9.5 years ago: It was a Monday morning and I was heading into work at my on campus job when I made a quick detour into the bathroom to put on some mascara. Another girl from a different department was in there doing the same thing and we chatted briefly before she asked me a question that would literally change my life, “Do you ever go on blind dates?” I was a little taken aback since we’d only been talking for about two minutes, but answered with a “yes” before she explained that she wanted to set me up with her younger brother. Three days later he called (after much pestering from his sister) and we set up a date for that weekend. To make a long story short: our first date was a huge success, we started dating exclusively a week later, got engaged two months later and married four months after that. Today, we are celebrating our nine year wedding anniversary (yay!) and I wanted to share some of the lessons I’ve learned during our time together. (Plus you get to see cute pictures of me and my hubby. *wink*)
You and your spouse are going to change Maybe this should go without saying because it seems obvious, but the truth is, people are going to change over time. I am not the same person I was on the day I got married and neither is my husband. We’ve grown as individuals, as parents and as a couple. If you go into marriage expecting that everything will stay the same, no matter what, I think you will be disappointed. These changes are natural and to be expected because life happens and life doesn’t stand still.
Sometimes you go to bed angry A few months back, I shared the worst marriage advice I ever received (and what we do instead). It was from a well-meaning, older relative who said, “Never go to bed angry.” I didn’t take her advice. I’ve found that there are some conversations that happen late at night when neither of us are fully able to discuss things rationally and one or both of us go to bed with the problem unresolved. My husband and I can both be very passionate about expressing our point of view and sometimes it’s just better to stop talking and go to sleep.
Seeing your spouse become a parent is beautiful We tried for a year and a half to get pregnant with our first child and then waited another nine months until she arrived. I felt like a mother from the moment that I found out I was pregnant, but my husband didn’t feel like a dad until she was born. Because I had a c-section, he was actually the first one to hold her and he went with the nurses while she was cleaned and weighed. Seeing the anxious concern on his face during the surgery and then the joy and excitement once she was born was priceless and beautiful. When we had our second baby, a boy, he was so excited for his little buddy to finally be here. I loved watching him with our kids moments after they were born and seeing him become a parent each time.
Date nights aren’t just going to happen When my husband and I were dating, we went out on dates all the time. Over the years, going on dates has slowly become something that takes a little more effort and planning. Unless we actually make the time for them, they don’t happen, especially not with two little kids at home. If I notice that my husband and I seem to be getting on each others nerves or more grumpy, it is usually tied to not getting enough time together away from the kids to connect. We are still working on going out consistently.
Working together to solve a problem The more time you spend with a person, the better you get to know them. You know how they think and what makes them tick. You learn how each others strengths and weaknesses compliment the other person. My husband and I are much more efficient at identifying and solving problems than we were when we first got married. It doesn’t matter if it’s a parenting problem, family problem, work problem, relationship problem or putting together IKEA furniture. (amiright?) I’ve learned that my husband is good at looking at a situation from a larger scale and identifying problem areas and coming up with solutions. I am good at planning things out, keeping us on track and identifying potential issues along the way.
You keep learning new things about each other I remember sitting with my husband one day eating some cookies and he said, “I like these, but oatmeal raisin are my favorite.” Um, what? I didn’t actually believe him. We texted his sister (the same one who set us up) and asked her to tell us what my husband’s favorite cookie way. Her reply: “Oatmeal raisin.” How did I not know this?! (Clearly I never made cookies for my husband while we were dating…) I think sometimes I feel like because my husband and I know each other so well that we forget there are a lot of things we don’t know about each other or have never done together. Just last summer, we went water skiing for the first time together. I’m actually a decent water skiier, but he didn’t believe me until I popped out of the water no problem. Doing new or different things with your spouse, like on date nights, is so important because it gives you the opportunity to know them better and love them all over again.
Build dreams, make goals, achieve together One of the best things my husband and I have done for our relationship is to make goals. It’s given us something to work on together. We believe that if we are moving forward in the same direction that we’ll have less conflict and more success in life. Whether it’s reevaluating a budget, planning to go to Italy (one day!) or redoing our yard, we are better together.
Don’t stop doing the little things Along with dating, doing the small things in a marriage really make such a big difference. Because so much of our day and week is repetitive, it can be easy to fall into a routine with each other. When my husband and I take time to connect each day, it rejuvenates us and we feel more whole. When I hear my husband praise me in front of someone, it makes me feel happy and appreciated. When I sincerely thank him for taking out the garbage so I don’t have to, he feels loved. I think a big key to this is discovering your spouse’s love language. It’s those little things that they do in your love language that lift you up.
Love them more than the day you married On the day of our wedding, I truly think my husband and I felt like we couldn’t love each other more than we did that day. But we were wrong. Our love grew as we put each other through school, struggled to make ends meet, got new jobs, built a house, had kids and so many other moments. Each year on our anniversary, we look at each other and know we are still in love and that love is deeper than we could have imagined on that sunny spring day in May nine years ago. It seems impossible and yet, here we are.
How long have you been married? What lessons have you learned?