Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What I've Learned After 6 Years of Marriage

If you know who made this/said this, tell me!
I would never DARE to claim to be a marriage expert, nor a perfect wife. Far from, in both cases. Anything I've learned about marriage has been through observation, experience, and my own mistakes. I feel, though, that we have a successful marriage so far. The Hubs and I have been friends for 12 years, romantically involved for 10.5 years, and married for 6! This is what I've learned in that time, through our own missteps and watching other long-term couples. (The Hubs didn't contribute, but I might do a follow-up with his opinions added.)

  • Keep some mystery alive - in other words, pee with the door closed. I'm totally serious. IMHO, it kind of kills the sexy/romance if you've seen them do their "business". Grossness can't always be avoided (see: when one of you is sick and needs assistance), but avoiding it when you have the option makes the most sense to me.
  • Have fun with each other! Being playful and flirty is part of the fun of being in a relationship - marriage or long-term commitment doesn't have to kill that fun! Be careful though with teasing; I was raised where "teasing" was quite cruel even when it was funny. My mom pointed out how mean I was to The Hubs early in our relationship, and I had to work on taking the venom out of my jokes. He likes that I can sass back, though, so we found our happy medium and rarely do the jokes lead to hurt feelings.
  • Use your manners! I think when you live with someone full-time, you start to forget that they're someone who deserves basic human respect. It's not an intentional cruelty, it's just... well, you don't say "please" and "thank you" to yourself, right? So it kind of makes sense how one might stop doing it to their S.O. I don't think people realize how much it means to others when we show the basic human respect of saying "please" and "thank you". I mean, we say these things to the barista handing us our Starbucks, extend that same courtesy to your mate. 
  • It's the little things that matter! The Hubs is way better at this than I am, but I'm trying to match up. He always asks if I need anything when he's already up; I'm trying to return the favor (it doesn't come as naturally to me). One of us will ask the other if they need us to stop anywhere on our way home, e.g., The Hubs will pick up my prescriptions at Wal-Mart if I need them since it's on his way home from work. Those little moments add up and bring the happy feels up when you think of your mate. 
  • Make "Couple Time" a priority. I'm not saying co-dependency, I'm saying make little niches of time in your life to talk/spend time with each other. Sitting in the living room staring at the boob tube/playing on the computer doesn't count; I'm talking actual conversation. It doesn't have to be hours on end; 15-30 minutes of just catching up on your day is enough. Bonus points for cuddling or touching in some affectionate way during this time. We also "tuck into bed", which is where we cuddle in bed for a little while before one of us (or both) go to sleep. We used to do it every night, but over the years we've winnowed it down maybe 3 times a week. It really works for us, because it's just time for us to cuddle and talk/laugh/be silly. It doesn't usually even lead to sexy times, it's just something we do and it helps keep us connected. Do your own thang and be your own person, but be sure to share that awesome person with your partner at least a little bit somewhat frequently!
    The Hubs and I, seconds after we were made official - LOOK AT US WE WERE BABIES OH MY GOODNESS!
  • Sex is important. Talking about sex openly is equally important. I don't have kids, so I'm not EVEN gonna TRY to suggest how to incorporate sex into life with kids (Hell, I might be desperate for that advice myself once kiddos are in the picture!). My focus is more on talking about sex with your partner, and trying to find mutual comfort zones so your needs are met. Sexual intimacy adds a lot to a relationship, and when that area isn't healthy, it can negatively affect other parts of the relationship. I'm trying to keep this PG, so without going into personal experience, these are the three most important things I feel are important for keeping your "relations" mutually satisfying:
  1. Talk about what you want/want to try/don't want - but talk about it when you're not naked. Best time is when you're both relatively calm and nowhere NEAR anything sexual happening. It can be awkward, but it's important to do!
  2. Be ok when your partner says "No" - and exercise that right when you need to also. It's hard because sexual rejection is, well, rejection and no one likes rejection! However, sometimes it's just not good timing for sexy times, and as long as it's not EVERY TIME you or your partner tries to put on the moves, it doesn't mean your partner's not attracted to you (or you to him/her). (If it IS every time, see #1.)
