Well I’m back like I promised with some details of our 10 year wedding anniversary. And I am sharing my successful marriage advice tips with 10 reasons we’ve made it this far. But first a little health update.
I’m back from the hospital, writing to you from bed because man, having places on your heart burnt are no fun. The good news is that this ablation was (cross my fingers) a success. They only had to burn 2 spots which is nothing compared to last time, one was SVT and one was aFib. If you are confused right now, start with part 1 and part 2 of my atrial fibrillation story. I am taking it easy and have a lot of restrictions while everything heals up. I am praying it worked and I never have to do this again.
And would you like to know who was by my side through it all? The Water Man, who hates hospitals and has been in them a lot with me this last year. He is there to make me laugh when I’m scared, to hold my hand when I’m in pain and coming out of anesthesia and to tease me about using surgery to get a mom vacation. He has seen more than any man should ever have to see of his wife. It’s no wonder we’ve made it 10 years.
I hope y’all get a good laugh at this wedding picture, we had the worst photographer ever, he literally barked at the guests. And yes, those are shorts and flip flops, of course. Funny story, I was in Austin alone and did not know anything about planning a wedding so I forgot a lot of things, like a videographer! At the last minute we asked my uncle to video and he did with his camcorder and when we got the VHS tape, it was in sepia because he accidentally had it on the wrong setting. Now I feel old saying camcorder and VHS tape. But it was funny, we have quite the stories. These are the kinds of things that happen and we’ve learned how to make the best of them.
While we are still learning about each other, 10 years is a long time these days and I am proud of how hard we work to make our marriage what I consider a success. I have thought long and hard about how we have stayed together this long and what will help us stay together for decades to come. Here’s my 10 best marriage tips.
Hopefully you were with your spouse long enough before you got married that you got past what I call the first date behavior. You know what I’m talking about, when you reveal only your very best side to someone. If you have been together long enough, you know your spouse has things about them that drive you bonkers. You might remember The Water Man doesn’t know how to replace toilet paper and hasn’t closed a cabinet door in his life.
Here’s what I suggest, accept it. Years ago my mom told me that I would fall in love with a man who would drive me crazy, I would just have to decide if it was crazy I could live with. Everyone’s version of what they can tolerate is different. Don’t spend your life nagging your spouse about who they are, accept and embrace them. Accept their weaknesses so that you don’t suffocate their strengths. A fish will fail a test out of water every time.
2. Grace: Forgive & Forget
This might sound easy but every woman I know, including myself can tell past stories about their husbands that still make them fume. If you get me to talking about past fights, especially big ones, I can easily find myself getting riled up. If you have truly forgiven someone, you don’t remember it with anger and you move on. I find it is much easier to forgive him and move past things when I give him grace.
When I try to think about where he is coming from, what he is going through and what his needs are, I find myself easily giving him that grace. I have more compassion and understanding for him and less anger and resentment. If your holding onto past issues, even under the surface, you are poisoning your relationship.
3. The Golden Rule
Ok, this is another one that we’ve all heard. Treat others as you want to be treated or do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That rule tends to go out the window when dealing with our loved ones, aren’t we the worst to the people we love. We are kind, respectful and “happy” all day at work then go home and dump on our people.
I’ll give you another example. I know a lot of people who bash their spouses without thinking about how they would feel if the roles were reversed. On social media, to their families, to friends and in groups. It’s almost a thing for women to bash their husbands and men to talk about what nags their wives are. But I’m telling you this, we are doing it wrong. We have it backwards. That kind of mentality pins you against your partner and if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that you should do everything in your power to position your partner as your ally. Get on the same team.
4. Be Intentional
Be intentional about your relationship. We learned a few years ago that the logistics of our lives were all we ever talked about. Kids, scheduling, money, bills and plans were taking over our time together. So I started a notebook where I made a list of things we need to discuss and we have a weekly meeting. We go over the week’s schedule and talk “shop”. That way it’s over with and when we see each other the rest of the week, we have quality time together. This has made a huge difference, find what isn’t working for you and make changes.
Another way we stay intentional is to check in with ourselves and with each other. This is not like a logistics meeting, this is a heart check. For me, I try to think about how we are doing a few times a week. I can usually feel if were connected based on how intimate we have been, if we’ve spent any time together or if he has fallen asleep early every night and I have stayed up late working. Sound familiar? When we are disconnected, I make the effort, I am intentional about making him and making us a priority.
And finally we use date nights to check in with each other. We spend some quality time alone together. Without distractions, without the kids, just the two of us. We talk about us, how things are going, maybe recent disagreements or how we can make things better. It helps keep us connected, dialed into our relationship and one another’s needs.
5. Say & Do the Hard Stuff
Both parties must say the important words, like “I’m sorry”, “I was wrong”, “I love you” and mean them. Don’t underestimate the power of the important words. You also have to be able to tell each other hard truths. The Water Man and I try really hard to hold each other accountable. When one of us says or does something unacceptable, we don’t politely keep quiet, we talk about it.
