BY KERRY PETSINGER
My husband and I have been married for 10 years. Here are some of the things I’ve learned over the past decade.
#Marriage is not two people giving 50/50
Marriage is about two people each giving 100%. When you start keeping track of “all the things you do all the time” and expecting tasks to be 50/50, you can easily start resenting your spouse. Focusing on what your spouse doesn’t contribute to the marriage and how your spouse isn’t being fair can increase your discontentment. Rather than continually keeping tabs of who last emptied the trash can, it can be helpful to focus on making your spouse feel special. Whether it’s a sweet note posted on the bathroom mirror, a little gift “just because,” or a unique surprise date you plan at a thoughtful location, putting in 100% effort in the marriage can strengthen your marriage.
#Traumatic events, illnesses, and grief have the potential to bring you closer together or drive you very far apart
Very difficult things can happen in life, and some couples seem to be slammed with one heartache after another. Everyone deals with stress and grief differently. As you endure extreme hardships together, do your best to keep communication open with your spouse. If you’re feeling all out of sorts, explain why to your spouse. Remember that you are two unique individuals, and when stressful events happen, you may process them very differently.
Our marriage has endured some devastating events, and we haven’t always been the best at sticking together through the hard times. As your marriage weathers the storms, make sure to furiously protect it. At times it may feel like everything in the world is threatening to tear you apart.
#Years into the marriage, you’ll still have days you wonder what planet your spouse came from
My husband and I have been married for years, and there are still days I feel like I don’t understand him at all. I don’t even know what else to say about this.
#People show love in completely different ways
One of the best books my husband and I have read is “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. After decades as a marriage counselor, Chapman became convinced that there are five basic ways to express love emotionally, which he calls the five basic love languages. According to Chapman, each person has a primary love language that we must learn to speak in order for the person to feel loved. The five love languages are: Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Receiving Gifts, Physical Touch, and Acts of Service.
The Five Love Languages book has changed my marriage immensely, and has helped me understand how to show love to my spouse. I’m very much a Quality Time person. My husband, on the other hand, needs Words of Affirmation and Acts of Service to feel loved. Knowing these differences between us has been eye-opening and has helped strengthen our marriage.
#It’s not all unicorns and rainbows
Dating is fun. Everything is new and exciting, and you both put effort into how you look and how you act. Then you get married and you realize you married a human. Who poops. And drools. You won’t be enticed by this person every day. In fact, you’ll be completely grossed out at times.
When you get lost in the daily grind of life, it’s easy to fall into the habit of giving each other the “leftovers” of yourselves, and having your spouse see only your worst sides – when you are physically and emotionally spent. It’s wise to continue to invest in each other after marriage. Invest time and energy into your relationship. Put in effort to make each other feel special. Make sure your spouse gets more from you than venting about your day. Even though not every day is unicorns and rainbows, make a point to regularly share the best parts of yourself with your spouse.
#Laughter fixes many problems
Having a good sense of humor can significantly help your marriage. When you can laugh together, it makes the good times even better, and the rough times a little less difficult.
#Giving each other space to spend time with friends and pursue individual goals can greatly enhance your happiness
Many people lose sight of who they are as individuals once they become married. However, I believe it’s very healthy to continue to have interests outside of your spouse. Whether it’s a professional or personal goal, or a hobby you love, nurturing other areas of your life aside from your relationship can help you feel more fulfilled in life. Your spouse won’t (and shouldn’t be expected to) fulfill all your needs. Taking time to connect with friends is also very important.
#Your love may grow stronger with each passing year
Marriage isn’t easy, and at times can be incredibly difficult. However, it can also be awesome. Best wishes to you for a long, happy Marriage.