10 Things I’ve Learned After 10 Years of Marriage

10 Things I’ve Learned after 10 Years of Marriage

My husband and I were blessed to celebrate 10 years of marriage last month. In the early years, I hilariously assumed that when we reached this milestone we would take a luxurious vacation and/or I would totally get that upgrade to my wedding band set. After all, 10 years seemed like a lifetime away … we’d surely have our yacht and summer home by then. So young … so stupid.

10 Things I've Learned in 10 Years of Marriage

Fast forward to 10 years married, we’re in our early 30s and we have sweet little ones who depend on us for everything. Money is tight. Time is tighter. We did get to go out to eat at our favorite local spot to celebrate … our 3-month old joined us. What can I say, I am HER favorite local eatery.

So instead of fancy vacations or jewelry, we reflected on what 10 years has meant for us as a couple and now a family of four (a three-year-old and an infant). How we got here, what we’ve learned, how we’ve changed, what we can do better. So if you haven’t been married quite this long {read: aren’t as old as me}, perhaps I can impart a little wisdom gained from experience.

Here are 10 things I’ve learned after 10 years of marriage:

1. It’s crucial to get on the same page about finances.

This is probably my #1 piece of advice when it comes to sustaining a healthy marriage. Don’t they always say that couples fight more over money than anything else? I believe it. Deciding how we will spend our money, establishing short and long term goals, working on a budget TOGETHER. For us, this has been huge. It may sound boring and nerdy, but it brings such a peace to the relationship. And I like peace. Peace is hot.

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2. Trust is everything.

Plain and simple. Trust is a major foundation of marriage. When it’s compromised (for whatever reason big or small), everything breaks down. I admit it freaks me out a little bit that we’re at the 10-year mark. My own parents were only married for 10 years, and it’s a little surreal that I’ve sort of arrived at where their journey ended. As a 7-year-old, it seemed like they’d been married forever. Now that I’m here myself, I realize that 10 years is, well, nothing in the grand scheme.

But thankfully, so thankfully, my experience with marriage has been a totally different one. Sometimes it’s even a matter of trusting yourself; at least it has been for me. Will my marriage stand the test of time? My parents were unsuccessful, so what makes me think I won’t repeat their mistakes? Gotta keep those dark voices at bay. I trust in us to see this thing through.

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3. Life is full of highs and lows — be the constant in your own narrative. 

This is especially true as time goes on. For many of us, life just kinda scooted along at an easy pace until BAM. Big fat ball of life thrown in your face. I never expected that my husband would get diagnosed with an incurable, chronic condition in his 30s. This curve ball was thrown our way around Year Six. I’ve seen it in our friends’ lives too – miscarriages, loss of jobs, seriously sick children, the list of trials goes on – all things none of us ever expected when we first ventured out into the world as new marrieds. But life happens, and it can be rough. But you can carry all of that with the person you love the most in this world. There’s also incredible joy you might not expect that comes with life. As a married person, you get to share that too. Throughout the highs and lows, the only constant we can really hope to have is our commitment to each other. And often, that’s all you really need.

4. Never stop appreciating each other.

As the years quickly accumulate, it’s so easy to get complacent. I try really hard not to (although I certainly fail at times), and I think my husband tries too. As they say, it’s the little things. For example, I appreciate it so much when he verbally notes when the house is clean or I took the trash to the curb, and he says, “Thank you.” It says to me that he notices what I do around here and doesn’t take it for granted. Just as I will be damn sure to thank that kid every time he checks the air in my tires (I will never do this in my life) and changes the oil in my car. Bless him. I don’t think I could thank my husband enough for all he does, and I sure don’t get tired of hearing him thank me. So we say “thank you” a lot around here. With any luck, we have millions more dishes to clean and tires to check together.

