So my husband and I have been together for a while now; we have 14 years under our joint, blissful belt. Take a look at us here…this is the beginning. We’re so skinny…we’re so tan…we’re so young. Sigh! A couple of hot little numbers…it’s no wonder our start was so passionate and exciting.
I hate to get ahead of myself but let’s jump ahead four years. We have a lot of ground to cover and you don’t have all day. Phil popped the question on Easter in 2005. We were lying in bed, pigging out on massive amounts of Easter candy like a couple of kids (which we were). The next thing I knew, he was holding a ring and saying “Do you want to get married to me?” Spoiler alert…I said YES. And that was it. In all honesty, the day he first stepped into Kouch Potato Video to return his mom’s movie rental, and I, earning my keep as a video store clerk, laid eyes on him, that moment, that was IT. The rest is history, as they say.
This year marks ten years of marriage for me and my husband. After reading my last blog, a friend asked me, “How do you do it; how do you and Phil find time for each other?” At first I wasn’t sure how to answer. I thought about my marriage and how my relationship has changed and evolved over the years. I thought about how deeply I love my husband today and how different that love is in many ways than the love I felt at 17. I started to think about why. Why am I so devoted to this man? Why do I love him so much?What is it that makes me so happy in my marriage?And the answers began to roll in.
I hesitate to hand out marriage advice. Do I qualify??? Does ten years give me the stamina to really talk about marriage???? As cliche as it may sound, I can honestly say, if I could go back, do it all again, I would choose him all over again (in a heartbeat!). I choose him every single day and I am HAPPY to do it. And I have full faith that, God willing, I will still be choosing him 50 years from now. So yes, I’m going to dish on what makes my marriage happy in the hopes that maybe it will bring a little extra happiness to some of yours.
I think love is pretty simple so I’m going to break it down to the basics:
- Touch each other. No, not like that you little pervert!! Okay, yes, like that…but in other ways too! Every single day there should be hugs. Real hugs, the kind where you just stop for a moment and squeeze each other, breath each other in, take a moment to physically connect. My favorite time of the day to hug my husband is when I get home from work. It is my way to say, “I missed you today.” It sets the tone for the rest of the evening. It’s so simple but so meaningful (P.S. inserting a little kiss here doesn’t hurt either 😘) Also, very important, don’t just pass each other by throughout the day. Take these little meetings as opportunities in the hallway, squeezing through the bathroom, passing on the stairs, to reach out and touch each other. For example, a touch on the arm, a hand on the small of her back, the holding of a hand or even a little pat on the back end. It’s just a playful, sweet, quick way to be physically close when you’re going 100 mph in opposite directions. My daughter has picked up on the “pat on the rear” move from my husband and now smacks me on the bottom randomly in public (not nearly as endearing!) But seriously, let’s get physical! Reach out and touch the one you love, often, all the time, every day.
- Work for a living and appreciate that your spouse does the same. I work hard. I do it because I want to make a better life for my family. When I come home to my worn out husband, who’s had a long day at work himself, I remember that he is working to provide for me and our children. I appreciate all that he does for us financially and around our home. All of the ways he helps me with the house work. All of the ways he cares for the kids. I tell him thank you as often as I can and I mean it. I am thankful for all that he does. I appreciate that he puts so much of himself into this life we created together. I feel so blessed that he is my partner. Don’t forget to appreciate what your spouse does every day to make your world go round. Be thankful and appreciate them.
- Make your husband a cup of coffee. Draw your wife a bubble bath. Put a note in each other’s lunch box. Do you see where I’m going with this??? It is in the little things that we make each other feel loved in my marriage. The small considerations for one another. We’re busy. We’re can’t-stop-won’t-stop-break-your-neck-or-maybe-your-back kind of busy. It’s so easy to not think of each other. So when we do stop, take a minute out of the busy day, and just do something nice for each other, it reminds us not only that we’re loved, but also that were on the same team. So every morning, when I wake up and my husband is still pressing snooze, I make his coffee with way too much sugar and two ice cubes (just the way he likes it) and I hope that when he grabs it on his way out the door, he feels loved.
- Give each other a break. Sometimes I think I love my husband the most right after I get back from a run. How lucky am I to have this wonderful man who stays with the kids so I can get out and get my feel-good going??!!! I like to think he’s thinking about how much he loves me when he’s out on the golf course too. He totally is, don’t you think?! But yes, one vital thing that makes my marriage strong and happy is that we support each other and give one another the opportunity to follow our separate passions. We are stronger individually for this and we are stronger as a married couple.
- For goodness sake, put your kids to bed. Give them a decent bedtime. In their own beds! This is a win-win. Kids need sleep. Parents need a break. Take this time, this tiny sliver of time between being super parents and catching your zzz’s and make it your husband/wife time. Put down the phones and do something together. Don’t get me wrong, our kids are tucked in by 9 every night and I’m usually snoring by 10 (noooo….I don’t snore, I’m just writing creatively 😉). In that hour, my husband and I are usually tuned in to a 48 Hours Mystery but we’re tuned in together. And this miraculous thing happens. When no one is yapping “MOMMY” in my ear or “DAD, GUESS WHAT?” in his, even with the TV on, we talk. It is so nice. There are no words to express what that hour of non-competed for attention is like. You might be thinking, “Why put the phone down if your just going to be watching TV.” Being distracted on a phone is very isolating. You’re doing your thing on your phone and your spouse is completely on their own. At least when you watch something together, your focus is on the same thing at the same time. But hey, someday if you’re really feeling adventurous, you could even shut off the TV!
So that’s it. So simple. I left something pretty important off my short list. I thought about adding a #6 for “Get a Babysitter”. Alone time is so important. My husband and I do occasionally get a sitter and spend some adult time together. But I leave this off my list for a very specific reason. If we wait for these special occasions to make each other feel loved, we’re going to end up very lonely. Kids, work, hobbies, friends, family, volunteering, etc., etc., this is life. You have to, YOU MUST, stay focused on your marriage during and throughout all of the chaos. You can’t wait for a break, wait for quiet time, wait for a perfect opportunity, to show your love to your partner. For example, I had to go back almost two years to find the photo below of just me and my husband.
Most of our pictures look more like this…
Which just reiterates my point. When we start a family, alone time, the perfect opportunities, the right mood or setting, those moments just don’t come along. We have to create those loving moments whenever, wherever.
Some of you might be in a rough patch in your marriage and you’re thinking “If only it was really as easy as she says.” Just know, we’ve been there too. No relationship is immune to struggles. We’re imperfect human beings. In a marriage, you’re going to be thoughtless, you’re going to get lazy, you’ll hurt one another and you’ll go through pain in life that will change and transform you as a person and in turn, you’re marriage will change too. As long as your partner isn’t doing anything in your marriage that risks the safety of you or your children, I challenge you to hang in there. I really believe it is the bumps in the road that make your marriage stronger in the end. Remember that this is the person that God put in your life. You are where He wants you to be. As painful as that can be at times, have faith that your life is in the middle of a transformation and brighter days are ahead. Be quick to forgive. Do the little things that make your spouse smile, appreciate them, be filled with gratitude. Do this without expecting anything in return. Marriage is not tit for tat. Show your love to your partner because you want to, not because you expect the same in return. You’ll be surprised by what happens. When you put love out into the world, it will be returned. You’ll take the first step in building a stronger, more loving marriage.
That is it. At this point in my life, these are the things I have learned about marriage. I’m sure my perspective will continue to change as the road that my husband and I travel together twists and turns. But today I’m so grateful for my marriage and regardless of what life brings us, with my husband by my side, I’m ready to face it.