- This post was written in September at the time of our anniversary. Life got super crazy so I’m just getting to post it now. Love is always a good idea, and right on time. Happy Valentines Day!
This is us.
Not the television show.
Me and him.
We just celebrated 35 years of marriage. 35 happy years of marriage. In this day and age, it’s a feat worthy of noting.
All of us Pickel girls are celebrating milestone wedding anniversaries this year. Between the three of us, we have one hundred years of marital experience.
I asked my sisters the same question that my hub and I talk about: What advice for a happy marriage would you give to a newlywed couple? I was eager to see what my sisters and brother–in-laws said. Here is the list they sent me in no particular order:
(Side note: One of my sisters was sitting at the gate at the Atlanta airport getting ready to head to Cabo to celebrate 30 years together as they compiled theirs.)
- Lower your expectations. I laughed out loud on this one. It’s really true. The fairy tale idea of marriage has long been debunked, and the institution of marriage has gotten a bad rap because of it. That’s sad, because marriage can be and is supposed to be the singular most satisfying relationship that we have in our life journey. We were created by God to crave intimacy-to know and be known in the depths of our being. But having said all of that…we are all still flawed human beings. It’s bound to spoil paradise from time to time. Remembering that we are flawed as well goes a long way to having realistic expectations for Prince Charming. Life will never be perfect, but even really good is a blessing.
- Have friends of your own and couple friends as well. Start planning for life after your kids are gone from the beginning. It will give you a support system during the important season of child rearing, and make the empty nest season AMAZING! There is nothing sadder than a couple that did not build a marriage while they built a family. The grief that can happen when all of the children are out on their own can be intense if this was the focus of the family for 18+ years. For mamas and dads that start childrearing in their 30’s..take note: there is a lot of living left to do when the flock has flown.
- Have hobbies you like to do together and separately. Again, the idea is to keep developing as a person and a couple, apart from being parents. Watching your kids play sports does not qualify as a hobby.
- Make your spouse a higher priority than your relationship with your children. Your mate is with you for the long haul. Don’t underestimate the power and importance of intimacy. Honor date nights. Have their back in front of the kids during disagreements. Speak well of your spouse to everyone, especially your children. Remember, you are modeling a healthy marriage for them.
- Don’t keep secrets. Period. (Unless its about a surprise party for them.)
This is us…10 year anniversary
I agree with every one of the things my sisters and BIL’s said. In addition to these things, this is the advice my hub and I received and have tried to follow since we said “I do.”
- Spend the majority of your first year of marriage together. Doing shared activities helps you become anchored in your marital identity to yourselves and others in your life.
- Learn to fight fair. (This has 3 rules of its own, thank you, James Dobson.)
- Once engaged in a conflict, you must stand and fight. You can’t leave the room or get in a car and leave.
- You must stick to the current offense. Avoid using the following: “You always…”or “You never…” –that is not staying on the current issue.
- Every spouse knows the one area that the other struggles with in their life. It could be a lifelong issue that brings shame or insecurity. It is an area that should only be broached in a safe time where love is abundant and with kind words and gentle support. NEVER in times of anger to gain the upper hand in an argument. Marriage killing is what that does.
This is us-my sisters and their hubs, my hub and I and our youngest son this past October, We were high in the Tatra Mountains in Slovakia, celebrating our son and daughter-in-law’s 3rd anniversary with her extended family.
I hope this advice is received in the way it is offered. Our experience in marriage has been the single most satisfying relationship of our life.
It is never too late to make a marriage better than it is today.
Even if it’s been 35 years.
This is us…35 years and counting!