Ten years ago today I found myself standing in front of a church full of people staring down the aisle at the woman who was to soon become my wife. I remember looking at her and laughing to myself (mostly to keep myself from crying like a baby) and thinking I am not good enough for her. Honestly, there are many days now that I still think that. But, here I am ten years later and she still loves me, still puts up with my quirks, and broken parts.
So, as I start my eleventh year with her as my wife, I have been thinking about what being married has taught me. These are the ten things I have learned (in no particular order) from being married to this amazing woman.
1. Marriage is Hard Work
Being married is hard work. It’s more then a career, it is your life. To get the most out of it, you need to put work into it. You really do get out of it as much as you put into it. If you put nothing into it, you will get nothing out of it. If you work and cultivate your marriage, you will grow it into something you never thought you could.
2. You Lose a Part of Who You Are
Which isn’t always a bad thing. You lose part of who you were, but you become something so much more. I can honestly say, I lost some of my worst traits and am a better person because of my wife.
3. You Have a Built in Best Friend
This is the best part about being married. I don’t have to go very far to find the person I can share my problems with, to joke with, to wish with. It is amazing and you can’t beat it.
4. You Don’t Need to Spend a Lot of Money to Show Someone You Love Them
I often make the mistake of thinking I need to spend money to show my love. However, you don’t. It is the small things every day that show it (like making my wife’s lunch for her every day). It is the little surprises here or there. The little note left in her car, the mention of something that reminds you of her, the random text that says I miss seeing you. These all show your love and don’t cost a thing.
5. You Need Time For Your Own Interests
While it is great to have interests together, it is also essential to have your own. You do need some time away. To me that is the weekly game of Ultimate Frisbee. Don’t worry, your significant other will still be there when you get back.
6. Sex is Essential to a Happy Marriage
It is. Do I need to say more? Okay, I will. While life often gets in the way of this, you need to make time for it. Sure snuggling is fine on the couch, but you need this intimacy to reconnect with your spouse. But, it isn’t just the sex. It is the flirting, the playfulness that helps you connect. Enjoy it. Enjoy it often.
7. Listening is More Important Than You Ever Thought It Could Be
Communication is key here. You can’t communicate if you don’t listen. This doesn’t mean thinking about the next thing you are going to say. It means actively listening to what the other person is saying. Some silence is okay in any good conversation to digest what was said before you speak. I had a great teacher who taught me this back in high school and I still use it to this day. Remember, what your partner says is important so pay attention to it.
8. Date Nights Are Important
Time away from the kids, the home, the job. It is important. Have fun, do something. We are lucky enough to have grandma to watch the kids so that we can have a date night every week. I couldn’t stress how much it is needed. You don’t have to do it every week, but do it. And it doesn’t need to cost a fortune. Often times we will just go for walks and come home and watch a movie on the couch without interruption. That is often all you need.
9. Don’t Sweat the Small Things
There are so many small things that are meaningless. Don’t worry about them. Shrug it off and move on. It is stress that you don’t need and it just builds. Trust me you have so many more big things to worry about that the small things should filter through.
10. Don’t Go to Bed Mad…
Or to work, or anywhere. Apologize (even if you don’t mean it). Often you need to lose the battle to win the war. And the war here, is a happy marriage. Get over yourself, and truly think about the situation. Is it worth your partner going through the entire day mad? Is it worth tossing and turning all night over? Not usually. If you start it, finish it, but finish it with a hug and a kiss.
Here’s to my beautiful wife Alicia. Thank you for choosing me and giving me the life we have. I could not do any of this without you. You are truly the most amazing person I have ever met.