Today is the 11th anniversary of the day I married my Handsome Hippie Hubby.
It’s been an interesting 11 years to say the least!
In a little more than a decade we have seen richer and poorer (well… more like a little poor and super-duper poor and holy-crap-we’re homeless poor… but… you know… it’s all relative), sickness and health, better and worse and we are still going strong.
I don’t think 11 years makes me a marriage expert by any standard but there are a few things I’ve learned. Every couple is unique and you need to find your own path, but here are 12 tips that have worked for us:
#1 Be more polite to your spouse than you are to strangers on the street. Do you hold the door for the person behind you at the store? When the guy at the bus stop sneezes, do you say, “Bless you?” When someone at work does something nice do you say, “Thank you?” You should do those things for your spouse, as well.
#2 When you see a fault in your spouse, pray for yourself. It took me a long time to figure this one out but the results were almost instant. If my husband was acting grumpy or angry or… whatever… I would pray, “Dear God, please fix him and make him better.” That wasn’t working out so well. One day I realized that, perhaps, my husband wasn’t the one that needed to be fixed. I changed my prayer to, “Dear God, please help me know how to be the partner he needs. Help me to be a blessing to him. Help me to know what to say when I speak and when I should just be quiet.” That turned out to be a powerfully effective prayer!
#3 Don’t turn mole-hills into mountains. Does it make me a little crazy that, after 11 years of asking him to put his shoes in the mudroom, he still leaves them in the middle of the floor where I trip over them EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.? Yes. Sometimes. But, you know what? He is faithful and kind and decent and gentle and he takes the garbage out without complaining every week so I’m not going to go to war over the shoes. It’s really not that big of a deal to pick them up and put them in the mudroom myself.
#4 Don’t ”kick ‘em while they’re down.” If your spouse has made some hugely monumental mistake: wrecked the car, gotten fired from their job, etc, it is a pretty safe bet to assume that they are already fully, painfully aware of the fact that they have royally effed up. You don’t need to point it out. You need to be there for them and support them and work together to make things OK again.
#5 Tell your partner what you’re thinking and feeling. Don’t assume they already know. Don’t hint. TELL THEM. In words. Use the kind of nice words you would appreciate others using with you.
#6 Laugh at yourself. Sometimes you are ridiculous. Your spouse may laugh at you. That’s OK. Laugh with them and life will be more fun.
#7 Dream together.
#8 Touch each other a lot. I’m not saying you have to grope and slobber all over each other like a couple of teenagers in the back row of a movie theater (although that can be fun, too, from time to time) but don’t get so busy holding onto kids and iPhones that you forget to hold hands or play footsie under the table. Touch is powerful.
#9 Compliment. Do you think your spouse is more attractive today than they were when you met them? Have they gained a new skill? Shown a talent for all things mechanical? Learned to cook amazing dinners? Become a world-class yodeler? Let them know that you’ve noticed.
#10 Choose to love. Some times you will feel wildly in love with your spouse. Sometimes you will feel differently. Feelings are fickle. Make the conscious choice to love and to be in love. Love is patient and kind and understanding and gentle and slow to anger.
#11 Cherish today. A friend of mine who is young and healthy and strong and married to a young healthy strong man got a phone call a few weeks ago that her husband had died instantly in a car crash. It’s been a long time since I was so totally aware that tomorrow is smoke and mirrors. You are promised nothing beyond this moment. Cherish what you have. Tell your partner you love them. Say thank you. Kiss them. Hold them. Don’t miss your chance.
#12 Leave them alone. My husband is a guy who needs a little space. Too much time surrounded by people, even people he loves very much, makes him grouchy and irritable and generally miserable. When he says, “I need some alone time,” it is not a bad thing. He’s not saying he doesn’t love me or he doesn’t want to be with me or any such thing. He’s simply saying, “could I please have a little space to clear my head and then I can come back to you, better than before.”
Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?
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