Next week my wife and I will be celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary, and when I look back over everything that we’ve been through together over the last decade, it turns out that we’ve been pretty busy!
First we got married … eloped, actually … and then threw a proper wedding to remember on the beach the following year. She went back to school and changed careers while I published a few books. We got a dog, followed shortly thereafter by a house. We struggled through a solid five years of infertility hell, yet somehow managed to come out the other side with three beautiful boys that today occupy roughly 99.7% of our collective free time…
We’ve had a pretty good run so far and I honestly attribute most of it to how well we come together. For a marriage to really be successful, both people really need to bring their all to the table and that’s one thing that I’ve never doubted with our own union. Sure, nobody’s perfect and we all have our off days, but never having to worry about what’s really important to your partner is probably one of the biggest blessings that a married person can know.
In commemoration of our ten years of happy matrimony, I wanted to pass along some insight into the marriage that my wife and I share that I’ve collected over the years in hopes that maybe it will help others to enjoy a long and joyful marriage like I have. It won’t always be smooth riding, but just remember that the longest road trips are always more fun when you’ve got a friend along for the ride… 😉
10. Marriage is Almost Never 50/50
It’s an early sentiment that can easily turn into resentment if not squashed – “I’ll wash and you dry” sounds nice during your honeymoon phase, but sometimes it’s “I’ll wash and dry while you study for graduate school, or get some sleep before your night job, or try to rock the baby to sleep…”
Sometimes your relationship will be 50/50, but sometimes it will also be 70/30 or 20/80 – the trick is to ebb and flow with compassion and empathy as you support one another through each of life’s new ventures. You’ll drive yourself to an early demise if you expect everything in your marriage to always balance.
9. Money Woes Will Consume You Whole … If You Let Them
If both people in a marriage aren’t on the same page about how money is spent in your relationship, it really means that you’re not on the same page about a lot of things because money will drive so many of the goals throughout your life:
- buying your first home
- having kids and building a family
- managing jobs and careers
- deciding how you’ll spend your free time together
- saving for vacations, college, or just rainy days
And it’s not even about whether you’re in debt because that sort of thing can come and go – managing your money is really just about communicating where you are as a family today and where you’re trying to go tomorrow. People who treat money as taboo and don’t talk about it unless they have to end up getting themselves into trouble whereas those who make a habit of discussing their finances likely have one less thing to worry about together.
8. Simple Sympathy
A pretty common comment that you’ll hear around our household is, “I’m sorry that … you’re having a hard day at work / one of the kids didn’t behave themselves last night / etc, etc…”
Although our first reaction would be to respond, “Well it’s not your fault that it took me three hours to get the kid to bed!” it took a while to catch on to the real point, which is being sympathetic for someone you care about in light of a struggle they’re going through.
We say, “I’m sorry you had a rough night…” because the thought is simply that, “I wish I could’ve been there to try and make it go better for you.” Because sometimes it’s just nice to have that shoulder to lean on, and one of the perks of being married is that shoulders are readily available for that purpose – at least in my marriage they are, anyways.
7. It’s Important to Enjoy Spending Time Together
My parents divorced when I was about 16 and one thing that is undeniable in looking back at those times is that quite frankly, they didn’t really like spending time together towards the end of their marriage.
As simple as it sounds, although it’s certainly ok for two people to have some hobbies or interests that they enjoy independent of one another, I think it’s critically important that a couple also has things that they absolutely DO enjoy doing together … because otherwise, what’s the point, really??? Spending time together and growing that bond between you is something that’s just as important the day you meet as it is ten years later, and both people have to want to do it, and both people should want to do it because that’s why you got married in the first place!
6. Be Kind to One Another
One of my big pet peeves is when I see couples who call each other names, and I’m not talking about cute, pet names, either! Kindness is a very simple gift that we can give to one another and it doesn’t cost us a cent to say things like please and thank you, good morning and good night, and even excuse me.
