This year the hubby and I will be married 18 years. I can’t believe it. The fact that time has flown by so quickly or that we have somehow managed to cruise along with some pretty big bumps in the road is not taken for granted. Throughout the years, marriage and how to keep it happy has often been the topic of many gatherings with my girlfriends. Every marriage is different, but there seems to be some common themes and pieces of advice that I would love to share with you. I am in no way an expert in this area, but by Hollywood standards 18 years of marriage would automatically qualify me to be a spokesperson. Here are some tips from one sassy girl to another:
1) Pray a lot because you will need it -pray for patience, pray for things you can’t control, pray, pray, pray. . . you get my drift!
2) Lighten the heck up - So many women I know feel like they always have to be right in every situation and every argument. I include myself in this group at times. Be flexible. If you don’t lighten up then you can be right all the way to divorce court. Admit when you are wrong. Let him have input into decisions, too. The only exception might be furniture selection–unless of course, he is an interior designer.
3) Make a date once a week for passion – By this I mean, stop and look each other in the eyes and say you love each other. We take one other for granted when we are busy; put a reminder in your phone as an alarm to tell your spouse that he means the world to you. Stick to it. I am not kidding. You must remember from week to week what brought you together in the first place. You used to make time for long, wet kisses so just do it. You can’t be making a grocery or to do list in your head either, be in the moment.
4) Stay positive – Don’t constantly put down his family, friends, hobbies, etc. Your mother-in-law raised him and you married him, so she can’t be all that bad. Unless his family or friends live with you, just tolerate them if they get on your nerves. It’s just not worth the negative words or feelings. Lift him up with positive words and praise because the more you say it out loud, the more you start to believe it and the more he will start to live it.
5) Let him be a parent too – Just because he won’t hold the baby bottle the same way you do doesn’t mean that he is doing it wrong. So what if he takes the kids to the movies in mismatched clothes, he IS spending precious time with them. If you constantly make him feel insecure about how he is interacting with the kids then he won’t want to do it anymore.
6) Make time for yourselves apart – You cannot possibly make someone else happy unless you are happy as a individual. Allow yourself a little time to do whatever makes you happy once a week. A phone call to your funny friend, exercise, shopping, coffee at the book store, whatever it may be and tell your spouse to do the same thing. It is so easy to lose sight of who you are as a person when you have so many other people to be responsible for. Your mind and body need a little break and refresher from time to time. This is so hard to do sometimes, especially with young kids. You will be better for it, I promise.
7) Clue him in on what your expectations of him might be - Men are not mind readers. We have to spell it out for them– and in detail. If you want him to help you out with the cleaning then tell him. You are wasting time pouting about it and waiting on him to guess what he is supposed to do. Men don’t want to guess because it will dig them a deeper hole. I was very guilty of this until about nine years ago. When I finally figured out that I failed to enlighten him as to what I expected, it was like a light bulb went off and made things so much smoother.
8)Find something to do together – I know it is hard to carve out time for each other, but even if it is just 30 minutes a week then do it. Go to Sunday school class, hit balls at the driving range, go fishing. It doesn’t have to cost much money and if you don’t have the money for a babysitter then take turns with another couple. My hubby and I have started doing half marathons together. We don’t always work out at the same time, but childcare is included at the gym and there is just something sexy about being on the treadmill next to him. I just love knowing that he is waiting for me at the finish line; he is a lot faster than me!
9) Laugh a lot and often – Marriage and life in general will throw you lots of curve balls. In order for you not to let it get the best of you, then you must laugh and be playful and make light of everyday obstacles. Your kids will benefit from seeing this playfulness with your spouse. Besides, laughter just makes life better. My Daddy was telling jokes to my Mom on his deathbed. They had an incredibly happy and long marriage. I have a lot to live up to!