13 Things I’ve Learned in 13 Years of Marriage

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.

Maleny Manor, Montville, Sunshine Coast

Maleny Manor, Sunshine Coast, Queensland

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 had a lot of fun and there’s been a lot of pain. Being in a long-term relationship teaches you so much about yourself, others and life in general; and these are the top 13 solid things I’ve learned over the past 13 years:

  1. Kindness Rules the Roost

Loving someone is the easy part. Being kind, on the other hand – consistently, constantly and on a daily basis – is darn hard! Kindness is love in action, which speaks louder than words. We’ve learned that kind thoughts, acts and gestures always win the day as opposed to being rude, nasty and/or unkind.

  1. 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.

Perfect day

Perfect day

  1. 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 isn’t folded properly 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. The little things are the only gestures that truly matter in the long run.

  1. 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 small stuff like these and I’ve learned to not sweat it but to let it slide by and to remember #1 above.

My favourite flowers - white lillies

My favourite flowers – white lillies

  1. 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.

  1. Let Some Dreams Die Gracefully

We have toyed with the idea of moving back to Melbourne or Adelaide to be closer to our immeadiate relatives over the past decade. However, after 10 years in Queensland, we’ve come to accept 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 like goes.  

Ready for matrimony

Ready for matrimony

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Suprise bouquet of roses

Surprise bouquet of roses

  1. 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’ because you never know what’s around the corner.

  1. 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 goal builds a sense of teamwork and spirit of fun. The awesome part is seeing something grow together and enjoying the fruit of your labour.

Chocolate and lillies

Chocolate and lillies

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Rings and vows

Rings and vows

  1. 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.

If you have any lessons you’ve learned over time from your relationship or marriage, share them below or on our Facebook or Instagram page.

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

Beyond the Pacific

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4 Comments

  1. Reply

    Emanuel

    May 31, 2018

    This grabbed me Miriam, a down to earth reflection of both the hard work involved and the wonders of celebration that can be expected from that hard work. So much common sense and look forward to knowing the 14th secret in 12 months

    • Reply

      Beyond the Pacific

      May 31, 2018

      Hi Emanuel, thank you for your feedback and I’m so glad you got something out of this blog. Any relationship takes work but marriages top them all. Will sure do an update in a year’s time, don’t forget to subscribe to our mailing list as well. Cheers, Miriam.

  2. Reply

    Mabel

    October 29, 2018

    Hi Beyond the Pacific, that is a beautiful wedding photo by the way. This is a lovely article marriage isn’t easy but it is worth it.

    • Reply

      Beyond the Pacific

      November 1, 2018

      Hi Mabel, thank you. It is one of our fave wedding pics as well. Yes, agree with you so I’m glad you liked the blog and they resonated with you. Cheers, Miriam.

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