Thursday, 15 September 2016

10 lessons from 10 years of marriage

If you had said to me 11 years ago that I'd be here today, celebrating my tenth wedding anniversary, I would have thought you were barking mad. Even five years ago, I wasn't sure we would make it this far. But we did, and we have.
As I've reflected on this journey over the last few weeks (because it's so in my nature to obsessively try to work out "why") I've realised that there's no real reason why this has worked. Not one thing stands out. Which means that it's really a mix of everything that makes us us, that has made it worked.
Since the very first day we met, we've had one strict rule - neither of us is under any obligation to stay. I think in part that's come from me growing up with the knowledge that my parents "only stayed together for the kids". It means that we've both chosen to stay.
So, in no particular order, here are ten things I've realised about marriage

you need to fight fair having grown up in a family that fought, and seen relationships around me fall apart because couples couldn't fight, I truly believe that learning to fight with your partner is vital. But fighting fair, making the fight about now, not the past, is vital to making sure issues get sorted out and dealt with, not hanging around forever.

you need to keep talking through all the ups and downs, it's vital to keep communication lines open. Over the last few years, with Steve working away or nights, talking face to face has been really limited, so we've had to find other ways to keep talking (most often on the phone just before I go to bed), and we don't just talk about the kids, we talk about money, memories, dreams and plans for the future as well as tomorrow.
you need laughter one of the very first things that caught my attention about Steve was he made me laugh. And over the years, I've learnt how to make him laugh. And when one person is laughing, eventually so is everyone else.

you need to take time out time apart is vital, because it reminds you why you like each other in the first place. With Steve working away, it's been difficult for us to find this time apart, but I have managed to sneak off for a weekend or two away over the last few years.
there's always a new story I told Steve recently that I'd heard all his stories from the past. They often pop up when we're talking about ideas for the future and contrasting them to the past, and I've heard the one about the three-legged sheep more times than you would think was possible. None the less, he dug deep, and found a new story to relate to whatever we were chatting about, which made me stop and wonder how much else I didn't know after ten years.

find your own interests Steve has never quite understood the importance of having his own interests. To him, I'm his best friend. But he isn't mine. And we have lots of interests that we don't share, which means that when we're having a talking evening, we have things to talk about that the other doesn't know about. I listen to Steve talk about work, and he listens to me waffle about scrapbooking, or blogging, or whatever interest I'm researching this week.
spend time together this seems counter-intuitive to the last point, so perhaps this should be sub titled "date each other" While dates aren't something we've every really managed to pull off (for a period of time there, the only time we got out without kids was when my mum came to visit every other year for Christmas), we do try regularly to have day dates, and now Sophie is in daycare we're managing to spend a few hours each week with each other (depending on roster.)

sex is important it took a long time for me to figure out that this connection was vital. It isn't a matter of how often, but that it happens regularly.
different rhythms are ok Steve has always preferred staying up late (or, more particularly, falling asleep in the arm chair), where I am a morning person (although sometimes grudgingly) who crawls into bed with a book at 9.30 sharp. We've made those different patterns work for us, because it gives us both the space we need for ourselves, and each other.

don't stop loving each other it's ok if you're in the middle of a an arguement, and dislike each other, but don't let that overshadow the things that brought you together in the first place. Once that love starts to slip away, it can be hard to claw it back.
I can't say for sure if we'll still be here in another ten years, but I think right now we're in the comfort phase of our marriage, complacent in it's known-ness. As the kids grow and become more independent, it gives us the space to come back to each other, and remember why we're here in the first place. Not just for the kids. But for each other.

Happy Anniversary.

What's your #1 tip for a good marriage?

11 comments:

  1. Great stuff Cate! Congratulations to you both. Great advice too. I'm still early days into my marriage but what I kinda knew before (but my ex didn't know) was that you need to 'tolerate' each other. If you're truly in love with each other, their little annoying habits won't be a bother. You'll just shrug it off. Sure, my hubby has some little annoying habits but they're not a bother to me and none of mine are to him. Nobody's perfect. Here's to the next 10 years! Cheers.

    Anne xx

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    1. yes! took me a few years to figure this one out, the little things have no impact on the big things!

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  2. I love it! After 8 years married to Dwaynne I sometimes struggle with things...but you have amazingly summed up a marriage! Congrats guys xx

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  4. Congratulations on 10 years. We went in to our marriage with the intention that there was no out - you just have to make it work. That being said I realise that there are relationships that will not work because they are too unhealthy. I agree, you need to be able to make each other laugh, I couldn't be with someone if not. Apart from that, look for someone that you both respect and admire even with your eyes wide open to their flaws. My Hubby does some ridiculously annoying things but he is so smart and just plain good that those annoyances could never outweigh the good in him. So my advice would be to keep in mind when your partner is annoying all the things that you admire about them - keep a list if you need to! The other thing that helps is for me to remember all my crap that he puts up with. Hubby and I will be celebrating our 20 years next year and I plan to follow in my parents path who just celebrated their 50years.

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  5. Great advice. Thanks for sharing.

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  6. This is wonderful. Love this article.

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  7. Great advice! Congrats on 10 years, I can see you two have alot of love there ;-)

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  8. Congratulations, Cate and Steve. I think you've got all you need for another 10 years at least!! I'm really interested when you say that you are Steve's bestie but he isn't yours - I reckon that's pretty common amongst relationships. So intriguing! x

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  9. Such a great post with a lot of learnt wisdom. Especially like your point that while your husband may consider you his bestie, he isn't yours. It's the same with us. We definitely need relationships outside our own to provide support and perspective.

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  10. Congratulations on 10 years! My husband and I have been 'together' for 12 years and have been married for 4 and a half years {with three children in that time}. I think that you are right when you say that you might not always 'like' that person - especially when you're in an argument - but the key is to never forget that you 'love' them.

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I love reading comments from you. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. xox

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