This past week I celebrated my tenth wedding anniversary. Ten years ago I married my amazing wife and started a new phase of my life. It was the end of being an immature boob who only cared about playing video games and eating Hot Pockets, and the beginning of being an immature boob who now has a lot of adult responsibilities to manage. To say that after a decade of marriage that I’ve got it all figured out now would be a lie, but I’d like to think that there are a few things that I’ve learned along the way. A few nuggets of wisdom that only come from being married for 3,653 days. Hopefully you can find a few of them useful.
Be yourself and be ready to change
I’ve heard many people in relationships talk about how they’re not going to let the other person change who they are. That their partner has to learn to accept them for who they are. That’s all fine and good, but also a little bit of bull$#!t. I agree that there are parts of yourself that will (most likely) never change. For instance I’m a geek. I will always (probably) love video games, super hero movies and reading books about evolutionary biology. But at the same time I accept (and embrace) the fact that my wife has changed certain things about me. Without her I would never have learned that I love to travel and that I love discovering new and unusual foods. She’s also made me a better man by encouraging me to better myself. Since being together I’ve learned to drive, cook and trim my eyebrows. I’ve also changed her for the better as well. Thanks to me (and Left 4 Dead) she now knows how to effectively kill thousands of zombies. You’re welcome, honey.
Money is the root of all evil.
For probably 8 out of the 10 years that we’ve been married, my wife and I have been at varying degrees of being broke as hell. And money has probably been the main factor behind 90% of our arguments over the years. Let’s face it, kids are ridiculously expensive. From diapers to formula to daycare, it is only now that we getting ready to be daycare free for the first time in over 8 years that we finally have a little room to breathe. I’m not sure what the magic formula is for avoiding the stress of managing your finances (besides winning the Powerball), but I do have one thought. When you get married you become a family, it is a joint venture. And we treat our money as such. Mine is hers and hers is mine. But with that you have to be financially respectful of each other. It’s one thing to pick up that Tom Nook Amiibo that you’ve been trying to find, but maybe the two of you should have a conversation before you splurge on that PS4. And if you don’t, you’d better keep that receipt because your ass will be marching right back to Best Buy to return it.
It is 100% normal and healthy to fight with your partner. In fact I think that if you DIDN’T fight with them there would be reason for concern. Suppressing those feelings or pretending that they don’t exist will only let them simmer deep within and make things worse for when they eventually do bubble up to the surface. You just simply cannot live with another human being for 365 days a year without them occasionally bugging the crap out of you. The trick is to never blow things out of proportion and say something stupid that you won’t be able to take back. Just take a deep breath and remember that you both still love each other very much. It’s just that right now she just wants to rip your face off and use it as a dishrag to clean up that mess you just left on the stove.
Don’t you… forget about me.
Life is incredibly busy. And if you have children then it’s infinitely more busy than before you had kids. My wife and I both work full time, she’s currently going to school, and with the kids we have homework, girl scouts, dance class, swim class and more. There just simply aren’t enough hours in the week. It can be easy to get overly comfortable with your routine and take things for granted, but it’s very important to remember to take the time to do things together. It may not happen regularly (or often) but you need to take the time and go somewhere together. Go to a restaurant, take a weekend trip with just the two of you, or even just take a night off and rent a movie. It seems simple, but in the hustle and bustle of our hectic lives it’s easy to overlook.
Marriage is hard… but it’s worth it!
Probably the most important lesson that I’ve learned though in my first decade of marriage is that like most worthwhile endeavors, it can be really hard. Maintaining a healthy marriage isn’t easy and it requires constant care. But it is absolutely worth it. For every moment of self doubt or financial worry or frustration, there are 100 moments of being happier than I ever thought possible. There are those moments when I turn to my side and realize that we’ve got each others backs through thick and thin. I don’t need to worry about those moments in life when I stumble and fall because she’s going to be there to pick me back up, just like I’ll always be there for her. And most importantly… I don’t need to worry about getting past the zombie hoard and into the safehouse, because I know she’ll always be there with a fresh healthkit.
(I think I got that right…)