16 Things I’ve Learned In 16 Years Of Marriage
Sukh and I are celebrating 16 years of marriage today. We tied the knot on 31st August 2002. So I thought I would write a reflective post about our marriage, our friendship and our life together. I have no idea how we’re celebrating yet. We might be lucky enough to steal an evening for ourselves and go for a meal – minus the kids.It was the happiest but scariest day of my life. We were embarking on a new journey together, into the unknown. I thought I had a good idea of what marriage would bring but we were young. I was 24 and Sukh was 25. We still had so much growing up to do.Now, sixteen years on, I feel we’re stronger than ever. I don’t think there’s such a thing as a ‘one-size-fits-all’. Every marriage is different but at the end of the day, we’re still together because we want to be.
I have learned so many things over the years and I want to share 16 of them here. Some of these are really obvious things and some may seem quite small but they’re key in my relationship.
I don’t mean to sound preachy because I’m not a professional therapist and I’m not an authority figure on offering advice. I am only sharing what I’ve learned and if there’s anything constructive you take from it, then great. These are not in any particular order either so one thing is not more important than another.Ask Your Partner About Their Day: It’s easy to continue your routine when you both get home from work. One of you walks in, the other is already busy preparing the meal or seeing to the kids. Take a few minutes out just to say hello and ask about each other’s day. Sometimes one of us has had a bad day and the other automatically knows. We acknowledge it then decide to pick it up and really talk about it when the kids are in bed. But putting the whole line of communication off until later seems dismissive.Pick Your Moment On When To Share Something: There may be something you want to get off your chest. You might want to share something with your partner that you’re excited about. But pick the right moment. They may have had a bad day. The kids may be running around the house. If it’s something important and worth sharing, then guage the temperature of the room first. We’ve done this so many times. Sometimes it’s been something really big we want to talk about but because there are too many other distractions, it falls on deaf ears. Make sure you’re both alone and present.Be A Shoulder To Cry On: It’s really easy to dismiss your partner when they are worried or upset about something. It might be a situation that personally wouldn’t phase you. But if your partner is upset then sometimes all they need is a bit of sympathy. Sometimes they don’t want you to rush in and solve their problem. Sukh and I have been guilty of this in the past where we try to tell each other how to handle a certain situation. But we’ve learned that sometimes just saying ‘I Understand’ or letting each other just off-load is enough.Don’t Let Others Interfere With Your Relationship: I know so many friends and family members who are left upset or couples who are left fighting because other people got involved in their relationship. It’s good to seek advice from others when you need it. Sometimes it helps a relationship grow and can make you see things from a different perspective. But advice to try and keep you together is one thing. It’s when people – for whatever reason – interfere. When they tell you how to do things, what to say to each other or think they have a right in helping you to get to a decision. Sukh and I have had that in the past from people we least expected to get involved in our relationship. But we refuse to let others dictate what we should think or feel about each other.
Date Nights – It’s amazing to do things as a family unit – and really important too. But it’s just as vital to just acknowledge your kids are not the defining factor of your marriage. You had a relationship before the kids came along so time away from them just to reconnect is really important. Sukh and I don’t get enough of this. We lead busy lives, both working full-time. Then with my blogging, spending time with the kids and family events, we rarely have time for each other. Chilling on the sofa in front of the TV when the kids have gone to bed every evening is not a date night. You have to actively make an evening or day of it. We’re trying to do that more now and thankfully a wonderful friend has offered to babysit so we can make plans for our next date.‘Me’ Time: As well as time together as a couple, it’s also key to spend time alone. I talk all about ‘me’ time in an upcoming post about holidays with my girlfriends. Do things to make you happy. Things that make you feel relaxed, whether that’s a holiday or a trip to the cinema or going out for coffee with a friend. These ‘time-outs’ allow you to create a new burst of energy and a fresh mind. Remember you have an identity, you are an individual. You are not defined by being a parent or a spouse.Learn To Forgive: There are many things you will argue about or disagree over. There are many ways you will hurt each other whether intentionally or unintentionally. But once you have talked it out, don’t hold on to grudges. Shut the door on it once you’ve aired it all and don’t bring it up over and over again.Learn To Compromise: In the same way, learn to give in sometimes. It’s give and take. Sometimes I have to let Sukh have his way, sometimes he lets me have mine and sometimes we find that sweet spot where we meet in the middle and are both happy.Apologise When You Know It’s Your Fault: I’ve never really got the ‘don’t sleep on an argument’ thing. Sukh and I go to bed on arguments. Not all the time as some can be resolved there and then but it isn’t true for every occasion. At times, if we carry on and try to resolve an issue that night, when we’re both tired from work and the kids and then ratty from our fight, it just makes things worse. I’d rather cool down overnight and sort it out with a fresh head the next day.Show Affection: Say ‘I Love You’. If you feel it, say it. I hate when couples say ‘I don’t need to spell it out’. Sometimes those three words can mean so much even if you do already know. I actually think a kiss on the lips, holding hands or saying something romantic is just a reminder to yourselves why you’re in this. It’s a chance to reconnect. I know so many couples who never show each other any affection in public. You don’t need to do PDA on a scale of one-hundred but a little peck never hurt anyone. I don’t think there’s any harm showing each other a bit of affection in front of the kids either. In fact, I think it makes them feel secure. They know their parents love each other and are therefore stable.Try To Tell The Truth: Everyone has secrets. And sometimes keeping something to yourself because it might hurt the other person is OK. Sukh and I have told each other little white lies over the years but when we talk about it, we know it’s because we wanted to save the other from unnecessary stress or upset. It’s not always easy to tell the truth and you might not be in a position sometimes to do so. But if it’s something on a major scale, then always be honest. Lies can build up into resentment and then hatred. Trust each other.Work As A Team: Remind yourself that you are on the same side. Team work is about telling the world – and each other – that you have each other’s back. If things aren’t going right, work together to solve any issues. If things are going really well, pat each other on the back and share the credit. When you have kids, show them you’re a united force. The worst thing you can do is allow them to play you off against each other or see you’re not a strong unit. Jointly make decisions that affect all of your lives.Shared Goals/Ambitions: Sukh and I had so many dreams when we started out. We’ve achieved some of them and others we are still working towards. Some dreams changed over time. It’s good to have shared ambitions and goals. You might only talk about them and verbally work out a plan on how you’re going to achieve them. But sometimes it’s good to write them down. Or add them to a visualisation board. That way you’re reminding yourself why you are on this journey together.Push Each Other/Offer Encouragement: As well as shared goals, you will have ambitions of your own. Things you personally want to achieve. It might be a big thing or a small thing but if you’re aiming to succeed in something, you want your partner to support you whole-heartedly and be your cheerleader. And vice versa. Make sure you are each other’s biggest supporter and back them, help them to realise their dream.Try Things The Other Wants You To: When your partner is excited about something, share that excitment with them. If they ask you to try something – a new food, a film, whatever it may be, do it because they’ve asked you to. You don’t have to pretend to like it if you don’t. But it’ll mean a lot to them that you just tried something they wanted. That you respected them enough to give something a go.Remind Yourself Why You Fell In Love: It’s easy to get sucked up into the realities of day to day life and forget the most fundamental thing. If you’re still in love, tell each other (as I said above). I fell for Sukh because of his sharp wit, his determination and his loyalty. And every now and then I remind myself of this and why we started out on this journey together in the first place.Here’s to the next sixteen years.
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