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Image by Leilani Rogers Photography

5. Telepathy is real.

If it hasn’t happened already, at some point in your marriage, you will develop a sixth-sense between the two of you. My husband will begin telling me the most random anecdote for no reason whatsoever, and that same thought or memory will have been mulling around in my head just seconds before. It happens all the time. At some point, I’m pretty sure we won’t even have to speak to each other in order to communicate. And now I understand why the little old couple has been married for 68 years, but they haven’t spoken in 20. They’re totally telepathic! Marriage is weird.

6. The secret to marriage is sticking it out.

Of course, this is speaking generally and there are always exceptions, but from what I’ve seen in marriages that have lasted, it’s all about sticking around when the going gets tough, rather than going when things get tough. Because things are going to get tough, really tough, all throughout our lives. That’s a promise. And it can be tempting to walk away when the walls are closing in. Those vows we took years ago really come into play as the years go on and can put things into perspective.

7. It’s important to make each other top priority.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but everything changes once kids come along as we all know. At least it did for us. Children rock our world in a serious, heart-exploding way. It’s easy to revolve our lives around them as mothers especially. Then throw work and careers into the mix. I struggle with this – that is, making my marriage top priority. But a wise woman who knows how fiercely I love my girls, once cautioned me to always keep my marriage first in everything, and I believe it’s sound advice. And what greater gift for my kids than happy parents? Keeping my husband as Priority One is always at the forefront of my mind, but amongst the day-to-day of caring for two littles, honestly I kinda suck at it. But I’m trying, and that matters.

IMG_45498. Sex takes some effort.

I remember during our younger, carefree married days an older male friend of my husband’s made some off-hand comment as to how often newlyweds make love versus couples who have been married for years. I don’t actually remember the number or if it was in weeks or months; I just remember my husband and I were flabbergasted! That will never be us!! Again, so young and so stupid. Real life is messy and exhausting and beats the crap out of you sometimes – and sometimes the last thing you want is a romp in the metaphorical hay.

And I don’t think the frequency in which it happens matters at all; it’s whatever works for any given couple. But I do think sex matters. There’s a reason for its existence within marriage other than procreation. I sometimes have to remind myself of this during this tough stage of life – but it’s worth the effort. But how ironic that the very deed needed to bring kids into the world is thereafter directly affected by said kids?!

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Image by Jane Huddleston Photography

9. Seek the counsel of those older and wiser than you.

Whether it’s an older couple you trust whose marriage has stood the test of time, a couple in your same stage of life but who has been married longer or even professional marriage counseling; it is always wise to seek out advice. I know for us it’s been a great comfort in many instances to know that someone else has experienced similar hurdles and was able to come out on the other side.

10. We have no idea what we’re doing.

After 10 years, I’m pretty sure we’re still winging it and hoping for the best. And you know what? It’s honestly been a journey I would choose over and over again. I would choose him over and over again. Yes, we are two broken people trying to make it in a broken world. Ten years? We can give ourselves a little pat on the back, but really it’s only the beginning. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know I’ll never stop fighting for us.

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Image by Katie Joy Crawford Photography

Have you been married 10+ years? What have you learned? Please share your wisdom with us!

Fleur (which rhymes with ‘blur’ and is French for “flower,” in case you were wondering) is a former media relations and marketing professional happily turned mommy to two daughters, a spunky, sweet toddler and a roly-poly infant that is pure sunshine. She always assumed she would return to work full-time after maternity leave, but the role of Mother grabbed her by the soul, and she has been lucky to remain at home while still having an outlet as a freelance writer and the managing editor here at Red Stick Moms. A wandering heart to the core, Fleur and her husband of 10 years have traveled and lived in many places, but are happy to have returned home to Baton Rouge shortly after the birth of their first child. Based on her choices when it comes to motherhood and parenting, Fleur would likely be dubbed a “crunchy” mama, but her husband would just call it making things more complicated than they have to be…for the good of their daughters, he would TOTALLY add {wink wink}. Fleur loves Jesus, coffee, languages and words, hilarity that comes with honest conversations about this crazy little thing called life (solidarity, Sisters), photography, and the idea of sleeping through the night. She'd really love to sleep through the night.

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