Today is our seventh wedding anniversary! I am not in the habit of giving marriage advice (I prefer to get such tidbits from people like my grandparents, who have been married for more than 60 years, and my parents who have been married for over 30 years). However, with my 7th anniversary being about 7 times longer than many celebrity marriages, I figured that even JP and I might have a couple of valuable things to share.
If you want to avoid the Marilyn Monroe movie “The Seven Year Itch”, that’s easy enough- don’t watch it. Avoiding the feeling of discontent that can sometimes creep up on a marriage isn’t necessarily as easy. Here’s how we have managed to be happy together for the last few years:
1. Be best friends. Best friends are loyal and stick together through everything. They pick out the best in each other and focus on the good. Even when you’re angry, act lovingly toward your spouse. Forgive, forgive, forgive.
2. Be a team. It is you and your spouse vs. jobs/kids/life. Figure out the best way to support each other, and do it. Allow your spouse to support you if you’re a control freak. (Yes, this may mean having the dishes done “wrong” or having children dressed in mismatched clothing. Better than no help at all).
3. Laugh together – often. Find things that are funny in the mundane, or even stressful. Be able to laugh at yourself, your situation, the craziness around you. (I typically have trouble holding in the desire to laugh when both my kids are screaming at the same time. I mean, it’s like they PLAN to make life difficult. And that’s funny). Don’t laugh AT each other, though. That’s just mean.
4. Make time for each other. JP and I try to catch up for at least a half hour after the kids are in bed. Even if it is just chatting while cleaning or working out, it helps us to reconnect. Also, dates are important. We don’t get many right now, but we cherish the ones we do.
5. Share things in common with your spouse – but also celebrate the differences. JP and I share some big things, like our faith and world views. We are also geeky and into food and books. JP has no interest whatsoever in fiber arts, and I would rather gnaw off my arm than strategize long-term budget goals. However, we support each other in the activities that we enjoy individually.
6. Be intimate. I won’t elaborate much for the sake of family-friendliness, but seriously, it’s important. Things aren’t the way you want them? Tell your spouse exactly what you want. Ask your spouse what he/she wants. Plan to have a lifetime to get everything perfect. Put alone time on the calendar if you have to.
7. Be positive. It’s contagious. If you are building your spouse up constantly and not criticizing, your spouse will likely start to do the same for you.
So that’s why we are happy together. It takes a lot of work, and sometimes we have to be loving to each other when we don’t feel like it. We’re both human, and that means that we are sometimes selfish/annoying/clueless/whatever-bugs-the-other-most. We’re also committed to working it out, together. Here’s to another seven years!