The common “short” number of minutes we ask for when we’re behind, the number of “long” days in a typical work week, AND the number of years I’ve been married.
FIVE YEARS. Just the beginning in the big picture of time for the 50 year+ marriages and sadly, a milestone that 20% of marriages don’t see. Being 100% real, for us hitting 5 years was nothing short of a humbling accomplishment. Our first 5 years holds some of our happiest memories AND some of our hardest times. Days that were perfect AND days that most couples wouldn’t have survived. Here are 5 simple but game changing things I’ve learned (and wish I would’ve known as a newlywed!) in the last 5 years…
1) PICK YOUR BATTLES
This is the marriage equivalent of “don’t sweat the small stuff.” Seriously, don’t and DO pick your battles. Every single thing doesn’t have to be exactly YOUR way. When you merge two lives, you merge two mentalities. There are going to be differences, some of which may just be worth the argument but I promise you, where he throws his keys down when he comes home or the way he hangs his bath towel will not be.
2) SAY THANK YOU
It’s SO easy to become spoiled by the love and support your spouse shows. That’s part of this whole marriage thing, right? Yes BUT so is respect. If you’re lucky enough to have someone who supports all of your endeavors ( like being at the finish line of every race, regardless of how bad he hates waking up early on weekends!) and helps you without being asked…say thank you! It’s easy to just assume he or she knows you’re thankful but take the extra step to say it.
3) LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES AND MOVE ON
Mistakes are inevitable and you will both make them. Apologize/forgive, don’t make the same mistake again/trust the mistake will not be made again, and MOVE ON! This is hard on both sides but if you hold a grudge (or if you’re a perfectionist like me and keep beating yourself up once the mistake is long over and done…) your relationship will suffer. Talk it out, move on from it, and don’t look back.
4) TURN YOUR DIFFERENCES INTO STRENGTHS
You are two different people. You shouldn’t have the exact same mentality about every single thing. That’s just not reality if you have two intelligent, strong-willed individuals. Stop trying to make your spouse see things as you do and take a second to hear WHY they do things a certain way or think a certain thing. Instead of fighting the differences, embrace them.
5) PERFECT MARRIAGES AREN’T REAL
This was the absolute hardest lesson for me! My expectations were through the roof and when it wasn’t exactly as I expected, I was crushed and shut down. The whole process of getting married is all sunshine and rainbows but when the honeymoon phase is over and real life happens, you need to remember marriage is NOT perfect. It takes work, commitment, and most importantly, communication. Some days you’re going to argue. That’s real life. Having a marriage that isn’t perfect doesn’t mean you’ve made a mistake, it means you are a human being and you married one. You ARE going to have bad days and you ARE going to disagree, it’s not the end of the world but if you don’t communicate with your spouse I promise you, it’s going to feel like it is. Remember, nothing is perfect and it doesn’t have to be to be wonderful.
So am I sharing this because in five and a half years I’ve figured out all the answers? Hahahahaha. Not even close. We disagree, we argue, and we have bad days BUT we love unconditionally and we work together. While I know our marriage is stronger than I could’ve ever imagined because we survived learning these things together, I truly wish that in the very beginning instead of everyone telling me how much I would “love” being married and how wonderful it was going to be, someone would’ve said these things! So to any newlywed or anyone heading in that direction, marriage will not be perfect, it will be work, and some days you will want to quit but I promise you, it will be worth it every lesson and bad day. Support each other, communicate, and love unconditionally.