Before Anthony and I got married in a little pizzeria on the north side of Chicago in 2013, I would go around asking anyone and everyone for marital advice. I guess you can say I was doing a little research on relationships. Anytime I saw an older, happy couple I’d ask them for their secret to marital bliss. I’d eagerly await their response which would then be added to the “notes” app on my phone. I’d collect advice and would read articles galore about “surviving” marriage and would share them with my husband-to-be. So romantic.
The truth is, I was a bit nervous to get married. Marriage is a little weird if you think about it.
You literally make an agreement with another human that you will live with them and be with them forever during good times and bad. Gee, what could possibly go wrong?
I look at it this way. You wouldn’t go climb Mt. Kilimanjaro without doing a bit of prep work, right? And seeing as though marriage is kind of like a really big hike of life with clear valleys along the way, the occasional obstacles to get past, good and bad weather, and then some pretty incredible, monumental moments/views, I took it upon myself to gather some tools before I said I do.
As we celebrate each other our five year wedding anniversary, I reflect on the advice I received/stole from friends, strangers, family, therapists, cute old couples, and articles written by relationship experts.
Here is what I gathered in my “how to try to have a good marriage (or any sort of relationship)” research:
Show your partner they’re appreciated. We humans take each other for granted. It happens naturally. Thanking one another for even the tiniest of tasks can go a long way and make someone feel loved.
Figure out how to resolve conflict. I was admiring an older couple while at a wedding in Napa Valley. They were so in love that I just had to know their secret so I asked the wife if she had any advice. Her answer was invaluable.
“You have to figure out and learn how to resolve conflict, both the really big issues and the small ones.”
Greet one another no matter when and where. This I stole from HuffPost and is one of my favorite tips. Give a smooch, a squeeze, or a hug. Show your lover some love when you see them.
Make time for making out. Another solid HuffPost tip. You don’t think about these things until you literally need to find and create time to make out.
Become one with uncertainty. My therapist drilled this one into my head when chatting about all things in life, including marriage. It will go down as one of the greatest pieces of advice anyone has ever given me.
People change. I read this one in an article about divorce, but an older friend shared this bit of perspective with me as well. I think this piece of advice (and many of the other tips I came across) can apply to relationships of all kinds. We all change as time goes by. I guess it’s just how we handle those changes that make or break a relationship.
Celebrate one another.
Whether it’s a simple clink of wine glasses or a big to-do, celebrating our humans keeps life exciting. Plus, we all deserve to be celebrated here and there. Why not?
Support each other’s goals and dreams. When Anthony decided to go to film school for his masters I knew I had to buckle up and go along for the ride. Don’t get me wrong, it was a little freaking scary to think about at first but it’s been his dream for ages. I must say, it’s been thrilling to watch him finally create, learn, and fulfill a lifelong dream of his. He inspires me.
Write a card or letter. This one is extra hygge. It’s such an old-fashioned, simple (yet powerful) way to express love. Plus, letters are timeless. I once found a stack of love letters at an antique store and read every single one thru tears. To love someone is a beautiful thing.
Pick and choose your battles. This one comes by way of my dad and it’s so true. Can’t go about arguing over everything.
Disclaimer: This is an ongoing research project, please feel free to share your best marital tips, tricks, and advice in the comments below.
5 years today and counting.