Yesterday was our sixth year wedding anniversary. We decided on our first anniversary that rather than presents, cards or flowers we would like to mark each year by having a date night. Time alone together, and getting dressed up is a special luxury for us. Last night we celebrated with a meal out and cocktails. It was bliss!
We got to talking about marriage in general and it got me thinking of the things we have learned and been surprised by, so here are six things I have learnt in six years of marriage:
- Sleep is a necessity. This is more important once kids are here, but it is good to know at anytime. We all need sleep and we all get moody, tetchy, a bit useless and a bit emotional when we are tired. If you want to invest in your marriage, invest in your sleep! It saves so many pointless arguments! And allow your partner to invest in their sleep too, even if their patterns aren’t the same as yours. If someone needs a nap, let them nap. Take it in turns to get up with the kids, encourage one another to go to bed when you are procrastinating on your phone at 11:30 at night. Trust me, all relationships are better when everyone is rested.
- I can’t be happy if Rob is not happy. When we got married our two lives became one. We’re a unit, and if one half of the unit is miserable the other half can’t thrive. This means that when we make decisions we make the one that will suit both of us. I can’t sacrifice all my happiness for him, he can’t sacrifice his for me. We need to find the option that works out best for both of us. In the same vein, there is no point in me sulking, dishing out the silent treatment or being moody with Rob to punish him for some misdemeanor, because if I am successful in punishing Rob and make him feel bad, I will also hurt me; because we are one unit. We learned this in the early days and made a pact not to punish one another. We can disagree, we can talk things out, but we don’t ever seek to hurt one another in order to make a point.
- Appreciation is the easiest way to build one another up. Last night Rob told him that before we got together a good friend told him that he needed to find someone who appreciated him. It is advice that stuck with him and it is one thing he feels very secure about; that we appreciate one another. We are quick to thank one another for the little and big things we do that help our lives tick along nicely. It costs nothing to say things like, “thank’s for bringing the washing in” or “I love the way you invent games to play with Orla,” but those little phrases show that you notice and appreciate the other person and what they do for the family.
- Make your own fun traditions. Some of the things that knit our little family together are the traditions we have built up. Some, are a once a year thing, like every Christmas we make a time lapse video of us putting up the Christmas Tree. It’s a fun tradition that we look forward to each year. But we also have more low key traditions like every Saturday morning we have a Full English Breakfast. It’s a great indulgent start to our weekend, and puts something nice and fun right at the start of the day, rather than errands or jobs! These little traditions build the fun into our life together.
- Be inclusive. Our wider network of friends and family are vital to our life. There is a temptation when you are loved up to retreat into your relationship and leave the world behind. But, our nuclear family is just one part of our social network and we rely heavily on our friends and family for fun, support, wisdom, balance and love. And hopefully we contribute those things to our friends too. Community is important so remember to maintain friendships, visit family, have people round, and keep in touch with those who might fall of your radar. Don’t neglect people just because you are married, you will be worse off if you do.
- It doesn’t have to be hard work. Don’t get me wrong, Rob and I have our tense moments, but they are only moments in a grand scheme of hours and days spent together. Six years in and I’m still happiest when I am in Rob’s company. Life gets hard at times, but coming home to Rob each day is like how I imagine stepping into the Gryffindor common room would be like; warm, safe, a little bit magical! We do put the effort in, but right from the beginning we found it easy being together. I think this is an element that is often overlooked when people think of what they are looking for in a partner, but it is so important; find someone who is easy for you to live with! Look for shared values, look for people who are steady and averse to drama, look for the person whose conversation interests you, look for someone who you enjoy spending time with! If you find that and are kind to one another, all the rest is so much easier that you’d expect!