My husband and I were married 13 years ago today! And while our marriage is far from perfect, there are a few things I’ve learned NOT to do, in order to keep the love alive, and keep the peace.
1. Speak badly about him to my friends. Even if it’s just texting a girlfriend to say he’s got the man flu and that I’m annoyed he’s still in bed, I try not to do it. Imagine if he were to read that (or what if I were to read a text he sent like that about me)? It’s not worth it. I try to keep those thoughts to myself, or if I need to vent, I call my sister or best friend.
2. Stunt his passions. My husband’s a natural-born entrepreneur, and as a type-A personality, I love to control, and tend to hate anything that’s not planned and totally conservative and “by the book.” It took me years, but I’ve finally learned to let that go. One thing that helps me do that is asking myself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” And usually, it’s nothing major. I’m learning the more that I embrace his passions, the happier he is, and by default, the happier I am.
3. Ignore money problems. We have had joint bank accounts since we got married, and while that may not work for everyone, communicating about money is key. Of course, we’re all raised with different ways of thinking about money, but it’s important to navigate that together, rather than individually. I’ll never forget when we first got married, and our vacuum cleaner broke. I was shocked when my husband suggested we buy a new one, as my first instinct was to call a repair shop to fix it! Whatever the issue, I find that if we communicate about it, we are both on the same page and we can make a decision together. I update our finances every 2 weeks, and share the budget in a GoogleDoc, so he can access it anywhere. Again, it’s all about being on the same page.
4. Get mad because “he should just know.” The fact is, he’s not a mind-reader, and he doesn’t “just know.” I tell myself this a lot when I think things should be, well… just understood. It’s helped me learn to just ask him for what I need (rather than just implying it).
5. Use the D word. No matter how big the fight, this word is totally off-limits for me. It’s easy to say things we don’t mean when we’re furious, but the residual damage is never worth it.
6. Stay quiet when I’m mad. Okay, I’m still working on this one, and it’s actually one of my biggest struggles. But, I know it doesn’t help anyone when I don’t share why I’m upset. Again, he doesn’t “just know” all the time, and it’s up to me to share my frustrations in a productive way.
7. Believe he doesn’t care about me. This is a trap I fall into often, especially as a stay-at-home mom with 3 young kids. I often find myself buying into the martyr mentality, telling myself, ‘Oh, poor me. He doesn’t care about me and has no idea what I go through each day.’ That’s bull crap! He loves me very much and works hard for our family everyday, and he faces challenges at work that I may never know about. Don’t feed yourself lies!
8. Solve the issue immediately. “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger” is the popular saying, but I actually think there are plenty of great reasons to go to bed angry. You don’t say anything you’ll regret, and you have a night to sleep on it! I can’t tell you how many mornings I’ve woken up after an unresolved argument to tell my husband I love him, I’m sorry, and this issue isn’t that big of a deal. More often than not, we end up coming to a compromise, or at least an understanding, before he even heads to work.
9. Ignore his needs. Whether it’s his favorite dinner or having sex, his needs are important, and they need to be important to me too. I find that the more I make his needs my priority, the happier we both are. (And of course, he does the same with me.)
10. Telling everyone about everything about our relationship. With social media and texting, it’s so easy for your relationship to become an open book, even with your close girlfriends. But I believe that discretion is one of the building blocks of trust in a relationship. If I air all his dirty laundry, even to my inner circle of friends, how can he trust me? Keep the personal stuff between the 2 of you.
11. Take everything seriously. Life is exhausting, especially in the little-kids phase of life we’re in right now. Take a minute and laugh! Our favorite nights together are when we can just sit back and laugh at the silly stuff. It lightens the mood and brings us closer.
12. Think we’ll celebrate every holiday like we used to. We don’t even bother going out for Valentine’s Day anymore, and our anniversary trip each year depends on whether the grandparents can come to town to watch the kids. The less I get bogged down in the expectations of the holiday, the better is it for all. Life happens.
13. Not make time to be alone together. With our 3 boys under 5 years old, this is a struggle for us, but it’s an important one! Whether it’s vacations, date nights (or my favorite, day dates), or even just a few stolen moments while the kids are napping, make alone time a priority. If you don’t water a garden, it won’t grow!
Do you have any to add? Share them in the comments section below.