My husband and I recently celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. Five years. In the scheme of things, that doesn’t seem that long, but considering we had two kids back to back in that time, it sometimes feels like decades since we said I do. (Seriously, who were those fresh-faced, well-rested twenty-somethings standing at the altar??)
Now marriage, like most things, takes a lot of hard work at times. Sorry, but you can’t get around it. Just like how I can’t write a first draft of my book and expect it to be perfect, you can’t walk down the aisle and expect life to be all roses afterward. But trust me, put in the effort and the journey will be sooo worth it.
So in honor of our five years as man and wife, I thought I’d share five of my tips for a happy marriage.
1. Accept each other’s quirks. My husband likes to say and do things to get a rise out of me. He’s a button-pusher. I admit, sometimes I get irritated. But other times I just roll my eyes and laugh or playfully throw a pillow at him (keyword playfully). I know that instigator-quality is just a part of who he is, and it’s all in good fun so what’s the harm?
Now as for me, I’m a worrier whose brain never quiets down, whether I’m worrying about the kids falling off their bikes or if my husband remembered to put the trash out before he left in the morning. I know my constant questioning can drive him a little crazy (okay, a lot crazy), but I also know it doesn’t change how he feels about me.
The bottom line is, unless your spouse’s quirk is something abusive, illegal, immoral, or the fact that they won’t watch The Bachelor with you (kidding on that last one), then accept it or even better, try to love them for it. After all, a person with no quirks is kind of boring.
2. Find quality time together. Between juggling all of the important and worthwhile and repetitive and occasionally fun tasks being an adult and parent requires, we don’t have much quality time together. Sure we have that hour or two each night after the kids go to bed where we’ll put on a couple reruns of The Big Bang Theory for ambiance while we both scroll through our phones. But that’s not enough to sustain a healthy relationship.
We’re lucky enough to have family close by who happily babysits while we have an occasional date night. They even watched our girls so we could take a trip to Sedona for our anniversary this year. Three nights away, gorgeous views, a side trip to the Grand Canyon, delicious food, champagne, massages. What more could we have asked for? (Well, it would have been better if my husband wasn’t sick at the time, but he was a trooper!) But even if you don’t have family or a reliable babysitter, there are still ways you can have quality time together.
One of my favorites is to break out the board games when the kids are sleeping. Scrabble anyone? It gets us competitive, gets us laughing, and helps us remember that we are more than just parents. Another thing I love is cooking dinner together. Our kids are old enough to play by themselves while we wash, chop, stir, saute, and chat about our days with a glass of wine in hand. You can listen to music together, sit outside next to a fire pit, take a walk, cuddle, hold hands. It doesn’t have to cost money or be some big adventure. Just be together.
3. Reminisce. There is nothing like remembering the good times to remind you why you’re together. Talk about the first time you met, your first kiss, the day you got engaged. Talk about how you knew this is it. Laugh over a crazy adventure you had together or how you got through your first big fight. Scroll through your first pictures together on Instagram or revisit the site of your first date. Walking down memory lane brings back all the warm feelings. Try it. You’ll thank me.
4. Compromise. No matter how alike or easy going you are, you will never agree on everything. It’s just not going to happen. So you have to learn the art of the compromise. Whether that means you meet somewhere in the middle or take turns getting your way. It doesn’t matter as long as you can behave respectfully and come to a resolution without (too much) yelling. If my strong-willed kids can agree on a movie to watch, surely a grown couple can agree on where to have dinner or how much money to spend on a new car.
And when it comes to the really important issues, if your partner feels strongly about something, trust them. Who knows, you might end up finding out they were right (as hard as it might be to admit it). Just make sure you’re not the only one who ever compromises. That will only lead to resentment and more problems in the future.
5. Don’t lose yourself. It is very easy to get caught up in your relationship, in your role as a wife, and especially in your role as a mother if you are one. You can start to forget who you are as a person, what makes you tick. My husband encourages me to do the things I like, whether that’s going to the gym or out with friends, working on my book, taking a long bath, or wandering around Target by myself. He’s happy to hold down the fort while I’m gone.
To be honest, I’m not quite as good at giving him free time as he is with me. After being home with the kids all day while he’s working, I selfishly want him to come home and take over. But I know he works hard and deserves his own time too. So I smile and tell him to have fun when he leaves to play softball or go hunting or fishing. Taking time to recharge is vital and when you’re happy in your element, it reminds your spouse why they fell for you in the first place.
So those are my tips. Do you agree? Got any good ones to share?