Monday, July 23, 2012

Five years of marriage, what I have learned

We have returned from an epic family camping adventure and I am forced to get back into the swing of things (especially eating better and hitting the gym). Why is that first day back always so hard?

While we were gone we celebrated our anniversary. On July 21, 2007 my husband and I were married on the water in front of many friends and tons of family. I loved that day, but I certainly didn't know all that we were in for during the next 5 years of life.

Five years is certainly not a long time when I think of the fact that we will spend a lifetime together. However, it has certainly been long enough to teach us a thing or two, to give us time to grow and change, to allow for some hard times and a significant amount of joy, to teach us more about each other and to log some serious hours side by side.

In five years we have had THREE children. That alone has taught us more about family and marriage than I could have ever dreamed.

I have seen many a post about what makes marriages work. I know that what makes my marriage work might not work for others. We have our own unique situation. But I thought I might share the 5 biggest things I have learned about MY marriage in the last 5 years.

1. It Ain't Easy-
When you are young and in love and you are dating it is are passionately, deeply in love and you want to spend as much time as possible with each other. But when you get married it becomes more than that. You have to pay bills, you have to worry about if your unborn child is healthy, you have to be a part of each other's family, you have to share everything and make hard decisions together. It takes effort. You cannot get lazy and stay stagnant. Mike and I have had to work through tough financial and personal problems and in order to keep our marriage strong, we had to work. It doesn't just stay all rainbows and puppy dogs without mutual effort.

2. Leaving is not and never will be an option-
This is a non-negotiable. Neither of us ever thinks of or uses the "D" word as an option. No matter how hard times may be, no matter what argument we may have, we are in it together and have no choice but to sort through it and work together. I believe that if you think of leaving as an option it would be easy to cause hurt by throwing that around or using it as a threat. We stand by each other and leaving each other will never be a solution to a problem.

3. If you feel slighted, say something-
Marriage is a partnership. When someone in a marriage feels like things are not equal then resentment starts to creep up. Most likely it isn't any one's fault, but if you feel an inequity it is important to make sure you get what you need. An example might be that if one person takes on all of the responsibilities of taking care of the kids, they may start to feel alone, or like the other doesn't understand. Suddenly they become angry with their partner. I find that when I need something from Mike (help with the kids, more time at the gym, etc.) I need to be a mature adult and voice my needs. Our marriage works because we both honor what the other needs and do our best to find away to get it for the other.

4. Our priorities are the same and we discuss them all the time to be sure
I would probably lose my mind if my husband played video games, or had a man cave, or insisted on going out every Friday night. I know this works in some marriages, but not in ours.

 -Our top priorities are the same: the kids come first and we spend the majority of our minimal spare time doing things with them/ for them. We sacrifice some things we might otherwise do in order to spend that time with them. We don't stay away from them over night or get babysitters of any kind (with the exception of family on a rare occasion).
-We put fitness and healthy eating as a priority. We agree that we want to be fit and are willing to put money and time to make that happen. This was something we had to figure out together and we agree it can never change.
-We go to bed together each night and spend time together. This has also been something we had to learn. We give up TV, going out with friends and even some classes we have been involved in to make this happen. It has made a huge difference in our relationship and our closeness and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

5. Leave the drama at the door

Since the day I met my husband, life became much less complicated. Our relationship is simple: we love each other, we are partners and therefore there isn't anyone else we are as close to. We do not put ourselves in positions where we might act inappropriately. I cannot even imagine what married people are thinking when they cheat. It seems so complicated and horrible to me. We might argue sometimes, but we do not raise our voices, scream and yell or any other big dramatic gesture. This was true when we were dating and is true now. It certainly doesn't mean we are perfect, but there has never been any cheating, yelling, leaving, etc. I cannot imagine going on in a relationship if any of that was to happen. I guess I am lucky that I married someone who is very much like me in how we deal with people and approach relationships. I would hate to live my life in a dramatic whirlwind.

So we have survived 5 years without getting sick of each other. It is pretty amazing to think of how much has happened in these last few years. I barely even remember who I was before I met my husband. I have never once regretted my decision to marry who I believe to be one of the most selfless, loving and compassionate people I have ever known. I am one lucky girl and I cannot wait to see what happens during the next 5 years that we spend together.

I love you Michael! You will always be my cowboy

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