On May 26 of this year, Hubs and I will have been married for 27 years. I think the wisdom we have gained in all that time has resulted in our marriage being stronger now than it ever was. It also doesn’t hurt that we are empty nesters living in Colorado. We have had our ups and downs, as all married couples do. Times when I was so furious with him that I found myself calling him not so nice names and he slammed cupboard doors. Times when disagreements about our kids got very overheated. Times when one of us got a raise or bonus at work, and we went out for dinner and drinks to commemorate the moment. Times when we got out into our boat on the Mississippi River and silently marveled at its beauty together. Times when we were so poor that we couldn’t scrape enough coins from under the tattered couch cushions to afford to rent a movie at the local convenience store for $1.99.
We have essentially grown up together. We have been together for longer than we haven’t. It’s really quite mind blowing when I think of it that way.
The most valuable piece of marital advice we received was given to us by a nurse in the hospital the day after giving birth to our first born, back in 1992. She implored us to keep our marriage the #1 priority. She explained that while we were now a family of 3, we needed to maintain focus on our marriage so that we could become a strong parental unit and set a good example for our kids. This advice stuck with us. We hired babysitters or took the kids to grandma and grandpa’s house as often as we possibly could.
I think most of the tricks on how to be successful at this marriage thing came gradually, through trial and error over all these years. I’ll share the ones I feel are most important.
Give each other a break when you can. Practice kindness on a daily basis.
Participate in activities the two of you equally enjoy as often as you can. We especially enjoy the quieter moments, like going out fishing or for a hike. Or to a cool, casual place for dinner or a cocktail.
Communicate often and as clearly as possible. Listen with an open heart. Know when to shut up and just let your partner vent.
Give your spouse lots of hugs.
Don’t let yourself go to bed angry at your spouse. You will not sleep well, if at all. And whatever you were angry about is still going to be there in the morning. Just hash things out as best you can.
Give each other space sometimes. No one is truly going to be happy feeling like their spouse is attached to them at the hip. We all need our alone time.
Acknowledge when your spouse has done something well. Thank them often. Everyone needs to feel appreciated. It’s human nature.
Be a considerate roommate. Don’t leave your dirty dishes or underwear lying around. Offer to do the dishes if your spouse has done the cooking.
Always remember you are a team. Imagine if your life together was a business. Love, mutual respect, and friendship are the foundation. Both partners have a stake in this business and work with each other, day in and day out, in order to achieve mutually desired success. One partner may have skills that you simply don’t possess. Likewise, you may have skills your partner doesn’t. Once you have a good handle on what those skills are, you and your spouse are equipped with the wisdom to successfully solve problems as a unit. This comes in especially handy when parenting your spawn.
Strive to keep things interesting! Go on spontaneous adventures together. Jump in the car in the morning and head out to parts unknown, even if just for the day. Hubs and I have so many great memories of days when our only goals were to see and/or do something new to both of us and to have as much fun as possible.
With a little luck, Hubs and I will be married for another 27 years. There will be more ups and downs, ones that will be expected as part of life and ones that will completely throw us for a loop. That is life. You take the good with the bad. I take much comfort in knowing that I have my best friend, the one who loves and accepts all sides of me, the one who makes me laugh the hardest, who makes me think the deepest, and the one I trust more than anyone in the world, with me through it all.