Ten years later, we are still married — for better or worse. What we have learned is that there is no secret to longevity in marriage, but there is a lot of perseverance and hard work. There are times the good outweighs the bad and times the bad seems like it could never get worse. If I could go back and tell those 22-year-old kids a few things to help them through the rough patches of marriage, it would be this:
You will never be rich enough, never have enough material possessions and never be debt-free enough for what you want in life. Don't fool yourself — there is no such thing as the "perfect time" to get married, buy a house or have kids. Be smart about making large life choices, but don't wait for the perfect time because you'll never find it.
I loved my wedding. It was intimate and elegant with great food and great guests. But truly, it was one day. Marriage is not your wedding. Do not get so wrapped up in making your wedding day perfect that you are unable to focus on what really matters: your life together.
Despite all the advice telling you to never say the "D" word, you will likely want to get divorced at some point. And, in the throes of a fight, you will probably say it (or text it). Remind yourself that saying something and meaning something are often two very different things.
The Notorious B.I.G. had it right when he said the more money we have, the more issues we have. The truth is that marriage was easier when we were living in a one-bedroom basement apartment, didn't own a car and had no expenses other than my student loans and rent. Sure we were always broke, but we spent a lot of time finding (free!) ways to fill our spare time, and always together. The stress that comes along with making more money and accumulating more stuff has often taken away the fun part of being together that our more poor years gave us.
There is no way around it. Assuming you come into the marriage child-free, having a child will change everything about your marriage in the best and worst ways. Sleepless nights, lack of free time and changing priories will inevitably alter your relationship with your partner. It will no longer be ‘the two of us against the world.' In fact, your life (while rewarding) will likely feel boring and monotonous, at least while your children are young.
When you marry your partner, you marry their entire family. Part of fostering a long-lasting marriage lies in figuring out a way to get along with your in-laws because, like it or not, they're there forever. So invite your in-laws for dinner a few times a year or send them monthly email updates on your life — make a real effort to foster an amiable relationship.
In 10 years I have gained weight, lost my party-girl persona and shifted my priorities. Barhopping and hangovers have been replaced by late work nights and diaper changes. I am not the same girl my husband married 10 years ago and my husband isn't the same guy. But sometimes that change can affect your marriage in a really good way. We have become reliable and trustworthy, dependable and caring, (mostly) selfless and amazing parents. Sure, we aren't the fun keg-loving kids we once were, but accepting changes in our personalities and goals has really helped to make our marriage a stronger one.
I would have worn my husband as a coat when we first got married — I couldn't get enough of him. But as the years have gone by, I realized that spending time apart is what has, at times, kept our marriage together. Don't be afraid to be away from each other — time to breathe all alone really does make the heart grow fonder.
I like to be right all the time. But sometimes, I have to suck it up. Suck it up and apologize, suck it up and watch hockey instead of the Kardashians, suck it up and do the dishes because no one else is doing them. And sometimes, it sucks to suck it up. But remember, he sometimes has to suck it up too. My husband has sat through Serendipity more times than you can count. Give-and-take is central to living a life together.
There have been high highs and very low lows. We have made it through miscarriages, job losses, career changes and child birth. It has been both horrible and wonderful, sometimes all at once, but I wouldn't give up the experience of being married for anything.
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