We’re no experts. That’s for sure. But we’re happy most of the time, and that counts for something. Here are some marriage lessons my husband and I have picked up in our 10 years together:
1. Go to the bed at the same time.
Moving through our nighttime routines and hitting the hay together encourages us to reconnect at the end of the day instead of feeling like we’re living separate lives.
2. Learn how to fight.
Bottling up emotions can be just as damaging as an all-out brawl. My husband and I tend to bottle things up to keep the peace, but we’ve learned that most of the time, it’s more damaging to hide our true feelings than to let them out in the open. Even if that leads to disagreement. Now, we even congratulate each other when we get into a tiff. Told you we weren’t marriage experts.
3. Facilitate each others ambitions and passions.
We try to kick each other out the door once in awhile and happily take charge of the kids so we can each take turns doing what we love and want to pursue. The reward is a happier, more fulfilled spouse and parent.
4. Find things you love doing together.
Find your thing as a couple. One of ours is exercising. We love running races together, going on hikes, and even rollerblading around our neighborhood. (It’s OK, you can make fun of us). It makes us happy to know we’ll always connect on that level and that we have something we’ll enjoy doing together for the rest of our lives. It may have to be aqua aerobics when we’re 90, but hey, it’s something to look forward to.
5. Share household responsibilities.
There is no rulebook that says only moms change diapers and only dads fix the bathroom sink. It’s fine if those boundaries work in your family, but make sure you communicate about them and are willing to help out when the need arises, even if it’s not in your “job description.”
You know those bright yellow “As is” stickers on select items at the grocery store? Well, the same goes for your spouse.
6. Just because its not important to you doesn’t mean its not important to your spouse.
Some things that seem silly to my husband (doing my kids’ hair when we leave the house, for example) are important to me, and vice versa. (I’m happy to leave dishes in the sink at night but it drives him crazy.) We try to respect those things and help get them done.
7. It’s not always rainbows and fairy wings.
Hard bouts in marriage are inevitable. The important thing is to remain committed to getting through those rough patches together. We have found that we come out on the other end of those challenges stronger and closer.
8. Get vulnerable.
We’re learning how important it is to share our deepest fears and desires with each other. Marriage is where you should feel safest opening up about your insecurities, the things that are most important to you and the things that weigh on your mind most. We try to be conscious of completely opening ourselves to each other, weaknesses and all, even if the vulnerability makes us uncomfortable at times.
9. Be weird together.
Between work deadlines and kid chaos, our day-to-day can feel pretty routine and serious. But creating occasions to be silly and laugh together contribute hugely to our marriage happiness. Usually, that means Clay breaking out in embarrassing raps to his own beat box on the daily. Thanks, babe.
10. Accept your spouse.
You know those bright yellow “As is” stickers on select items at the grocery store? Well, the same goes for your spouse. You don’t get to fix, exchange or return them (thank goodness). Instead of constantly trying to change each other and how we do things (a.k.a. nitpicking), my husband and I are learning to appreciate how we do things differently instead of trying to conform each other to our “right” way of doing things. Except for putting the toilet paper roll on. I totally do that the right way.