The minute I find out that someone has been married for 10, 20, 30 years, or just for longer than myself (which is basically everyone) my favourite thing to ask is “so, what’s the secret to staying happily married?” I’ve heard some amazing answers. Some serious, stressing the importance of patience and conversation. Others were totally hilarious, like the time I met a French-Canadian woman on the beach in Mexico (that vacation: “Magnificent Manzanillo Mexico”) and she told me “always fight in the nude.” I won’t get into details about whether or not this is helpful…you can try it yourself!
A few weeks ago, Brandon and I celebrated our 2-year wedding anniversary, hooray! (Check out last year’s celebratory post “One Year Wed” for our unique love story and more wedding photos). I always get reflective around milestones like this one, and our wedding anniversary is no exception. No, two years isn’t extraordinarily long by any means, but evaluating what you have learned is imperative for success, regardless of how long it’s been.
So, since it’s been two years, I’m letting you into my married life and covering the two most important things I’ve learned about marriage, so far. Even if you’re not married, any relationship will benefit from a little balance and a lot of communication.
Marriage is a Dance
When dancing with a partner, you have to get into the swing of things. The same thing happens in marriage. It takes time to create a balance, and not step on each other’s toes. Be patient! It’s so important to find a rhythm with your partner so you’re effortlessly gliding across that dance floor, or through daily life. You learn what the other person wants and needs without voicing it. No, it’s not like you develop a superhuman ability to communicate telepathically, quite the contrary. There will probably be times of tension, where you disagree about something. There will probably be moments of conflict where you diverge in your opinions (more on this next). Like anything, tackling the hard stuff allows you to overcome these hurdles as a couple, no matter how minor. Learning what your partner needs makes life so much easier. Time for a real example from the chronicles of my life…
I am picky about ingredients and take forever at the grocery store (I can admit it). It pleases me to know that we’re eating food that is healthy and doesn’t contain preservatives, artificial additives, colours and all that other junk (to read more about this, head to “Five Easy & Enjoyable Healthy Habits”). As you can imagine I try to cook as much as possible so we can maintain this healthy lifestyle, so I like to prepare the food: mix ingredients from scratch, marinate, chop, or whatever is necessary. Brandon wants very little to do with this, but he is particular about cooking food, following instructions and using timers. Although I’m good at the preparation, I’m lacking in this department.
So I make it and he cooks it, it’s a balance and a dance. This way, everyone is happy. The meat is always cooked through perfectly as my husband has checked and timed it along the way, and it’s marinated with healthy ingredients as I’ve made sure of that. No one is arguing as I’m content with what’s in the food and he’s happy with how it’s cooked. Did we spat in the beginning about these things? Sure! But we have learned what the other person needs as simple as it might be. This applies in and outside the kitchen. There is no greater joy than the happiness of the one you love, and it can be so easy to do. You know each other’s quirks and personality better than anyone. Think of one another and you’ll be waltzing through life.
Fight, Fix & Forgive
Communication. The magic word. It’s not something that comes easily for everyone, especially when we’re talking about words and a verbal expression of your thoughts. Learning to become a good communicator is invaluable in any relationship. It just makes everything so much easier if you know exactly what the other person is thinking and feeling, without playing guessing games or wondering what’s wrong with them. Communication doesn’t just mean talking either, it’s about listening as well. Everyone wants a partner that’s a good listener, obviously.
Now I’m going to preface this by saying you are going to fight. You are, I’m sorry. My husband’s grandparents have been married 61 years (astonishing I know) and when I asked his grandmother how they do it, she said “well first of all, we fight about things so no one should say that they don’t, everyone does.” It’s the truth! But it’s certainly not a bad thing even though it may feel that way at the time.
When you’re feeling angry or frustrated about something, that’s the time to remember that you love and respect one another. Breathe and communicate. It’s not about starting a fight, it’s about being able to discuss something that’s on your mind with your partner and it’s their responsibility to listen and reflect. This goes both ways of course, and it takes practise! Give yourselves time to become great communicators and excellent listeners, it’s important to do especially when you’re married. You’re in it for the long haul and no one gets along all the time so it’s integral you work through this disagreement productively.
Reflecting on the fight and considering why it happened in the first place is necessary for improvement. It will only make your communication skills stronger, even though you may just want to move on and forget about it at the end of an argument. If something upset either one of you about the way you were fighting, it’s time to evaluate that so you can make necessary changes together.
Did your partner do anything to aggravate the situation? Was your behaviour constructive? Did you swear, yell or insult one another? (I hope not!) We’re you being sarcastic? Talk about it! Respect each other’s feelings, forgive and reflect. You’ve settled the argument but now you’re working towards avoiding future squabbles. That way, the next time you have a fight it will be over before it even begins because your communication skills have rapidly progressed as a couple. The pair that grows together, stays together.
My husband’s grandmother says exactly that, “being married is about doing things together.” So whether that’s cooking as a team or fighting with one another, at least you’re doing it as a couple! Life is too short to go through it alone, and is sweeter alongside the one you love. Marriage is a boundless partnership and is truly amazing. You are blessed to have found your partner in crime and don’t you forget it! Two heads are better than one, so work through life together as a team. Capitalize on your dual strengths, and balance each other’s weaknesses. Lean on one another, acknowledge your partner’s needs and show gratitude for every moment.
If you’ve got something to share, some awesome insights on love, relationships or marriage, I and frankly everyone else would love to hear it (we’re all in this together)! Leave a comment below.
And thank you to my Brandon, for being the best hubby in the world. Here’s to many more years to come. I love you!