Today is my husband’s and my 10 year wedding anniversary (if you’re into looking at wedding posts, I shared lots on our wedding here). It feels crazy to say that because, even though we’ve been together forever (we met at 16) our wedding feels like yesterday. So much has changed in 10 years (and you can see it just by looking at us — kids will do that to you 😉 ). We’ve changed careers, had a baby, worked through illnesses (mostly mine), had a miscarriage, moved, had another baby, had a surprise pregnancy and bonus baby, moved across the country, bought a house, fought, loved, struggled, celebrated, supported, and been through some major highs and lows together. It has not been easy. At times it has been very very hard. We didn’t always think we would make it, but we have always tried our best.
I’ve been thinking about how things may have changed or what I’ve learned now that I’m 10 years into marriage. What did those two young people think marriage would be like versus how it really is? What would I tell myself, if I could go back (besides enjoy those boobs while they last)? How has having kids impacted my relationship with my husband? How have my feelings about myself impacted my relationship? How could I have done better over the last 10 years? What am I most proud of?
I think being honest about marriage is incredibly important. It is so easy to romanticize things, but when two people decide to commit to each other as life partners, have kids together, live together day in and day out, and see each other allllll the time — things are bound to get hard. Especially when you have kids. I didn’t realize how hard kids make a marriage. They are totally worth it (obviously) but I’ve joked that if my husband and I ever got divorced it would be the kids’ fault. I joke. (But really, there’s a lot of truth in it). You can know each other so well, think you’re on the same page with household responsibilities and jobs, and be incredibly in love; but once you have kids things change so much. You’re sleep deprived, you might have a kid with health or behavioral issues that are a big stressor, financial strain is a bigger concern when you have more mouths to feed, family holidays, traveling, job loss, mental illness — so so many things can happen that makes you realize you didn’t know shit. We had a lot of those things come up in our first 10 years of marriage.
I also learned that you can do marriage your way, not the way everyone says it is supposed to be. You make your own rules to make it work for you. For example, people always say “never go to bed angry.” But when we have a fight, especially if it is heated or I’m really upset, I insist on going to bed angry. Cooler heads always prevail and we always feel better in the morning and are more likely to resolve the issue and forgive and move on. But when we’re IN IT, things tend to escalate for me, because I’m a very emotional person.
You also don’t have to have one shared and joint checking account. You don’t have to take your partner’s last name. You don’t even have to get married. A committed relationship is a committed relationship — the longer I’m in one the more I realize that it is our daily commitment to our marriage and our ties to each other that keep us together, not the commitment we made 10 years ago. Yeah, that was the start of it. But you have to recommit each day in little and big ways to keep your marriage together.
I think my biggest lessons learned in my first 10 years of marriage is that you really need two things to make it work: teamwork and humor. If you can’t work together and maintain a united front, marriage can get very lonely and that leads to resentment. And if you can’t laugh at the ridiculousness of your day-to-day, then it really isn’t very fun. When your toddler removes his diaper and takes a dump in the middle of the floor, you can either laugh at the ridiculousness of it, or let it be a really shitty experience (pun intended). This is sometimes really hard to do — I’ve definitely struggled with it and my husband is much better at it than me. Because when you’re sleep deprived or struggle with a mental illness, things feel way more overwhelming and serious than they need to be (or in reality, are). But I have found that the days that I can laugh these things off are much better days than when I can’t. I’m glad I have a partner that can see the funny in most situations and tries to make light of things, even when it also annoys the ever-living crap out of me.
To my husband of 10 years, thank you for loving me even at my most unlovable. Thank you for seeing me, for supporting me, and for making me laugh. I could not do this parenthood thing without you. I wouldn’t want to do this life thing without you. I hope our next 10 years bring us more sleep, more date nights, more travel, and more good days than rough days. But even if there is no sleep, no dates, no travel, and a lot of rough days — you got me and I got you. Always. And look what we did…