After 10+ years of marriage to the same person, here’s what I have learned:
1. Just jump in.
Exactly as I did with this article which did not need some intriguing teaser or a long-lead. Jump into bed with your spouse. Jump into conversations with them. Jump over the mess of toys on the floor and don’t ask your partner why they have yet to be cleaned up. Jump alongside one another and your children in gleeful, slightly immature joy and do it often, because a person having fun is way more attractive than one that isn’t.
2. Keep talking…
And talking and talking. Remember, you must jump into conversations — those you want to have, those you need to have, and those you are desperately trying to avoid. Without chatter of all kinds — mindless, productive, loving — you will drift apart. BUT, your words, all of them, will accumulate and pile on top of one another and serve as the foundation on which your partnership is built.
3. Shut up.
Yes, I want you to keep talking and shut up, and it’s imperative to do both, equally. There is time for talk, and there is time for quiet. There is a time where you must only listen and digest.
Your food, your phone charger, your basketball shorts (his, not yours), your desires, dreams, wants, needs, anxieties, and fears. And, do you know what else you must share? Your time. Yep, that time that minimal time that is slotted for “you,” if/when your spouse “wants in” on it as well, let them.
5. Make time for you.
That is when you are not sharing your time with them or your children; so practically never, but occasionally. It’s the repetitive lyric we all can recite, but it’s true that we are incapable of pouring from an empty cup. Make sure your cup is full and remember that you are on the only one that knows exactly what you want in your cup and how you want it. I like mine filled with Starbucks, a good craft beer, or an Apothic Red, but to each their own.
6. Laugh — A lot.
Laugh-cry if you need to (I do it a lot). Laugh when your spouse inadvertently or purposefully (if he or she is one of those) farts at an inappropriate time. Laugh when their jokes aren’t that funny (or funny at all). Laugh when you want to laugh. Laugh when you don’t want to laugh. Laugh at yourself. Laugh with each other. Laugh as much as you can, as often as you can, and if you can hone the talent that is laughing in the face of challenges so that you may rise to face them — bravo.
7. Let go.
Of any unrealistic expectations you have for yourself and your partner, and of any misconceptions about what qualifies as relationship bliss. But, that’s not all. Release your innermost thoughts and feelings and let them reach your spouse. At the same time, let go of your selfish desire for your partner to do the same. Hopefully and likely they will, but marriage success will (at least partially) rely on your ability to bid farewell to needing and practically requiring your partner to gush all over you each day.
8. Have less electronic usage — his and yours.
Less tv. Fewer cell-phone scrolls. Less social media. I hear you that this is unrealistic and that after a long day with the kids or in the office, tuning out is all you desire. However, if you don’t tend to your other more fleeting desires — like spending time together — they may slowly stop presenting themselves. I’m wholeheartedly driving the #strugglebus on this, especially since my work has a huge social component, but you must time block that shiitake (we’re talking about the electronic usage, here) as best you can and open your schedule for each other.
9. Just keep swimming — or doggy paddling or surfing or treading.
Do whatever you have to do to stay afloat and on top of every aspect of your partnership (or heck, on top of your partner, literally). Especially if you have children, you will inevitably feel, at some point, like you are drowning in responsibility and under the weight of a crapton of pressure, but just keep moving.
About everything from how you met to your first time (with them, of course), to your first concert together, your first joint vacation, the first positive pregnancy, the birth of children, your first anniversary, your 10-year anniversary, your individual accomplishments, your collective successes, your children’s milestones — reminisce about it all. Some think that the past should stay there, but me, I believe that to recognize and honor just how far you have come with another human being by your side, you must give deserved power to those experiences and memories.
So, that’s all you’ve got here, 10 lessons from being married 10 years and with these guiding principles held daily in the secret inside pocket of my mom-uniform (black yoga pants), I’m hoping for another lesson-filled 10 years with the man I love (who probably wishes I won’t wear gym pants for the next decade).