Marriage, Milestones

What I’ve Learned in 3 Years of Marriage

Happy 3rd anniversary to us! Exactly three years ago, on May 7, 2011, we tied the knot in a beautiful ceremony surrounded by close family and friends.

In honor of the day, I bring to you some of the various tidbits I’ve learned about marriage over the past three years:

1. Marriage is a lot easier than I thought it’d be. Now this one might not hold true for everybody, but I was pretty terrified of getting married when I was younger, and because everyone always talked about how hard it was all the time, I assumed it would be pretty awful and hard and the kind of thing you just had to grit your teeth through a lot. (I wasn’t exactly a ray of sunshine when I was younger, k?) But marriage has been incredibly fulfilling and has made me happier than any other decision I’ve ever made.

2. Just come out and say what you want or need. Communication has never been my strong point since I usually will do anything to avoid contention and I have a hard time just coming out and asking for something to be done, but 3 years of marriage have taught me that it’s better just to speak up so we can be on the same page instead of hinting at things and hoping he’ll catch onto my hints. So now when I say, “I don’t really care,” I actually mean it.

3. Encourage each other in your individual pursuits. For the first few newlywed months of marriage, we basically had to do everything together, and I felt like we weren’t progressing as much as we could be. Now we both try to encourage each other in individual hobbies and interests because it allows us personal growth as well as a reason to cheer each other on.

4. When your spouse says something bugs him, actually try to fix it. I now pretty much always clear my hair out of the shower, and I am at least attempting to rinse dishes to his crazy-high standards. Even though the little things are just that—little—a lot of them together can add up to a mountain of annoyance, so it’s better to just work on changing (especially because it usually makes you a better person).

 On our one-year anniversary

5. Fight fair. My  husband and I are lucky enough to see most things eye to eye, but when we disagree, I’ve learned that it’s really important to fight fair. Because I hate conflict, I’ve done some pretty messed up things when we disagreed (like disappearing for a few hours without telling him where I was going or being a little passive-aggressive). Although I think I’ll always need to work on my communication skills, I know for a fact that I’m tons better than I used to be—I usually am much more forthright now about my reasons for disagreeing, and I let him know when he’s hurting my feelings (instead of just holding it in).

6. Don’t let yourself fall into the rut of routine too much. Like I said in this post, it’s so important to try out new things together because it lets you see each other in a new light, and it helps continually infuse romance and novelty into the relationship. And even though Hollywood doesn’t always sell us this idea, you actually DO need to work to keep the romance alive.

7. Spend time with other couples and carve out time for other friendships. Although I’m content to spend the majority of my time with Matt, it’s important that we both keep up friendships with other people. As unromantic as it might sound, it’s pretty impossible for one person to fulfill all our emotional and social needs, so it’s important to keep up friendships with other people. (One thing we do to help with this is to have friends over for games most Sunday nights and to try to do some double dates about every other month).

On our second anniversary 

8. State your expectations. Almost the entirety of our frustration comes from expectations that aren’t being met, and so it’s incredibly important that your spouse knows completely what your expectations are when it comes to things like spending time with both your families, managing finances, work/life balance, etc. Sometimes you’ll have to adjust your expectations, but you can’t be frustrated or mad with your spouse for not having met your expectation when they don’t even know what it is.

9. Take time to unplug. It’s important for me to get some one-on-one meaningful conversation time each day, and for that to happen, we need to not be engaged in attention-sucking things like watching t.v., playing computer games, surfing blogs, or checking social media. Lately, I’ve drastically cut down on my time spent in front of a screen, and I’ve made sure we don’t eat every meal in front of the t.v., and I find that it’s really helping us feel closer (not to mention helping me keep my sanity, as it’s often the only interaction I have each day with another adult).

10. Look for daily ways to show your love. You should be having far more positive interactions in your marriage than negatives ones, which requires effort on the part of both spouses. Make sure you are daily serving your spouse, verbally and physically showing your affection, and expressing gratitude for all they do for you. Even though we’ve been married for 3 years, Matt still thanks me for every meal I cook and I still thank him every time he does the dishes. Sure, one could argue that these types of things are just part of the duties that come with being a responsible adult. But you know what? It’s nice when you’re appreciated for actually having completed that duty.

Here’s to an eternity of happy years together—-I love you, Matt!

What are some of the lessons you’ve learned from marriage?

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