18 tips to stay married for 18 years

howtostaymarried

Valentines, the day we express love to the ones in our life that mean the most.  At times, I’ve been humbled by love, and how easily we all take it for granted.  We have to work for love and be patient with the process.  grateful for the beautiful parts and slow to toss it away when things get hard.  Almost twenty years of marriage have taught me a lot of things, but most importantly – love – is worth it.  Feeling vulnerable and giving all of yourself is scary sometimes, even painful, but vital.  Happy Valentines Day, Jon.  You are truly my best friend and partner in every way.

I will be the first to say that I’m not perfect.  I am far from it.  I am entirely too sporadic.  Let’s just say that I don’t run a tight ship, but more of a lose one.  The ship still floats, but not tightly.  It works for  me, it works for my kids and poor Jon just holds on for dear life so he doesn’t fall into the ocean.  To be fair, he isn’t very tight himself.  I think that’s why we understand each other.  A.d.d. understands A.d.d.

I decided to write 18 tips  for the almost 18 years we’ve been married. We are indeed, still married – and that can be a major accomplishment nowadays.  There are times that the years have flown by, and other days that last an eternity from hour to hour.  Thank goodness we have made it this far.  Life hasn’t been easy – life isn’t easy for anyone.

1.  Live and let live.

Let him watch Die Hard 50 times in a row, if he wants. Seriously.  There are things that make my husband happy, that I just don’t understand, like watching the same movies over and over again.  I don’t get it.  It completely baffles me.  He knows how it will end, how it started and what the plot is.  What’s the fascination?  But does it really matter?  I’ve learned to snuggle up close to him and enjoy being by his side, at the end of another long day.  It’s probably how he feels when he watches me become giddy over new shoes, my favorite song, looking at the mountains, or whatever. Just roll with it.  We all need to embrace the small things.

2. Go to bed mad.

Who in the world ever said we should work out all of our problems before we fall asleep, always.  It’s not only impossible – but not very smart.  Sometimes, it’s just better to turn out the light and pretend you are on another planet, or galaxy, or anywhere but where you are.  I don’t know about you, but when I’m beyond tired, I get crazy.  I lose all rational thought processes and make something that’s annoying, into something else that’s a lot bigger.  Go to bed people.  Wake up and see the world with fresh eyes.  Sleep is a blessing.  It’s our bodies way of telling other people to go away.

3.  Don’t be a fault finder.

We all have issues, right?  Why spend time looking for them and making them bigger than they are.  I figure we all have an allotment of energy each day.  If we spend it picking at others, we have less for important things, like looking at ourselves – the one person we actually do have control over.    Because, let’s be honest, most of the time it’s over something really stupid anyway.

4.  Learn to laugh.

I get it, life isn’t always funny, but why not try and find the humor in a situation that you can’t change anyway?  Okay, so we aren’t great at this one.  Sometimes I laugh really hard when something is REALLY bad, and Jon just doesn’t get it.

5.  Look for the good, always.

I remember once when we were first married, and having the normal “first married” relationship issues. I also remember complaining to someone, and they gave me really good advice to look for just ONE thing that week that made me really happy, and compliment him on it.  That week, I found one, and I played it up – almost to the point that I was laughing on the inside – but guess what?  It worked.  One, became two, three, four… and well, you get it.  It grows.  If we feel valued, we are happier and want to make others happy too.

6.  Remember to play.

All work and no play, makes Janae a dull girl.  Remember what you love to do that makes you who you are.  It’s okay to have friends that enjoy things with you.  I LOVE to hike, and you’d never find Jon on the mountain with me – and that’s okay!  He still loves me for who I am, even without being there.  You will rarely find me in the fish store with Jon.  Fish are great, but I’m perfectly happy seeing the fish he brings home to drop in our salt water fish tank.  That’s his thing, and I’m a okay with that.

7.  Keep the romance alive.

I’d even go as far as saying *sex* here.  It’s Valentines, so bare with me here.  Sex is good.  It’s great, even.  It is the best way to come together as a couple, shut out the world, and bond.  It’s okay – even important – to get really good at understanding each other, and getting what you want physically.  We are married, with the goal of forever – right?  Do you want just “okay” sex for the rest of your life, or get really good at your craft?  You choose.  Also, let’s not forget that it’s okay to go to bed when you’re tired.  It doesn’t mean you don’t love your spouse, it just means that sleep is vitally important to functioning well.  Romance is like everything else in this world, it’s a balancing act.

