made it official. Our years together have been filled with joy unparalleled and times of excruciating pain. We have been through quite a bit, my husband and I. Yet, here we are. Hand-in-hand and still deeply in love after all of these years.
There is no big secret to staying together despite the roller coaster ride of life. Those highs are the greatest feeling in the whole world. But those lows can make your stomach drop and your heart break. Life is hard and so is marriage. However, I like to think we have learned quite a bit about relationships and ourselves throughout our years together.
10 Things I Have Learned After 10 Years of Marriage
1. Communication IS Key
I know we all hear it all the time, but it is true. Communication is everything. This does not just mean talking. It also means listening. Not, “Did you hear me?” But, truly listening and comprehending what your partner is saying. After years of living with someone, their voice almost begins to sound like background noise. You have to stop sometimes, make eye contact, and hear each other out.
Nowadays, my husband and I are being constantly interrupted by our toddler whom never seems to stop for a breath. We have learned to take advantage of whatever brief moments we have together and make our words count. It is important to talk about the big things like what kind of parents we want to be and the little things like whose turn is it to take our daughter to the potty. Talk about anything and everything. You will never regret it.
2. Believe the Best in Each Other
When you first fall in love, you think that other person is the greatest thing since sliced bread. They can do no wrong. After you have been together, you become aware of your partner’s imperfections. We all have them! Nobody is perfect. During those times that your significant other is working your good last nerve, try to believe the best. They are not trying to chew their food loudly,
They are not trying to chew their food loudly, snore, or leave their things lying about to annoy you. If you are, doing these things…stop! Think back to those early days and try to put your best food forward. Remind yourself and each other of why you chose each other in the first place. You’re in this together! Believe the best in each other and it will inspire you both to best your best selves.
3. Have Things in Common
When my husband and I met, there were things that we both enjoyed, like hockey. Although, I am a Detroit Red Wings fan and he is a Colorado Avalanche fan. If you know anything about hockey, you know that this could have been a fatal flaw in our relationship. Instead, we liked watching games together, cheering for our teams, and giving each other some good-natured ribbing.
Sometimes you come to a relationship with things in common and sometimes you learn to enjoy certain interests or hobbies together. On our first date, my husband asked me to name my favorite food. I said, “Strawberries…and French Fries.” He was appalled. It was clear to him that I needed some serious food education.
My hubby set out on a mission to retrain my palate. A lifelong “picky eater”, he lay the ground rules. I could not say I did not “like” a food until I tried it three times, prepared three different ways. He created a monster. Now we enjoy trying new and exotic foods together, but I can out order him in a restaurant. Hands down. No matter what it is, having things in common with the person you have pledged your life to is fun.
4. Have Separate Interests
I know this sounds contradictory, but while it is important to have some shared interests, it is also important for you to nurture your individual passions. Just because you are one-half of a couple, does not mean that you lose your individuality. It is totally okay to pursue your own interests. Actually, it probably should be a requirement!
I love to read. Books are my happy place. I could curl up with a book and read for hours and hours. My husband loves sports. Watching sports, talking about sports, playing sports. He loves it all. So, sometimes he is watching the game while I am laying on the couch immersed in a novel.
Sometimes I am at the bookstore while he is on the golf course with his buddy. Whether we are enjoying our hobbies in the same space or separately, it is all okay. You do not have to be adjoined at the hip to be connected and stay connected. What is important is to encourage one another in the pursuit of their interests. My hubby likes to slip me a Kindle gift card and I will arrange his latest golf outing. We know that if we go and do what we love, we will have all the more to talk about when we come back together.
5. Laugh…A Lot
Nobody makes me laugh like my husband does. He laughs with me and he certainly laughs at me. On our first vacation together, my husband had planned a romantic picnic on the beach. He had a cooler filled with wine, cheese, and of course, strawberries. The only thing he asked me to carry from the car was the picnic blanket.
There we were, carrying our goods through the sand, trying to find the perfect spot before the sun set. Only I am a bit (a lot) of a klutz and I ended up tripping over my feet, getting caught up in the blanket, and face planting in the sand. My husband said that all he saw was hair flying and then all of the sudden, I was no longer next to him. My face was still in the sand, but he saw my back shaking and was not sure if I was laughing or crying.
I was laughing. When I turned over, with sand encrusted in my teeth, eyebrows, and hair, my husband collapsed right next to me in a fit of laughter. We laughed until our bellies ached and that is only one example out of many in which we have literally rolled on the floor laughing.
The laughter is what will keep you going when times are tough. It is what we lay the foundation for your most cherished memories together. Laugh hard and laugh often. It is good for your relationship and your soul.
6. Cry Together
In any relationship, you will go through hard times together. It is simply a matter of fact. The true test of a relationship is not how you come together when things are great, but how you endure when things are at their worst. It is in these moments that you cry and rage that you realize that you have someone by your side that supports you, no matter what.
My husband and I survived the loss of a child. These were very dark times. We felt the loss, of course, but we also felt guilt. There was nothing either of us could have done, but still, it plagued us. It would have been easier in some ways to turn against each other. Instead, we vowed to pull each other out of the depths of despair when we could not do it on our own.
