My 8th wedding anniversary is coming up in under 2 weeks, on April 26.
While I’ve been reminiscing on the past 8 years – the good, the bad, the crazy – I couldn’t help but think about what I have learned personally about marriage. Marriage is a job in and of itself but I sometimes do think that ours was a little tougher considering I was 18 and Alex was 23 when we got married.
Of course, I don’t have the experience and wisdom of someone who has spent 50, heck, even 25 years together, but we’ve been through enough and have been together long enough to a thing or two. Some of it I learned from God, some on my own, some of it from family and friends. Doesn’t matter how I learned it, the important thing is that I did learn from it and my relationship continues to grow because of it.
1. Forgiveness. As much as that quote cracks me up and I like to joke around that I am the one who is always right, the truth is: I’m not. Yes, I just admitted to that, don’t tell Alex. “A good marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” – Ruth Bell Graham. As difficult as it can be, you must cast your pride aside. You won’t get anywhere by refusing to see your fault(s). You must also learn to let things go and understand that conflict happens, misunderstandings happen, disagreements happen. Talk it over, forgive one another, and move on. It doesn’t help anyone to keep angry and refuse to speak to each other.
2. Drop expectations. “Expectation is the root of all heartache.”, to summarize on Shakespeare’s “Oft expectation fails, and most oft there where most it promises.” Accept your spouse for who they are. Unless of course your spouse is secretly a serial killer. As much as I’d have loved for Alex to be an Edward (Twilight, duh! Minus the sparkly skin) or a Damon (Salvatore), apparently I have a thing for vampires, that’s just not realistic. You can’t compare your spouse to movie characters or to the spouses of your friends. They’re not the same person, they aren’t going to act the same way. If you are expecting your spouse to behave a certain way, you’re more than likely going to be disappointed. Everyone expresses their love differently, not everyone is romantic, not everyone is touchy. Learn their love language and accept what they have to offer in the way that they know how to offer it.
3. Communication. This one seems to be a no brainer but it bears repeating. Talk, talk, talk. But not when you’re angry. Take the time to cool down but don’t assume that because the both of you have calmed down that you can just ignore the issue and move on. Make time to discuss what happened and why it happened and figure out how to try and avoid it from happening again. Ask Alex, my parents, my sisters, I do not like to “talk about it.” I hate it actually. I am probably more emotional than any 10 girls put together but I don’t show it, ever. I’m personally working on that, on not seeing communicating my feelings as a sign of weakness or vulnerability. I loathe feeling/knowing someone might gain access to my deepest thoughts. I’m a Scorpio, I’m an insanely private person, ya que? However, even though I struggle to work on it on a daily basis, I know that people aren’t mind readers and shutting your spouse out isn’t going to solve a damn thing. You have to let him/her know what you’re feeling and thinking and you have to remember to listen, really, fully, listen to what they have to say. Take in their thoughts and honestly try and see it from their perspective. You’ll quickly notice a difference.
4. Put in work. This quote is everything. I don’t know many people who see marriage as it is described above. I guess everyone I know is as obsessed with Disney and movies as I am! I wanted my prince to come sweep me off my feet and ride off into the sunset. When I was younger I never viewed marriage as something that you needed to work for. Sure, everyone warns you that it’s not easy but you don’t fully understand that until you’re realizing that it’s demanding more than you had anticipated you’d be needing to provide. Perhaps, I’m just more of a romantic than is healthy or normal lol, perhaps my fantasies were a bit… fantastical. I always thought that once I got married, everything would be bliss; we’d be happy, in love, and everything would just be. Even though my husband came close by getting us Disney passes and entertaining my love of pretending to be a real princess every time we go, I had to pry the rose colored glasses off my face and I became aware that a good marriage has to be worked and fought for. We were, are, happy and in love but shit, being with one person every. single. day, all. day. long can drive you crazy. Add to that bills, work, stress, kids, time -or lack thereof, and things can blow up pretty fast. Remembering to breathe and communicate is key. You have to give some to get some.
5. Treat ‘em like royalty. An old friend once told me when I was 15 that whenever the time came for me to get married that I needed to treat my future husband as if he were a king or else he’d find someone who did. At the time I completely misunderstood it, as an attitude laden teenager who knew everything and then some, I assumed she meant that I needed to kiss his feet and well, this was the 21st century! I wasn’t going to be anyone’s servant. It should be the opposite, I thought, he should treat me like a queen. Of course, I was wrong about how I had interpreted that advice. What she meant, and what I’ve learned, is that you should treat your spouse as special as they are. And your spouse should treat you the same way too. You love when your spouse volunteers to make you dinner, rub your feet, or take the kids out for awhile so you can have some time to yourself, well, you should do the same. You are his queen so treat him like your king. Let them know that they are important and that you appreciate what they do. It is so easy to become overwhelmed with our daily routines and stresses that we can become mean, or forgetful but no one likes to feel unappreciated and that is the point where it becomes all to easy to turn to someone else, outside of the marriage, for a feeling of worth and comfort. Help and do for your spouse all that you would love for them to help and do for you. Show them you love them and make them want to also stay and work for the marriage.
Have fun with each other, go on dates together, and flirt with each other. Just because you are now married and have kids doesn’t mean all the fun has to stop, quite the contrary, do it as often as you can to keep the relationship alive and interesting!
There is so much more that I have learned but mostly, it’s that marriage takes time and effort. Lots of it. And patience, even more than time. Marriage isn’t easy but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Growth, maturity, and being secure with yourself and within your relationship are huge factors to a great marriage. It’s only been 8 years for me, but with each passing year I continue to learn, to grow, to better myself. Most of it is through trial and error but how else will you figure it out?
What are the lessons you have learned from your marriage? What did you find worked best for you?