In honor of World Marriage Week and St. Valentine's Day, Mary is holding a link-up about lessons we've learned in every year of marriage. Since we're still married 14 years later, clearly I must have learned SOMETHING along the way. Maybe a little something, anyway.
1. Everyone Changes - Neither Ben nor I are the same people we were 14 years ago. Hopefully we've changed for the better. But everyone changes. When you marry someone, realize that you aren't just marrying them, you are marrying the person they will be years and years from now. And you really don't know what that person will look like or be like. Which just means that marriage is a journey and not an end destination. It's a risky...but pretty much all things worth doing in life are risky.
2. Someone has to give in..it might as well be you. Actually this really only works if BOTH people have this attitude, If they are both willing to give in and are more concerned with the other person, than with being right. Nothing kills a relationship more than someone who always has to be right.
3. Don't turn little stuff into big stuff. Let's just say that your spouse does something little...forgets an anniversary or snaps at you or forgets to call home when they are late or calls you too much on your cell phone or squeezes the toothpaste the wrong way. Don't turn it into A BIG THING. It's not worth it and it's NOT A BIG THING. So don't make it into one.
4. Little Solutions Make A Big Difference I have this vague memory of hearing somewhere that a lot of couples get divorced over toothpaste tubes. Squeezing it the wrong way. Leaving the cap off. Don't do that. It's ridiculous and stupid. If you don't like the way your spouse handles a toothpaste tube, buy your own tube for crying out loud and forget about it.
5. Remember You Are Marrying A Real Person and Not an Ideal. I think when we are young we all have an idea of what our perfect spouse would be like. But then we end up marrying a real person. A person who is not perfect. A person who maybe gets tired and grumpy. A person who maybe gains weight or loses their hair or makes a bad financial decision. And we have to extend grace.
6. Remember That You Aren't Perfect. Every time I'm tempted to get mad at my husband for one his shortcomings, I remember the numerous shortcomings I have. I am certainly NOT perfect (shocking..I know), so I can't very well expect him to be.
7. Let Final Decision Making Rest On the Person the Decision Most Affects I've breastfed all my kids. Which means that all the night-wakings would fall on me...since babies wake up and need to be fed. Which means I choose to co-sleep...because I love co-sleeping and I hate getting up at night and I absolutely hate hearing babies cry, so co-sleeping allows myself and the baby to get the sleep we need. It works really well for me. I realize it doesn't for everyone...but for me..it's the perfect solution to babies waking up at night. People always ask how to get their husband on board with co-sleeping. Well I can't speak for other husbands, but mine is more than willing to let me make decisions like this, because the decision primarily affects me. And he knows that if I am well rested, everyone is happier. However, he makes the parenting decisions that affect him. He watches way more movies with the kids than I ever do. Which means he sometimes chooses to show them movies that I would not choose to show them. But since he's watching the movies and I trust that he loves our children and has their best interests in mind, I let him choose whether or not to show a Sherlock Holmes murder mystery to a 10-year old.
8. Your marriage doesn't have to look like anyone else's. It doesn't have to look like your parents' marriage or your friends' marriage or my marriage. You don't have to go on date nights every week if you can't swing it. You don't have to turn Valentine's Day into a big deal just because your sister's husband makes it a big deal. Every couple needs to find out what works for them.
9. Trust is important. I am nosey. Like super nosey. Honestly, that's why I love reading blogs and being on Facebook. I'm nosey about everyone else's life. Occasionally that can annoy my husband. Because nosey people are annoying....I know that..even though I'm one of them. So he's had to learn that my nosiness is not a lack of trust, but just a rather annoying fault.
10. Sex is important and you should prioritize it (<blush>..my MOM reads my blog..so I'm blushing as I write this). It's totally true though. One of the worst things a couple can do is turn sex into a power play or one person withholding it to "punish" the other person. I think a lot of marriages break up over that one thing.
11. Extend grace when it comes to finances. They say a lot of marriages break up over finances. Which I can totally believe because finances are tricky. I think it's important to extend some grace. Everyone wastes money occasionally or makes poor financial decisions at times. So, extending grace to your spouse when they make a mistake is super important.
12. Love flourishes in the every day. There's a lot of marriage books and website out there that emphasize the important of "getting away" and "weekly date nights" and all that. Those things can be wonderful, but you don't need them for a happy marriage. You really don't. Don't make the happiness of your marriage dependent on romantic weekend getaways or date nights. Because there will be seasons in life when those things just aren't possible. And you can still have a happy marriage and let love flourish when those things aren't possible Yes, you do need to spend time together, but it doesn't have to be outside your house. Even just a simple hug can bring about connection. Physical connection is important. Laughing is important. But it doesn't need to be planned and it doesn't need to be away.
13. Don't pit your marriage against your children. A lot of people out there talk about how you should always prioritize your marriage above your children. I think that's ridiculous. It's not one against the other. Sometimes kids WILL come first. And sometimes your spouse will. Check out a post from the early days of this blog. Who's on First?
14. Try to make life easier for the other person. It's the little things you do for another person that make a marriage. Putting gas in their car. Washing the dishes. Making their lunch/coffee/tea. Whatever you can do to make their life easier.
What about you? What lessons have you learned during your marriage?
(Also linking up with Blessed is She)
(Also linking up with Blessed is She)