What I’ve learnt from 10 years of marriage
This blog post is dedicated to my baby brother, A, and his wife of (just over) a week, E.
In August Hubs and I celebrated being husband and wife for a whopping 10 years. I’m still not sure where the time has gone. Since then and especially with my baby brother’s wedding last weekend, I’ve been thinking about our marriage, how it’s changed, how we’ve changed and what I’ve learnt over these 10 years. So here goes:
Don’t fall asleep or say goodbye on an argument. It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again. Life is too short, you don’t know what time you have left together, so by all means have the arguments, take time to cool off in separate rooms, but then make up.
Compromise is key. As much as you are crazy about each other, there will always be things you don’t see eye to eye on, so the only way to survive is compromise.
Talk, talk, talk. Communication is the secret to a successful marriage. Don’t bottle things up, talk about your dreams, your plans, your goals. Talk about things that upset you, don’t expect your partner to just know.
Go on holiday. Sometimes it is better to dip into your savings to have a holiday together, to take time to reconnect as a couple, we have found that our holidays are like marriage therapy, we are so much closer after each holiday. And to us, that is worth far more than anything else that money could buy.
Learn to adapt when/if you have kids. Children will change your lives. You will change as a person. You will change as a couple. Work together on it and you’ll be stronger, ignore the changes and it could be the end of the marriage. We went through some rocky patches after having L (it’s been easier second time round), and you do have to work extra hard if/when you have kids.
Have weekly date nights. We were given a great book as a wedding present from the church in the UK where we had a wedding blessing (following our French wedding), “60 minute marriage“, and this book has helped us in many ways throughout our marriage. The main thing it taught us is to have a date night once a week – the author is very strict as he says no TV, no phones, just reconnecting. We are a bit more relaxed and don’t always make it every week, but probably once a fortnight. Over the years our date nights have varied depending on how much money we’ve got, but anyone can have a date night, even on zero budget. Put the kids to bed, have a nice meal, put on some nice music, maybe light some candles, eat, chat, enjoy each other’s company, ban all talk about work, household chores and to do lists. Sometimes we’ll put a film on and curl up on the sofa, other times we’ll stay at the table all evening, eating, drinking and talking. When we moved to London, were working full-time (so had money) and had a live in au pair we would go out pretty much once a week – to the cinema, a show, a restaurant, a walk around the sights of central London if the weather was good. It doesn’t matter what you do but put one evening aside a week/fortnight for date night.
Don’t let work take over. In the same book, the author talks about work and marriage. He says no one on their deathbed ever regretted not spending enough time at the office. It is easy for work to take precedence, everyone is under pressure (now more than ever), work takes up far more of our waking hours than anything else but don’t let it take over your life and your marriage. Something to remind ourselves of every now and then. We try to avoid letting work rule us by regularly scheduling in time to look at our goals and to make decisions to improve our life together.
Be selfish. Whilst it’s important to be there for your kids, it’s also important to be selfish and to think about yourself from time to time. Once every 3 weeks we have a “me day”, a day to ourselves to do whatever we want – lie in bed all day, go shopping, to the cinema, out with friends, an all day TV-athon. Whilst one of us has a me day the other one deals with the girls, and it is a fantastic way to recharge your batteries and to come back to the marriage and family unit full of energy. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that.
Do little things for each other. It’s really easy to start taking each other for granted after a while, but by doing little things for your husband/wife shows how much you still care, even if work and life does sometimes take over. Just yesterday morning I was hungover and tired after a big night out, Hubs took the girls downstairs to breakfast and then brought me a bacon and egg butty in bed. It’s just a little message to say I’m thinking about you and still love you, even in this hectic world we now live in.
Keep making an effort for each other. It’s easy to lapse into wearing greying undies and to slob out, but it’s important to keep the magic alive. I would be gutted if my sexy groom from 2003 let himself go and stopped making an effort so I try to do the same for him. It’s easier said than done because you get comfortable with each other, the pounds/kilos creep on and there doesn’t seem much point in buying nice, sexy undies, but I do think it shows a lack of respect for your husband/wife if you can’t be the best you for them. I’m not saying we’re perfect in this aspect but we do try, and I have to say that Hubs is as gorgeous and sexy now – if not more so – as he was when I said “I do” to him 10 years ago.
Look to the future together but enjoy the present. It’s great to make plans for the future together, be it holidays, career changes or pipe dreams, but don’t forget to live in the now. It sometimes seems that life is a never-ending hamster wheel but do take time to smell the flowers and just live and be together, if you are with someone who you love and who loves you back then you are a very lucky person already.
I am so lucky in my marriage as Hubs is incredible, and whilst neither of us is perfect, and we drive each other demented at times, we are also equal partners and soul mates, as well as best friends, and long may that last.
Just a little nod to my parents here, as I couldn’t really write a post like this without mentioning them, as they were my first and are still my main role model when it comes to marriage – next June they will have been married for 45 years, they have 5 kids, 5 grandkids and are still going strong and are clearly still in love, as you can see at my brother’s wedding last weekend: