On June 20th I happily celebrated 13 years of being married to my best friend. Sure, we've had our share of ups and downs, but we've never given up on each other and for that, I am forever grateful. What's our secret to success? We don't really have one...but, I'll tell what I've learned, so far...
It's no secret that marriage is a lot of work, but how often do we hear about the necessity for being dedicated to the work it takes for this most sacred commitment? Dedication to not only providing each other with unconditional love and support, but respecting each other, paying full attention to each others needs and personal growth. (Stop the giggling my gutter-minded friends, I'm not talking about THOSE needs!) I'm talking about "the little things" - leaving work a little early, so you can spend some true "quality time" together, and "quality time" does NOT mean sex or watching TV. Or perhaps, it's ignoring a smartphone or Blackberry alert during dinner and giving your spouse your full, undivided attention. To many people these are common sense concepts, but you'd be surprised just how many couples don't even realize how these smalls acts can have a huge impact on their relationship. Tell me, when is the last time you enjoyed coming in 2nd place to an electronic device for your loved one's attention?? What I'm saying is, make sure you take the time to let your partner / spouse know that they will always be as important to you as they were on the day you said "I do."
Another lesson learned - communicate, communicate, COMMUNICATE! I'm married to a musician - talking isn't really his "thing" (occasionally neither is listening) BUT out of respect for me and our marriage, he's learned to appreciate the art of communication (aka Fighting Fair)....truth be told, I've had to learn to do this, as well. Reflecting on past arguments, I realize that most of them got blown out of proportion because we waited too long to say what was bothering us and when we finally did, we both got so defensive and spent so much time trying to prove who's right or wrong, that the real issue at hand never got resolved. Now, if there's something that doesn't sit right with one of us, we bring it up instead of letting it fester and explode. Don't get me wrong, it's not always a nice little discussion followed by hugging it out; we are far too passionate in our beliefs for that. We'll yell and all that BUT we do it with respect, meaning there's no cussing each other out and definitely no name calling (BIG 'hot buttons' for me.) If tempers get too heated, then do yourselves a favor and shut up for a second. Come back to it when you've cooled off a bit and can listen to each other without pushing to get your point across - remember, it takes two to argue and if you're talking, you're not listening.
Lastly, a piece of advice my mother told me - Always bring something to the table. Never stop growing as an individual and you will always have something to add to your marriage. Strive to be the same vivacious or adventurous spirit individual that your spouse/partner first fell in love with. Support each other in whatever new interests you develop or old hobbies you return to...whatever the case may be, share in the experience and keep lifting each other up! There are so many places, hobbies and endeavors to experience in Life that you can continue surprising each other with well in to your retirement years!