Let’s Talk About Marriage… *

So recently I was lucky enough to celebrate 5 years of marriage with this hunk-a-sauraus rex. It may not be a HUGE number, but damnit it is still a significant one. Naturally the celebration of anything annual brings about a lot of reflection and as I looked back at just these past 5 years (because mind you, we’ve been together for 9), I realized that this man and I have been through some pretty rocky roads and strong tides these past few years. While married life has been a total blast, let me also let you know, it has been some WORK (told ya I’d keep it real here).

Yes, I said it, marriage is HARD but, you know what, it is worth every freaking ounce of hardship loving this man. It’s true what they say (as cliché as it sounds): that the hard times make the good times that much better. I can speak from experience now having hit a couple of drastic lows with Trav and now being so overwhelmed with gratitude for who he is and who we are and what we have created together.

It’s been a process learning how to “be married,” which sounds weird, but I promise you, it’s a thing. If you’re married, you know what I’m talking about and if you’re not married, that’s okay, just know that getting married doesn’t equivalate to knowing how to do it right (lol).

Now, we by no means have it all figured out and our way is by no means the only right way. All I can speak to is my experience so in the spirit of love, self-reflection, and my passion for paying forward a little wisdom, here are a few of the powerful lessons that I’ve learned about marriage (so far).

No-Go On The Ego’s

One of the tougher lessons for us to personally learn was how to set our egos aside. Ego is one of those things that is strictly self-serving. It speaks to your perception of the world, and only from that one perspective. In any relationship, really, it is so important to be able and willing to step outside your perception to get in touch with the perception of your significant other.

We had to learn this one the hard way because we are a) both stubborn AF, b) very passionate about our perspectives most of the time, and c) grew up totally opposite of each other which naturally brings out very contradictory ideals on a lot of life decisions.

That said, we’ve had a good amount of practice learning to push our egos aside and see things from a different point of view. Learning to see from each other’s perspective has been such an important part of our ability to grow together and evolve as a married couple.

Talk it Out

Another biggie in any stage of a relationship is always communication. But more specifically than just communicating, it’s been a lesson to learn to communicate in the moment. Both the good and the bad.

When one of us does something annoying, instead of bottling the annoyance up, and letting it build until one of us explodes, we address it… right then and there and in the moment. We had to learn to be able to talk it out without being combative so instead of making it a confronting situation, we have a code word to let the other know “hey, you just did something, like, kind of crappy.” That way we can sort of check each other without having to CHECK each other, if you know what I mean.

Sometimes when he hits me with the code word, I can catch myself instantly being a brat and I apologize. Other times, maybe it needs to turn into more of a conversation. In either case, the code word makes the confrontation lighter and less combative from the start so that we can communicate with each other in the moment without it becoming an ordeal.

Celebrate the Little Wins

Besides being able to communicate in the moment when we AREN’T so happy with each other, we’ve found that it is JUST as important (if not, in my opinion, even more important) to communicate when we are! After being together for nearly a decade and married for five years, it really can become easy to overlook the little things and, well, take them for granted.

Thankfully, we caught onto it early enough that we were able to recognize it and check ourselves! Forgetting to notice the little things is a kiss of romantic death! When the little things aren’t acknowledged, it is easy to discount how much they matter to the other person, so what do we do? We stop doing it.

Well, then when we stop doing the little things for each other, we basically stop sweeping each other off our feet… stop being romantic…. Stop lighting that fire. In order to keep that spark it is CRUCIAL to always acknowledge and appreciate the little things…. Even if he’s made the coffee every morning for the past five years, if it matters, it’s worth being appreciated again and again.

And, in doing so, it makes him want to do more to be appreciated, and when he does things for me, I want to do more things for him, and the circle of love continues (que the Lion King anthem).

Kind of like our code word for when we aren’t so happy, we’ve learned to even have fun with how we show our appreciation… it’s a literal “I acknowledge and appreciate you for emptying the dishwasher,” moment. Or an, “I acknowledge and appreciate you for noticing that I got a haircut,” situation.

It’s silly, but it’s our way of not letting the little things that really do mean something go unnoticed.

Take the Second Seat

Speaking of celebrating the little things, one of the things that I’ve found is that often the things that matter the absolute most are the things that I know he doesn’t want to do at all. He’s literally doing it just for me… for example, if you ever see us together out for a night and we are in a nightclub at 1 in the morning, I guarantee you it was not Trav’s idea!! He is 100% in this situation only because he knew it would make me happy, and that is all. Or for instance, I once decided to surprise him by pulling out the lawn mower and mowing our grass. Did it sound like something fun to do? HELL to the no. I had no clue what I was doing but it definitely sounded like something he would appreciate coming home to.

The lesson in that is I’ve learned that the things that carry the most weight sometimes are the things that require the most sacrifice on your behalf… being willing to take the second seat, and let your lover sit in the first is what real love is all about.

Keep That Initial Spark Alive

The night of our first kiss I will never, ever forget. Trav came out to help me celebrate my 19th birthday at a nightclub. We had only been talking/flirting for a short while at that point and I was so excited that he decided to come celebrate my birthday with me and my friends. We were flirting, dancing, talking, and suddenly/somehow someone had bumped into me and I fell into him and landed the MOST perfect. Kiss. Ever. It was a real fireworks moment. You know, the one they talk about in the movies?

The rest is history, and now 9 years later here we are. But he and I know that the feeling we shared in that picture-perfect moment almost a decade ago, while it can never be totally recreated, THAT feeling is the standard that we set. That’s the feeling that years later I am forever wanting to hold onto. That excitement, those butterflies, that giddiness, that SPARK is something that we both work to keep alive.

It’s so incredibly easy to let life get in the way and get comfortable enough with each other to not worry about the “spark.” My thing is I have no interest in a mediocre marriage. I’m looking to have a lifelong love affair which require attention and serious effort. Getting creative and finding new ways to ignite that “spark” and create new “butterflies” and picture-perfect movie scene moments is what keeps this marriage thing FUN!

I’m sure we have way more to learn – and I am excited to continue to grow the way we have over the past 9 years. I’d love to hear from those of you that are also in long-lasting relationships and hear your best lessons learned! Share your love story and tell me what makes your love strong in the comments!