Today my husband and I are celebrating 10 years of marriage. There are details of our wedding day that will stick with me forever, especially the excitement I felt as I prepared to walk down the aisle. There were so many things I was looking forward to married life, but as I look back now I realize I was very naive about what being a wife and mother would look like. Weddings have a way of making marriage seem magical, and while my husband and I have shared some truly wonderful moments together in the past 10 years, there is much we have learned since the day we said: “I do.”
Here are 10 things I’ve learned in my 10 years of marriage.
- Becoming parents will change your marriage, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I can honestly say becoming a mother has changed me, and becoming a dad has changed my husband. We are definitely not the same people who stood in front of loved ones on our wedding day making vows to each other. We have grown, have gained more life experience and have learned a lot. We’ve both spent time figuring out who we are as individuals and as a couple now that the role of a parent is part of our identities. Not only that, but we now have two amazing children to share our love and attention with, and that inevitably changes things. Which leads me to my next point…
- Never stop dating. This is especially important after becoming parents. Having children definitely makes life busier and you may find it difficult to spend time alone together. If you have friends or family who are willing to babysit, take them up on the offer or ask for the favour. Whether it’s once a week, once a month or just once in a while, make the time to go out on dates together. And if you can’t get a sitter, improvise. After the kids are in bed, have a date night at home. Pick out a favourite movie to watch, play a board game or just sit and chat over drinks.
- Don’t go to bed angry. I know this sounds cliché, but it really is true. Arguing is bound to happen in any marriage and sometimes in the heat of the moment, we walk away from the situation. But always make sure to take the time to finish what you started and sort things out. And after years of marriage, you can still have fun making up. 😉 Plus, going to bed angry guarantees a bad night’s sleep, and nobody wants that.
- Communication is important. It’s not just about opening up and talking, it’s also about listening and being heard. Good communication between couples involves respect, honesty, as well as being supportive and understanding. Also, there is no shame in needing help in this department. My depression brought us to a place where we needed a therapist to help us sort through some things that were affecting our marriage. It was very helpful, and I feel lucky to have a partner who allows me to be so open with him. Having someone I trust to talk to has been a big part of my struggle with depression. He may not always know exactly what to say to help me feel better and that’s okay. Being heard without judgment can make all the difference.
- Support. Sharing a life together means you will encounter difficult times and supporting each other through them will be essential. Between my struggle with depression and my tumultuous career path, I have leaned on my husband quite a bit for support over the past few years and not once has he wavered. He continues to encourage me every step of the way to follow my heart and has caught me when I’ve fallen into deep bouts of sadness.
- Respect. You may be in love, but you are different people, with different thoughts, ideas, and opinions. Sure, you’ll agree on many things, but sometimes you won’t and it’s important to respect each other’s differences. Not only that but embrace the unique qualities you each have. Sure, there are things about your partner that might drive you crazy, but you probably do things that make them nuts too. What it comes down to is it worth fighting over. Pick your battles, in a respectful manner, of course.
- Laugh. My husband’s sense of humour is one of the things that attracted me to him. Being able to laugh together and focus on the lighter things in life has been so helpful in our marriage, especially after I found myself battling depression. In our relationship, I’ve always been the one who worries and stresses more, and he balances that out by helping me see the light in the darkness sometimes. Some of my favourite memories as a couple and as a family involves laughter.
- Love. I remember one thing I thought a lot about when I was pregnant with our firstborn was how the love for our baby would change the love my husband and I have for each other. And here’s the thing; as your family grows so does your love. There have been many times in the almost seven years that we’ve been parents that I’ve watched my husband do something funny or sweet with our kids and I ask myself “could I love this man more?” And then comes another moment when he yet again does something wonderful for our kids and I realize the answer to that question is “yes, I could.”
- Marriage takes work. Perhaps you’ve read the last eight points and have thought “man, their marriage is perfect.” I’m here to tell you it’s not. No marriage is. One of the most important things I’ve learned about marriage is that it takes hard work and dedication, and it must be equal. My husband and I are where we are today because we’ve put in a great deal of love and care into our relationship, and we continue to do so every day. Sometimes it’s extremely easy, but sometimes it’s damn hard.
- The honeymoon phase does not last, but that’s a good thing. Who you are as a couple will change the longer you are married. You will find that much like your relationship evolves, so does the romance…and your sex life. But here’s the secret. If you can succeed with every other point on this list, you can keep the passion alive. The fire might not be roaring like those early days of marital bliss, but the flame still flickers.
How long have you and your partner/spouse been together? Share your relationship tips or advice in the comments!