I got married 5 years ago today (August 30th). In celebration of that amazing day*, I decided to list five things I have learned during this time. It is by no means meant to sound know-it-all-y or anything close to advice, it is just me recapping how things went. Please feel free to add your thoughts on other topics in the comments section.
*When I say “amazing day” I don’t just mean it was the day I married the most amazing woman. I am also referring to the fact we were surrounded by tons of family and friends, and there was nothing but smiles, dancing, drinks, and laughs from dawn until last call at the Red Door.
1) When bickering or fighting, things don’t have to / can’t be patched up right away. I hate conflict. I want it to be over as soon as it starts. When conflict arises, I want to just make it all better as soon as possible, often to the chagrin of a certain someone else involved. Not too long ago I had an epiphany: After some testy words between me and the wife-y, my instincts to immediately smooth everything over kicked in. I stopped myself at the last second and thought, “It’ll be ok. We can do this an hour from now, or 4 hours, or a day. It’s fine.” ‘Til death do us part’ means she’ll be around for a few days, allowing plenty of time to get back on track.
2) Being grateful for something every day. Something shitty will happen at some point in everyone’s marriage. The usual suspects are loss of a job, someone getting really sick, car accident, fill in worst fears here. No matter how crazy, gut-wrenching, or sad a day can get, there is almost always at least one thing to look on with less than a frown. Before going to bed, we list one, two, or three things that we’re grateful for happening throughout the day. “Dinner didn’t suck,” and “I’m breathing,” made lists at the end of some rough days in our house. Taking the time to try to think positively was a breath of fresh air during times when everything seemed tasteless and stupid. When those days pass, and the habit has stuck, listing gratefulness is much more fun.
3) Do something to improve our marriage at least once a year. I came across this piece of advice on some article from Twitter or stumbleupon. The writer suggested that no matter how rock solid your relationship is, it can never hurt to read an advice book, see a counselor for a “tune-up,” or try a series of relationship building activities to improve some aspect of the marriage. Doing so will simply give us better tools to work with when rocky or potentially rocky times hit, and open the door to possibly learning something new about my partner. I don’t want to make any recommendations of what we have done because, with the internet, it is so easy to find whatever will work for you and yours.
4) Remembering we are roommates. Now that people are getting married later in life and living together before they’re engaged, it seems silly to mention, but marriage is forever and chances are pretty good both halves of the couple don’t have much experience living with someone other than parents for 7-10 years. After so many years of picking up the dirty socks under the coffee table or closing the ketchup lid that’s been sitting out since Tuesday, … Tuesday!, temper any appeal for a change in behavior with, “Hey I have a small roommate request….” Doing so will remind both the asker and offender they both have little annoying habits, and instantly puts the request into the “this is nothing we need to fight over,” category, thus creating a lower probability of arguing over an attempt to cram more trash into an already overflowing trash bag even though trash day is tomorrow why not just start a new bag 8 hours earlier than you would have.
5) I’m glad we explore our spirituality together. During my lone wolf days I was somewhere between disinterested and dismissive of religion. I would read some Dali Llama, get all deep thinking and stuff when sitting in a forest, and was satisfied. My wife, luckily, was in a very similar place when we met. Exploring different beliefs, thinking about deep issues (why are we here, brah?) from new perspectives allowed us wrestle with heavy topics together. We both knew we would have some common beliefs and some areas we don’t agree on. Not only did these discussions help us handle disagreement early in our relationship, it cemented us into the same page, which was convenient for when we really needed it. During moments of extreme stress, there was no time wasted on discussing where we stood. This is also an ongoing thing, so the potential for discovering new things together is always there.
Happy Anniversary, Babe!! I love you!!