One of the things I treasure most is my marriage. It’s the love that led to the beautiful family that lights up my world, and so many wonderful memories that I’ll carry with me forever.
I remember once hearing a quote that said love requires bravery – and it’s one of the things I believe most. Being in love and truly vulnerable with another person, it takes courage. It takes courage to believe in and go after the kind of love we hope for, and it takes courage to show up again and again in faith and trying our best for the person we love… but it’s also given me so much more than I ever imagined. I’m so glad I said yes to the work trip that led to meeting my husband, I’m so glad I took the leap of faith dating someone who lived across the country, and I’m so glad that 9 years ago I took a leap of faith in getting married.
So, in celebration of these 9 years, I thought it would be fun to share 9 things I’ve learned (and honestly, that I continue needing to re-learn sometimes 😉) over these 9 years. I hope you enjoy reading these and maybe even find a few helpful tidbits.
- My husband is a good person at his core. One of my favorite stories about marriage from the book What Makes A Marriage Last is about Michael J. Fox and his wife Tracy Pollan. They share openly and honestly about their marriage of over 30 years that’s been full of lots of happiness as well as lots of challenges. They said that at the end of the day, a lot comes down to knowing and trusting that the person you are with is a good person at heart. Everyone messes up here and there, but if you can remember who they are and trust that person at their core – then you can get through a lot together. I totally agree with this sentiment. For me, it’s helped so many times to remember that I married a guy who has a good heart and does things with good intention – so when inevitably he says something or does something that I interpret as less than kind, I try to remember that I know who he is at his core, and I can more quickly forgive what happened and move on. It’s not always easy, but I think it gets a little easier over time, and personally, this has been hugely helpful to me.
- Enjoy the celebratory spurges more! 🎉 I have to admit, I’m kind of … thrifty by nature, which is usually good (helps keep us on budget!) but also means it can be hard for me to enjoy the occasional spurges in life. My husband, on the other hand, is so good at this! When it comes to celebratory moments, he’s quick to focus on us enjoying the moment rather than stressing over every dollar – and I’m slowly getting better about this.
One of my favorite examples of this is when we took a trip years ago for our anniversary. I’d planned for us to drive to a nearby beach and we were all set to go. Then, the day before our trip, my husband called me at work and told me he’d booked us a trip to Hawaii instead. I couldn’t believe it! I was worried about the expense, but we had enough to cover it … and it ended up being one of the greatest trips ever! I’m so glad my husband and I went on that special trip and it remains such a special memory to me. So, now, when my husband plans a fancy dinner or wants to pop champagne for a celebratory moment, I try really hard to stop thinking about the expense and think about how great it will feel to look back at that happy memory instead.
- Having kids can make you fall in love with your partner even more. One of my greatest joys has been watching my husband become a daddy and getting to see him share so much love with our little guy. Seeing the joy he gets when our son hugs him, watching him excitedly try to make our son giggle, or seeing them go for walks together – it’s such a beautiful and heartwarming thing to watch that has been truly touching.
- Waiting until the next day helps us handle disagreements better. Every couple is different when it comes to what works best for them in handling disagreements, but for us, I’ve found that it’s almost always better if we go to sleep and talk about it the next day. I’m able to see where he’s coming from a little better the next day, and I think both of us are calmer then too. The extra time to think things through also helps me make my point more clearly the next day too. Sometimes I’ll even work my thoughts out on paper because writing helps me process things better than talking them through does. Especially if it’s a sensitive topic, I find hashing things out on paper helps me to see things more rationally and with less emotion, so it’s been really helpful for me.
- It’s helpful to separate exhaustion (especially related to parenting in the early months/years) from how I feel about my marriage. Recently, I heard advice given to new parents that they not confuse the (sometimes) overwhelming exhaustion of parenting during the early months/years with frustration with one’s marriage. It’s so easy to do, and completely understandable that a lack of sleep affects how we feel about so many things, including our relationships – so it’s been really helpful to keep in mind that being exhausted really affects how I view things and makes it unlikely that I’m seeing everything clearly. The good news is that the most exhausting period of parenting is temporary… and that asking for lots of help during this time makes a big difference! Now that my son sleeps well through the night, it’s incredible to see the huge difference sleep has made in my outlook and how I feel. It’s much easier to feel positive about all parts of my life, including being able to see all the good in my marriage, now that I’m physically in a much better place. This has been such a helpful thing to remember, and something I wish I’d heard earlier on.
