6 Marriage Tips That 10 Years Have Taught Me
10 years! I have been married to Mr. L for 10 years today.
Since he is the math guy, it is only fitting that I do a little math ( insert internal panic here and prepare my fingers for counting…) 10 years is 120 months; 521 weeks; 3,650 days; 87,000 hours! We have been married through 4 moves across 3 states, 6 cars, 1 purchased home, 1 sold home, the loss of 3 grandparents, the loss of 1 parent, 3 angel babies and 2 babies ( who are not so much babies anymore) that we get to raise.
That’s a lot of numbers, ya’ll. Despite all of the digits, it has flown by and seems to get faster every year. I got incredibly lucky, ladies… like… REALLY lucky. Seriously, the man cooks, cleans, lets me sleep in on the weekends and makes me coffee every.single.morning.
I take credit for none of this. The fact that he does housework probably came to him out of necessity, because he knew I wasn’t a domestic goddess
( really, the clothes could stay in the dryer until they need to be worn for all I care).
I LOVE cooking. ( Check out some of my recipes page)…but doing the dishes afterward, eh, not really my thing.
Don’t get me wrong, I like a clean house. I totally vacuum. I don’t want dirt and filth. But, I don’t mind a little bit of the “lived in” look. Mr. L, not so much. He can’t go to bed with dishes in the sink… whereas I could totally sleep at night. Needless to say, his OCD has served me well over these last years.
Though by no means an expert and I applaud and admire those who have several decades under their belts, I do think 10 years is long enough to have learned a few things to share.
1. I am hard to live with. And…sometimes, so is he.
I leave the cupboard doors in the kitchen hanging open all the time.
Terrible habit. It drives him crazy.
But, if there is one last piece of yummy deliciousness in the fridge, he will eat it…and forget that I may want some. We still do these things. We’re human. It happens. After ten years, though, we generally don’t bring it up when these things happen. We have realized it isn’t worth it.
Life is too short to argue over an open cupboard door or the fact that leftover steak is gone when I have another one in the freezer that can be cooked later. Yet so many marriages are in misery over the little things. I wasn’t made to battle him. I was made to work with him.
2. Be Flexible
Nathan likes plans and itineraries. I would throw the roadmap out the window. I once made him drive 30 minutes out of our way, just so I can go to the first KFC in Kentucky and the home of Colonel Sanders. He did not utter a word or argue. He simply took the exit off the highway, and let me have my fun.
When we proceed back on the road towards civilization, he calmly and flatly said, ” I hope you can die happy now” and we moved on.
As our marriage has progressed, I have become much more of a planner… at least with important items like finances and he has become more spontaneous. (I would still make him go out of his way to catch a tourist trap or weird and unusual spot….like this one )
3. It’s okay if you and your spouse feel love and accept it differently.
At the risk of sounding completely unapproachable, hugging isn’t really my thing. I am just not wired that way. A“nice pat on the shoulder” or “handshake” usually suffices for me. I hate that awkward moment when you meet “ a hugger” and you have to determine if they will be offended if you go for the shake…or if this hug thing is really gonna happen. It isn’t natural for me to reach out and just give a hug, and, sadly, that includes Nathan.
I usually have to make a mental note and tell my brain to act in a way that says “ I should hug this person.” Nate included. Don’t get me wrong, I am attracted to him…but in the craziness of life, hugging doesn’t top my list. But, he wants hugs from me, so I have to remember to make an effort to do it…because it matters to him and he thrives on that contact.
As for him, he knows he can rock my world if he brings me a cookie…or sends a quick text to say he is thinking of me. It’s years of learning how your spouse gives and receives love that really makes marriage cool. To know that you understand what they need and how you can provide it =awesomeness.
4. Kids come second.
Our kids do not come before our marriage.
Hear me out on this! We LOVE our kids. We would die for our kids. And it is because we love them, that they are not the be all to end all of our marriage. We want them to feel safe, loved and to be able to flourish. In order to provide that, we know that we need to stay connected with one another.
I recently read a great article about this prioritization by therapists Gary and Joy Lundberg at FamilyShare.com titled 4 Key Reasons Why It Matters to Put Your Spouse Before Your Children. Check it out here.
A couple of weeks ago, Josiah said to me that he had a classmate who “lives at two homes” but that he knew that would never happen to him because “ you and daddy really love each other.” I shared that with Nathan and we were both humbled, now having ten years of understanding of what this takes from both of us.
The challenge remains as true today as it did ten years ago…that we made a commitment and a promise to each other, and for that reason, our marriage has to be a top priority. Though it seems far off now while they are little, at the end of the day, my kids are going to leave the nest and I still want to know the man that I will be living with.
5. You can’t always take it too seriously.
I have the tremendous joy of working alongside my husband. Many couples tell me they could never do it with their spouse. I love it. It works for us.
The other day I had one of Mr. L’s math students run into my office and say “ Is it true that you and Mr. Lawrence met on FarmersOnly.com?” I rolled my eyes, laughed, and they promptly went to his classroom and told him that I “was never wearing a plaid, flannel shirt again and that FarmersOnly may be a great place for him to meet his next wife.” The kids howled, Nathan was laughing, I was laughing…it was fun. They have seen me give my impression of his bowling technique. You can’t take this thing called marriage too seriously sometimes because life will do its part to provide you with enough drama. You have to laugh in the downtime.
6.We can’t do this on our own.
We are constantly looking at the examples set to us by parents, grandparents, older friends with strong marriages.
Seeking wise counsel from others, and most importantly, seeking instruction from the Bible is key. In our flesh, we will fail. I will fail him ( and do many times) and he will fail me. However, as Christians, our faith is a foundational piece of our marriage. We serve a God who will never fail us, leave us, or forsake us. When I remember the grace and forgiveness shown to us as sinners by Christ, it makes it a million times easier to forgive Mr. L for doing something like eating the last of the leftovers.
I made a good life choice 3,650 days ago.
My husband has continually, tirelessly and patiently put up with me for ten years through emotional roller coasters, hare-brained ideas and day to day monotony in between, and for that I am grateful. He has blessed me beyond measure and I hope we have several more decades to work on “figuring it all out” and getting some more of life’s numbers in the books.