My husband and I just celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary yesterday. I noticed, during my Facebook morning newsfeed scan that a few others were celebrating their anniversary as well. So I thought to myself what have I learned? This last year has been particularly tumultuous for us and our marriage. Yet, we are still together, in some ways stronger than before. That comes from a decision to stay together. Now, the younger me might have been more resistant about making compromises to stay together more likely to say “If you’re not happy just bail and find someone you can be happy with.” With age comes patience and the ability to step back and say “Is this problem temporary?” Many times it is. I have a three-day rule. If I am really mad I cannot make any permanent decisions for three days. By the third day I often cannot remember what I was mad about, but if I can remember, I am calm enough to talk to my husband about it without being so overly emotional that communication is no longer possible. I focus on what specific behavior or incident bothered me and luckily I am with a man who is willing to listen and who also wants to stay married so we work it out.
This is not to say that we don’t blow our top from time to time. However, one thing we know how to do is to say, “Hey, I was out of line and I’m sorry.” That is an important skill to have, in any relationship, especially in marriage.
The final, piece of advice I’ll write about today that really came to my attention this morning when I asked myself the question “What is different in the way I relate to my relationship now, compared to when my husband and I first started dating?” I wanted to isolate that which makes someone so wonderful in the beginning and then at some point I find my husband reminding me that he “is not the enemy. We are on the same team.” I think this happens a with women who have children and responsibilities around the house in addition to what she had before she came into a relationship. She has career responsibilities for example. Women can begin to feel overloaded and overwhelmed, especially when children are very young. It is the constant demand to place others first and share monetary resources which happens in a marriage and not during dating that can wear on a relationship. It’s important to be vigilant and not let these little things pile up in a memory bank that gets played over and over because it’s not healthy for the relationship. In the beginning the couple looks only for the best in one another and gets amnesia about the negative things. After a few kids it seems to be the other way around, and the couple gets amnesia about the good while focus turns to what the partner isn’t doing “as expected”. That is where marriages start to fall apart. But it’s simple to fix, just start concentrating on the good things again.
I think this is why the tradition of anniversaries continues. To remember the day that we wanted to get married. To remember how beautiful she looked, how handsome he looked, the magic of the day. To get back to that time when our partner could do no wrong. It’s a good thing that keeps a marriage healthy. We re-create that energy and bring it into the present day. That practice is what makes marriages last as intended.