This month, my husband and I celebrated 11 years of marriage, 15 years of togetherness. In comparison to how many more years we have to go, I recognize we still have a lot to learn but I’ve recently been thinking about some relationship game changers that have made our last decade one of “wedded bliss.”
We definitely don’t have it all figured out–but once we put into practice the game changers below, despite some very tough, real life circumstances, things just clicked for us and it has been as smooth sailing as I expected marriage to be (aka a whole lot of work, but the investment pays off).
Releasing Expectations – Most times when we experience conflict, and not just regarding our marriage, it is because one of us had an expectation that wasn’t being met. Sometimes it is a reasonable expectation, sometimes it isn’t, but letting go of what we expected to happen and being open to what actually did allows us to address the actual situation and move forward appropriately.
Saying What You Want – This was really, really hard for me. For example, I want my husband to instinctively know that when we are bickering I want him to hug me, apologize for his part in the spat, and ask to just start over. However, when I’m in the middle of nagging him for whatever reason, he can’t tell that is what I really want. It has been a hard habit to create, but I now try to figure out what it is that I really want him to do and just say it.
Being Affectionate – Our relationship feels “off” to us when we aren’t being affectionate, which for us is as simple as always kissing good morning and good evening, a quick hug as we pass each other doing chores, or sitting close on the couch instead of opposite ends. As an additional bonus, our girls naturally have sought out physical affection from us and extra kid snuggles is never a bad thing!
Each of Us Finding Our Own Hobbies – My husband and I started dating at 19, really before we even knew our own selves. Growing up together naturally meant we had a lot of the same interests, and we did pretty much everything together. Life became a lot more interesting for us once we both had unique experiences to share with each other.
Finding a Hobby We Could Share -Once we had kids, like most parents, our lives revolved around them. We worked hard to continue to keep up our personal hobbies when possible, but we also started a brand new hobby together- an Instagram account featuring our favorite local food. It was fun and exciting to partner on something together other than our children, just like we had when we were dating.
Just Say Yes – We have a guideline when it comes to sex-if either of us are interested, try to just say, “yes”. Of course we completely respect each other when we do say, “no,” (with no justification or explanation ever needed) but emotionally and physically we are much more satisfied and the times when “no” does happen, there are no hard feelings.
Letting Go of Jealousy – By nature, neither of us are jealous individuals when it comes to the possessive sense, but there are some times the green-eyed monster may creep up. For example, my husband initially struggled with how often I hung out with my girlfriends compared to how often he did with his guys. Or I resented the flexibility he had with his job and would get pouty when I figured out he randomly would take an afternoon off to play video games. Going back to “Saying What You Want” if the real issue is that he wanted more guys’ nights out, he needed to communicate that. If I was hoping he would use some of his flex time to do what I deemed productive, I needed to share that.
Delegating/Hiring Help – The mother’s emotional workload is no joke, and I had to release the expectation that he would know how to help me and delegate it out. My husband holds himself to the same expectations I hold myself when it comes to parenting so we are as close to 50/50 on the physical workload of parenting as you can get, but sometimes he needs guidance because it doesn’t come as naturally to him. My husband also practically forced me to finally hire a cleaning service so that we could finally relax at home instead of spending our off time cleaning.
Taking Care of Our Health – Over the last year, I was diagnosed with what felt like a myriad of health issues. While each diagnosis was a reminder of how fragile health can be, they were a blessing in disguise because I was able to finally be open and share my experience with him and allow him to support me in the way I needed.
Laugh Every Single Day – Naturally we make each other laugh most days, but on the harder days, even in the middle of disagreements, we work to make each other laugh. Heavy situations feel lighter when we can get each other to crack a smile, making it feel like everything isn’t all that bad. Our daughters become downright giddy when we start joking around with each other so that often gives us the motivation to try and tickle each other’s funny bones.
As a bonus, when I asked my husband what he thinks one of our relationship game changers has been, he mentioned the below (which I definitely have to agree!)
Having Our Own Blankets – I love a beautifully made bed, but once all the pillows are put aside and the comforter is pulled down, my husband and I have our own blankets. Less tossing and turning and fighting over the covers-better sleep has to be good for the marriage, right?