July 21, 2017 marks 10 years that Glenn and I have been married! We also got to celebrate 15 years together on July 5, so July is a pretty special month for us. It’s incredible to think about our relationship reaching these milestones – 15 and 10 are big years! Over the years, we’ve both learned a lot, but today I wanted to share 10 things I’ve learned after 10 years of marriage. This blog post has been in the works longer than any… I wanted to really put a lot of thought into it and not have trivial items in the list just to make it to 10. I wanted to really think it through.
So, without further adieu, here are the 10 things I’ve learned after 10 years of marriage.
1.) We Have to Take Time For Just Us. This is something we haven’t been the best at over the years, but we’re trying to be better better. Since our honeymoon, we have only taken one vacation alone together that didn’t include meeting up with other people, or attending a family member’s wedding. And that one trip? It was during our first year of marriage and was technically business related. We’ve always gone with other couples or (of course) taken Zoey. Our little family unit is very important to us, so we do everything as a unit. But as a couple it’s so important to get away as just us, and I’m not talking about just a date night. Later this week, we will spend 4 days in a cabin in the Smoky Mountains for our anniversary as just the two of us. No Zoey. No friends. No Family. No work-related meetings. Just us, on vacation, not sharing our time with anyone but each other. It shouldn’t have taken 10 years to get here, but we’ll be more intentional about this in the future.
2.) Trials Are A Blessing. I’m going to be transparent and tell you that Glenn and I have been going through one of the biggest trials of our marriage the last 2 years, and it has nothing to do with us, nothing to do with infertility, and everything to do with what we’ve been doing for a family member outside of our marriage… someone who has drained us in multiple ways. But as difficult as this situation has been, and as many times as I’ve said “why are we in this situation that we can’t seem to walk away from?”, the trial is a blessing because it has taught us a lot about serving others. I think when this trial is over (and I am begging the Lord to bring it to a close soon), we’ll appreciate each other and our life more than we ever have. We will also be firmer in our boundaries, and that in itself is a blessing that too many marriages fail at. Speaking of boundaries…
3.) Set Firm Boundaries and Do Not Waiver. Oh, this one is hard. Since we got married, we set some pretty firm boundaries when it came to what we would allow ourselves to be exposed to, when it came to how we allow ourselves to be taken advantage of, and when it came to who we allow in our lives. While the good news is we’ve succeeded in many ways at protecting ourselves from the toxicity that wants to creep in, the bad news is we’ve let down at least one boundary to be helpful to someone outside of our marriage (as previously mentioned), and it has hurt us. Our marriage should be priority over everyone else’s life problems. I know this, and yet have failed at upholding it. I am determined to make that change before the year is up, and will never again allow someone outside of our marriage to burden us this way. Up until 2015, we were so good at the boundary thing, and 2017 is the year of (hopefully) recovery.
4.) Don’t Let the Sun Set on Our Problems. There haven’t been many of these moments in our marriage, but I can remember a few times where we stayed up late to resolve disagreements. I wanted to go to bed, to just walk away and “get over it” on my own. Thankfully, he doesn’t tolerate that and has pushed me to step out in honesty and solve our problems so they never become problems again. If I have an issue, I have to solve it, even if it means I’m up until 3 AM and have to get up in 2 hours for work. I’ve heard women say “that doesn’t work for me because I need time to cool off”. There are times that I want to “cool off”, but you know what happens instead? During the “cool off” period, new things surface that were unrelated to the problem at hand. Stewing over the problems isn’t cooling off… it’s a selfish time for myself that doesn’t benefit anyone. Do I really sleep it off? No. I don’t sleep. I toss, turn, and stew. And if I’m really sleeping, then dare I say it, the problem isn’t that important to me and it might be to him, and that makes me a selfish wife. In marriage, I have to put on my big girl panties and deal with it.
