Who would have thought the couple who began a whirlwind office romance, had a baby, bought a house then married would be celebrating their 9th wedding anniversary today? Surprise! We did it. Happy Anniversary to the love of my life, Mr. C.
It helps that we are both strong-willed, stubborn first-born kids from divorced homes determined not to give up. That and trial and error. Anything we do right today is a result of learning from our mistakes.
It was placed on my heart to list a few marriage tips. I fought it because I did not feel qualified to be so self-righteous. However, when we live in a world where seventy-two day marriages exist, maybe being married for nine years gives me a little bit of wisdom.
In honor of every year we’ve been married, here is my Top Nine Tips to a Lasting a Marriage:
9.) Know Each Others Love Language
It is important to know how your spouse demonstrates their love. The love language for Mr. C is Physical Touch. I can’t stand to be touched! I know that may be surprising since we have four kids but it’s true. I wasn’t hugged as a child and experienced physical abuse so invading my personal space freaks me out. Because I know that is how Mr. C feels loved I make an effort to hug him when he gets home from work and try not to spaz out when he surprisingly hugs me. My love language is Words of Affirmation. I really don’t know what I am doing as a mom or a wife. Remember my mom split so none of my life now was modeled for me. Mr. C on the other hand was raised by an amazing single mother. While I need praise for the mundane task to reassure me I’m doing something right, Mr. C sees these task as things that should and need to be done (they are not praiseworthy). After he discovered my love language, he now makes an effort to praise me for my daily task.
8.) Pick Your Battles
This is probably one of the best pieces of advice my mother in law has given me. She was referring to parenting but it is just as effective in a marriage. Know what your values are and what is worth fighting for. If the issue is not compromising your values, who cares? If your husband wants to spend his budgeted money on outdoor camping equipment he has no use for because we travel in an RV, let him.
Mr. C and I have matured by leaps and bounds spiritually and relationally from a good old fashion fight. I’m sure there is a book out there with a how to fight fair strategy but because we are still figuring this out I’m not going to pretend to tell you how. I’m not suggesting fighting for the sake of fighting. What I am saying is when one of those battles you decided is worth fighting for arises be sure to let the other person know you still care, are invested in your marriage and are willing to fight to protect that value. Winning is not the goal, communication and compromise is.
6.) Forgive and Let Go
Notice I didn’t say forget. There are things that happened early in our marriage that if I allow myself to dwell on them they would cripple me emotionally. For years I held them in my back pocket. When a fight wasn’t going my way I would throw those things back at Mr. C. It wasn’t until I learned to forgive and let it go (it’s not a one time action by the way) that we could move forward. When we fight today those events don’t even cross my mind. I haven’t forgot about them and it still hurts in reflection but it is impossible for our spouse to grow if we continue to judge them by their past.
5.) Date Night
Nothing drives me crazier than to hear couples say they just grew apart. I don’t care what you have to do, make time to spend with your spouse alone. Mr. C and I will put the kids to bed early, make a meal and sit and talk over a game of Scrabble or bottle of wine. When I feel like we are drifting apart, I pull out a stack of conversation cards from an old board game and we take turns answering questions like “If you were in the witness protection program, what would be your alias?” or “Who is your favorite Muppet?” to get a conversation going that doesn’t involve work or the kids. I have known Mr. C for thirteen years and just last night he told me a story from his childhood I had never heard before.
4.) Spend Time Apart
Once you established a routine of spending time together, figure out a way to spend time apart. This is hard for us to do right now. In what little free time we have, we have to decide if we should have family time, date our children individually, date each other alone, go out with friend together or get away alone. Make sure spending time away wins sometimes. It refreshes and recharges you so you can do all the other things well.
3.) Be You
For years I have been lost in a sea of who I was supposed to be and forgot who I am completely. Nothing makes Mr. C smile more than when I laugh so much I start hyperventilate, break out in song and dance for no apparent reason, give each character their own unique voice when I read books to the kids, use a big fancy word correctly, cry at commercials, drop some ancient sports knowledge on him, cross the finish line or comb my hair. Being a wife and mother is a role and responsibility. It is not who you are!
2.) Choose To Love
When all of those things fail (and sometimes they will) choose to love. Love is not just a feeling of elation. It’s a choice that requires action. That’s right. When the last thing in the world you feel for your spouse is love that is when they need to be loved the most.
1.) Put God First
For my husband and I, we know without out a doubt our marriage would be over today if it was not for our faith in God. A couple of years into our marriage we had to basically start over, using God as our foundation. We choose to live our lives by putting God first, our marriage second, our kids third and then everything else .
These nine tips are what work for us. I have read a plethora of books on the subject, picked and chose what I thought would work for us and then narrowed it down by trial and error. Every marriage is different. A bonus tip would be never try to make your marriage (or life) a cookie cutter version of someone else’s. You were made perfect and uniquely different. Embrace it.
How long have you been married?
What if the best piece of marriage advice you have been given?
How do you celebrate your anniversary?