On April 10, 2020, my husband and I celebrated 10 years of marriage. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that 10 years has already gone by and sometimes it feels like it’s been even more. Since 10 years is such a milestone anniversary, I thought it would be fun to share 10 things I’ve learned in our first 10 years of marriage. (Do you think I’ve used the number 10 enough times in that paragraph?)
And by I’ve learned, I really mean we’ve learned because I did ask my husband (JP) to help me come up with these.
Lessons Learned from Our First 10 Years of Marriage
1. Sometimes, you may go to bed angry.
People always give their number one piece of advice to newly weds and say “never go to bed angry.” Well I’m here to tell you that sometimes you probably will and that’s okay. I don’t mean absolutely furious by any means, but there will be times that you go to bed still upset. I always find that when I wake up in the morning that anger has dissipated and I’m able to offer a sincere apology.
2. Never stop dating your spouse.
In our first 10 years of marriage, we learned that life gets crazy. As time goes on and you add more activities and kids into the picture, and it gets harder to spend time together one on one. Whatever you do, never stop dating your spouse. If you have kids (like we do), get a babysitter at least once a month and go out together! Do something fun besides dinner and a movie. Go bowling, play laser tag or go to the county fair!
If you’re at a point where it’s hard to get out or you’re trying to stay home, have a date at home! Create a date night in a box and find some thought provoking, deep questions to continue to know your spouse on another level. These 36 deep questions help you reach beyond the surface level and even help you understand the science of intimacy!
3. Experiences are far better than gifts.
Gifts can be lovely and exciting, don’t get me wrong, but there is something far more special about experiences. After we got married, we decided that we weren’t going to do presents, but instead trips. Some years would be big trips and other years would be little ones.
For our 3rd anniversary, we did a Mediterranean cruise out of Rome and visited three countries, Italy, France and Spain, to celebrate our three years of marriage. This trip was amazing and I look back on it with the best memories. Not all of our trips have been big and grand. Our 4th anniversary, we simply went to Corpus Christi, TX (a 2.5 hour drive) for a casual weekend at the beach. In fact, for our 10th anniversary, we were supposed to just stay overnight at a hotel in downtown Houston before the craziness of COVID-19 hit!
Just remember that not every trip or experience has to be big for it to be memorable.
4. Always find similar interests.
There is a reason you started dating in the first place right? It was easy to talk to one another and you had things in common! It’s important to keep things in common with each other. Whether it’s going to the gym, watching similar shows, traveling, enjoying the theatre, gaming together, etc.; you should always find similar interests and do things together! As people we evolve, so it doesn’t always have to be the same thing. Find new interests and new things to love together.
For example, when JP and I got married, he did NOT like running, but I did. I asked him to run a half marathon with me for my birthday a year and a half after marriage. We trained together and even though he said he would never run another one again, here we are 9 years later and he’s run over 10 half marathons with me!
5. Keep your girl/guy time.
While it’s important to do things together it’s also important to keep up with separate interests and friends. Take time for guys/girls nights or even trips. Time spent with your friends is incredibly important, so support one another in this. Encourage the occasional guys poker night or girls brunch date. It’s just as necessary to have your own things as it is to have things that you can do together.
6. Be active together.
Find anything that will keep you active and busy together! Health is one of the keys to happiness, so if you can stay healthy together, do it!
Not everyone love exercises, but keep trying new things to see what you enjoy together. Different areas will have different options too, so check out what’s available around you! Here are a few ideas:
- Go on a walk or run
- Take a hike
- Ride your bike
- Go to the gym together (even if you don’t workout together)
- Sign up for a fitness class or boot camp
- Go paddleboarding
Related Post: 10 Healthy Habits to Start Now
7. Always say “I love you” back.
In the early days, JP would sometimes offer me an “I love you” when I was mad and I didn’t always say it back. I can hold a solid grudge. I was also quite young when we got married, and it took a few years for me to continue maturing. One thing I highly recommend is to always say “I love you” back. Even when your mad, if your partner offers it to you, say it. Anger is a funny thing, but you do love them. Remember, it will hurt your spouse even worse if you don’t say it back.
8. Go to bed at the same time.
This one may sound odd, but we believe that going to bed at the same time is beneficial to our relationship. Many years ago, we were on totally different schedules. I was going to bed early with a 4:00am wake up time while JP went to bed late since he was a manager at a plant working 11-7pm. Having these different bed times kept us apart and it also took away that quality snuggle and communication time before sleep.
Obviously this was an issue because of our vastly different schedules, but it did cause tension in our relationship. At the time, we didn’t realize this was one of the problems, but looking back on it, we both agree that it was a big part of it.
Now we always go to bed at the same time. I may read for a bit while JP watches a show, but we’re in there together and that’s what matters.
9. Communication is key.
Communication is so important in a relationship. Not only do you need to be able to express yourself, but you also need to listen. No, really listen. Don’t just pretend to listen, but be an active listener. You may think that you know what they’re going to say, but you don’t. You don’t know exactly what’s going on inside their head no matter how long you’ve been together.
If you ever feel like your communication skills are lacking, don’t hesitate to seek some counseling. After we had our daughter back in 2015, we sought out a couples therapist to helps us learn to communicate better. We saw her once or twice a month for a little over a year, and I loved every minute of it. We learned even more about each other including how to talk to, listen to and reaffirm eachother.
10. Accept your spouse for who they are.
Probably the most important tip of all is to accept your spouse for exactly who they are. No matter what, there will always be things that irritate you about your spouse, but you must love all them because trying to change them will hurt both of you.
Also remember that while you can’t change them, you must allow them to change. We’re humans and we’re ever changing and adapting beings, so accept your spouse for who they are and who they become.
As time goes on we grow and mature. We develop new interests and make new friends and possibly even become parents. All of these things will gradually change us.
Related Post: Man Crush Monday
Marriage isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.
Maybe the most important bit of information I can give is that marriage isn’t easy, it’s a lot of work, but is it so worth it. Looking back on the last 10 years, we’ve had some very high highs and some really low lows.
I’ll be completely honest, there were moments I questioned if we would really make it to forever. If you’ve ever had those thoughts, you’re not alone. But in the end, we were able to rise above those moments with communication and love.
Being married to JP has made me a better person. While he hasn’t tried to change me, he has changed me. Because I’m with him, I’m a better person. That’s what marriage is all about right? Being the best version of yourself when you’re with them?
Our life together is far from perfect, but it’s perfect for us. The things we’ve learned in these last 10 years of marriage have helped us grow together and love each other more. I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years and beyond has in store.