- Finding a way to genuinely reflect on what I’m grateful for makes a big difference in my marriage. Years ago, when I was in a tough job that I was really struggling with, I started writing a few things I was grateful for each day as an experiment to see if it made me feel better about my work days. I would write out 3 things that I was grateful for that happened within the last 24 hours, and it was crazy to see how something so simple could make such a big impact. And an even bigger surprise was that, even though I started doing it to help me feel better about my day-to-day with my job, it also made me feel more appreciative of my husband and all that he does since most days one of the first things to pop into my head was something he’d done for me or our family. It takes just a minute but it feels so good to notice and really appreciate the good things in our lives. I think it can be easy over the years to stop noticing the nice things our partners do for us – and this has really helped me to offset that. It’s now been about five years that I’ve been doing this on most days … and it’s genuinely been one of the best things I’ve done for my overall happiness and my marriage.
- Small acts of kindness really add up over time. I think for the most part, some of my biggest joys in marriage are some of the smaller things – the kind of less seen parts of marriage. The silly inside-jokes, the way that we laugh together over our toddler’s silliness, the random hugs and snuggles … and the ways we support each other in small, but meaningful, ways. I love that my husband sat with me in the kitchen when I was debating starting this blog and helped me come up with names for this blog (and no, none of his suggestions made the final cut 🙃 … even though they were funny!). I love that he gets excited when I’m excited about something going well with the blog, just as much as I love that he’s quick to support me taking a trip with my mom or best friend. It’s one of the best parts about being married to my husband – having that kind of everyday support. And vice-versa, I really try to support him in ways that are meaningful to him. I think these little things add up over time and lead to both of us feeling happier with our relationship over the years.
- My husband is a true friend. Like everyone, my husband and I have walked through some hard days together… and while I wish I could erase those events from ever happening, I am thankful knowing that when life is its hardest, I have a husband and friend who is really there for me. I will never forget the way my husband cared for me with such love and tenderness during the hardest point in our lives. It’s forever etched in my heart.
9. We all show love in different ways. Around the time I met my husband, I learned about about The Five Love Languages (which has been a New York Times bestseller for over 10 years). It’s been so helpful to keep in mind over the years, especially because I think it can become clearer and more impactful as the years go by. The book goes into detail, but basically it proposes that we all have different ways of showing love that come most naturally to us. Some of us tend to snuggle, hold hands, and show love more physically, while some of us will do acts of love/service like taking their partner’s car to get the oil changed, while others give lots of compliments and verbal praise, while others will show love by giving physical gifts. We’re all wired a little differently and I’ve found it can just be really helpful to identify the main way our partners show love because it can help us feel more loved and fulfilled in our relationships.
My husband is such a doer – I’ve learned over the years that my husband is so good at showing his love through thoughtful acts and gifts. For me, having grown up in a family where we hug and kiss just about everyone who walks through the front door, learning this about him has helped me feel loved and appreciated when I’m being shown love in ways other than thousands of hugs and affectionate touches. I also think about this vice-versa too… although I’m quick to give a hug or kiss, I try to also think of ways to show him love that might feel more natural to him too. All in all, it’s been so helpful to get clear on the way that my husband tends to show his love so that I can really appreciate and take in those moments. It’s made a big difference for me over the years and now I’m much better at truly treasuring the things he does out of love for me.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post! I certainly don’t have all the answers when it comes to love, but I’m proud of how far my husband and I have come, and I’m looking forward to many more happy years together! Like so many couples, we’re just trying our best and learning how to do things better as we go – and for that, I’m so thankful.
If I were ever asked to share any relationship advice, it would be to make your own relationship rules. Ultimately, that’s what’s worked best for me and my husband. To me, all relationships are beautifully different just like the people in them, so I think it’s the best advice I could ever share.
Cheers to these 9 years and here’s to many, many more!!! 🎉🎉🎉
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