10 years ago, I woke up, put on a white dress, and got married.
OK, it's wasn't as simple as that. There may have been a fair bit of primping involved, even for this non-primping kind of gal.
Our wedding day was an overcast and slightly drizzly day, sandwiched between two crystal clear and beautiful October days. I may have freaked out briefly (how are we going to do our wedding pictures outside if it's raining?!?!). But everything went according to plan except for minor slip-ups that I can laugh about now -- like walking down the aisle with my veil on backwards (no wonder I couldn't see), my very visible tan lines from marathon training all summer (oops), and my in-laws taking our car service home at the end of the night, leaving Ed and me to hail a cab in the middle of the Garment District after our reception.
What's the saying? Rain on your wedding day is good luck? It's hard to believe it's been 10 years. In that time, I've laughed, cried, and lived.
Most important, I've learned these 10 lessons in 10 years of marriage, many of which are still a work in progress for me.
It's Going To Take Some Work -->
1. It takes work.
Do you remember Ben Affleck's speech at the Oscars? He thanked his wife Jennifer Garner for working on their marriage for the past 10 Christmases. While his statement wasn't cute or romantic, he spoke the truth. Marriage takes work. A lot of work -- from both partners. It's easy to think that the "work" is over once you get married and become comfortable and complacent. But marriage, and any relationship, is a living, breathing thing that you need to devote time and energy to in order to keep it healthy.
You Can't Change Everything -->
2. Make peace with the things you cannot change.
I'm sure there are some things about your partner that you would mind changing, from how the bed is made to how how the laundry is folded to how your partner speaks or interacts with your family. You might drop hints. You might nag. I'm totally guilty of this.
That nagging and hinting can quickly turn passive-aggressive and breed resentment, which isn't helpful. In these situations, I am reminded of the Serenity Prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Body Language and Communication Matter --> 3. Don't roll your eyes.
Image: Indra Galbo
Even though my husband and I both work from home and see each other all day long, it's easy to forget to communicate with each other. Sure, we talk a lot about logistics -- like who's picking up the kids or if we need anything from the store -- but it can be easy to forget to talk. You don't have to have an intense heart-to-heart conversation each time, but make the effort, even if it's ten minutes a day.
Celebrate Your Differences --> 5. You don't have to like the same things.
When Ed and I first started dating, we did everything together. But over time, we developed new and different interests. And that's a good thing. The thing is, you don't have to be the same person in order to have a successful marriage or relationship.
Don't Lose Sight of You Are While Supporting Each Other -->
6. Maintain your own identity.
I think that it's really easy to get lost in a relationship (or in parenthood) and lose your sense of self, which again can breed resentment and negative feelings. It's important to remember who you are as an individual -- your interests, values, and passions. It's healthy. And, if you have a family, it's a good thing for your kids to see, too.
7. Support each other.
I'm not sure what I would do without my husband's support. Frankly, I don't know how he puts up with me half of the time. But I do know that I would be pursuing some of my dreams without his unwavering support and encouragement.
Make Time and Apologize When You're Wrong --> 8. Make time for each other.
Everyone says to do it, but like communication, this can be one of those things that easily falls by the wayside when things get hectic and busy and stressful. But that's probably when you need to make time for each other the most. Making time can range from something small, like saying good morning ("in a nice voice," as we say in our house) to designating a date night.
Image: Dinukshan Kuruppu via Flickr
9. Say you're sorry.
Say you're sorry when you're sorry, and don't let your ego get in the way. This is definitely something that I need to continue to work on. There are so many arguments that could have been avoided if I had just said I was sorry, instead of letting my pride get in the way.
Live, Laugh, and Love -->
A lot. Because frankly? There's a lot about being married and being a parent that's just absurd and being willing to see the absurdity of it all makes it a little bit easier.
What lessons have you learned in the last 10 years?
*All images courtesy of Christine Yu, except where noted.
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