My husband and I are coming up on our nine-year first date anniversary and our five-year wedding anniversary. Coming anything close to a 10-year marriage is mind-blowing, and a major accomplishment in patience, compromise, and learning to yell at the precise right volume.
We have had issues and disagreements, but we are a couple that has grown stronger through the years. Here are 8 things we do to keep our marriage strong.
1. We only own one computer.
Before we were married and still lived in the States, we each had a laptop. We were both teachers and, like most teachers, we continued working well after school hours, which would then give way to personal online use, too. This keeps us unplugged and focusing on each other versus the rest of the world.
2. We removed television from our home.
While we’re on the topic of technology, we have also removed TVs from our house. It really hasn’t been that difficult to get along without a TV. We have a projector we use occasionally, but more often we sit and chat after dinner. The additional communication is beneficial for both of us.
3. We always say, “We are a happy family.”
It seems really corny but we actually say these exact words. The phrase evolved from an inside joke in our camp counselor days when one of my husband’s first grade campers hugged his friends by the pool and sang “we are a happy fa-mi-ly.” Now, we say it with our kids. It always serves as a reminder that we are.
4. We make time to go on dates.
Before kids we were just two people that liked hanging out. Now we make it a point to still date. We go out with friends and often go out alone. Sometimes we stay in for date night. Once the kids are asleep, the projector turns on, the pizza is ordered, and sometimes a bottle of wine is uncorked. But no matter what your date looks like, it’s all about scheduling the time to spend together, showing that time is a priority.
5. We write each other romantic post-it notes.
I was in the beginning stages of carving out my writing schedule and my husband started leaving post-it-notes on my computer screen before he left for work. Every morning, I’d open my computer to get started and there’d be a little note of loving or encouraging words. You’re a great mom. We love you. Or I love that you’re following your dreams.
I took a cue from his book and started hiding notes where I knew he’d find them. Can’t wait to snuggle on the couch and watch a movie with you. It doesn’t happen daily. Heck, sometimes we go months without writing a note, but little reminders that show you’re thinking of the other person can make a huge impact.
6. We discuss the future.
Our overseas lifestyle lends itself on the regular to talking about the future. We talk often about where we’d like to live next, about what other countries we’d like to raise our kids. We also talk about our summer plans or Christmas break pretty regularly.
Sometimes we talk about the next summer in the middle of our current summer. While I know people say living in the present is important, I also think visualizing the future has some major benefits.
7. We keep things hot.
In college I was given the advice to continue doing the same self care that I was doing before marriage, after marriage. You don’t show up to your first date with dirty hair and sweatpants. Don’t show up to date night when you’re married in dirty hair and sweatpants.
Continue putting effort in to keep things hot in the relationship and give yourself confidence. There is nothing hotter than confidence.
8. We put our marriage first.
It’s all too easy to have kids and focus on that relationship, leaving all other relationships like a bony chicken flapping its wings in a storm: helpless and fending for itself. Yes, your children are important. Yes, your children should be your everything. No, they shouldn’t come first.
In my humble opinion, your spouse should. I really believe that there’s no better thing you could do for your kids than to love each other fiercely. You’re much better to them if your relationship isn’t horribly falling apart. And what good are you to each other when your kids leave the house and you’ve spent the last 18 years urgently nourishing that relationship and not your marriage?
Keeping a marriage strong for over 10 years is extremely difficult. These 8 small things have helped us stay strong and positive about our relationship through the years, and I hope it can help your marriage too.