After experiencing all of the ups, like becoming parents to our tiny human and some of the downs, like facing a chronic illness (and more than a dozen skin cancer scares), we’ve learned our fair share of lessons in this little ol’ life we’ve built together.
I want to share the top 10 things I’ve learned from spending the past 10 years with my favorite guy - and whether you are in a new relationship or have been married for 30 years, I hope they will resonate!
- Just say it already! If something is bothering you, don’t play the passive-aggressive game, no matter how non-confrontational you want to be. Mal or I sometimes do something that the other person finds annoying, and this one thing alone could be easily fixed. However, when we don’t address it immediately, those little things just kept building and building until we have a much bigger problem. So, if something needs to be discussed, do it! Otherwise, you will just waste time and energy.
- You can’t change people - they are who they are. Sure, you can do things like help your partner create healthy habits or change how you communicate with each other. But personalities and beliefs are pretty much shaped and set in stone - as well as the good and bad qualities of a person. Over time, we’ve realized that we both have imperfections, and marriage is loving your partner because of them, not in spite of them. Mal's quirks (and overall weirdness) are why I love him!
- Live according to reality, not expectations. There are going to be times where things don’t go the way you expected. Rather than try to fight it, just accept it and work through it together. Endlessly hoping for something that just won’t happen or for your partner to possess a quality that they never will, just leaves you feeling frustrated. I’ve found that when I accept things for what they are, no matter how much I don’t like it, I’m much less anxious (and annoyed with Mal for no real reason).
- History repeats itself - and so do arguments. Many of the problems Mal and I have faced over the years are ones that we had 10 years ago - just altered a bit with age. In fact, we often have a good laugh about how our arguments just play on a repeated loop. They're nothing major - and we still bicker about them from time-to-time. Some things just don’t change - people included - and that's okay as long as you can live with it.
- Marriage isn’t always 50/50. Of course, that would be ideal, but sometimes reality demands it be 70/30 or 40/60 - and that’s ok! For example, during the school year, I do A LOT to keep our family running - cooking, cleaning, childcare, dog care, etc. But during the summer, Mal takes on a ton of he responsibilities because he’s off from school, and I get a little more me time. In the end, it all evens out. Don’t keep a scorecard - marriage is teamwork! Think about it that way when you're annoyed that you have to put away the dishes again! 😉
- Pick your battles. The random receipts all over the house really, really don’t matter (I promise). Nor do the socks next to the hamper instead of inside it. But, seriously, why?! 🙂 In the day-to-day, little things like this seem like a big deal, but before blowing up, ask yourself - in two years, will this matter? Will you even remember? If the answer is no, let it go.
- Have separate interests. Spending time alone developing yourself matters immensely. Plus, sometimes absence really does make the heart grow fonder! While Mal and I have a lot in common, we each have our own hobbies and pursuits, and we will periodically hang out with our friends separately. Rather than drive us apart, it actually brings us closer together because we can’t wait to see each other and catch up!
- Admit when you’re wrong. This is a tough one for me sometimes because I can be a tad stubborn (Mal too). Wanting to be right all the time is only human, and no one wants to backtrack and say they made a mistake. But if you want to find success in your relationship, just bite the bullet and be humble - you will have mutual respect for each other.
- Keep falling in love. Ok, I’m going to get a little mushy here, but it’s so important to keep the romance alive. After 10 years of bills, a kiddo, work, struggles, and illness, it's easy to forget what brought you together in the first place. So, spend time together, even if it's something as simple as taking a walk. I can’t tell you how important and valuable our regular date nights and happy hours before we pick up Quinn from school are. It gives us a chance to reconnect without the stress of daily life surrounding us.
- Laugh!!! Laugh during the fun times. Laugh during the hard times. Laugh when your kid is absolutely losing it in Target. Or at the grocery story. Or at a friend's party. When all else fails, pour yourself a drink, turn on a funny movie, and just zone out the world together. Life is too short!
Question of the Day
What have you learned from marriage/committed relationship?