September marked 6 years since Brian and I got married. While we celebrated with friends and family in Puerto Rico on April 11, 2015 we actually got married at a small ceremony on September 21, 2014 when it became clear that Brian’s dad would not be well enough to travel. That small ceremony was where we first said yes to a life together. For better, for worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part. We actually wrote our own vows but you get the gist. We committed to a life together. I’ve learned over the past few years that I got lucky when I found Brian. I had been seeking a relationship but I am thankful to have found a partner in life.
I started dating my husband a month before my 30th birthday. By then, most of my friends were engaged, married, and some were having kids. I had been living the single life and with each year of freedom, I raised the bar for what I was looking for in a relationship. In fact, when I lived in NYC, a coworker of mine told me to write a list of all the things I wished for in my future husband. It included everything, and I mean everything. I listed characteristics like caring, funny, tall, loves travel, good dancer, wants kids, etc. The bar was high and I was hopeful that this fictitious person was out there.
Then one day, it happened. I met my husband. I met Brian on a golf course when my brother decided that instead of taking me to lunch, I would get to ride in the golf cart while he finished his round of golf. Normally I would have been mad but then I saw Brian. I knew right away he was someone special. We had an instant connection. I would later find out that he was also everything I had written on my list. Well, it’s still up for debate about whether he’s a good dancer but you could say the same about me, so there’s that. What I find interesting is that as I’ve gotten older, I have realized that all the things I wrote on my list made us a good match but a loving partnership is what has created a happy marriage.
A partner is someone who you team up with to reach a desired goal. When you commit to someone, you combine your goals and create a shared vision for your life. Where do you want to be in 5 years, do you want kids, how do you want to raise those kids, etc. There are so many decisions and all are intertwined. How you spend money today will affect retirement later. The environment you provide for your kids will ultimately create a foundation for their adult years. The effort you give to keeping the spark alive in your relationship will be evident with how much fire there is in 10 years. No marriage or relationship is perfect. When it feels like it is, life will always throw you curveballs making even the best relationships hard at times.
Since Brian and I have been married, we have struggled through a big loss when Brian’s dad passed away from Early Onset Dementia, welcomed the craziness that comes with twins, are currently navigating the uncertainty of a child with a global developmental delay, and of course, the everyday stressors of life. While sometimes life can feel heavy, together, we appreciate the highs, better handle the lows, and enjoy all that’s in-between. Below are things I’ve learned that I value in our relationship and have kept us going strong.
FIND YOUR LOVE LANGUAGE
The 5 love languages are based off the book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts which has been a New York Times Best Seller for 10 years running. I’ll be honest, I didn’t actually read the book but I love the concept. Each of us have our own love languages that need to be acknowledged and those languages may not be the same for each partner. The 5 Love Languages as shared are Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.
For me, I need Words of Affirmation and Acts of Service. Something as simple as Brian making my morning coffee goes a long way. Brian needs Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch. For him, a hug or back scratch can make his day. Since we both like Words of Affirmation, I Love You’s and Thank You’s are big in our house. When things are busy and we aren’t on top of our languages, we definitely let each other know. This mama doesn’t function without coffee and it’s definitely made with love (or obligation) but whatever. A happy wife is a happy life! All kidding aside, knowing the basics of what your partner needs is a simple way to connect daily.
NEVER LOSE WHAT BROUGHT YOU TOGETHER
Humor is what brought Brian and I together. When I first met him that day on the golf course, he was telling stories that made me laugh. They weren’t jokes but I just loved his delivery. He’s been making me laugh since day one and thankfully, the feeling is mutual. Laughter is what brought us together but it’s also what keeps us together. During the tough times, we always find ways to make each other laugh. For others it may be cooking, working out, reading, or a glass of wine and good conversation. When things feel off balance, remember what brought you together and get back to the basics. Recenter, reconnect, and take on another day, together.
YOU SHARE A LIFE – SHARE THE RESPONSIBILITIES
Everyone needs to manage the responsibilities in a way that works for your household. I want to give a quick shoutout to all the single parents, military spouses, or those who for whatever reason, find themselves doing it all alone. I have so much respect for those that don’t have the option to share responsibilities. You all are the true rockstars.
For us, we have always been in a position where we could share responsibilities. From paying bills, cooking dinner (I’m new to this one – single Karen was the Queen of Lean Cuisines), household chores, to parenting, we work together to more efficiently manage our days. If you are feeling overwhelmed, talk to your partner about ways to unload some of the weight of your day. For example, Brian will bathe the kids while I clean the kitchen from dinner and get their waters ready for bedtime. It doesn’t have to be a big ask to be a big help.
COMMUNICATE OPENLY AND FREQUENTLY
There is a feeling of comfort that comes from knowing you can tell your partner anything that is on your mind. He’s the first person I want to share everything with and the shoulder I want when I need to cry. I have shared my hopes and dreams and his support has helped me find strength in many areas of my life. Whether it’s from outside factors or from within your relationship, the ability to talk through your thoughts and emotions is key to more easily navigating all the ups and downs. That ability to communicate openly has allowed us to quickly identify areas in our relationship, and life, that need attention.
What I love about the above relationship attributes is that they are done daily. When you connect on a daily basis it is much harder to get disconnected. Just like yourself, if you water your relationship daily, roots will take hold, the foundation will strengthen, and your relationship will grow stronger each day. I can only hope that we can stand the test of time but at the very least, I am happy that we have today. And for my husband reading this, I love you.