My husband and I celebrate our 15-year wedding anniversary this month! I consider it quite the accomplishment because 1. we got married so young (I was 20 years old), and 2. the average marriage length is 8 years. I know marriage is hard, and I know deciding to end things is hard, too.
Here are some things I’ve learned these last 15 years that I want to share–not because it will guarantee a long marriage but because it would help any relationship at any point in time. Some I’ve learned the hard way, and many I’m still working on.
- Go to sleep angry. There’s nothing good that comes out of my mouth when I’m tired. Usually, a good night’s sleep brings a better perspective and attitude.
- Teamwork makes the dream work. We work together towards our goals. With house projects, regular day-to-day stuff, and parenting, we take a “divide and conquer” approach with the end in mind, not tallying who does what along the way.
- Notch out a little bit of time for each other every day. When my husband gets home from work, we make ourselves a cup of coffee and sit on the back porch together. It’s only 10-15 minutes, but it’s our time to decompress together.
- Spend some time apart, too. He plays soccer one night a week. I have dinner with girlfriends once or twice a month. It’s good for us each to have our own “thing.”
- Remembering small things makes a big difference. Like, what’s his usual coffee order or favorite Easter candy. It shows you pay attention. I’m good at this–buying the perfect gift…still not as good as my husband.
- Find “your show” to watch together. We make sure to watch the latest episode of Shark Tank or Bob’s Burgers together. It used to be How I Met Your Mother, and before that, The Office.
- Be each other’s biggest cheerleader. If there’s one person saying “you got this”-it should be your person.
- Do things you’re not necessarily interested in…and don’t suck the fun out of it. I don’t love music festivals. My husband does. Either way, when the time comes for us to go to Jazz Fest or French Quarter Fest, I go and make sure I have a good time, even though I’d rather be home. On the flip side, I can spend a solid hour looking around a bookstore…not so much for my husband. He grabs a coffee and browses the magazines without sighing and looking at his watch pushing for us to leave.
- Don’t complain about your spouse to other people. I get needing to vent from time to time. I also know it’s really easy for people to turn conversations into spouse-bashing time. Don’t chime in.
- Find another couple you both can hang with. We are lucky that we have a few couple friends that we love to spend time with, go on adventures, double date, or have our kids run around the house while we have a game night.
- Have a sense of humor. Laughing with each other is just the icing on the cake. We’ve found humor in things that are serious, but we also try to make each other laugh on the regular. After all, isn’t life supposed to be fun?
- Don’t be a backseat driver. (I’m still working on this). If I want to control where we park and the speed at which we get there, I offer to drive. Otherwise, I keep my mouth shut…or at least I try to. I swear I’m getting better at this because I know nothing gets my husband more annoyed than my chiming in with driving suggestions.
- Say thank you and say it often. It sets the tone for gratitude. We made the deal that whoever cooks, the other person cleans. I still thank my husband for doing the dishes, and he thanks me for dinner. We say thank you for things that we expect the other to do along with times when we really needed their help.
- Learn each other’s love language and lean into it. My love language is quality time. My husband (begrudgingly) took the love language quiz and guess what? His love language is quality time, too! I think that’s why our notched-out daily time works so well for us.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate. The entire time we dated it was long-distance. In fact, we didn’t even live in the same STATE until after we got married. That means we spent a lot of time on the phone together. We’ve talked about everything. I can tell you, it’s important.
Hopefully, these lessons I’ve learned along the way will help you in your relationship. But, I also want to know–should I add anything? Share away!