As I sit here and type those words, it feels like those years have gone by in the blink of an eye. And as I was reflecting on the last five years, I thought it might be special to document this anniversary with a post on the site.
Marriage has been the greatest gift of my life. Johnny and I have known each other for 14 years, been together for 7, and married for 5. During that time, we’ve grown and changed, fought and forgiven, time and time again. We’ve also navigated a lot of big changes and major life decisions and a global pandemic, and I truly believe our marriage is stronger today than it’s ever been.
While I don’t claim to be a marriage expert at this 5 year milestone, I do think we’ve learned some lessons that are worth sharing.
Here Are 5 Lessons I’ve Learned in 5 Years of Marriage:
1. Choose a partner who is your best friend.
As I mentioned above, Johnny and I have known each other for a long time. Many years before we started dating, we established a great friendship. And something we reflect on often, is how much of a gift it is to do life with someone you genuinely love spending time with.
There is no one on this earth I would rather spend time with than Johnny. And that makes the mundane moments of each day, feel so much more pleasant. There are times we’ll get home from a day of errands and comment that it was just so nice to spend that time together, and I think that’s because of the foundation of friendship we have.
You will spend more time with your partner than anyone else, so make sure it’s someone you love to be around.
2. Figure out how to identify and communicate your needs clearly and calmly.
This one requires some self-awareness and also some vulnerability. But your partnership will suffer if you quietly resent the other person, rather than communicate, when you have needs that are going unmet.
Whether it’s a need for support, a need for alone time, a need for quality time together, a need for time with your friends, or something else entirely – first you have to figure out what you need, then commit to communicating that as best as you can.
Oftentimes, our partners see us at our worst. And because we trust them, they can sometimes become the spot where we unfairly place our stress and frustration. It’s not their job to read our mind or even to anticipate what our needs might be, it’s our job to communicate those things and trust that they want to support us as best as they are able to in that moment.
3. The simple moments truly mean the most.
When I reflect on some of my favourite moments in the last 5 years, it’s the small ones that stand out. Making brunch together on a Saturday morning, binge-watching our favourite shows, daily morning walks with our pup, texting each other memes because we know it will make the other person laugh, playing Mario Party during covid lockdowns, going out for a happy hour taco and margarita, golfing together on a sunny day.
Yes, the big milestone moments are amazing too, but it’s the simple moments that make up most of life. Learn to savour those and life will always feel rich.
4. Press pause on an argument if one or more party is hungry.
This one is more practical, but we quickly learned that immediately after work was a hotspot for arguments. Between decompressing from the stress of the day and a bit of hanger, it was a bad combination. Don’t be afraid to press pause on a conversation and agree to revisit the topic after you’ve had something to eat. Oftentimes, it resolves itself in that window of time and if it doesn’t, you’ll be more emotionally regulated and equipped to navigate the issue once you’ve eaten something.
5. If you both make caring for yourself a priority, your marriage will be stronger as a result.
In my opinion, self-care is an ethical obligation. If we aren’t caring for ourselves, we are not going to feel good in our life and our relationships are not going to be as healthy as they could be.
In the last five years, we’ve gone through seasons when we were prioritizing our health and well-being and some when we weren’t doing this with as much intention. And looking back, it’s the seasons of life where we really made efforts to prioritize our own individual well-being that our marriage thrived.
We’ve learned to encourage the other to do things that fill up their cup, make them feel happy and healthy, and meet their own basic needs.