It isn’t easy and we get our feelings hurt. But we also know when the rest of the world is silent, when other people choose to stay out of it or whisper behind our backs, we can count on each other to use tough love and to hold one another to a higher standard. We don’t enable each other to stay stagnant or complacent. We, as one friend said about her failing relationship, are not ostriches. There is a time to let things go and there is a time to pull your head out of the sand and speak truth, with love, compassion and honesty. You will both grow as individuals and as a couple with this practice.
I have talked about this before when I wrote about the wedding vow of honoring your spouse. Again this is a simple yet challenging vow to uphold but I couldn’t leave it off the list because it is vital to a healthy marriage. If you do not start with mutual respect, you are on the wrong path.
When you are deciding what to let go of and what to fight for, ask yourself if you are being respected and if you are being respectful. You would not yell at someone you highly respect, you will not curse, belittle or judge someone you respect. Respect yourself, respect your partner and honor your commitment to each other.
This is one of our secrets, to laugh, be silly and have fun together. Find things that you can do together or with other couples that bring on fun and laughter. Joy is so important in this life. As an adult, especially in these times, there is so much fear, stress and sadness. Some times you have got to relax, loosen up and just have fun. The key to this is to do it together. If you are finding all your good times outside of your marriage, it isn’t going to last very long.
When times are tough, the kids have strep, my health is in jeopardy, work is stressful or the headlines are full of terrorist attacks, you must find humor. When we can’t get out of the house for a date night escape, we get creative. We have a stash of our favorite comedies and in those times, we put the kids to bed, open a bottle of wine, pop in a movie, snuggle up on the couch and laugh. There’s something about finding humor in the mess together that changes everything.
8. Never, Never, Never Give Up
As Winston Churchill said, “Never, never, never give up.”, one of The Water Man’s favorite quotes. As my mom would say, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”. There are so many cliches I could repeat, but every one of them are true. Marriage is going to get hard. You are going to fall out of love with your spouse or at least think you have. You are going to be disgusted by one another, you are going to face adversity you never thought possible. There will not always be respectful, loving laughter filling your home. Sometimes it’s going to suck. That’s when you’ll have to suck it up buttercup. That’s when you’ll have to fight, fight for each other.
It takes everyone putting on their big girl pants to make it work. I have to wear mine a lot and I’m not a fan. But I will tell you, when you get through the hard times, when you overcome obstacles that should have torn you apart, the success is much sweeter. With every triumph, we have come out closer, happier and stronger.
9. Be In Love With Your Love Story
Be in love with your love story. Speak it into existence, live it. Everyone goes into marriage with expectations. Wether you are bringing ideas from your parents marriage, your friends experiences, Facebook pretenses or movies, everyone have expectations. Many times those ideas are unrealistic and don’t involve much effort on your part. Expecting success without putting in the work is pointless.
So have a little reality check. Don’t lower your expectations, change your fairytale. There is a different story for every couple and they’re the only two people who truly know it. Don’t wish for someone else’s love story, make yours your favorite. Be proud of it, heck be obsessed with it. You can’t expect a romantic comedy every day and you can’t leave all the effort up to your spouse. When it doesn’t feel fair to keep putting in the work, do it anyway. And rewrite your story, fall in love with your own fairytale.
10. Pray It Away & Reset
You cannot underestimate how much in this world is against your marriage. I would venture to say it is under attack. The only way I know how to counteract the evil is with love. Jesus defines love. Praying for your husband or wife, praying for your marriage and the trials you will face will save you both. Pray away the darkness with light and reset.
Be willing to reset your marriage, when it has headed in the wrong direction, be open to a new path. Pray for your heart to be softened, for your thoughts to be filled with grace and for your spouse to be open to change. Then reset your course.
Wow, I’m exhausted now, that is a lot. I cannot begin to tell you how thankful I am for my husband. I cannot even share how much we have been through in our 10 years of marriage. What I can tell you is that it is worth it. I can tell you we have fought, a lot but mostly on the same side. And I can honestly say that after years of trial and error, we laugh a lot more than we argue and that might just be the definition of a successful marriage.
And finally I am excited to share The Water Man’s 10 year wedding anniversary present! This gorgeous engraved stone was done by the skilled artisans at Artistry On Stone out of Wimberley, TX. Y’all know I love to shop at local businesses and I really did my research when I was looking for the perfect stone for our home.
The owners, Toni and LeeAnna were incredible to work with. Their attention to detail, investment in our story and craftsmanship was impeccable. I cannot give a better recommendation for sand-carving and engraving work than Artistry of Stone. I thought this would be a really creative idea for an anniversary present, but after seeing their work, I want to get a stone for every occasion! Check them out, you will not be disappointed. The Water Man loved his gift and this gorgeous stone is now in front of your home and is the first thing you see when you pull in our driveway. I am so happy with how it turned out, it was the perfect way to celebrate the first 10 years of our love story.