I’m sharing 16 things I’ve learned in 16 Years of Marriage. I’m sharing tips on what has worked for us and a several marriage tips that may help you along your marital journey. Everyone wants to know the secret to a long and happy marriage. Marriage is hard work, that’s the secret!
16 Things I’ve Learned In 16 Years Of Marriage
Today we celebrate 16 years of marriage. I was just a young woman when we tied the knot. Derrick was 14 1/2 years older. Yes, I married an older guy. I was always attracted to older guys. The guys around my age were not typically not mature, (and a few today some of those same guys I knew back then are still developing, lol), and older guys seemed to have it all together.
Over the past 16 years, we have gone through quite a few challenges together. At the beginning of our marriage, we had quite a few ups and downs. Today I’m going to share things that made us stronger as a couple, and things I learned in the past sixteen years.
- Parenting + Autism. One of the biggest challenges we faced together as a couple was getting the news about our twins being on the Autism spectrum. Many couples like us, have weathered this same storm. Some made it. Others didn’t. Having children with disabilities can put a huge strain on any relationship. We always did not see eye-to-eye on how to get the twins help, but we worked together and discovered common ground. Being a mother, I was always warier, and extremely cautious about the right course of actions to take in regards to the correct approach. Often, I would get frustrated and angry with Derrick for not understanding how I felt. But I understand now that he was just as scared as I was, he is just processing and handles stress in a way different than I. The growth comes when couples realize that neither partner has a monopoly on the correct path the family should take. Marriage is without a doubt a team sport.
- Some days I can’t stand him, but I still love him. LOL, I’m keeping it real. There are days where you are just not going to like your partner. As long as you can talk it out at the end of the day, that’s the only thing that matters. In our earlier years, we would get mad at each other and not talk, including sleeping in separate rooms. But this does not work. Yes, people need their space, but not to the point where that space and seperateness threatens the health of your marriage. Now, we can get mad at each other, and give each other space. But we communicate around and make it right.
- There is no equal. Rarely is a marriage 50/50. Nope, but together you give 100%! Sometimes it’s 85%-15% or some other division. The point is, a marriage is about constantly stepping up and making it happen. He gives, I gives. We both contribute in order to make our marriage happen. So, if you are just starting out in your own marriage know that the division of duties and responsibilities will constantly change day to day, or maybe even hour to hour.
- We have no set rules. We are both open to trying new things. There is no hard line or unspoken gender-based rules regarding who stays home and cares for our kids. We have both stayed home to care for the boys, while the other person worked. We both cook (although I prefer to leave all of the cooking to him, lol). We both do laundry, clean the house, help with homework, etc. There are things that I am better at, so I do them. There are things he is skilled in, so he does them. But there are no set rules when it comes to marrital responsibilities. Of course some things are well thought out and planned. But often we figure it out as we go along.
- Have fun. It’s important to take time for EACH other! I can’t stress this enough. With all of the things life throws at you, it’s important to not only take time for yourself but each other. When the kids were little, it was a little difficult to have weekend getaways, but we would have date nights. Now that the boys are teenagers, we are are taking time for 2-3 day couples getaways. Last year we took a few trips together sans kids. Being able to spend one-on-one time reminded us of our days before kids. We felt like young kids in love. It’s also a great way to reconnect with each other (including having uninterrupted “adult” time).
- Through sickness and in health. I’ve battled depression over the years and went through a horrid stint right after my Mom passed. Shortly after she passed, I developed an intolerance to a lot of dairy products, as well as finding out about my abnormal thyroid and a possible cancer scare. Derrick took leave from work to come home and take care of me (his job had him on the road a lot). When I went through a recent miscarriage, he was right there doting on my every need and taking care of the boys. He spoils me and I know he loves me because he shows me his love by his actions. I’m a lucky girl.
- Honor. When we first got married, I struggled with wanting to be an independent woman, but still be a wife. I could never buy into the whole submit to your husband idea. I wanted to do things my way. Yes, I learned my way was not always the right way. In the past 16 years, I have learned to honor my husband, love and respect him, while holding on to my independence. I don’t do these things because I have to do it. I do them because I love him. I respect him because I love him. I obey him (sometimes) because I love him. Thankfully, I married a man that does not believe in the wife must submit to their husbands, and the husbands have the last say. We obey each other because at the end of the day we are looking out for each other.
