Today is my 29th anniversary.
Ben and I got married when we were no more than kids (19!!). High school sweethearts (we started dating at 16 when Ben got his driver’s license) who never really dated anyone else…so all we know is each other.
I am not a marriage expert by any means, but what I am an expert on is my marriage (bonus lesson, become an expert on your relationship/marriage).
I have seen both ends of the marriage spectrum; from my own parents and step-parents marriages and divorces both as a child and as an adult (I think all told there are around 9…I have no idea how many times my biological mother has been married…or divorced for that matter since she left when I around 3) to my in-laws who have been married 50+ years. No judgements here, things have worked out for the best, and I am so glad to see the people I love happy.
I have learned way more than 29 things in 29 years, and maybe there will be a 30 year list next year, but I am planning on being on a beach in Hawaii celebrating the 30th, so who knows? 😉
*Disclaimer: My lessons are centered around my thoughts, beliefs, and experiences, your marriage mileage can and will vary. Some of these I have elaborated on, some I think are self explanatory (+ this a a blog post, not a novel). And as always my marriage is a work in progress; a lifetime of learning, growing, living, and loving.
Have your own interests
Have shared interests
Go to bed angry (We tried the “don’t go to bed angry” advice). Sometimes arguments/feelings/problems can’t be solved by 10:00 pm; I need thinking and processing time.
Marry someone with a sense of humor…seriously
When you marry someone, you also marry his/her family for better or worse
Beware of apathy
If your partner offers to help…take him/her up on it (there have been many times over the years when Ben has come in the kitchen and offered to help and I have sighed the martyr sigh and said “I have everything done now” or “No, I’ll do it”. Now I’m like “hellz yes dude, cut up the veggies”.
You’re in this together
Respect each other; kindness goes a long way
When you argue don’t bring up personal stuff or hit below the belt (and know why you are angry…is it really that clothes are on the floor or did you have a day from hell and you’re venting)
Date nights are really great
Don’t belittle, criticize, or put down your spouse in front of others (this is a big one for me…I’ve seen this happen in social situations and it’s so not cool)
You took vows, live them (It’s so easy to want to throw in the towel when the going gets rough…and it will)
Marriage is not 50/50
Change yourself instead of thinking you are going to change your spouse
Don’t underestimate the power of please and thank you
Marriage does not come with a crystal ball…communication is the heartbeat of a marriage
Be vulnerable (this was so hard for me for so many years…vulnerability is scary + hard)
What happened in the past, stays in the past (don’t bring up transgressions that happened 10 years ago, 5 years ago, 1 year ago, last week)
Banish the phrase “Shut up” (it’s rude)
One of you read The 5 Languages of Love and talk to the other one about it (My huzbin is not a big reader of that kind of stuff, but he will gladly talk about it if I give him cliff notes)
Your spouse is not responsible for your happiness
Don’t compare your marriage to someone else’s (in this digital age of sharing, remember you are seeing a snapshot of someone’s life; not the whole picture…it’s easy to get caught up in compare and despair)
Figure what works for the two of you in the rhythm of your marriage
Change the roll of toilet paper when it’s empty (yes I’m talking to you Benjamin Miller)
Let ’em know or let it go (aka The Silent Treatment) (I have been guilty of this many times and I call myself out on it…it’s a passive-aggressive control issue plain and simple)
Focus on what’s right about your spouse (it’s soooo easy to point out what’s wrong; flip your perspective)
If something needs done, don’t wait for your spouse to notice…he/she won’t (In 29 years it’s a rare day when the DH notices that the trash needs taken out; so I ask or take it out myself)
Remember you chose this person to spend the rest of your life with…choose wisely