On our honeymoon. Yes, I was 12 (JK)
You know when you were younger and everyone got a boyfriend? And then you got to a stage where it seemed like all your friends were getting engaged and married? And then your friends all started to have babies? All the stages were joyous and celebratory even if you did go broke on shower gifts and bridesmaid dresses. Well, we’re at this stage we’re everyone is starting to get divorced. And it suuuckks. Sorry, there’s just no other way to describe watching two people who loved each other become sworn enemies and fight over who keeps a couch. It’s just awful. After spending the last year walking a friend through it, I have SOME THOUGHTS about it but I’m still trying to work it out before sharing anything.
Yesterday I sat at dinner with a coworker. She’s getting married in two months and she asked me for marriage advice. Today is mine and Scott’s 15th wedding anniversary so I thought it appropriate I might share what I told her.
First thing, no one really knows how to DO marriage. I mean, really we’re all just a bunch of screwed up people trying to live within the same walls without wanting to divorce at best and kill each other at worst. A person can drive you up one of those walls in a hurry.
So I share these not as an expert but as a person who has to climb down the wall on the regular (and has a husband who has to do the same).
You can’t last too long in marriage without forgiveness. If there was just one thing I wanted to communicate to my friend it is that. Because as I said, we get driven up a wall a lot of times and forgiveness is what gets us down most of the time.
We have bad days and bad ideas and say bad things and you really just have to learn to forgive the other person for that and move on. Not hold it in your back pocket for a rainy day but to really just say that really just sucked what you did but I’m not going to hold it against you.
Give each other grace to have those bad times and growing room and remember you need it too.
Learn your roles in the household will cut down on 92% of the arguing. In fact, the arguing will show you where you need to make some changes in your roles. If you get upset every single time he cuts the grass because he doesn’t do it right, maybe it’s time for you to get yourself outside and cut the grass the right way. Don’t let tradition tell you what your roles should be. You guys work out what works best for your marriage. It won’t look the same as your parents or your neighbors next door.
Learn your love languages and use them well.
Figure out what The Crazy Cycle is always be the one who gets off first.
Realize that marriages go in seasons. When you’re newly married it’s pretty great–awesome, actually–and then you get into this season where you question what in the world you did. And then you decide to do the hard work to make yourselves better and then marriage gets awesome again. I’m sure we’ll do that 5 more times before our ride is through and it would have helped to know that up front.
Don’t let divorce be a concept you ever discuss. You make it 15 years or 25 or even 55 by sticking it through the hard times and deciding you’re going to be the one to help them through the hard times and they’ll be there for you when you lose your mind a little.
All that to say today on my 15th wedding anniversary, I’m celebrating the hard work we’ve done to get here. It’s no small feat.
But let me say, the hard times make the good times even sweeter.
I’m out of town for work as I write this. Scott called my hotel first thing this morning to tell me Happy Annivesary and I didn’t even know he knew what hotel I was in. He didn’t realize I was an hour behind either so I had to call him back when I woke up a bit more.
When I called back he said he was doing dishes and had just fed the dog. The kids were still sleeping because they’d had a late night with a sleepover with their cousin. He had cut the grass and cooked dinner last night. Basically, he is awesome and I fell in love with him again.
I love to watch him work hard for our family, to protect us, to have fun with us. I love it when he buys me M&Ms at the gas station because he knows I love them. I love when he schedules massages for me when he sees I’m super stressed. I love when he wants me to just sit with him in his recliner because he still likes me that much.
Yeah, marriage is hard work and not at all like the storybooks–in the storybooks you fall in love once but in real life, you get to do it over and over.