For those that didn’t see, this blog was published in “The Good Men Project” and can be seen (with different pictures) here: http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/eight-things-learned-marriage-two-years-dg/
My wife and I just had our second wedding anniversary, and while I haven’t learned the secret to 60 years of coexistence like my grandparents might be able to teach, there are some things I’ve gotten out of the last 730 days that I think are valuable in their own right. After all, if you can’t make it past two years, you aren’t going to be celebrating a 60th anytime soon.
1 – Learn what your partner’s favorite thing is about themselves
It’s one thing to compliment your partner when they look good or get promoted at work. It’s another thing to compliment your wife on her ability to get shit done (if that’s what she’s into).
My wife loves being a trailblazer — as I write this she is planning a community 5K and health and wellness expo from scratch. Telling her that she’s killing it and that I am proud of how well she’s handling such a big project means more to her than telling her she looks good in a bathing suit or how perfect her hair looks after she gets it cut. Figure out what your wife loves most about herself and make a point to let her know you love it too.
2- Find the humor in ordinary situations
Dating was great. You stay out late, have one too many drinks, and usually have sex — a lot of sex. When you get married (and I can only imagine after kids), things slow down and nights out with friends are all to often swapped for nights on the couch being smothered by your dog who doesn’t know the meaning of personal space. It’s in these situations that marriages can be made or broken because this is real life and these moments will be what 80% of your non-working lives will be together. If you can’t make each other laugh just being who you are, you are going to have a hard time enjoying each other for the rest of your lives.
3- It’s still OK to celebrate little moments
My wife and I still celebrate our “date-iversary.” It’s a stupid thing, but it shows that we still remember the day we decided to become exclusive (even if we have some trouble remembering that WHOLE night). You’re expected to do things for her birthday or anniversary, but showing her that those little moments still mean something to you shows her that you value your relationship.
4- Take your health seriously
Another great thing about dating was you probably splurged on some late night eats, a few too many late night drinks, and probably found yourselves eating out more than your budget would have preferred.
When you get married, the kitchen becomes more important in many ways than the bedroom. Everything in life starts with your health, including not only your happiness and satisfaction with your partner, but with yourself as well. Cook together, and make sure you both carve out time to exercise. Healthy relationships begin with healthy people, so make sure you are doing your part.
5- Pay attention to your appearance
I know how easy it can be to go another day without shaving or rock the same sweatpants three or four nights in a row after you get home from work. There is a fine line between being comfortable in your home and letting yourself go. Looking good for your partner is an important way to remind them that you want to be your best for them. I have found that the more I shave my face, the more she will shave her legs. Looking your best leads to feeling your best, which leads to confidence in and out of the home, and confidence is something everyone finds attractive.
6- Understand each other’s needs for space and togetherness
My wife doesn’t need much “me time.” She loves spending time together and hates it when I have to go away for a night or two for work (for the record, so do I). I love our together time, but I also appreciate some time to myself. I love to get outside and run. My wife has never questioned me when I say I need to go run and I love her that much more for allowing me to do what I need to do to be me. I also recognize her needs to be together and I will gladly trade “guy time” for time spent just watching bad TV with her and our dog.
7- Have an opinion
Ninety-nine times out of 100, my wife seems to disagree with my opinion when it comes to option A and option B, but she respects the fact that I weigh the options and tell her how I feel. Playing the “I don’t care” card shows a lack of interest in the issue at hand. You don’t have to be stern about why you want to go for sushi instead of Mexican, but she’ll appreciate that you put down your phone long enough to tell her how you’re craving spicy tuna, even if you end up having margaritas at El Vaquero.
8- Ego has no place in relationships
It’s easy to stand up for your wife if she is being mistreated in public. It’s more difficult when it’s just the two of you having an argument, but the latter can diffuse a huge fight waiting to happen. Putting your ego aside doesn’t always mean admitting you’re wrong (though that does go a long way sometimes), rather it means honestly putting yourself in her position and trying to understand where she’s coming from. Those “where did that come from” fights usually don’t start because someone is picking a fight, but because they don’t feel the other person is putting in the effort to see things from the other perspective.
There are plenty of other things I am learning about myself, my wife, and our relationship as we go along. It’s hard to narrow down the list sometimes, but I think that my wife and I are on a good path and I believe that we are destined for 60 years together some day. It all boils down to listening to each other, respecting each other, and having fun with each other. If you have that, the first two years will fly by faster than you realize.