7 years of marriage taught me 7 things

There are many others, but these are mine.

I’m celebrating my seventh wedding anniversary today.

Instead of the post I was going to share (day 5 of the 7-day planning process for next year), here’s 7 things I’ve learned from marriage…

Nothing more. Nothing less.

For those of you not there yet, I hope it serves you.

For those of you on the path, I hope it resonates with you.

For those of you no longer on the path, I hope you aren’t bitter.

Enjoy!

Ding ding ding!

Treat it like it’s forever

As of 2021 in the US, divorce rates were at around 7 every 1000 women according to the Census Bureau.

Interestingly enough, this is lower than it was a decade ago (around 10 every 1000).

Regardless of how you view it, I didn’t come into this legal binding thinking it was going to be temporary.

My parents have been married for a little longer than I’ve been alive (42 years).

As such, I tend to use them as my reference point in this opinion.

This isn’t something that I take lightly. It’s a commitment to life with someone regardless of what comes at the two of you.

“Irreconcilable differences” can be a deal-breaker and the main reason that divorce occurs, and if you read celebrity couples going in and out of marriage, it’s used as a fairly common reason.

However, this can be the case if you get married within days, weeks, or months. It’s just not enough time to really determine the viability of your partner.

Who knows? Even though the probability of divorce is never zero in even the best marriage, it seems to be disingenuous to me to approach it as being anything less than a lifetime.

Respect goes both ways

My wife and I were two separate individuals when we met.

We became a team, and we weren’t looking for the other “half” of ourselves.

I respect the boundaries that she has for herself to this day, and she does the same for me.

Granted, this is a personal issue for me as I grew up in an environment where there weren’t any boundaries so I’m still learning about what that means for myself.

My wife has no such problem.

Our children are in the process of learning this concept. 2-year olds simply don’t have any to speak of, but a 6-year old definitely will make their opinions on this heard.

I’m learning from all three of them as I go along.

Bottom line: I respect my wife and her views and opinions.

Never let conflict go beyond the day

This is something that my dad taught me early on, and I’ve watched this play out countless times growing up.

There’d be an argument or a fight over:

  • whether we should be eating yummy or healthy stuff

  • how many activities we should be involved in to get into college

  • whether or not we should be allowed to strip down naked and run around like idiots

But at the end of the day, my parents went to sleep with an agreement on some level.

The battles never became their own wars, so to speak.

These skirmishes were always over what they felt was best for us.

My brother and I had our own inputs as we got older, but by and large, we were observers as kids.

Compromise and apologizing go a long way towards conflict resolution.

Contact is essential

It doesn’t matter if we’re at home or one of us is travelling, we check in at least twice a day.

  • once in the morning

  • once in the evening

That’s a minimum.

Even if it’s just to say “I love you”, we maintain our presence and our commitment to each other.

Having kids made this much easier in a way.

It’s extremely hard to raise them alone and not have an outlet to express some of the more…challenging…times in the parenting arena.

Don’t pretend to be someone else

This is a given for us. My wife never tried to be anything other than who she was even before we got married.

Granted we were on our “best behavior”, but it was never as if we were deceiving each other into thinking we were more than we already were offering.

Over the years, we’ve both continued to change and grow and mature…

Something that I feel that people can easily stop doing after a certain point.

I suppose this also goes back to maintaining communication and respect. The person that you marry is most certainly not the person that you will spend the rest of your life with. They’re going to continue down their path, and so should you.

If you’re not changing, it’s because you’ve chosen to stay the same for the sake of the marriage. This is the greatest disservice you can give to your spouse.

There’s beauty in growing together.

It’s not as serious as it seems

For me, I try to make my wife laugh (or at least groan from the effort) once a day.

I tend to make dad jokes a lot more these days, but it was one of the things that I think she enjoyed while we were dating.

Having a sense of humor has made a lot of the more difficult moments in life more bearable for us:

  • losing a job

  • moving overseas

  • raising a big family

Events that change the dynamics of a relationship require grease to facilitate with minimal discomfort. Keeping things light at various points were really helpful and continue to be so.

These days, it’s every time we look up, our toddler is getting into something and demolishing it or attempting to pee on it.

It’s exasperating and exhausting, but in hindsight, it’s really funny (most of the time).

Forgive each other

Last, but not least, forgiveness and acceptance has been the key to making our marriage work.

I know that seven years may seem trivial to some of you (and an eternity for others), but it’s highly likely that you’ll make mistakes both trivial and potentially damaging.

There are things about my wife that she realized for herself that challenged my views of the world. While they might not have been things that I had an opinion of initially, I found that I needed to know where I stood on them.

  • her past relationships

  • her evolving views on parenting

  • her tendency to not flush the toilets in the house

Accepting her and loving her for who she is and who she is becoming as the year go by has been a commitment that I’ve made both to her and to myself.

Bitterness and resentment have no place in a long-term relationship.

They’re poison.

Hey, it’s what was generated…but it’s nice!

Reality isn’t drama

To summarize what I’ve shared here…

  1. It’s forever

  2. Mutual respect

  3. Skirmishes, not wars

  4. Checking in regularly

  5. Keeping it real with changes

  6. Don’t be so serious all the time

  7. Acceptance and forgiveness as you grow

Some of us (my wife included) enjoy rom-coms and might tend to see relationships as one drama and challenge after the next that is our daily theme.

It’s entertainment loosely based on any number of real-life situations, but they rarely occur at the rate or intensity that these shows like to depict.

Chances are, I’d be an emotional wreck if I had to experience all that drama all at once or in rapid succession.

My wife and I like to joke that our marriage has gone through things that most people never encounter:

  • living in a foreign country

  • moving on average once every year

  • flying with an infant and three cats for 36 hours

I know there are a million other things that I could share that I’ve learned in this journey, but these are the ones that stand out.

I hope they help you at whatever stage you’re at in this process!

Vince

P.S. I’ll continue to share my planning process as I go after this issue.