This past month my husband and I celebrated 10 years of marriage, holy cow! We have now been together for 1/3 of my life, which is insane to think about. At just 20 and 22 we were so in love, but so unprepared for all that life would throw at us. We’ve made a cross country move, learned to get through each day, bought our first home, dealt with infertility and loss, and brought two beautiful babies into the world. We are by no means experts, and still, have a lot of life to live and room to grow, but here are some of the important lessons we have learned.
From Our Engagements in 2009
And just last week 2019
He’s my Teammate, not my Competition
When I look at him as competition, all that comes out of it is resentment. And trust me, I have been there many times. I’m not perfect. But communicating my needs to him, when I do feel like his needs are being met over mine, is always a better solution than feeling like I’m loosing. For many years I compared everything we did – if he spent money, I wanted to spend the same, if he did an activity for an hour, I needed an hour, he got a great opportunity, I was jealous, etc… And don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that either of us shouldn’t get those things, we are equals. What I have learned is that our wins and celebrations are different. Our roles and responsibilities are different, but that doesn’t mean either of us is better than the other or “winning”. We work together, we communicate, we are a Team.
This was a lesson I learned the hard way. It’s not like I didn’t expect to have to compromise in my marriage, but compromise looked a lot different than I expected it too. Sometimes it means giving up something you really want because its what’s best for your family unit. And sometimes, you will both give up what you want, because it’s what is best. It’s a delicate dance that you and your partner learn to do together. You learn what are “non-negotiables” for each other, and you learn that some things just aren’t as important as you thought they were.
You will go to bed angry
Look when we were preparing to be married, I heard the classic advice over and over again “Never Go to Bed Angry”. I’m sorry, but sometimes I go to bed mad. It is what it is. Sometimes I am not ready to talk about whatever is bothering me in a grown-up way. There have been times we have talked about it, and I’m still mad about it. After an argument or discussion, sometimes we just need a minute. Sometimes what’s making me mad is really out of our control. I don’t think that going to bed angry every single night is a good thing, no way. But I think it’s pretty unrealistic to say that you’ll never go to bed angry.
Space is good
I love my husband more than anything, he is my person and my best friend. And sometimes, I need a break. Alone time or time with your friends, is so good! My husband doesn’t always like doing all the same things I like to, nor do I enjoy all of his hobbies. Does this mean either of us needs to give them up? No way! Find what fulfills you and take time to do it! Your spouse will still be there waiting for you when you get back. And you being happy, is going to ultimately make your relationship a happier one.
Date Each Other
Just like that alone time is so good. you need to spend time together. When you’re dating, so much of your time is spent together. It’s exciting to be together and experiencing things. Trying new things and having a conversation about things that are important to you. Once you get married, life can get in the way of that. Jobs, and responsibilities, and stress and whatever else happens. Life gets comfortable and even though you see and talk to each other every day, sometimes it’s hard to really “see” each other. It is easy to feel like you have a really cute roommate. Dates are so important, to have fun together and to remember why you actually like each other.
I’m sure this isn’t a shocker, but it’s so true. Things are that important at the beginning of a relationship become less important. The way those changes happen is different in every relationship, but intimacy is every evolving none the less. I’ve learned it’s so important to maintain that connection. No matter what life throws your way or how you have to adapt it, intimacy should always be cultivated and nourished in your relationship.
Money will drive you nuts
Maybe this isn’t the case for everyone, but I get so sick of talking and thinking about money. And I’m not even necessarily talking about struggling. It just seems like money is something you are always thinking about, worrying about, discussing. It becomes the deciding factor in so many decisions. Sometimes I wish it just wasn’t a thing, honestly. But, the need for it is something that is completely outside of our control. So my advice? Budget together, involve your teammate. Make sure you both know where you stand on spending and the details of your accounts. It won’t make the frustrations go away, but being on the same page makes it a little less irritating.
Kids Change Things
I know what you’re thinking…Duh?! And yes, it is a duh, but I really was not prepared for how kids would change my marriage. We were married for 5 years before having our first, we thought we knew each other really well. Spoiler alert….we had A LOT to learn. The first year of parents almost did us in. We stopped listening to and stopped seeing each other, we went through motions. We thought we had talked about what we expected as parents, but we didn’t talk about how our expectations had changed. But kids have also brought us closer and given us a new appreciation for each other. Seeing my husband as a father to my babies is just about the best thing in the world. I wish I would’ve been more prepared for our transition from husband and wife to mom and dad though. So my advice here is to expect the unexpected and don’t stop communicating.
Marriage is not 50/50
Nope, it’s not. Sometimes it’s 90/100, 60/40, 100/0, 75/20, 100/00. There will be days you are all in, and sometimes you need your partner to carry you. Other times you have to be the one doing the carrying. There will be moments you will pick yourself up off the floor, just to pick your partner up and they will have to do the same for you other times. It’s not about a percentage really, and sometimes its not even about balance. But in love, it all works out.
Learn Your Love Languages
Do it now. Read the book and then read it again every year. If you don’t like to read, you can take the free quiz online. And no, the book isn’t some magic answer. But it is so important to learn how your needs are best met, and communicate that with your spouse. Learn how to meet their needs, ask them how you can make their days better. Unfortunately, humans aren’t mind readers. I wish. When My husband and I were first married, I met his needs in the ways I wanted mine met. His needs weren’t getting met and neither were mine. Knowing our love languages has made all the difference in our relationship. It has allowed us to deepen our intimacy, and to stay connected even in the hard times
Marriage is a constant work in progress, it’s ever evolving and changing.
What things have you learned from your relationship?
Photos by Gingersnap + Co, our favorite Central, IL photographer