Marriage is amazing. It’s slow dancing in the living room. Midnight kisses. Random flower deliveries. Lovemaking and dates and long talks. And then it isn’t.
What no one ever tells you when you get married is that after all that fades away marriage is equal parts loving someone madly, wanting to murder them sometimes, and work.
You have to work at a marriage. You have to water it to help it keep growing. Think about yourself at 17 years old. Then at 25 years old. Two completely different people. Marriage is like that. You change and your marriage changes too.
You love each other more and more fiercely as time goes on (hopefully) but life can get in the way. Jobs, stress, money, kids, house stuff. A million little things take you away from each other.
Suddenly flowers don’t come, kisses are hurried, and sleep is a priority. I’m no expert obviously, I’ve only been married just 5 years (on December 13th) but I’ve learned a great deal in that short time. So I thought I’d share some insights.
Go on dates.
Go on dates. I can’t say this enough. Make. Time. Reconnect. Go on a picnic, dinner, dancing, a museum. Whatever is your thing. Go childfree, distraction-free. DON’T talk about money. Get back to basics. Talk about your dreams. Ask deep questions. Where would you live if you could live anywhere regardless of money, time, jobs, etc. ? Things like that. Act like it’s a first date again.
Make sex a priority.
Why is this still taboo? Sex is just as important in a relationship as anything else. Maybe more so. And not just sex but intimacy. Kiss like you mean it. Explore again. Remember why he/she makes you tick. Buy the sexy lingerie. Try something new. Go to a novelty store, even if you don’t buy anything, you’ll get a good laugh. Get back to it. No more excuses.
Listen to understand not to hear.
When you do have a fight or disagreement, don’t listen on the defensive. Our immediate response in an argument is to go on the defensive and formulate our side generally before the other person is even done speaking. Listen to understand. Try to really clear your mind and take in what your partner is saying in an objective way. This takes practice. Remember that words once said cannot be taken back. Stay calm. Try and understand and once you’ve actually listened to them, think and then respond. You don’t have to respond immediately. You’re allowed a bit of time to think and so are they. It’s okay to take a break from the conversation and come back to it if either of you gets overwhelmed.
Communicate, then talk about it some more.
This is probably the most important thing in any relationship, even a friendship. Talk. Talk some more. About everything. Tell each other how you’re really feeling. Talk it out before it has to be a fight. Talk about everything even if it feels irrelevant. Little things can become resentment. You can’t hold things in. Even if it’s uncomfortable. I once had a therapist tell me some of the best advice I’ve ever received.
Sometimes we need to sit in our uncomfortableness to work through it and everyone is so afraid to feel uncomfortable today that we just avoid our feelings so we won’t be uncomfortable. So sit in it. Feel it. Work through it. Deal with it. Acknowledge that it’s uncomfortable and talk about it.
I guess the most important part of being in any relationship, marriage or not, is just remembering that we are all human. We make mistakes. We do stupid things. We say stupid things. But marriage is still worth fighting for. It’s not just a piece of paper. Money is a piece of paper and we still work hard for that every day. We are ever-changing as people, ever-evolving, and relationships are too. If you love someone, truly love them, you’ll work hard for them too.