I started the day with my husband on an early morning walk-a new summer tradition for us. As we made the rounds through our tiny two-street neighborhood, we chatted about the impending rain (hooray!), the crazy things our son said the night before, about the upcoming school year and how to work our morning walk into that hectic routine, and talk about the day ahead. Through these walks I am coming to realize I am a morning person, just not a waking up person. And I am loving this time each morning with my husband.
Today is our 9th wedding anniversary. I look around my life and consider myself very fortunate. While I know nine years of marriage isn't many, to some it is. To some we are still newlyweds and to some we are an old married couple. Quite frankly I feel lucky to have found someone who makes me belly laugh every day, makes me feel safe and comforted, makes me feel dead sexy, is a terrific father to our children, is a man that I respect both personally and professionally, and one I love more now than I did when we started this journey together.
There are a few things I've learned these nine years-and as it is our 9th I'll list all nine. (I kid...I have learned more than nine things, but these are some of the most important!)
1. Laugh together. Laugh at anything and everything. Laugh at yourself, each other, and what life throws at you. My husband and I are great laughers. We crack each other up. Many nights, as we are settling into bed I am brought to tears from our conversation-simply from laughter. I believe it is one of the strongest glues in a marriage.
2. Be kind. I cannot tell you how often my husband will stop in his tracks to just wrap his arms around me when I'm having a tough day, week or month. Or when I know he is stressed I will whip up some of his favorite dishes. Kind gestures go a long way in a marriage.
3. Be supportive of one another. This could go right along with kindness, I suppose. But what I mean is that your partner may (will) grow and change throughout the course of your marriage. Be supportive of their new dreams and goals. No one is a bigger cheerleader for me than my husband. It makes me feel like I can do anything.
4. Give good hugs. I believe hugging is the un-sung hero in a marriage, and I may make it my goal to campaign for its recognition. I am married to a world-champion hugger. Seriously ladies, his hugs are the stuff of legends. They have the power to heal just about everything except toothaches and cramps. And even then, you'll feel better. Don't ever, ever stop hugging your partner.
5. Keep dating your partner. I know-in the beginning of any relationship you go on dates. You talk for hours on the phone. You send each other little gifts. Then the years build up and "date night" is usually on the couch with a bowl of shared ice cream (well we don't share our ice cream here, but to each his/her own). We still date each other. We get away for weekends and leave our son with grandparents or aunts/uncles (which he loves). We go out to favorite restuarants for leisurely dinners over a bottle of good wine or yummy cocktails. We spend a summer evening watching a baseball game. There is always time for a couples' massage. No matter how busy your life is, make room for a real, honest-to-goodness date.
6. Have traditions. We have silly traditions, serious traditions, and all the ones in-between. We spend our weekend mornings laying around in bed as much as possible. We have since our marriage began-first with our daughter (who is now married and on her own) sneaking in for conversation before breakfast. Now with our son who climbs in for lovins. We have from-scratch birthday cakes for each birthday. We take a drive in the country every Christmas Eve. We see the Detroit Tigers every summer multiple times. Tuesdays in the summer usually result in a trip to our local custard stand-Mel-O-Creme for half price drink night. These traditions define us in many ways, and make our life together something we can depend on.
7. Don't look for perfection. Before anyone jumps the gun on me here, understand what I'm saying. My husband and I have said one million times (at least) that no perfect marriage exists. It can't. Human beings are involved. Because we are all flawed, our institutions will be. So be patient and understanding as you move down the road into your own partnership and discover the flaws. Embrace them. Work through them. Don't get frustrated simply because they exist. If you are searching for perfection, you'll be looking forever.
8. Enjoy the moments. We are really quite good at enjoying little moments during our time together. Be it dinners on the porch with a good bottle of wine and good food on a weeknight, snuggling in front of a fireplace while watching season 3 of The West Wing for the quazillionth time, holding hands in the car as we run errands on a weekend, sharing a bag of popcorn during one of our school's athletic events, or laughing at our son's silly 5 year-old jokes. These are the moments that make up the fabric of a marriage. Cheesy sentiment, I know. But it is also quite true.
9. Last, but not least-Make plans. We are always plotting something-from the mundane of weekly meals to the big dreams of retirement years. We talk about how we would like to expand the landscaping in our yard. We talk about what we will do with our finances when we pay down our debt. We plan road trips. We plan dinners with family and friends. We are always planning for tomorrow. Nine years ago I never imagined the life I have at this very moment. I have no idea what the next nine years will bring. But that doesn't stop us from planning for our future.
I have said often to my husband that as a young girl I would imagine what the "ideal marriage" was and think that I wouldn't have that. Mostly because the women I knew complained a lot about their spouses-and many couples who have been together for many years spent more time figuring out how to spend less time together than more. Somehow I got lucky and tripped and fell right into what I imagined to be the ideal marriage. Nine years later we are still here and hopefully in nine more years I will have a list of 18 things for you. Happy anniversary honey-I couldn't love anyone more!