Some unsolicited marriage advice

2 Oct
that's danny on the drums.

Our wedding was kind of like this. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today is a great day- my second wedding anniversary. My husband and I are going to go out to dinner tonight to celebrate surviving two whole years of marriage, and five years together total. We’re nowhere near the record that other couples have set, but we’re getting there.  Considering all the naysayers, the obstacles, and the challenges, I’d say we’re in pretty good shape.

I’ve been reflecting on the things that make our marriage, and relationship, work. Not that I have lots of experience – a five year relationship and two year marriage may not seem like much. But I also have the benefit of watching other successful relationships and learning from them. In my family, you’re in it for the long haul. My parents celebrated 35 years together this Spring. They met in August of 1976, and were married by May of 1977. The old cliché, “When you know, you know” has a ring of truth in our house. And my siblings have all shown me, in their own ways, how to have successful marriages. My oldest sister and her husband, and my brother and his wife, both celebrate 17 years of marriage this year. And my sister celebrated 9 years with her husband in July, and they’ve been together for 11? 12? years total.

So, between my own marriage, and those I’ve observed, I’ve gleaned a few truths about how to make this long-term commitment thing work.

–          Communication. It’s key.  Check in with each other, talk to each other. Don’t let a misunderstanding get in the way or go uncorrected. Don’t be afraid to share your feelings, your partner may surprise you with their understanding.  Talk about big decisions, little decisions, how your day went, what your plans for the future are, who’s going to feed the dog today. (Benny likes to pretend he hasn’t been fed to try to get double meals.) No problem is too big that you can’t talk through, together.

–          You don’t have to share everything. There’s this strange stereotype promulgated mostly by the entertainment industry, that the happiest couples are the ones who do everything together. In my own experience, this isn’t the case. My dad loves to golf, my mom has never set foot on a golf course. My brother in law loves sports, my sister can’t throw a spiral. My husband has devoted our basement to slot car racing, I have no idea why.  I run in the mornings, he waves from the window. But this doesn’t mean we aren’t compatible. When we do our own things, we don’t feel resentful of the other, and we then share our experiences, and we’re both better off for it.

Chinatown, London. Benedict Cumberbatch during...

My other husband.

–          That being said, be open to new experiences. Small example: My husband and I were both sci-fi fans, but of entirely different fandoms. I’m X-Files and Doctor Who, he’s Star Trek and Babylon 5. But we’re both willing to sit down and give the other’s shows a try. Ken hasn’t converted me, and I haven’t converted him, but we enjoy seeing what the other one likes. And talking about it, figuring out what we like about each, helps us find stuff we both love, like Firefly and Sherlock (is that sci-fi? I feel like it is). This applies to more than just entertainment. I’d never gone camping a day in my life before Ken, he’d never owned a pet. We’ve found that we love doing things we never would have done otherwise.

–          Even when married, continue to date each other. In the first few stages of the dating relationship, you both put a lot of effort into spending time with each other, getting to know each other, even impressing the other one. That shouldn’t stop when you’re married, especially when there’s kids involved. We try to make time for ‘date night’ every month or so, and it helps a lot. We reconnect, enjoy a quiet evening out and adult conversation, and enjoy each other that much more. It’s nice to be courted every once in a while and to feel wanted.

–          Be each other’s biggest fan. This was my friend Mara’s advice, and it’s true. Having someone in your corner, who unconditionally loves you and believes in you, is the best feeling in the world. Not that you should view each other with rose colored glasses, but you should support and encourage each other as best you can.

So those are the main things I can think of. I’m sure I missed stuff. Let me know – what makes your marriage, or relationship, work? And what should be avoided?

One last note: We’ve survived death of a parent, infertility, buying a home, illness, surgeries, all kinds of obstacles. But the biggest challenge we’ve overcome in our two-year marriage? Assembling IKEA furniture together.

we're pretty awesome.

Us, 7-6-12

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