Nine Years and Counting

Who would have thought the couple who began a whirlwind office romance, had a baby, bought a house then married would be celebrating their 9th wedding anniversary today? Surprise! We did it. Happy Anniversary to the love of my life, Mr. C.

It helps that we are both strong-willed, stubborn first-born kids from divorced homes determined not to give up. That and trial and error. Anything we do right today is a result of learning from our mistakes.

It was placed on my heart to list a few marriage tips. I fought it because I did not feel qualified to be so self-righteous. However, when we live in a world where seventy-two day marriages exist, maybe being married for nine years gives me a little bit of wisdom.

In honor of every year we’ve been married, here is my Top Nine Tips to a Lasting a Marriage:

9.) Know Each Others Love Language
It is important to know how your spouse demonstrates their love. The love language for Mr. C is Physical Touch. I can’t stand to be touched! I know that may be surprising since we have four kids but it’s true. I wasn’t hugged as a child and experienced physical abuse so invading my personal space freaks me out. Because I know that is how Mr. C feels loved I make an effort to hug him when he gets home from work and try not to spaz out when he surprisingly hugs me. My love language is Words of Affirmation. I really don’t know what I am doing as a mom or a wife. Remember my mom split so none of my life now was modeled for me. Mr. C on the other hand was raised by an amazing single mother. While I need praise for the mundane task to reassure me I’m doing something right, Mr. C sees these task as things that should and need to be done (they are not praiseworthy). After he discovered my love language, he now makes an effort to praise me for my daily task.

8.) Pick Your Battles
This is probably one of the best pieces of advice my mother in law has given me. She was referring to parenting but it is just as effective in a marriage. Know what your values are and what is worth fighting for. If the issue is not compromising your values, who cares? If your husband wants to spend his budgeted money on outdoor camping equipment he has no use for because we travel in an RV, let him.

7.) Fight
Mr. C and I have matured by leaps and bounds spiritually and relationally from a good old fashion fight. I’m sure there is a book out there with a how to fight fair strategy but because we are still figuring this out I’m not going to pretend to tell you how. I’m not suggesting fighting for the sake of fighting. What I am saying is when one of those battles you decided is worth fighting for arises be sure to let the other person know you still care, are invested in your marriage and are willing to fight to protect that value. Winning is not the goal, communication and compromise is.

6.) Forgive and Let Go
Notice I didn’t say forget. There are things that happened early in our marriage that if I allow myself to dwell on them they would cripple me emotionally. For years I held them in my back pocket. When a fight wasn’t going my way I would throw those things back at Mr. C. It wasn’t until I learned to forgive and let it go (it’s not a one time action by the way) that we could move forward. When we fight today those events don’t even cross my mind. I haven’t forgot about them and it still hurts in reflection but it is impossible for our spouse to grow if we continue to judge them by their past.

5.) Date Night
Nothing drives me crazier than to hear couples say they just grew apart. I don’t care what you have to do, make time to spend with your spouse alone. Mr. C and I will put the kids to bed early, make a meal and sit and talk over a game of Scrabble or bottle of wine. When I feel like we are drifting apart, I pull out a stack of conversation cards from an old board game and we take turns answering questions like “If you were in the witness protection program, what would be your alias?” or “Who is your favorite Muppet?” to get a conversation going that doesn’t involve work or the kids. I have known Mr. C for thirteen years and just last night he told me a story from his childhood I had never heard before.

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