30 Things I’ve Learned from Being Married

I’ve been married for three years. That is not a long time. But I have grown and changed more in the past three years than in any other time period in my memory. I mean that in a good way. Being married to the best friend I’ve ever had has been a wonderful adventure.

And despite only being married for a short time, we’re fairly good at it. We have a happy life and a happy marriage and family. Earlier this month we were invited to a Family Day at my mom’s school where we talked with the students about marriage and how we handle disagreements, money, changes, hardships, etc. At the end of the day we played “The Not So Newly Wed Game” and we won. We won by a lot. We won against people who had been married longer than I have been alive. We’re pretty proud of that.

And I’m thankful to have someone like Steph by my side as I approach 30. She keeps telling me she has loved her thirties. That they have been her favorite.

We’ll see.

In all seriousness, I’ve learned a lot in the past three years. About myself, about Steph, about marriage, about life. Here are just a few of those things.

1. Nobody cares what you look like without makeup.

There’s a freedom in marriage. Someone has promised to love you as you are without exception. You can stop worrying about “looking perfect” and focus on being loving. Besides, when you’re chasing kids and a year and a half behind on sleep, flawless lipstick is the last thing anyone cares about. Put on some chap stick and go on.

2. Communication gets stronger.

You can no longer avoid things that bother you. You have to talk them through and make compromises. But the good thing is, the more you practice this the better you learn one another’s communication styles and therefore the more effective your conversations become.

3. You really don’t have to know how to cook.

I mean, I am a really good cook and I can put together really great meals, (I’m not even going to try to be modest about it) but when you have toddlers running everywhere, it’s just not worth the time, effort, or money. Peanut butter sandwiches are delicious. There are a million ways to make pasta taste yummy that don’t require much effort.

4. You don’t have to like the same things.

It’s actually really good to have separate interests to help you keep your sense of identity. Steph is very athletic and into sports. Not my thing. I like arts and crafts and whimsy things.

5. But it’s fun to share interests.

It’s also important to have some things you enjoy doing together. Steph and I like to paint together and browse book stores and try new restaurants.

6. Everyone needs a break sometimes.

But not the Ross and Rachel kind of break. Sometimes we need to rest or spend time with friends or get lost in a book. That’s okay.

7. You’re not the same person you were the day you got married.

You will change and grow and mature. And your relationship will change and grow and mature. That’s okay. Don’t try to hang on to the past. Embrace the future.

8. Our marriage is our most important relationship.

If we don’t nurture our marriage, everything becomes a disaster.

9. Dating is important.

Make time for one another without interruptions or any other people. Sit across from one another without a phone or screen and talk, laugh, and have fun together.

10. The one year old wedding cake is gross.

If I could re do anything from my wedding day, I would have eaten the top tier of the cake instead of putting it in the freezer for a year. Ugh. It was disgusting.

11. Romance changes as your love matures.

In the beginning romance is flowers and music and goo goo eyes. As time moves on, the most romantic things are cleaning the bathroom, making a relaxing playlist for your wife to have in the hospital, or watching your spouse play with and teach the kiddos.

12. Compromise is necessary.

Compromise doesn’t necessarily mean doing one thing OR the other, it means making time for BOTH preferences.

13. The purpose of the task is to strengthen the relationship.

Sometimes we all have to do things we don’t want to do. The purpose of doing those things is to strengthen your relationship. The other day I chose to stay up late and wash dishes, prepare bottles, and lay out the boys’ clothes. I didn’t want to, but it helped Steph start her morning a little more smoothly. The purpose was to make her life easier–strengthen our relationship. I hate feet. Even cute little baby feet. One day I noticed Steph was extra stressed, so I grabbed some nice lotion and massaged her feet while she graded papers. The purpose of the task was to strengthen our relationship.

Cooking dinner together, cleaning out the garage together, running errands together, grocery shopping together..it may seem like the tasks are important, but the purpose of the task is to strengthen the relationship.

14. Having a sense of humor is important.

If you can’t laugh together, then what is there to talk about?

15. You have to learn one another’s love language.

You have to. Steph’s love language is acts of service. I don’t get it, but I can show her I love her by helping her and doing things for her. The purpose of the task is to strengthen the relationship.