- Compromise. Oh, this was hard for me. I wanted things always to be my way. But I learned that a little compromising wouldn’t break me. In fact, it made me a better person, and a better wife and mom. Give in to each other, even when you don’t want to- it eventually works out to be a win-win for everyone!
- Be grateful. In the past few years, Derrick lost his Mom, and I lost both of my parents. We have learned to lean on each other during hard times. We’ve also learned to appreciate each new day given to us, and be grateful for each other. We have both had low points in our life, and having the other person be there for us was an understatement. I’ve learned to appreciate my husband and all the things he does for our family. Take time each day to appreciate your spouse. I will send him little text messages throughout the day letting him know how much he is loved and appreciated. A little love and gratitude will go a long ways!
- I’m sorry. Admitting that you’re wrong means swallowing your pride. But if you don’t do it, it’s going to cause problems down the road. Trust us, we both know from experience. Sincerely apologizing to your partner is important when it comes to longevity in a marriage. Saying, “I’m sorry” can be the hardest part of building a relationship, but it’s a priority. Admit you screwed up. Fix it. Then move on. Staying mad, holding a grudge does nothing to build up your relationship.
- Intimacy matters. Being intimate with your partner is a huge part of a relationship. During our earlier years, finding time for each other was hard. Having a set of twins, and then another baby (three under three), I was exhausted. There were days I didn’t even have time for a shower, let alone to think about having time for Derrick later. Over the years, we have both expressed what we need from each other and learned to make that time a priority. Intimacy is not just about the three letter word, but finding what your significant’s other love language is, and meeting their needs is huge.
- Surprise each other. It’s nice to get little notes of love, breakfast in bed, or a bouquet of flowers from time to time. After the honeymoon period of a marriage wears off, you have to put in the work to keep the flame alive. Spice things up. Role play with each other (don’t knock it till you try it). Try a new restaurant. Buy a new shirt, dress, lingerie.
- Mind your own business. People that consistently broadcast how great their marriage is all over social media tend to have the most problems. I’m fine with sharing tidbits of our marriage and my love for Derrick. But for the most part, we keep our marriage off of social media. The same goes for family and friends. It’s important to keep all of these people out of your marriage. I am thankful for a Mom and Mother-in-law who did not meddle in our marriage. My Mom didn’t tell me what I should do, etc. I would ask her and my dad for tips, but their tips would always revert me back to working it out with MY spouse. Social media and people can easily ruin a marriage if you let it.
- Listen. This should go without saying, but I have to mention it. Many times you can tell how your spouse is really doing by listening to what they are saying. And when I say listen, LISTEN. When your spouse wants to talk to you about their day, give them your full attention. Yes, there are many times where I do not do this, but I am continuing to work on it. Listening to my spouse allows me to pick up things he may not be saying. I’ve found that guys don’t get all emotional, but they still have feelings.
- Goals + dreams. Do you ever just lay in bed with your SO and talk about all the things you want to do in life? We’ve done this for years, and it’s cool when you can start to see those dreams come true. When you’re both on the same page, the sacrifices to make those goals and dreams come true don’t seem that hard. You both are grinding hard together.
- All you need is love. Well, you do more than love to make a marriage work. Sometimes you can love a person, but you can’t live with them (due to other issues financially irresponsible, etc.). Loving your wife or husband is a huge part of staying in a marriage, but just make sure you’re in love with them for the right reasons. Material things will quickly pass away, and you’re left holding the bag of misery. Sometimes we will ask each other, “why did you marry me?” Or “what about me do you love?” We like to remind each other why we fell in love, why we jumped into it, and why we are still together.
I feel like there are a ton of things I still need to learn and know. However, I’m taking it one day at a time. I would also add it’s okay to embrace your differences. Derrick and I have many differences, but we don’t let that get in the way of our marriage. And, it’s okay to have down time by yourself. There are days where I do not want to be bothered with a husband (lol), and need space. Having space to recoup is very important and actually healthy for your relationship. Marriage is no walk in the park, but we’ve made it this far, and I look forward to many more years!
Do you have marriage tips to share? Drop us a line below sharing them and how long you have been with your SO!
Happy Sweet 16 Derrick! I love you!