It’s easy to fall into routines that make us forget common courtesies like these, yet it always perks up my day when my wife offers up a simple thanks after I haul something out to the garage or help her carry in groceries!
5. The Hardest Talks to Have Are Usually the Most Important
My perspective on marriage has always been that you should be able to talk to your spouse about anything, and that’s not to say that those conversations are always easy, but you just have to do it. Even if it takes staring at each other in a dark room until four in the morning until one of you breaks the silence, and even if the emotions get so tense that your first reaction is to walk out and slam the door behind you.
Instead, sit back down, and stare, and have the tough conversations that people sometimes have when they swear to live their lives together.
4. Go Out of Your Way to Make Your Partner Smile
Remember all of those little things you used to do when you first started dating your partner? You’d spend all day running around town looking for their favorite chocolates or flowers from that place they just love … so why did you stop???
It seems like the little things are the ones most likely to fall victim to routine the longer people are together, so instead of letting those special, little details that only you notice fall to the wayside, let them become your routine and make it a habit to spoil your love with random surprises that make them smile. 🙂
3. Always Be Learning New Things About Your Partner
Fun Fact – I didn’t know until a few weeks ago that my wife doesn’t really care for chocolate ice cream, and she LOVES ice cream!
It’s amazing how you think you can, or even should, know someone after 10 years of being together almost every single day and yet there are still things that you don’t know about each other. But those new details bubbling to the surface all of the time are part of what keeps a relationship interesting long after the honeymoon phase has come and gone and your day to day seems like it’s more routine than spontaneity.
2. Laugh Together, Laugh Often
Sometimes all we can do is laugh … when you’re applying for a bank loan in order to have your first child or when you’re up at 1 o’clock in the morning cleaning poop off the walls because said first child is still working on that whole potty training thing…
Laughter is not only therapeutic, but it’s also a great conduit for bonding during what can otherwise be some pretty stressful situations that life throws at you. Sometimes laughing at your problems – together – can be your greatest asset for getting through them – together.
1. Cut Your Partner Some Slack
And lastly, this is something that I’ve really taken to heart recently in the last year or so, primarily upon the birth of our twins who upped the child count in our household to 3 and thus made us parents officially outnumbered!
Life in our home, as they say, is currently both blessed and chaotic, and so while sure, it may bug me a little when my wife doesn’t throw something away or forgets to hang her towel back up on the rack, deep down I know that she didn’t do it out of spite … namely because she was likely chasing a child around the house at the time as she’s wont to do these days, so instead of starting an argument by giving her a hard time about it … I simply don’t.
And that’s not to say that sometimes those little things don’t still bug me like they used to, but I’m trying to make more of an effort to overlook them because frankly it’s not worth the time and we certainly don’t have any spare time on our hands to spend feuding with each other right now!
It’s one of those that probably would’ve made relationships ten years ago a bit easier, but maybe it’s the kind of skill that just takes ten years of building a bond with another person and sharing so many experiences, for better and for worse, to reach. Life is hectic enough right now from all of the wacky hijinks that our three kids manage to get themselves into, and it’s only going to get worse once all three of them are walking and running on their own, so who wants to spend any significant chunk of their time fighting with their spouse over how to load the dishwasher or what constitutes appropriate clothes to take a baby out of the house in during Florida’s fierce and unforgiving, week and a half long winters?!
It’s much easier to overlook that kind of stuff and focus on what really matters, whether it’s enjoying those precious few moments together with a bottle of wine after the kids have all gone to bed or trying to clean crayon out of the couch cushions because somebody – it could’ve been either one of us, really – forgot to put the crayons away after art time was over earlier that day… 😉
Thanks for an incredible ten years, and a wonderful family to call our own, and for filling my heart with love and joy every magical day that we’ve been lucky enough to spend together. I consider myself both exceedingly proud and humbled to call you my wife, and I look forward to what time will teach us over our next ten years of this life together, and beyond!
Happy 10th Anniversary – I love you!