They say time flies when you’re having fun and it feels crazy to say this, but today is my fifth wedding anniversary! We’ve packed a lot of living into our five years; we bought and renovated our home, took some great trips, and even lived through a pandemic! (Don’t wanna do that one again.) While I’m certainly not a marriage expert (and I’m not trying to be!) I thought it would be fun to share 5 lessons from 5 years of marriage.
This is the most unsurprising thing I am going to say in this entire post: marriage is a life-changing event. Shocker, right? My husband and I are very different people from who we were five years ago. Careers, lifestyle changes, our home, and our views are just a few of the things that have notably changed during our five years of growing together. Some of those changes have been spurred on by each other, and some changes have occurred individually. But the beauty in it is that we’ve done it all together and we’re still actively choosing each other.
Without (much) further adieu, 5 lessons from 5 years of marriage. Please keep in mind, I’m no expert and I’m learning and life-ing as I go!
5 Lessons from 5 Years of Marriage
1. Put each other first.
During a particularly hard time, Chris and I openly discussed our situation and decided to put each other first in our marriage. Constantly absorbing the opinions of others and bending plans to suit people outside of your marriage is an easy way to invite room for confrontation, hurt feelings, and in the worst cases, resentment. Putting your spouse first in all you do might tick off a few other people in your life, but you aren’t married to the peanut gallery. Put your spouse first and prioritize their wants and needs. This also means making time for each other when things are busy or overwhelmingly busy.
2. Pick your battles.
This one comes straight from my husband. For years now, my mom has given him a hard time for “giving in” to me. He always replies with the same laidback response: “If it’s important to me, I’ll say something. I pick my battles.” Picking your battles is one of the best lessons he’s taught me and I’m not even sure if he knows it. My personality type leans into anxiety and over-thinking. Sometimes I get frustrated when things don’t go like I think they should and it can affect my mood. Observing his relaxed attitude has helped me reevaluate my natural response instincts. Sometimes pausing to reflect on whether or not the things I am getting worked up over are really worth it can save a lot of headaches. It’s not a perfect practice for me, but it’s one I think about often.
Sucking it up and apologizing when you’re wrong isn’t easy, but sometimes it’s necessary. If you’ve been a brat and you know it, or if you forgot to do something, fight the instinct to get defensive or make excuses. An apology goes a long way. The same goes for gratitude. Don’t underestimate the power of a “thank you.”
4. Expect struggles.
We aren’t perfect and our marriage definitely isn’t either. Far from it. Like most married couples I know, we’ve overcome some significant personal struggles in our 5 years of marriage. You always hear that marriage is hard. And guess what? It is. In some ways, getting and staying married is one of the hardest things we’ve ever done. But, it’s also one of the most rewarding. The hard parts can make or break a marriage; they can reinforce or destroy trust. Communication isn’t always easy (notably at the beginning), but it’s important when things are hard.
4. Make Plans.
Chris is my favorite person to travel with and it’s something we’ve discussed prioritizing in our marriage. Maybe travel isn’t your thing. Maybe you love live music or art shows or brewery tours. My point is to make a list of things you enjoy and go do them. Make some memories. Plan for what you want to do with your future together. Figure out what is important to you and make time for it! Five years flew by, the rest will too! (Read more about our travels here.)
Every marriage is unique. I’m sure if you asked five other couples for five lessons, you’d get five sets of different responses. Marriage isn’t always like roses and rainbows, but if you work at it, it can be pretty darn great.