Our culture tends to get worked up over 5 and 10-year anniversaries. I’m happy to go along, especially since this week marks my 10th wedding anniversary to the lovely Mommylibrium.
Where did the time go? I’m too tired to even answer the question. I’m a parent, remember? What matters is that the state of my marriage is strong — for now. If you think being a dad is humbling, staying married is doubly so. Relationships are complicated in the best of times, and keeping a marriage on the right track takes constant attention.
It’s worth it, of course.
So with our anniversary in mind, here are 10 lessons I’ve gleaned in no particular order. Feel free to add your own in the comments section, readers. Married folks need every scrap of advice we can find!
- Demand Solo Time: Yes, my wife truly is my best friend. I want more than one, though. Men need time away from the Missus to bond, let off steam and just relax in a way that’s not always possible in a marriage. Don’t let this part of you slip on by. And, of course, tell your better half to schedule Girl Nights on regular intervals.
- Demand Date Nights: I love my kids. You love yours. Now, set up a time when you don’t see or talk about them. Date nights are crucial to a happy marriage. If money is an issue, swap babysitting duties with a local couple with kids.
- Admit You’re Wrong: Mommylibrium can be stubborn. So can I. Want to know what makes that worse? When I know I’m wrong but don’t fess up. It’s a recipe for turning a garden-variety fight into a Royal Rumble. Come clean. Apologize. Move on. She will, too.
- Happy Wife, Happy Life (to a point): I tend to follow marital advice when spoken by animated birds like “Rio 2’s” Blue. Putting your wife’s happiness first and foremost is fine … unless yours starts to suffer. Don’t sacrifice too much in a marriage. You’ll be sorry later. Maybe sooner.
- Stand Your Ground: If you’re wrong, admit it (see no. 3). If you’re right, don’t back down. Your partner should respect you enough to know when you draw a line in the sand it’s there for a reason. Be respectful and loving, but make sure she respects you, too. Power imbalances are rarely helpful in a marriage.
- Be Frugal ...: I never used to fill up my car’s tank to the brim. Ridiculous? Of course. But I didn’t have much money back then, and for some reason that seemed practical to me. Meanwhile, the moment my car was paid off I raced to the dealer to buy a new one. Same with my cell phone. Mommylibrium has taught me plenty about spending wisely. Don’t keep up with the Joneses. Chances are their credit card bills are sky high. Live modestly, and when sudden bills appear they won’t be nearly as stressful as they might otherwise be.
- … But Throw Money at Select Problems: If Adam Carolla has taught me anything, it’s that money isn’t always the root of all evil. Sometimes it’s darn handy. If you’re fighting over chores, hire someone to lift the load. The best money we spent this year was on a cleaning woman coming to our house once a month. Technically, my Mother-in-Law picked up the tab. Once her gift funds run dry we’re going to continue the service. Live frugally whenever possible. Spend when it makes your life easier.
- Be Romantic: Is there anything sadder than seeing a married couple at a restaurant barely exchanging a word through dinner? Chances are their union is on the skids. Marriage demands sacrifice and imagination. Surprise your spouse with a random gift or loving gesture. It could be scrubbing the toilet – that makes Mommylibrium weak at the knees. Keep doing the little things that remind her why you coupled up in the first place.
- Be Positive: The last few months have been hard for me. My new job required a host of unfamiliar skills, the local weather here in Denver was positively Seattle-esque and a softball injury kept me from my morning workouts. I got grumpy. And my wife couldn’t help but notice. We’ve all been there, and we’ll go there again. Don’t let that mood calcify. Strive to be happier whenever possible. Your mood affects both your wife and your children, either directly or indirectly. Remember that and turn that frown upside down … even if it hurts.
- Be Grateful: I simply can’t imagine how much harder my life would be if Mommylibrium and I were at each other’s throats. Parenting is enough of a burden — living with someone you can’t stand seems impossible. For those in a happy, healthy marriage take a moment to count your blessings. It’s what I’m doing right now.