In honor of my fifth wedding anniversary today (seriously, where did the time go?!), I’m reflecting on the past five years and the key lessons I’ve learned about marriage. In five years, Michael and I have been through a lot. We married younger than many of our friends (he was 22, and I was 24 in case you’re curious), so not only did we spend five years growing in our marriage, but also as individuals as well. I feel lucky to say that not only is our love stronger today than I could have imagined it five years ago, we’re also better people, individually and together. So here are the five most important lessons I’ve learned in the past five years…
1. It’s not all about you.
It’s easy to see ourselves as the center of our own universes, but when you’re married, that seriously needs to go out the door. There will be times when you do things you don’t necessarily want to do. There will be times when you compromise and sacrifice. You will make decisions together, even if they may not be the same decisions you would have made by yourself…but that’s the key to marriage. To have a successful marriage, you need to consider each other and make decisions that benefit you as a unit, not just ones that benefit you personally. As Michael always says, “teamwork makes the dream work.” :)
2. Communication is key.
Despite how well you might know each other, you can’t read each other’s minds. That’s way strong communication is essential. This is true of all relationships. It’s important to voice how you’re feeling to avoid both of you assuming the other feels a certain way. If your spouse does or says something that bothers you, voice it and ask for clarity on what he/she meant. If you can feel yourself being on edge one day, let your spouse know why and that he/she isn’t the problem, regardless of how your attitude may seem. Communication is the foundation of a strong marriage, so always work to improve the communication between you and your spouse.
3. There is a right way to fight.
Any marriage expert will tell you that fighting is actually beneficial…as long as it’s done in the right way: no name calling, no low blows, no threats of divorce. It’s easy to get angry in the heat of the moment, but it’s important to take a moment away from each other when that happens and come back to the disagreement in a calm, cool and collected way. Hear out the other person, and never be afraid to apologize when you’re in the wrong. When I was a wedding blogger, I interviewed a couple who had been married for 50 years, and the wife of that couple gave me a great piece of advice; she said, “do you want to be right, or do you want to be married?” and that stuck with me. That’s not to say you should roll over in every case — never getting your way could lead to resentment, but there has to be a time where someone gives in, and sometimes that should be you.
4. Hard times only make you stronger.
Every marriage is going to hit hard times — the honeymoon doesn’t last forever, after all. When you’re in those hard times, if you feel like giving up, just remember: you vowed to stay together in good times and bad, and luckily, when you do come out on the other side, you’re going to be a stronger couple for it. Just communicate, give each other space when needed, and support each other. The hard times will pass.
5. The little things count.
There are lots of big, important lessons to learn when it comes to being married, but the little things really count too. Of course, continue to make going on dates and having sex a priority, but also go above and beyond in little ways. Leave a love note, pick up his/her favorite dessert on the way home, do a chore you know he/she would appreciate. Know what makes each other happy, and always be thinking of ways you can go above and beyond for each other. Sometimes it’s the smallest gesture that can make the other person’s day and ultimately keep the love alive for years to come.
As I’ve learned over the past five years, love takes work everyday, but luckily, if you’re willing to put in that work, what you get out of it is the most amazing gift.
Happy anniversary to my husband, Michael! Here’s to many more years!