Tomorrow, on the 29th of May, we celebrate our wedding anniversary and 13 years of saying “I do!” I cannot believe how quickly these 13 years have flown by after getting married at the beautiful Maleny Manor on the Sunshine Coast.
Sometimes, it feels like we only got married recently; other times, it feels like this has been dragging on for a million years.
We’ve enjoyed a lot of fun and have suffered a lot of pain together, as being in a long-term relationship exposes all sides of a person. Overall, these are the top 13 solid things I’ve learned over the past 13 years:
- Kindness Rules the Roost
Loving someone is the easy part. Being kind to each other, on the other hand – consistently, constantly and on a daily basis – is darn hard! It has taken us a long time but we’ve learned that the only characteristic that wins the day (and keeps a happy marriage) are kind thoughts, acts and gestures.
- Be Honest About Everything
I must admit, this is the hardest part about being married! Yet being honest about everything in your life will make sure nothing comes back to haunt you in the future. We all make dumb mistakes – every human being does; so, find the courage to come clean with your flaws and yes, at times this is so much easier said than done.
- Celebrate the Little Things
I’ve learned over time to appreciate that, for example – the dishes are put away even if they are on the wrong shelves or the laundry aren’t folded the way I like them to be done. I celebrate these little things and remind myself that at least my spouse did them without being asked. These little things are the only gestures that truly matter in the long run.
- Yet … Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Sometimes, dirty clothes are on the floor instead of the laundry basket, lights have been on all night outside, he didn’t wash the car when he said he would … does it really matter in the end? Definitely not. Marriage is full of all these small stuff and I’ve learned to not sweat it but let it slide by remembering #1 above.
- Create Your Own Traditions
This is the special part which makes our marriage unique to us. We have loads of small and big traditions that we bring to life throughout the year.
For example, every even year, such as 2014, 2016, 2018, etc…, are my turns for spending Christmas and bringing in the new year with my family in Melbourne or anywhere of my choosing.
My husband has the odd years, being 2013, 2015, 2017, etc…, so he chooses if we spend the festive season with his family in Adelaide or elsewhere. This tradition keeps things fair and happy between us and our families.
- Let Some Dreams Die Gracefully
We have toyed with the idea of moving back to Melbourne or Adelaide to be closer to our immediate relatives over the past decade. However, after 10 years in Queensland, we’ve accepted that after building a nice life together, we are happy here with our own little family and friends that become like one.
Letting this dream die has been heartbreaking for both of us as we love our families, but we’ve agreed that sometimes, that’s just the way life goes.
- Keep Your Opinions Regarding their Family Within the Marriage
No-one is perfect and I have learned over time to never speak badly about any members of my hubby’s family in their presence, regardless of how much I want to share my opinion of them. In some small cases where you disagree with an in-law, letting them know is fine.
However, when it comes to big issues, these opinions are best left to the spouse that belongs to that family. I’ve learned that when things cool down again, family members are quick to forgive their own; yet won’t forget what an in-law said about them. So, hold your tongue and only share with your spouse.
- Protect Each Other’s Reputation
I know I’m a nice person, however, when I hear someone speak badly of my husband, they will either see my claws come out or I will never associate with them again.
When your spouse is being criticised, you’re being criticised. When they are being disrespected, you’re being disrespected. You are one flesh as a married couple, so protect each other at all costs.
- Never Run Out the Door Without a Goodbye Kiss
Life is so fragile. One day you’re walking out the door going about your business, the next minute you’ve been hit by a bus [metaphorically].
A bit dramatic, I know. My point is, we make sure every time we leave each other, it’s never without a goodbye kiss, a hug and an ‘I love you’ as we never know what’s around the corner.
- Have at Least One Shared Hobby or Project
Whether it’s getting dancing classes, growing a garden or [like us] building a business together, working on a shared project builds a sense of teamwork and spirit of fun. The awesome part is seeing something grow together and enjoying the fruit of your labour.
- It’s Not Easy
It’s the hardest gig, I did not think we’d make 13 years. Sometimes, it’s day-in, day-out of the same mundane stuff and you’re tempted to think if life could be better with someone else or by being single again. But, it is so worth it.
Sharing this crazy life with someone you love and being secure in the fact that you won’t face the harsh times on your own, is so much better than copping out of a marriage because it’s hard.
- Forgive Your Spouse, Forgive Yourself then Move On
This is as difficult as #2 of being honest, which is asking for forgiveness or forgiving your better half. We all make mistakes, we all stuff up somewhere in our relationship.
If it’s forgivable and you are able to put things behind you, then by all means, do so and make sure you grow to be a better married person to your spouse.
If it’s unforgiveable in your eyes, try and see a counsellor first before you make any rash decisions about your marriage. Yet, if you’ve tried everything to make your relationship work and it still doesn’t, then perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate what is most important to you and your spouse.
- When Time Gets Tough, Remember your Vows
Like all couples, we aren’t immune to tough times. We’ve experienced hard times with our business life, finances, health, other people … we’ve received our fair share of hardships. However, a trick we use to get though the hurdles is remembering our vows:
To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, in sickness or in health, for richer or for poorer, to love and to cherish, ‘til death do us part!
For us, going back to the promise we made to each other reminds us of what’s more important than the tough times; and that is our marriage and true love for each other.
“Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years,” Simone Signoret, French actress.
Disclaimer: The content within is general information only. Speak with a counsellor for advice on your specific relationship circumstance or visit www.relationships.org.au