Am I really old enough to have been married for 13 years? That is the mind-boggling question I am asking myself right now. My mind says no, but my calendar and growing wrinkles say YES. (Young moms, wear your sunscreen. The old ladies aren’t lying!) But just like time passing causes wrinkles, it also causes wisdom to grow. And here’s some of the best wisdom I’ve learned from 13 years of marriage to my sweet husband.
1. There’s no such thing as mind reading. Communicate!
Most of us would not pay a psychic money to read our minds because we do not believe it’s possible, but strangely, many couples expect their spouse to be able to read their minds. Then they get angry when they seem to fail at it! “Why doesn’t he know I’m frustrated about his pants on the floor?” But they have never actually asked their spouse for what they need. Instead of getting bitter, get better! And communicate. Be proactive and tell your spouse what you need to feel supported and loved.
2. Children will bring out the best and worst in you and your spouse. And that’s normal!
Having a tiny being you created with the person you love most in the world is beautiful! It makes you love your spouse even more! But once you’re up for the first week post delivery without any sleep, it can make you think they are your worst enemy. “Why would you give me a little baby that is killing me slowly from sleep deprivation!” That is, until you get your first night of good rest. And then you are back to thinking they are the second most precious thing to stare at now that you have your baby.
3. You will be wrong. Don’t forget it.
I know that, as women, we are right most of the time. Well, at least that’s what we think in our brains. But the fact is, we are wrong sometimes. And we must acknowledge the times when we acted out of emotion. And stop pointing the finger of blame and turn the mirror back at ourselves! Marriage is happier when we recognize our role in conflict.
4. He will be wrong. Show humility.
And just as you will sometimes be wrong, so will your husband! And when he is, a loving wife does not choose to use that moment to go in for the kill. Instead, she shows grace and humility. And accepts an apology. Life (especially with children) is far too short to waste on fighting. Use words and logic to communicate. Then move on! And enjoy your time together.
5. Life is too short not to apologize.
If you are considering whether an apology is due, it is. If you are considering whether an apology is worth your time, it is! The end.
6. You will likely be tired—a lot.
Once you have children, it’s a given that you are no longer in control of your schedule. Their needs—especially with sleep—often dictate who is up and when. So give your spouse grace. Half of parenting is feeling tired (okay, exhausted, if your kids are under 5) but having to push through anyway. You get to do a sleepless journey with someone you love, so kick back, drink coffee, and yawn together. Then show grace.
7. Share roles.
Dividing up household roles sounds good in theory. But drawing straight lines is never a great idea once busy schedules and children are added in. If one person is always supposed to take the trash out and one person is always supposed to cook dinner, what happens when the cook gets sick and the one who takes out the trash leaves on a business trip? Marriage is not about each spouse giving 50%, but instead about each spouse giving 100%. So, live your marriage in a way where you view yourself as teammates. You each do what needs to be done that day!
8. Carve out time for each other.
Parenting should never replace your relationship with one another. You will be better parents when your marriage is strong. So carve out time for dates and reserve babysitters before you’re feeling desperate. Dates give you time to kick back, communicate, and connect without the stress of managing littles. How can you stay in love when you don’t have a chance to show your love? Never forget to date!
9. Take time for intimacy!
It’s easy to let sexual intimacy take a back burner once kids come into the equation. But intimacy in marriage is one way to stay connected when everything else is fighting to pull you in two directions. Logically, there is less time for intimacy when babies come along, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy to let it fall to the wayside. So prioritize time to stay close, shut the door and reconnect! (It will reap rewards—and sometimes more kids, too. So watch out for that!)
10. When you want to yell, take a timeout!
Generally, yelling accomplishes nothing productive, especially in a marriage. It’s typically the time when one says things they regret and behaves in ways that cause them shame. So, when you feel yourself getting heated and wanting to lose it, step away! And then return once you are cooled down!! An easy tip for a tense topic is to lie down and talk. It’s hard for the brain to stay mad when the body is reclined.
11. Raising tiny humans causes stress. Acknowledge it!
I once told a friend that having four kids has caused my husband and I to work harder not to disagree. She looked at me appalled and said, “I thought marriage is supposed to get easier with time.” I understand her thinking, but if you look at things that cause stress, raising several young kids does! It’s okay to feel like marriage is slightly more challenging than before kids. This phase will pass and they will grow! But for now, know you aren’t crazy if it seems BUSY! It is. That’s not a reason for guilt. It’s a reason to pursue time for connection and communication.
12. You will grow. Do it together.
As you age, so will your interests, likes, and passions. Growth can pull you apart or pull you together. Take time to do things with your spouse. Even if their dreams are not yours. Take time to listen and support.
13. Time yourself when cleaning!
This last one is funny but true! Marriage with kids is messy. And if it doesn’t involve cleaning, chaos can quickly ensue. Set a timer and clean together as a fam to avoid being overwhelmed. For a little more fun, turn on your favorite tune too!