Last night I slept soundly with no interruptions for teething babies or diaper changes. This morning, I woke up slowly, tangled up in my husband’s arms two states away from our children. I am sitting peacefully in a cottage in Virginia listening to the birds chirping outside and looking out over the beautiful green grass and trees. It’s the perfect day for a wedding.
Nearly six years ago, I had a wedding of my own. I married Ryan in a little stone church in Louisville, KY. Since that time, we have been through quite a lot. We’ve experienced job loss and separation for long periods of time. We battled infertility together, became a family of five in the blink of an eye, endured a long, hard stay in the NICU, and moved across the country. Twice. We’ve weathered our share of storms.
In the end, I am more in love with this man than I could have imagined on that sunny September afternoon. Our dreams and fears are interwoven. There is no my problem or his problem, only our challenges. We do it all together. While I am no marriage expert, there are a few things that I know have made our marriage work and I wanted to share them on the morning of Emily’s wedding. Listed below are 7 keys to a happy marriage that have helped Ryan and me.
Apologize quickly. Ryan and I sometimes argue. Usually about things that are of very little consequence. Often the issue itself is not worth the impact that the argument will have on our emotions. Try to take a second to think about what you’re arguing about. If it’s not that important, gather yourself, recover, apologize and move on.
Recognize every apology. This is something my husband is really good at. I mess up a lot. So I need to apologize a lot. He always graciously accepts my apologies. And if further discussion is needed, he recognizes the apology, and then goes into the discussion. This has always made me feel heard and respected. I try to do the same for him, but admit that I’m not as good at it as he is.
Speak kindly about your husband when he’s not around. This is some of the best marriage advice I ever got from my mother (She’s been married almost 40 years.) I’ve heard many women complain about their husbands in passing, or laugh about their shortcomings over lunch. I’m not saying you can’t vent to a trusted friend, just don’t make it a habit. If you make a conscious effort to focus on the good, it will come to the forefront.
Enjoy the little things. While I definitely give my husband a hard time about his stockpile of 2,000 Q-Tips (who needs that many Q-Tips?) it makes me smile. I love that I can ask him what jersey Fred Savage is wearing while we’re watching The Princess Bride (it was Walter Payton’s), and that he always picks up the phone when his Granny calls, even if it’s not convenient.
20-second hugs. This is a little tradition that Ryan brought home. Apparently, hugging for at least 20 seconds releases endorphins that make you happier. Whenever we’re feeling disconnected or stressed, we hug it out. It sounds silly, but it really does help.
Listen, don’t fix. This one is tough for me. Sometimes, your spouse just wants to be heard. I know I do. I am a problem-solver by nature, so I sometimes start throwing out solutions before Ryan is even finished venting. I want my husband to be happy, so when he’s upset, I want to fix it so badly that I sometimes skip the step that would be most helpful –listening thoughtfully.
Have dream sessions. Every so often, sit around and dream. About the future. About upcoming events. About what you would do if you won the lottery (even though you haven’t actually bought a ticket). While it may seem a little bit silly, I think dreaming together helps you to align your goals and visions for the future. It helps you find common ground and get insights into the passions and dreams of your spouse. The most surprising thing about dreaming together is watching his dreams change and evolve.
As Emily—one of my dearest friends—embarks on this journey of lifelong partnership, I want her to know that today is only the beginning of the joy. There is so much more to come as the two of you change and grow in ways you never expected. I can’t wait to watch your journey.
*Photo compliments of Melissa Marcisko Photography.
If you enjoyed this post, you might like these as well:
An Infertility Love Story: Featured on Mamalode: A tribute to my husband, the rock that keeps me grounded.
Putting in Three: The decision to put in three embryos during our IVF transfer.
A Legacy of Love: The time I forgot our anniversary.
Hello there! I’m Krysta. If you’re new to The Thoughtful Mom, welcome! And thank you for stopping by.
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