  3. Sex is not dirty (unless you're doing it in mud)! It's one of the best parts of being coupled, IMHO - someone to have fun with in a very sexy way! Let go and have fun (once you've talked about what you're both comfortable with and what you want to try)! What you two do in the boudoir is YOUR OWN DAMN BUSINESS, and whatever you consider "normal" is normal; nothing is "weird" if you both like it!
  • WALK AWAY when anger starts to turn into a fight. I have a fiesty Latina temper, while it takes The Hubs more time to get going (but once he does, watch out). We're not the best at this because sometimes the anger hits so fast we don't have that moment to take a breath and walk away, but IF you can, step away. This does NOT mean ignore the problem; it means walk away until you can discuss the problem rationally. I have literally put myself in time-out when I know my anger is irrational/unfair/ridiculous until I can calm down and talk it out without lashing out. Also, suck it up and apologize when you're the a**hole - even if you're not the only a**hole. Once you're both calm enough to talk about it, apologize for your part. 
    • Also, side note: IMHO, it's not an apology if you add a "but" after it. Like, "I'm sorry what I said upset you, but you're constantly late." THAT'S NOT AN APOLOGY, that's another fight-starter. If you still can't talk without anger/hurt feelings, WALK AWAY. 
  • Find at least one thing your partner is passionate about that you don't mind participating in. Most likely, you both will have at least one passion in common; something had to draw you two together (aside from raw sexual magnetism, OBVIOUSLY). However, you are not going to like everything your partner loves, and vice versa. Expecting that of them is setting both of you up for frustration and disappointment. (This is something The Hubs and I learned the hard way, and lead to some very serious and scary talks, even.) So try to find something you can enjoy with your partner - you don't have to be at the same level of enthusiasm, but don't participate in a passion that you find utterly boring, either.
    For example, The Hubs' main hobby is sports: watching, listening to radio shows, and playing. We joke that I'm a "sports widow", but he HAS compromised a lot in regards to TV viewing and his obsessions so I don't feel that "widowed". ;D My compromise in this area is that I enjoy attending sporting events with him; I'm not AS excited about basketball and I hate football, so I'm not usually present for those, but I enjoy baseball games (go SF Giants!) and through The Hubs I have become a HUGE (for me) hockey fan (SHAAAAAAARKS!).
    For a long time, this effort on my part went without balance from The Hubs. While he loves all my creative pursuits, they just aren't his thing. When I met someone (non-romantic) who actually liked a lot of the same arty/nerdy things I liked, it was a wake-up call and led to those aforementioned serious/scary talks. This has to be a mutual thing; one person can't do this while the other doesn't extend the same courtesy. The Hubs has in recent years "returned the favor", so to speak, by accompanying me to theater performances, museums, and the like (and to be fair, I try to find things I think he'll like, such as "Avenue Q" and museum exhibits he'll also find semi-interesting). I know he's not having THE BEST TIME EVARS at these things, but I know he's not usually completely bored, either, and I try not to abuse the privilege; The Hubs extends the same courtesy. 
HOLY CRAP I have a lot of opinions on relationships. It feels to me like I'm bragging or trying to pretend my marriage is perfect; it's not meant to be bragging, because The Hubs and I are human and we are fallible and make mistakes. I simply feel that The Hubs and I have weathered a fair amount of storms, and while there are some areas that we could probably still use some professional help in improving, most days we are happy with each other even when our outside circumstances are rough. The stuff listed above is a huge contributing factor to this mutual happiness and love. If someone reads these thoughts and finds something useful, then hopefully this will lead them to strengthen their own relationships just a little bit more. :)

The Hubs and I at a friend's wedding last November, looking older and wiser (and sexier, let's be honest)

*The Hubs graciously let me post pictures of us; his main concern was, "You're not going to post pictures of us doing illegal stuff or anything, right?" Well, not NOW, fun-spoiler. 

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By Stephanie Lynn

Skip To My Lou

1 comment:

  1. This looks awesome!!! We would love it if you would link up at our linky party:
    Live every Wednesday to Sunday.
    Hosted by: Parrish @ Life with the Crust Cut Off Dana @ This Silly Girl’s Life
    We hope to see you there!



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