Last week, we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. Many people say this, but it feels like just yesterday *and* forever ago – all at the same time.
We married here in Denver, a little while after we moved and it’s fun to think about how young and optimistic we were then. We may be more cynical and jaded now, but in many ways, we still work on our marriage just as hard as day one. Some things get easier over the years, some harder. For example – we literally have talked about everything. What is there left to say after all this time?
Well, for one, we recently chatted about how we make our marriage work so I could write one of these condescending posts about it.
Look… We know every marriage is different. We’ve seen some couples split for reasons I could not explain, and people stay together for no good one.
No judgements here, just some suggestions from two goofballs who still lean on each other as heavily now as they did two decades ago.
Our Best Marriage Advice
If you have met us, you know this is rule one through one hundred. Bryan makes me laugh more than anyone else, and it sees us through just about everything.
Generally, I am the one to shut down, but it does no good. Clear the air. Try not to go to bed mad. Check in with each other. It’s better to have silence because you have said it all rather than things left unsaid.
No Bad Mouthing
This means if you are fighting, no one knows it. Don’t speak ill of your partner in public, or in front of the kids, unless it’s very clear you are teasing.
We have tricks for all our communications. Sign language for “potty” from across the room at a bar (leftover from when Dex was a baby). A “tentative” calendar to put events in that we need to discuss together before accepting. Lists for everything. Official family meetings. We do it all.
In Sickness and Health
We have learned this the hard way with me. Being really sick is really, really, really hard on a marriage. But it also makes you realize what is most important.
We’ve had family members say, “don’t tell Aimee.” However, Bryan has declared anything you say to him, he may tell me. Which helps with…
Both of us are really bad at it anyway.
Do Your Thing
We find things to do together always, but we also make sure we find our own fun. Pottery and concert photography for me, kayaking and virtual reality for Bryan.
Have A Support System
It may be family or friends, but your spouse cannot be all things for you. Have a girlfriend you can vent about work with. Tell your mom about how bad the kids were that day. There is plenty to go around.
Expect the Unexpected
Ten years ago, I would never have guessed that I would be a freelance web designer right now. But opportunities presented themselves and we seized them to make our lives better.
Benefit of The Doubt
This one is tough, but always try to remember your spouse has your best intentions in mind. I often jump to conclusions – the wrong ones – and have worked hard to remind myself that Bryan didn’t mean it the way I thought.
Stay Out Of It
Some things are just none of your business. If Bryan and Dex are arguing, and I wasn’t there from the beginning – I leave it alone. No need to muddy the water.
Sure, I didn’t just assume Bryan would rake the leaves because he’s the guy. I asked him to because I hate doing it. In fairness, I am in charge of the bills and taxes.
Either get it out and over with or let it go.
We often list off what we appreciate in life at meals and random family outings. A young friend passed away recently and we found out that she kept a journal with just one thing every day she was grateful for. It’s amazing how quickly they stack up when you start thinking about it.
Balance Today and Tomorrow
Work on your budget, career plans, needs for the kids, all of that – together. Save money, have life and health insurance. Become adults together. But don’t forget to drop everything… Be spontaneous, silly and in the moment.
Keep on The Same Path
Marriage is work. Every single day. You have to try to stay together. Again, I do not mean to imply people who are divorced didn’t try hard enough. But people in happy, healthy marriages most certainly DO try… a lot.