Target tee; shoes and tote; c/o Lulu’s skirt (similar); Lemons and Lace headband (similar); Curious Creatures necklaces.
I ran across a random pin on Pinterest the other day about making marriage work and all the clichés that goes into articles like those. You know, the advice columns that say “never go to bed angry” and other such mundane pieces of advice? I think the funniest part about marriage is, it is a simultaneously a lot harder and a lot easier than I thought. I mean, I honestly had no idea what I was getting into. I fell in love in college and through sheer stubbornness decided that that was it and he would be mine. I never once wondered how we would parent together or that we would move far from family or whether our spending styles were the same. I took a leap and…it worked. Somehow, someway, we do sync up on these fronts and it works. There is a lot of trial and error involved. So many
many many many discussions and arguments and compromises have gone into this life of mine. Daily. Weekly. Monthly. Yearly. If I could go back to that 22 year old girl who moved in with her boyfriend (to the Bahamas, no less!) That girl and that boy had no idea what would become. Something beautiful and life sustaining and more full than I ever dreamed possible. All on a whim and a gut instinct inside telling me that this was the guy for me. No matter what.
I’ve learned a thing or two in my almost 9 years of marriage and 13 years together. It’s probably not advice you may expect, and some of it is probably shocking to some. But it’s real. Let’s get started, shall we?
1) Keep your mouth shut.
Okay, I hear you on this one. I do. It sounds so 1950’s ish and degrading. Yet it’s true. If I really said every thought that came to my mind on a daily basis when it came to my spouse? Yikes. There are a zillion and one moments in our life where I want to say something, make a retort, a comment, something not kind. He will annoy me in some way, or say something that irritates me and I will keep my mouth shut. It’s not worth it. I know he does the same. We talk about this and know there are traits the other has that annoy the crap out of each other, or one will be irritable and say something inflammatory. BUT, if you know this and think ahead and say, “Is this worth a fight right now? Is it really worth escalating this past this moment?” If it isn’t (and it usually isn’t) I keep my mouth shut. I may complain to my best friend or come up with everything nasty I would say to him in my head, but I don’t say it to him. It’s not worth it. I wish I had done this more in our earlier days. We would have fought much less and been more happier, earlier.
2) Ask yourself, “What can I do to make his life easier today?”
I have no idea where I first read this, but it instantly struck a chord in me. I am someone who can get stuck in my own head a lot of the time (hello, blog!) and my biggest challenge is thinking of others before myself. My inner monologue had a lot of ME, ME, ME in it and that doesn’t always work well in marriage. I get caught up in what he has done for me and in the end it makes me a bit more bitter and resentful than I want to be. As much as this hurts to say, this life is not all about me. I have a husband who shares it with me. His happiness is my happiness and doing for him makes me happy. Does this mean I’m his servant that constantly works on tasks to please my husband? No! It just means I look for ways to make his day a little bit easier. It can be as simple as taking in the trash cans so he doesn’t have to, or making his lunch for work sometimes, or buying him his favorite dessert and surprising him. I want him to know I am thinking of him and we are a team. I don’t do these little tasks and expect him to reciprocate. I do these because it makes me feel good to help him and in the end, he ends up doing the same for me. It is a courteous way of living, and has made life better in more ways than one.
3) Be on the same page when it comes to parenting.
This could have gone so wrong in so many ways. I mean, I met this man when I was 19 and knew fairly soon that he was it for me, but did I wonder how we would be as parents? Not really. When one child runs out of a restaurant in the parking lot and the other is throwing up and there are no wipes…how will you both handle it? How about when you bring a newborn home and you have a 17 month old and they decide to hang from the chandelier? (True story.) There are so many moments in parenthood where you need to be on the same page or life will be hell. I promise you. We have similar parenting styles and always back each other up. Do I agree with everything he says to our children? No. Nor does he agree with everything I do. But we are a united front and discuss it behind closed doors and not in front of the kids. Ever. He trusts me to make most of the decisions when it comes to routines and schedules and discipline and backs me up. Always. I realize how lucky we are to be like this, because without this total agreement on all things child related we would never make it. Childcare and discipline takes up 95% of our daily life at this point and if we weren’t on the same page we would be a goner. Man, I lucked out on this one. Having a partner in crime against these two little
hellions angels make life so much better. Plus, then we get to go out on dates and laugh over how crazy they are. And how much we love them.
4) You might not always like each other.
This may come as a shock to those ladies wishing for a fairytale, or those that think life is like “The Notebook”…..(yum, Ryan Gosling…..), but it’s not. There are going to be moments when you will look at your spouse and wonder why on earth you got married. This feeling may last a minute, a day, or more. This is normal. I can’t imagine there is anyone in the world that can live together, raise children and deal with family, friends, bills, general life craziness, and honestly like each other every second of the time. I mean, do you always like everyone in your life all the time? There are many moments where I wonder if I like my kids sometimes. This doesn’t mean I don’t love them. I love my husband to the moon and back. He is the father to my children and watching him be their daddy is amazing. But day to day life gets in the way and arguments happen and there are a good number of times when I don’t really like him. The feeling is mutual. Would I like to live with ME and deal with all my nonsense? NO. See, we have to put up with each other and make it work despite these moments that are fleeting. So fleeting. These petty differences and little slices of life where he annoys me and I wonder, who is this guy and why are we married? They happen less and less as time goes on. We do still annoy each other, a lot, but I let more things roll off my back and chalk it up to knowing him and his moods, and he knowing me and my moods. It’s a mutual toleration, if you will.
5) Roommate syndrome
One of the jokes we often have together is using the nickname, “roomie.” Think about it. When you are busy working and raising kids and doing all the mundane tasks that life throws at you, are you connecting with your partner? If you have to wonder, did we kiss today? Did we have one moment alone where we were just the two of us? This reality and having to work at romance and love is not as simple as movies/books/popular culture suggest. It is so easy to get caught up with life and forget the reason you are here. How did these children get here in the first place? How did we build this life and this house filled with these things? Our marriage is an entity all its own, with arguments and inside jokes and secrets only we know. Our children are a part of the circle, but inside is a core where only we belong. Keeping this spark alive and fresh and new is work. Sometimes it has to be scheduled and worked into a busy life, but it has to be there or else I find the core of what created this family is missing something. I need to know that what brought us together will be here long after raising our children is done. This essential part of life that is us. Watching a movie on the couch together, holding hands on the way in the grocery store, an occasional night away, laughing together in bed at night, not to mention all that other sexy stuff I won’t be mentioning (but it’s super important!), are all keys to keeping the spark alive. Remember why on earth you are together and why you enjoy each other. I genuinely like being with my husband and having alone time, it keeps things fun and helps in the moments outlined in paragraph 4 up there. My life is not romance 24/7, but having mini moments where I remember why we are in this together in the first place? Those are priceless to me.
In the end, marriage is more rewarding and more difficult than I ever imagined. I look back on that 24 year old bride and know she has no idea what she is doing. She doesn’t know he will teach her more about herself than any other man. She doesn’t know how much he will make her laugh, and cry. She doesn’t know she is capable of biting her tongue or that going to bed angry is better than staying up all night arguing. She doesn’t know how fulfilling it is to create a family with this person, and that all the little things that annoy her and him will mean nothing when they hold their first child. She doesn’t know much, but she does know that she loves him. And she’s willing to stick it out, no matter what. And he feels the same.