Last week, my husband Joey and I got to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. While I will never, ever claim to be anything close to a marriage expert, here are 10 things I’ve learned in the past 10 years:
1. Marriage doesn’t have to be hard
I know. Cue the eye rolls. What does this “only-married-10-years” kid know about marriage?”
Listen. My husband and I have been through it. Life has thrown everything and the kitchen sink at us including a devastating chronic illness diagnosis. And while all of that has felt impossible at times, we’re partners in it. Life is hard. Overcoming challenges is hard. Getting past our own selfishness is hard. But marriage doesn’t have to be.
2. Good communication is a lifelong pursuit
None of us will ever graduate from the school of communication with a masters in always getting it right. Even if you have your own secret couple’s language, there will be slip-ups.
For example, in celebrating our anniversary, I asked my husband what I thought was a very simple question and did not get the result I expected.
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3. Sharing your intentions saves a lot of frustration
Some days, I just need to come home and vent. Some days, I need to brainstorm with a partner to figure out a solution to a problem. Making sure my spouse knows exactly what I need from him makes me feel more understood in the end.
4. Being comfortable is a gift
When I was a kid, I was terrified of marriage. I thought that we would run out of things to talk about very quickly and our relationship would crumble because of it.
Some days, you do run out of things to talk about. But having someone who knows me best by my side in that silence is better than all the words in the world.
5. We all need a cheerleader
In ANY relationship, marriage or not, we can sometimes forget that encouragement is never a one-and-done event. I could get the same affirmations 100 times, but that 101st time is often when I need it the most to climb out of the pit of self-doubt.
6. For better/for worse is in the small things, too
There’s no one I’d rather be with when I get fancy to go out on the town.
There’s no one I’d rather be with when I’m in pajama pants and a mustard-stained shirt.
7. There’s no winning or losing
I’m very competitive. It can be a giant fault when it comes to arguments, because I always want to win.
Even when I’m “right,” there’s no win in making that known. A fast apology after a disagreement goes so much further than trying to prove a point.
8. Differences are a good thing
I remember being so frustrated when we were moving into our first house. I started on the important zones (bedroom and kitchen) while Joey made sure our sound system was set up.
How we see the world is so different. But every day, I’m thankful for his insights and for helping me see things that I would’ve otherwise missed.
9. There’s still so much to learn
One of my favorite things to do on roadtrips is to ask questions. If you google “road trip questions for couples,” you’ll find so many lists that help you get to know your partner better.
10. Life is so short and precious
The nature of my husband’s chronic illness has instilled this lesson a few too many times. There have been several close calls. I’m not entirely sure how much time I’ll get with him.
That perspective has saved me from stubbornness too many times to count. Very few things really matter when you zoom out on your life. But people will always, always matter.