On May 2, 2009, I married David. It was a stormy day in the mountains of North Georgia, but the rain cleared just before the ceremony. The lake was our back drop and the mountains surrounded us. As I walked down the path to the ceremony site, arm and arm with my dad, I remember locking eyes with David for the first time. I can still feel the wave of certainty and joy that rushed over me. This was so right.
Unfortunately for me, any wave of intense emotion brings me to tears and I wasn’t able to get through our vows without my voice shaking and cracking multiple times and I tried to keep tears from ruining my makeup. And can I just mention that I’m not a cute crier?
Somehow we got through it, laughing through my ridiculous tears, sealed it with a kiss and began our life together.
Since then, we’ve sold our city house and moved to the suburbs. We’ve grown our family. We said goodbye to our sweet Koda. We started homeschooling. We’ve started side businesses and seen some thrive while abandoning others. We’ve traveled to some really beautiful places.
Through it all, we’ve only grown closer. Not to say it’s all been a smooth ride, it never is when kids and life circumstances shake up your world and roles. But I can honestly say that I love him more today than I did 10 years ago… and I was head over heels when I said I do!
My marriage is unique. So is yours. So take this advice and do what you will with it. Heed it, live it, or toss what doesn’t work for you aside. God willing, we will have many, many more years of learning ahead of us. But for now, these are 10 truths I’ve learned about marriage through these past 10 years and truths that I absolutely stand by.
- Understand that your spouse is going to grow and change. So are you. Sometimes these changes are wonderful and additive to the relationship, and sometimes they can feel threatening. Click here for more insight on what to do if you are having a tough time with a particular change.
- Date nights are not luxuries; they are essential. If you want your marriage to remain strong, you have to make it a priority. Even if the kids have soccer practice (talking to myself here). Even if you don’t have extra money (swapping with a friend and going on a hike costs nothing). Getting out of the house and spending quality time together breathes life into a relationship.
- Don’t keep score. Oh my gosh, it’s tempting isn’t it? But stop yourself. No good comes from keeping score. And it most likely won’t ever be balanced. There is a natural ebb and flow and sometimes one partner is “doing more” than the other and then it will swing back the other way. I’ve found that just as long as both partners are showing up to the best of their ability on any given day, then things work out just fine. And on that same note, never stop appreciating each other. It’s so easy to start to take each other for granted and a simple thank you goes a long way.
- Tell him what you want. We have to understand that our husbands aren’t mind readers. It took me a long time (too long!) to get over myself in this department. I kept wanting him to just know what I wanted for Mother’s Day or where I wanted to eat. But I’ve learned that life is happier for everyone if I just speak up about it clearly ahead of time.
- Have sex. Schedule it. Buy a new outfit. Put the kids to bed early. Whatever it takes. It really is that important.
- Don’t try to solve problems when you’re tired. It’s OK to ask for a delay of game (er… discussion) and sleep on it. Breakfast dates are my favorite because it’s when I’m the most fresh.
- Laugh. As often as you can. About everything. Send memes. Have inside jokes. Play together.
- Don’t criticize each other. Not to him. Not to your friends. There are plenty of ways to discuss different view points or hurdles we’re facing together without bashing each other. Using the popular “I feel” language is so helpful in these scenarios. With closeness and vulnerability comes the knowledge of each others’ sensitivities. It’s so important to never use that knowledge as a weapon.
- Don’t expect your husband to fulfill you. I’ve had times where I have felt unusually frustrated with David and it’s usually when I am feeling restless or unfulfilled personally. I found having my own passions and interests are vital. We have to make ourselves happy. It’s too much responsibility to put on our spouses.
- Get on the same page. Preferably about the big things (kids, finances, etc) before marriage, but when new issues arise, find time to sit down and hash it out. Sweeping school decisions, retirement plans, or discussions about what you want out of life under the rug will come back to bite you. After all, communication really is key!
Listen to those further down the path than you. I’m so grateful I’m so close with my mom and dad because marriage advice doesn’t get any better than from someone that’s built a life together for over 40 years with plenty of ups and downs along the way. I have learned a lot in 10 years of my own marriage, but I’m not naive enough to think I know it all.
But I have learned enough along the way to get us here (taken by our 7 year old on our family date night out to celebrate our anniversary last week):
And for that, I am so grateful.
Do I always get it right? Heck no. And though he might not like to admit it, neither does he. But the secret to our success is that we continuously choose us. We choose to turn towards each other, not away. We choose to work on things, keep communication open, and strive to see what we can do better to build a stronger marriage and happier life.
What is the one tip that has helped to keeping your marriage strong?
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