On our nine year wedding anniversary, I couldn’t help but reflect on how much my relationship with my husband has changed since 2005. As with most marriages, we have had our fair share of struggles, and joyous occasions; but I am happy to say that this particular stage of our marriage has to be the happiest I have ever been. Nine years of matrimony doesn't come without lessons and life experience; here are some of the most important ones I have learned throughout the years:
- Accept each other’s quirks; they are never going to go away. What starts off as cute but strange habits of your partner, will more than likely over time, turn into a major annoyance to you. After many “heated discussions” I learned to embrace these major annoyances, and see them as just a part of the person I love. For example, my husband’s mother drilled the “don’t bring mud into the house” rule into him. This rule has stuck with him, even 10 years after leaving his parents’ home. For me this means, as soon as he enters our front door he begins peeling off his muddy clothes from head to toe and bee lining towards the shower…leaving his entire daily wardrobe in our entry way. When I pick out an outfit I usually yank it off the hanger and leave the empty hanger on the clothes rack (sometimes I pick out several things at a time leaving unused clothing on the floor of the closet). I absolutely despise hanging up clothes, because of that my husband has agreed to hang up the clothes; he found it really annoying that he would have to hunt for my empty hangers and unused clean clothes on the floor all throughout the closet. No matter what we each said or did, nothing was changing our quirks. Instead we have learned to just embrace these die hard bad habits we have. I now have a “decorative” hamper at the entrance of our home for him to put all his muddy clothes in each day, and he does a weekly sweep of my side of the closet to find the empty hangers and my unused clothing to rehang. We are who we are, and as a spouse, you learn to accept and embrace the good and the bad about one another.
- Sex is important. Very Important. To all the men reading this, share this article with your wives (and your welcome!). At the beginning of marriage most go through the typical “honey moon phase”, and sexual intimacy is the least of your problems. But, as time goes on children, sports practices, extended job hours, all seem to make your sex life take a backseat to in your marriage. All the everyday hustle and bustle of life can make it very difficult for couples to dedicate the time (and energy) needed for intimacy, but it is a necessity. Although there are so many times that my husband and I have a one track mind to hit the bed and get much needed sleep, we have made a conscious commitment to one another to make intimacy a priority throughout our week. Sex is an important way to communicate, and connect with your partner. It helps to relieve stress, build security, and show love for one another.
- Keep the pre-children coupledom alive. Most weekend plans nowadays, consist of pee wee sports games, birthday parties and play dates. Parenthood is a wonderful experience that brings so much growth and joy to a couple, that is can be easy to get wrapped up in pouring every ounce of your free time into your precious babies. Over the years we have had to learn to balance not only being “Alex’s parents” but being “Cindy and Michael” as well. We want our children to not only grow up in a happy home, but also see the value in having a happy marriage. This means that we have to dedicate time with one another and have a date night. Even though we may only get the opportunity once every month or two, we always try to make accommodations for our date night to happen. Date nights can range from being able to actually join adult life and go out with other couples to have dinner, drinks and ADULT conversation, to cuddling on the couch, popping some popcorn and renting a Netflix movie. The main thing is that we enjoy our time together, and have fun with each other no matter what we end up doing. My husband is the best sidekick I could ever ask for, and I know as long we are together; we are always going to have a great time.
- Side by side, you take life’s curve balls with humor, grace and humility. Many have experienced the downfall of the best laid plans. Life often has an ironic sense of humor, leading you and your partner on a new journey (good or bad) to embark on. Our relationship has seen its fair share of curveballs. For example: planning the timing of baby number two carefully, making sure we were prepared as much as possible; we never imagined the we would be faced with so many obstacles. Dealing with career struggles and major income changes wasn’t in the carefully laid out plan we had prepared. Over the years, the unexpected obstacles designed to tear couples apart, have often bought my husband and I closer together. Every time we have been knocked down, we come back up hand in hand and twice as strong as before. Hard times are a true test of love, patience, and commitment. It’s easy to love each other and be happy, when life is all sunshine and butterflies; but it’s the times when you go through challenges and disappointment that you need your partner the most. My parent’s recently celebrated 50 years of matrimony, and it still amazes me how they remain so happy despite so many tragic setbacks they have experienced in their lives. As my father was rushed to the hospital last year, I remember watching my father and mother in adoration as my father did silly little things to make my mother laugh to calm her nerves as they waited in the emergency room for him to be admitted into the hospital. In that moment, I thought to myself “THAT is what marriage is all about. They have learned to take life’s crisis’ in stride, and know that as long as they have each other they will get through anything.”