We have cried so many tears together over the years. Although we both strive to be “strong one”, we know we can be weak in each other’s arms. Knowing that you have someone who will always be there to dry your tears and be your rock makes your relationship rock solid.
7. Be a United Front
When you choose to share your life with someone, you become a team. You have to have each other’s back, no matter what. This is never more important than when parenting. Before our daughter was even a twinkle in our eyes, we discussed all of our parenting philosophies.
There are plenty of things we learn about parenting as we go, but we fully support each other’s wishes and choices. In an effort to support my determination to breastfeed, my husband helped me manually pump. This is love, people. When I realized that I am a crunchy mom and a lover of attachment parenting, my hubby jumped right in.
Later, when my husband tells my daughter that he would sooner lock her in a bell tower than allow her to date, I will tell my daughter I will help her decorate the tower. Behind closed doors is where I will talk him off a ledge. In front of others…our child included…we are united.
8. Do Not Succumb to Anyone Else’s Timetable
People sure are nosy, aren’t they? When you are dating, they ask when you are getting married. When you are married they ask when you are having children. The very second you have a child, they ask when you will have another. These questions are nobody’s business. You and your spouse do not need to succumb to anyone else’s timetable. It’s your lives.
I am here to tell you that there is a such thing as love at first sight. It was my husband’s twenty-third birthday and I was his waitress. As I was first approaching his table, he told his buddies, “There is my wife.” He might have had a few drinks in him, but he sure was right! I, on the other hand, took a bit of convincing.
It took a few weeks of persuading but I eventually agreed to go out with my husband. Not that I did not think he was handsome or sweet, I was just busy with working full time and going to college. We had one drink and talked for over six hours. It was love at first date for me.
We moved in together like five minutes later. Okay, it was five months, but still! It was fast! Four years later, we had saved some money and discussed getting married. We decided that buying a house would be a better use of our funds. Our friends and family thought we were nuts. We felt married. A piece of paper and a fancy party just was not necessary.
Then, we were told we would probably never have children or if we were going to try, it would be very difficult. So, we figured that we had better start trying. We eloped one beautiful Friday afternoon in Carmel, California, one of our favorite places. It just made sense to get something “easy” like marriage out of the way, so we could focus on baby-making. Many of our loved ones were not exactly thrilled that we up and wed without a word of notice. But, it was for us, not them.
Related Post: Carmel, California: The Perfect Family Vacation
It was years and years of trying. I was diagnosed with cervical cancer, which further impeded our chances of having children. Fertility experts gave us less than a 1% chance of ever conceiving. People were always asking when would we “finally” have children. I might have thought of committing bodily harm, but instead, I would just say, “Someday.”
It took us over ten years to have our miracle baby. Now that she is here, people always ask when we will have another. I would a million babies if I could. Okay, maybe not a million, but at least a couple more! But, I can’t. We are so happy to have our dream of a healthy child realized that it is okay. So, stop asking!
Do not let anyone pressure you to get engaged, married, have children, or have more children. Follow your own path with your significant other. It is your lives to live.
9. Be Worthy of Trust
Trust is something that is earned over time. You must be worthy of it to earn it. Be honest and tell each other the truth. Whether it is over little things like an outfit choice or a meal gone awry or the big things. If you tell the truth and are honest about your feelings, day after day, you will earn one another’s trust.
It sounds so simple, but it is not. Sometimes it is hard to be brutally honest because you do not want to hurt each other’s feelings. Or perhaps you did something that you regret and you really do not want to fess up. However, it is always best, to tell the truth.
My husband and I know that we can count on one another, to be honest, no matter way. When I was learning about food and how to cook, I was preparing a pasta dish for him and as an afterthought, I asked, “Are you supposed to use the sticks or the leaves of rosemary?” You guessed it. I used the sticks. But my husband ate the dish and told me while he appreciated my efforts, perhaps next time it would be better if I used the leaves.
I received a speeding ticket once while my husband was out of town. This is somewhat hilarious because if you know me, you know I drive like an old grandma. I was petrified to tell my hubby when he returned because I thought he would be so upset. When I told him, he laughed so hard he cried. These may seem like small things, but these are all the things that prove that you are always truthful with your spouse.
These may seem like small things, but these are all the things that prove that you are always truthful with your spouse. They are like laying bricks in a wall. Over time, they become like a fortress surrounding you both, so that you know you can trust each other with anything. If there is a breach of trust, it is like a crack in the wall. Repair it quickly and do everything you can to repair it.
10. Choose Love Every Day
Marriage is not about saying your vows on that one day. It is about choosing to love each other every day. Let’s be honest, you may not like each other every day, but you can choose to love each other. Marriage is hard because life is hard. There will be times that you question everything, but those hard times are the most important times to choose love above all else.
There have been times that my husband and I have been so consumed with work or school that we were like two ships passing in the night. We have faced illness, loss, and death. And there have been times where have just driven each other nuts. Through it all, we chose to love one another. We weathered the storm. There will be more dark days to come, I am sure. But, today, just as ten years ago, I vow to love you through good times and bad, through sickness and health, until death do us part.
Marriage is both wonderful and difficult. What have you learned through your relationship? Please comment and share below!