My husband and I got married when we were both very young. I was finishing my second year of university and my husband had just graduated. Looking back, I’m amazed by how young and naive we were. We knew that there was no one we wanted to be with, very soon after meeting. Despite different backgrounds and vastly differently personalities, we threw caution to the wind and tied the knot. Over the last 12 years, we’ve learned SO MUCH about what it takes to keep a marriage healthy and help it prosper. In today’s post, I’m going to share the top twelve marriage lessons I’ve learned over the last 12 years.

Twelve Years of Experience

When we got married in 2006, we had no idea where life was going to take us. Since then, we’ve lived on 2 continents, in 3 different countries and 5 cities, traveled the world from Tokyo to Timbuktu (literally- he went to Tokyo, I went to Timbuktu), have moved around 8 times and spent the last 5 years living away from each other 4-5 days a week.

Some of the marriage lessons I share with you today were easy- they were foundational things for us. Others were hard learned- through struggles and difficult experiences.

If I could go back to my younger self- the most important thing I’d tell her is life won’t always be easy or perfect, but if you work hard at it, the love only continues to grow and flourish.

My Top 12 Marriage Lessons

  1. Everyone Fights: The first time we had a fight, I was so traumatized. I thought my world was falling apart. I’ve since learned that all couples in healthy marriages have disagreements and fights. It’s ok as long as you deal with the issue and not let it fester
  2. (Almost) Never Go to Bed Angry with Each Other: I’ll be the first one to admit that I break this rule more frequently than my husband- but I do know that when we sleep angry with each other, we waste the whole next day getting over whatever caused the fight
  3. Remember to be Kind, When You’re Mad: We’re all kind to the people we love when things are going well. But kindness in times of stress and anger is harder. Try and be kind to your partner, even when all you want to do is eat their share of the ice cream.
  4. Learn Each Other’s Love Language: Different people express emotions differently. I’m a very verbal person whereas my husband is not. Learning how your partner expresses their love for you is so important since it helps to avoid any misunderstandings. I LOVE the book The Five Love Languages and would recommend it to anyone who is struggling to understand how their partner communicates.
  5. Know Your Boundaries: Different people have different things that trigger them. For example, I don’t enjoy sharing a treat that I’m really enjoying- I prefer to savor it by myself. It took my husband around 10 years to learn that trying to take a bite out of my favorite foods never ends well.
  6. Intimacy Is Important: I won’t say a lot about this because I think it’s kind of obvious but don’t discount the importance of intimacy in your marriage.
  7. Set Deadlines: My husband is a consultant and he is very action oriented. One amazing thing that he’s made us implement is a deadline to talk about a fight. I tend to be very emotional and so it takes me time to calm down when we’re having a disagreement. Having a deadline means I know I have to calm down by a certain time and also that we always talk through what caused the fight and deal with it.
  8. Treat Each Other’s Family Like Your Own: I KNOW it can be hard to consider your in-laws as “YOUR” family, especially if there are issues getting along with one or all of them. But, one of the biggest things we’ve learned is that when we treat each other’s family as our own, we become stronger as a unit. I give my husband’s parents the same respect I give mine- and he does the same to mine and it means the world to both of us that the other would make that effort.
  9. Spend Time Apart: We’ve unfortunately taken this to the next level, which isn’t healthy, BUT having your interests, friends, and activities outside of your marriage can be a really healthy thing. From day one, we made sure that we gave each other plenty of space which helped make the time we spent together even more meaningful.
  10. Don’t Make Your Marriage Secondary: With kids, it can be hard to keep your marriage and your partner front and center in your life. But marriage is very much like a plant. It needs certain things to stay strong and flourish. Don’t let your marriage wither away while you’re busy with life- take time and focus on it, even while chaos reigns around you.
  11. Build Trust: Love is wonderful. But it is trust that will see your marriage through the rough times. I trust my husband completely- and I know he feels the same about me. This trust was hard won but having it means that we KNOW that we hold each other and our family as the highest priority and that we would never do something that would damage our relationship or adversely affect our family.
  12. Spirituality Strengthens a Marriage: We haven’t been so amazing at this the last few years with kids and travel- but doing stuff that brings you closer to God, learning or practicing your religion or spirituality, serves to strengthen your marriage and brings you closer to each other as well as your Creator.

BONUS LESSON: This is perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned in 12 years and that is, sh** happens. Real life is messy. Real marriages are messier. Your videographer will forget to put the recording disc in before shooting your wedding (true story- we don’t have a wedding video). There are times when you will experience fury against each other. Bad things will happen. You will experience amazing highs but also amazing lows. As long as you hold each other through it all, as long as you remember what made you choose this person at the beginning of this journey, as long as you don’t let the bad outweigh the good- you will be fine. Love- real solid unwavering love- will conquer all.

 

Wow! That was a LOT of advice. When I was first making notes for this blog post, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to come up with 12 lessons and in the end, I had to filter out some ideas. It is honestly amazing to me that we just celebrated our 12th anniversary. It feels like we got married just yesterday.

I hope this advice was helpful to you. What would be your marriage advice for someone based on your experience? Share in the comments below.