Just like the two people in it, my marriage isn’t perfect. And while I’m proud we reached our 10 year wedding anniversary (a feat we celebrated last March just as the world was shutting down) and just passed 11, I’d hardly call myself an expert on love or marriage. That’s not to say that after being married for a decade, I haven’t learned some important lessons along the way. So here are 10 things I’ve learned in my 10 years of marriage.
The first of the 10 things I’ve learned in my 10 years of marriage is that the old adage is true, opposites attract. Outside of our mutual appreciation for Queen and cheese pizza, my husband and I have opposite tastes. I like sweet; he likes savory. I love traveling; he prefers home. I like all the toppings; he likes vanilla. I like American coffee; he likes Cuban. I like my cream cheese in a neat, thin layer; he prefers giant globs of it oozing off his bagel. I like the-world-is-coming-to-an-end thrillers, zombie and war movies; he prefers chick flicks. I like older music (think Johnny Cash, Elvis, The Beatles); he prefers a more contemporary sound.
Even opposites have to agree on the big stuff.
Another one of the 10 things I’ve learned in my 10 years of marriage is that while it’s okay to have different opinions of food and movies, there are big life decisions, priorities, and boundaries that partners have to align on. Otherwise, the stress of these opposing views will eventually take its toll on the relationship.
Marriage is about compromise, not change.
Marriage is about compromise. Compromising on which restaurant you’ll eat at or what movie you’ll watch or who’s changing the next dirty diaper. Marriage is not about getting someone to change to your ideal version of what they should be. Whatever bothers you about your partner before your wedding will likely continue to bother you for the length of your marriage. If you don’t like his jokes or the way he slurps his soup or his inappropriate behavior around other women now, you’re not going to like it later (and it more than likely won’t change). Marry someone for who they are, not for who you want them to be or who you think they’ll change into once you’re married.
You are not just marrying your spouse, you’re marrying their family too.
Here is another 1 of the 10 things I’ve learned in my 10 years of marriage. You’re not just marrying your husband, you’re marrying his family. My husband and I both got lucky in this department. My parents love and treat my husband like the son they never had. Despite the dreaded mother-in-law horror stories I’ve heard, my MIL has always had nothing but compliments, encouragement, and kind words for me. Family is important to both of us, and I can easily see how it could cause real issues in our marriage if those relationships were not as positive as they are.
Hold hands every chance you get.
For the last five years, we’ve had to shift our energy and attention from each other to include our kids. Long gone are the days where we could walk or even sit with our arms around each other. Now our hands are often filled with sippy cups, diaper bags, toys, and small hands requiring protection from the busy street we’re trying to cross. I now appreciate that much more when I feel my husband’s hand reach for mine when we’re in the car or at church or even on the couch watching tv.
Actions speak louder than words.
My husband is not romantic. Though he frequently tells me he loves me and that he thinks I’m beautiful, it pretty much ends there. There is no prose, no “highfalutin mumbo jumbo.” The teenage me would’ve thought there was something missing. The adult me sees how he professes his love for me on a daily basis without ever uttering a word.
It’s in the way he takes over dinner, bath time, and bedtime with the kids when I’ve had a long day and need to take a backseat. It’s in the way he washes the dishes because he knows I’m too tired to do it but also knows I hate going to bed with a sink full of dirty dishes — and often does it without being asked.
It’s in the way he’ll do laps around the store with our active toddler just so I have 10 minutes to window shop in peace. It’s in the way he wakes me up with an extra-large hot coffee (no sugar, cream only, just how I like it) from Dunkin’ Donuts when he wakes up first on a Saturday. It’s in the way he’ll surprise me with chocolate chip cookies because he knows they’re my favorite. It’s in the way he has worked hard to help me check some destinations, like Boston, Tuscany, and Capri, off my bucket list despite his dislike of traveling.
So don’t look for love only in words or grand gestures. It’s there in the nitty gritty of the everyday.
Let it go.
While there are certain transgressions that cannot soon be forgotten, it’s easy to get hung up on the small stuff. It can be annoying to find the toilet seat up or shoes haphazardly strewn all over the closet floor but will it matter tomorrow? A year from now? Does it have any real bearing on your relationship? No? Then let it go.
It’s okay to ask your spouse to do something.
So often I hear women complain about having to ask their husbands to do something either around the house or with the kids. I’ve been guilty of it too. Husbands will typically do what we’re requesting if we just ask. We as women are just upset that we have to ask in the first place. But as I often ask myself, “So what?” Sure, he should know that the task needs getting done. But if he’s willing to handle it when you ask, who cares? (We’ve got a great post about this very topic here.)
Date your spouse.
This is something I myself need to work on. I love being with my kids but am learning the importance of spending one-on-one time with my husband. Consistently carving out a few hours of alone time forces you to slow down and omit the interruptions that come from having the little ones around. It doesn’t have to be extravagant.
Making the time is challenging but doable. Even a peaceful dinner at the kitchen counter sans the kids’ spills or pizza in the car while the kids nap instead of bicker in the backseat can be great. If you’re looking to make some intentional time together a priority, we’ve got some ideas for date night at home here.
If you’re thirsty, go home to get a drink of water.
This is the newer version of “the grass is green where you water it.” It’s easy to idolize that single dad in the pick-up line at school. But I can guarantee his snoring is just as loud and farts are just as smelly as your husband’s. He probably leaves his dirty underwear on the bathroom floor too, while we’re at it. Invest your time in your partner.
While there are plenty more lessons I’ve learned (and more I’m sure to learn over the coming years, God-willing), these are some that I’ve found extremely helpful and hope you will to. Now that I’ve shared 10 things I’ve learned in my 10 years of marriage, I’d love to hear from YOU! Share your wedded wisdom in the comments below.