It’s hard to believe it’s been 9 years since we said, “I do.” It hasn’t always been easy and it definitely didn’t start out like a fairy tale as I thought it should after binge watching Hallmark Channel with my Grandmother. But, I can tell you this… there is no one I would rather walk through this life with than my husband. Marriage is tough and it takes hard work every day. I didn’t realize that in the beginning. To this day, just when I think I’ve got it all figured out I learn something new, and some of those lessons have been tough ones. I will share a few of the things I wish I had known when we first got married.
- COMMUNICATE!!! Seriously! Communicate about EVERYTHING. Your feelings, your day, your fears, your successes, your hopes and dreams… ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING! And, if God forbid, you go through a traumatic event don’t close yourself off to your spouse. Talking about it, leaning on each other and navigating it together is the ONLY way to bring you CLOSER. This is one of the things I learned the hard way. Don’t be an Aimee.
- FORGIVE! We are all human and we all make mistakes, big and small, but the only way to make a marriage last is to forgive. My mom and several of her friends have recently marked 50 years of marriage. They were all talking about what it takes to reach that milestone and one of her friends said, “You don’t get off the bus when things get hard.” It’s so simple, and yet so profound. You want to make a marriage work, you don’t give up. Period. This takes forgiveness. I’m not saying you should stay in a marriage that is unhealthy or abusive, but if you think there is anyway to salvage it, forgive and work your butt off to find your way back to each other. Again… marriage takes hard work, every day.
- MAKE TIME FOR EACH OTHER DAILY! Make time for each other every day, even if it’s just a few minutes here and there to talk about your day, the kids, the future, etc. It’s easy to get caught up in PARENTING or ADULTING and forget to spend time with each other. Making time to share your day, a meal, a cup of coffee or a drink on the patio when the kids are asleep will remind you that you aren’t navigating this life alone. You have a huge supporter in your corner. It will bring you closer and strengthen your love for each other.
- DON’T STOP DATING! Much like making time for each other daily, you should be making real time for each other monthly, if not weekly. Go out on dates! Real dates like you had when you first got together… before kids and life and careers. These times ALONE will remind you of why you fell in love with each other in the first place.
- SHARE HOBBIES! For many this seems challenging, but for my husband and I this was one of the reasons we fell in love with each other. We both loved to spend time outdoors. If you don’t have a shared hobby already, I highly recommend you find something you both love to do together and start doing it. It can literally be anything, hiking, biking, rock collecting, wine tasting, camping, walking, watching Netflix. Just find something you can share with each other. You will be astonished by how much you learn about each other, plus it will create new found love in your marriage.
- SUPPORT EACH OTHER’S DREAMS! The best gift you can give your spouse is to support him/her when they dream big. BIG dreams are scary, but having the love and support of your best friend and life partner behind you makes them a little less scary. My husband has always made me feel like I can do or be anything, and I’m always encouraging him to chase his passions, no matter what they are. Because of this, I know we are stronger together than we are apart.
- GO ALL IN! This is my mantra in life and my marriage. You will never know how successful you can be if you don’t go all in. When you go all in you make a 100% commitment to the dream, the goal, the marriage, whatever it is you’re doing. Keeping one foot in the water and one on the shore, you will never know just how well you can swim. You gotta dive in head first and give it your all.
- STAY UNITED! This is especially important if you have children, but it’s equally important if you don’t. Children can smell weakness and will use it against you if you don’t stay united no matter the situation. If you disagree with what the other is saying, discuss it behind closed doors. This is equally important when interacting with the outside world. Friends, family or co-workers may not like your spouse, but don’t let them talk poorly about him/her. And, don’t talk poorly about your spouse with them. Stay united and work on your marriage together while supporting each other 100%.
- LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY! It’s so easy to love our children unconditionally. It’s like it’s built into our DNA as parents. But, the same needs to hold true for your spouse. Just as we forgive the little trespasses and sometimes thoughtless remarks of our children, so should we do the same for our spouse. Everyone has rough days and ugly moments, but those are the moments we need to love each other a little harder. Adulting and chasing BIG DREAMS is hard! We’re going to have moments when we just want to scream. That’s okay. That’s life. It’s not your job to make them feel better, just love them through it and be there when they reached the other side.
I am by NO means a marriage expert. These are just the things I have learned in the last nine years. I’d like to say I flawlessly execute, but of course I don’t. But, I TRY!! EVERY DAY! When I look back on our wedding photos I think of how much we’ve learned, the beautiful children we’ve created and all the moments, good and bad, that have brought us to this point. I wouldn’t change any of it. I was so naive when I said, “I do.” It’s the tough life lessons and beautiful moments that have gotten us this far, and for that I’m eternally grateful. Love is truly the greatest adventure!