5.) Marriage isn’t 50/50, it’s 100/100. I’ve never understood this mindset that marriage is 50/50. I see that the math adds up to 100, but really? I don’t give half of myself and I don’t split everything 50/50. I give my whole self because we are a team as ONE. Marriage is all of you. Sometimes it means more of you than your spouse. If he is sick, it’s more of me and less of him when it comes to household responsibilities, and vice versa. If we walk through marriage with the mindset that it’s always 50/50, we will fail. We share responsibilities and bear each other’s burdens all the time, and sometimes that means one person needs to carry more of the burden for the other.
6.) Break Gender Stereotypes About Chores. What I’ve witnessed in other marriages over the years is this selfish attitude of “well, that’s his job,” and this often comes from women who would be so upset if a man ever said that to her. “Taking out the trash is a man’s job.” “Cooking and cleaning the kitchen is a woman’s job.” I’ve learned that we have to be a team, and if there is a responsibility that is normally “his”, it’s okay for me to step up and help out, too. Even if it’s a gross one. Life happens and sometimes unexpected new responsibilities come up. There is no such thing as a “man’s job” or a “woman’s job” in marriage when you share a life and home together. Sometimes I take out the trash, load it, and haul it to the dump by myself. Glenn is awesome about helping with dishes and frequently does the laundry by himself without complaining. It all needs done sometime and we make these messes together. TOGETHER. It doesn’t matter who cleans them up. What matters is they get done.
7.) Do Without Expecting the Same in Return. If I do everything expecting him to do the same for me, then I’m doing it for the wrong reason. It’s selfish to serve with the mindset that I’ll be served the exact same way and same amount in return. The attitude of “if I do this, then he’ll–” Nope. We need to just do for each other because it’s the right thing to do. Now, please don’t jump on me and think I’m saying that you are to be the one doing everything and never receiving in return. This goes both ways. In marriage, if you’re truly the team that you’re supposed to be and claim to be, this should be a no-brainer. We don’t take advantage of each other. I don’t want to be a receiver draining my spouse. We both have to serve each other, without expectation to get something out of it.
8.) Be Best Friends. Glenn and I have the honor of working for the same employer, but not in the same department. It gives us a chance to commute together, have lunch together, and even take walking breaks together. We can say we work together, but separate. Our work frustrations don’t cross paths. Often people will ask us how we make it work… how are we able to spend so much time together and not be sick of each other? Our marriage was founded on friendship. We’re friends. We’re not business partners. We’re not colleagues. We’re not acquaintances. We’re not roommates. We’re friends. This is how marriage should be. All of the time we spend together commuting and at work is time we’re not having to share with anyone else. Keeping friendship at the center of our marriage keeps things fun, playful, and exciting.
9.) Dream Together. It’s so much fun when Glenn and I dream together, whether it’s plans for our home, vacations, or growing our family. I have found that dreaming together makes us closer. I recently found out for the first time that Glenn’s dream vacation is a trip to Hawaii! I had no idea this was so important to him and I was so excited that he shared it. I immediately started researching costs so we could plan something for just the two of us in the future. It really meant a lot to me that he shared that desire of his heart, and it gave us something new to dream about together (and to save up for – flights for 2 people to Hawaii from Nashville are more expensive than an entire week’s AirBNB stay). Couples who dream together…
10.) See Myself As He Sees Me. This one is so hard for women in general because we are our own worst critic. If I pay attention long enough, I can see that my husband still views me as beautiful – even if my body is completely different than when we started dating, or even when we got married. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve obviously filled out more, and I’ve had a cesarean that has forever changed the landscape of body. But that doesn’t matter to him… he seems me as his woman – beautiful as I am. It’s so important that I give myself credit and remember that this man loves me as me. I fail at this regularly, but as a work in progress, I am getting better at accepting who I am and seeing myself as he does: his wife and the mother to his child (soon to be childREN!).
I’ve learned a lot over the last 10 years and have grown in ways I never expected. I will continue to learn new things year after year. I’m not the same woman I was 10 years ago, or even 15 years ago (thank goodness!), and I know that five years from now I won’t be the same either. But who I always am is a wife who loves her husband and has been so blessed the last 10 years with a strong marriage that will not be shaken.