Today is my 28th wedding anniversary.
If you count the time my husband and I were together before we married, that’s 31 years of togetherness; rather a long time if measured by today’s standards (the average first marriage lasts 8 years).
After posting a comment and a few wedding pics, I was surprised by the number of people that messaged me asking for marriage tips…which in reality gets down to relationship tips.
What makes a successful marriage? That’s a great question.
I thought I’d expand on what I think makes our marriage work…the key word being work.
Have separate and combined interests.
My husband is a hunter; as in he really, really, likes to hunt. When we were first together, I thought I’d be the cute girlfriend/wife and hunt too. I took the hunter’s safety course, got some snazzy orange overalls and accoutrements and off I went (my husband comes from a family of hunters, so I had lots of help).
I did not dig it. First, I don’t do getting up at o’dark thirty unless I am getting on a plane to a tropical destination…which leads me to the fact that I don’t do cold either…unless I am by a cozy fireplace watching the snow fall outside my window.
So, I become a hunter’s widow for a few months throughout the year, and to be honest, I enjoy the time to myself; especially now that the kids are doing their own thing too.
On the flip side, we have things we love to do together. Boating and traveling are high on our list of activities that we both love and enjoy sharing with each other.
Always lead with respect
Always be respectful of the other person.period.
Don’t let the past dictate the present (or future)
Ben and I have very different backgrounds regarding marriage. His parents will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary on Christmas (in an odd twist, my Dad and stepmom were also married on Christmas Eve; they are divorced now and remarried), and between my dad, bonus mom, and biological mom I think there are 9 divorces.
So many people worry that what they have been exposed to and past patterns will repeat in their own lives. If you go in with that expectation, then there is a pretty damn good likelihood that it will come to pass. Your life is yours to take control of. Learn from the past, don’t live it.
Go to Bed Mad If You Want
Conventional wisdom has always said to not go to bed mad.
Doesn’t work for me.
Often when I’ve ‘slept on it’ I wake up with greater clarity and am more ready to talk things through. I’ve had a great deal of experience with words being spewed in anger, hurt, and frustration and once words are out there…there are no backs.
Flex and Flow
A famous quote goes something like this:
“Would you rather be right or would you rather be happy?”
Twenty-five years ago I would have answered “I want to be right dammit!” Silly rabbit 🙂
There is a delicate flow of knowing when to stand your ground and when to move on…it’s important that you find it. One way is to simply ask yourself, “How do I want to feel here?” It’s also important to not feel like you are the one capitulating, giving in or keeping the peace all the time.
One way streets always lead to dead ends.
Know When to Hold ‘Em (and when to fold ’em)
We give up too easily. Marriage is a work in progress and a collaborative effort. Too often apathy sets in, we get distracted by life in general, and stressors create fissures that turn into canyons unless we are vigilant.
That is not to say that toxic relationships should continue to be fed either. Relationships that are emotionally, physically, or psychologically abusive are not relationships to salvage.ever.
Laughter Really Is the Best Medicine
If you don’t have a sense of humor and you want to be married to ‘infinity and beyond’ (to quote Buzz Lightyear), you better get one. You’re going to be with this person a long time and if you can’t laugh with them and genuinely enjoy each other’s company…well it’s going to be a long haul for sure (and not in a good way).
This is by no means an inclusive or exclusive list of making a marriage work; your mileage will vary.
That would be a book…hmmmm 😉
What are your tips and thoughts? Got any to add?