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16. Speaking negatively about your spouse is harmful.

Be positive and kind always. If something is bothering you, talk to you spouse. Not your mom (she will always side with you) and not your friends (they are not going to forgive your spouse).

17. Evaluating our relationship on a regular basis helps us stay on track.

The teacher in me immediately thinks of a checklist or a rubric to evaluate the relationship. Reality though is just a simple check in. How are you? Are you overwhelmed? How can I help you? What are your thoughts on [the future, our home, more kids, etc]? Your long term goals and plans will change as you grow and mature. It’s important that you keep talking about them often to make sure you are on the same page and not putting unrealistic expectations on yourself or each other.

18. Nitpicking is a waste of energy.

It doesn’t solve anything. All nitpicking does is cause fights and negative feelings.

19. Be each other’s safe space.

I believe I can tell Steph anything and it’s going to be okay. I know I am safe wherever she is.

20. It is always more important to be kind or loving than it is to be right.

Recently Steph and I experienced a miscommunication. She told me I didn’t tell her something clearly. I knew that I had and I knew that I had the text message to prove it. I even double checked. Instead of making it a big deal, I just said “Okay. You’re probably right. This is what I meant.” We fixed the problem and moved on. There was no reason to argue or gloat or make it a big thing. The important thing was that we were loving and happy. (Whatever it was, it was so unimportant that I don’t even remember what the miscommunication actually was)

21. Marriage is hard work.

Love stories make it sound like the hard work is finding someone to marry. The story always ends with a wedding and “happily ever after”. The truth is, the work doesn’t even begin until after the marriage license is signed. That’s when you have to figure out how to be loving and kind and unselfish while life is happening.

22. Having a hand to hold unconditionally is worth the hard work.

Every hard moment is worth it knowing I never have to face the trials of life alone.

23. Never go to bed angry is bad advice.

You know what? I am angered a lot more easily when I am tired. Or hungry. Or in need of a shower. Want me to be able to talk to me like I am a reasonable person? Make sure I’m comfortable. It’s like Maslow’s hierarchy. Meet the basic needs, then the emotional ones. Seriously though, most major issues turn out to be very unimportant after a good night of sleep.

24. No secrets. Ever.

Remember elementary school? Secrets don’t make friends. Secrets, secrets are no fun all they do is hurt someone. Now that we are all grown up, secrets have no place in marriage. If you have to keep it a secret, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. (Surprises are TOTALLY different from secrets, though).

25. Intimacy is important.

Make time for it. Without intimacy, you become two people who share a living space. Roommates legally bound to live together.

26. You need a vision for your marriage and family that you are both working towards.

Make sure you know what your plans and goals are for your family. What is most important and how are you working to achieve it? You have to be on the same page.

27. The most important thing you can do in marriage is keep searching for, and finding, each other.

Never stop learning about one another. Never stop asking questions or trying new things. You can never really truly know every single things about another person, but spend your whole life trying to know everything about your spouse.

28. Small acts of affection are as important as big ones.

Some even argue that they are more important. They add up. And when they aren’t present, it’s noticeable, because that adds up, too. So make eye contact when you’re talking. Hold hands in the car or while you take a walk or while you sit on the couch watching TV. compliment each other. Hold doors. Kiss.

29. Be honest when you are frustrated with “life” (work, kids, etc) before you take it out on each other.

Sometimes Steph comes home from work and says “It’s been a long day. I need a nap” and I leave her alone. Sometimes she comes home from work and I say “Hey babe, you’re on baby duty. I’m going to my office” and she leaves me alone.

30. Listen, even if you don’t want to.

If you don’t like what they say you flip them off when they turn around or in your head, and be able to laugh about it later. But in the moment, listen, reflect, and be supportive.

What have you learned in your marriage? What do you think is the best advice you could give someone who is newly married or about to get married?

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One Reply to “30 Things I’ve Learned from Being Married”

  1. So, you’re talking about more kids! I’m on board for that, you’ve made some pretty great ones already and most importantly; proven yourself as a very capable Mom. You should do it! 😘

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