8.  Let everyone know how amazing your spouse is.

Look for every chance to talk about how great they are.  I don’t care if they are with you or not, it will get back to them.  I am always so happy, and fall in love again, when I meet someone new, and the first thing they do is relay back to me all of the amazing compliments my husband gave me, when I wasn’t even there.  Really, we always have the choice to focus on the good or bad, thank goodness I don’t have a husband that throws me under the bus every chance he gets – and rips on me behind my back.

9.  Be loyal.

Remember how you would want your spouse to treat you, and treat them with the same respect.  Don’t put yourself in any situation that could ruin everything you’ve worked for.  It’s that simple.  Your husband and your marriage are more valuable than any friendship.  Protect it.  You and your spouse are a team of two, and nobody else is allowed on the team.

10. When all else fails, cry and hold each other.

Does this sound pathetic?  I don’t mean it to be.  There have been days that things were going so wrong, that we couldn’t even talk – and we just laid in each other’s arms.  Things don’t always make sense.  They don’t always have a solution.  Sometimes we don’t have all of the answers, and that’s okay.

11.  Be a student of your relationship.

Work at it.  Pay attention to what makes your spouse happy.  I learned this one from my husband.  I am more oblivious than he is.  He will pay attention to what my favorite candy is (unfortunately), my favorite music, food, the fact that I love ice water before bed  – and surprise me with these things at unexpected times.  It melts my heart, always.

12.  Learn to ignore.

Okay, I may take some slack for this one, but this talent has gotten me far.  Hold on while I explain myself.  It’s good to listen.  It’s really good to listen, but it’s also good to ignore the comments that are said out of anger.  Sometimes, we say things we don’t mean when we are upset.  Of course, it would be better if this never happened, but we haven’t gotten to that place yet.  Talk about it, and move on.  Come to think of it, it’s the same tactic that helps me handle seven kids.  Learn to listen AND learn to ignore.

13.  Never, I said never, use the D word.

Divorce is not a topic of discussion, if you really want to make it.  Once the word is spoken, it’s like a cancer that spreads throughout the marriage with a raging, uncontrollable force.  It may be said out of frustration, but it is like a seed that is planted and starts growing weeds.  You can pull some weeds on the surface, and prune above ground to make things look pretty – but underground there is a web of roots that grow deep.  Don’t say it.  Don’t put that doubt into your mind or the mind of your spouse.  I’m not saying people shouldn’t ever get divorced.  There are deal breakers that end promises once made.  I am talking about throwing those words around for a control play.  Just don’t.

14.  Turn off the T.V. and electronics.

We are not perfect at this.  We are actually pretty pathetic, but we are working on it.  It’s amazing how much time there is to communicate if you decide to.  At the same time, it’s okay to let each other unwind in our own ways.  In fact, as I type this, Jon is watching TV.  See, I can barely follow my own tips.

15.  Have children – and love them.

There is no better education about life, than having your own kids.  It is hard.  So hard.  But it’s worth it.  It will test your marriage, even to the max.  But at the end of my life, I’d rather be surrounded by my family than anything else.  As my kids grow up, they are already becoming my best friends.  I can’t imagine a better heaven than that.

16.  Be a wall breaker and not a brick mason.

I know this sounds counter productive, but let me explain.  It takes a lot more work to tear down the walls that naturally build up over time, than to build them.  It is easy to stack brick of resentment by brick of resentment, without even realizing it – and before you know it – you have a really strong wall.  Keep an eye on yourself.  I am constantly checking for walls, and trying to fight against them.

17.  Build something together.

For us, it’s been business – but it could be anything.  We have learned so much together by having common goals.  It teaches you to work together, compromise, and celebrate when you’ve reached a summit that you’ve been working toward.  Work together, even if it’s just making time to share your day with each other, venting and solving problems.

18.  Talk about the future with excitement.

Put the past in proper placement – in the past.  Enjoy today, always.  It’s the only day you have control over anyway.  Make it the best.  When it’s over, move on to the next.  This brings better days, weeks, months, years and a better marriage.

What about you?  What are your tips and things you have learned in your marriage?  I could make a list of 18 things we do wrong as well (complete with questions) – but today we are focusing on the good, right 🙂 Happy Valentines Day!

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    Hello! I am Camille, a wife, mother of four, Disney obsessed, certified teacher, and reality optimist. Motherhood comes with its ups and downs, and I hope while you're here you'll find something that makes your #momlife easier!

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