I can hardly believe I’ve been married to my stud of a husband for ten years. He was 19 when we got married and I had just turned 20. I want to tell you that it’s been ten years of bliss, but any married folk would probably agree with me that marriage isn’t easy. It’s actually really hard at times. There has been loss, major financial stress, walking away from things one or both of us loved to build a better future for our family, miscarriage, heartache, challenging one another in our faith, and the blessing of two children that have come into the world.
There has been lots of laughter, dancing in the kitchen, shopping trip dates to Walmart or the coffee shop (because of kids), running trails together (and me falling and him carrying me and my bleeding leg off the trail), figuring out our desired careers, seeing my husband find his passion in firefighting/being a paramedic, road trips and singing off-key in the car together, holding hands and discussing our dreams, and smiling from across the room when our children are doing something sweet.
Marriage is also saying, “they are just like you” when one of our children is acting crazy.
Marriage has been the hardest and most rewarding thing that has ever happened to me.
Here are ten lessons I’ve learned since we said “I do” ten years ago:
- Learn to let go of your ego. Yeah, I said it. My husband and I are both very strong-willed individuals, so we’ve both had to learn that we have to let go of our egos or we would always be fighting.
- Start your marriage financially strong. Save, save, save. Stick to a budget. Financial stress put a major strain on our relationship for a long time. Don’t live outside of your means — it will catch up to you. It did to us and we had to re-evaluate and let go of some things we didn’t want to let go of.
- Always say “I love you.” Since my husband became a fireman and began running into burning buildings to save other people, I have a whole new appreciation for goodbye kisses and I love you’s. Never let fights or busyness stand in the way of letting your spouse know how much you love them whenever you can.
- Don’t keep score. Marriage is a partnership. When you stop keeping tabs on who did what or who makes more money, you realize that both of you play a vital role in your home and marriage. Be teammates and appreciate/acknowledge the roles that your spouse brings to the table.
- Being different is ok. My husband and I are very different people. We have opposite pet peeves. We share the same beliefs in our faith and on major things like how we want to raise our children, but our personalities and love languages are very different. It’s ok to be different. I actually like that we are different because it challenges both of us on a different level.
- Having a good marriage doesn’t mean you never fight. There are healthy ways to disagree on something. It doesn’t mean you have to argue, yell, or slam things around to prove a point. You don’t have to huff and puff and stop talking for a day. I believe it’s healthy to voice a different opinion because it opens up a new perspective and brings great conversation. Ultimately, it grows you and your relationship.
- Thriving marriages don’t leave out physical intimacy. Yeah, I went there because I am counseling-minded and physical intimacy is important for a marriage to thrive. It’s how God intended it. Pursue your spouse and never stop pursuing them.
- Don’t undervalue spiritual intimacy. There is nothing more attractive than a man who says “Let’s stop and pray about it together” or “I can’t wait to sit with you in church tomorrow.”
- Let go of the small stuff. Maybe he leaves the empty toilet paper roll on and doesn’t replace it with a new one. Or, perhaps he leaves his dirty socks everywhere. There are bigger fish to fry. Let go of the little things or you will spend way too much time being frustrated and miss out on beautiful memories together.
- Stop and look at him. Sometimes I just pause and watch my husband interact with our children or I listen to how truly kindhearted and compassionate he can be and I fall in love all over again. Take time to stop and listen. Take time to go on dates. Take time to listen to his dreams. Take time to ask him how he’s really doing. Nobody knows your spouse as you do.
The world continues to spin and the years go by so quickly. I can hardly believe we said I do ten years ago. Sure, bad things have happened. We’ve had fights. We’ve been annoyed with one another. But we’ve also fallen more in love, started a family together, and we are enjoying the ride of a lifetime.
Marriage is beautiful like that — enjoy it. Take the scenic route and don’t wish time away. Enjoy where you are right now and try to make the most of every phase of life — even if you only have that two-hour window together once your kids are in bed. Embrace it.