Tomorrow on July 21st, my wife and I will celebrate 12 years of marriage!!! (That’s us on our wedding day on the left.) It’s amazing for me to think about how long we’ve been together because it honestly feels like it was just yesterday when we jumped the broom.
Our 12-year journey has been the greatest teacher in my life. The lessons have come in moments of pain and pleasure. Through “ups,” such as the birth of our son Kingston nearly two years ago, to ebbing events, like the loss of family and friends.
As I reflect upon the journey, there are 11 lessons that most standout. I believe these lessons can be helpful if you’re recently entering a relationship or have been boo’d up for awhile.
1) Develop A Mantra
About seven years ago, when my wife and I were going through a tough time in our marriage, she said one statement that has become our marriage mantra “it’s got to be all or nothing.” The phrase instantly connected with our values and speaks to the shared vision we have for our relationship. Whenever I start to get out of line, she drops those seven words on me and I straighten up like a pole.
2) Your Friends Are Not Relationship Experts!
Don’t involve anyone in your relationship, unless they are an expert.
3) Have A Long Distance Plan
At two times in our relationship, I had to live away from my wife. After just a few days away I realized, if we stayed apart, the relationship would fall apart. If you want a long distance relationship to last you must have a plan to end the distance.
4) A Fire Doesn’t Stay Lit Without Tending To The Coals
You have to put work in to keep your marriage hot. This means periodically doing novel things together. Boredom is like weeds to your relationship — if you don’t eliminate, they’ll kill it.
5) Be Assertive
Despite how well intentioned you and your partner are, if both of you are not assertive, someone is going to be bullied.
6) No Such Thing as Being Independent in Successful Relationship
The key to success (at anything) is interdependence, not independence.
7) It Gets Sweeter Over Time
It has become common thought that as a relationship matures, we become less happy with it. This is one of the most damaging marriage myths. According to research, namely by leading anthropologist Helen Fisher, couples that stay together exhibit stronger attachment and desire for attraction.
8) You’ll Never Complete Them But You Should Complement Them
Searching for completion from anyone but you is futile. You are responsible for your own happiness.
9) Healthy Sex Life Is Critical
Keep in mind “healthy” is subjective. This is why communication is key. The elements both partners deem important in sex (frequency, positions, etc.) must be discussed.
10) Be a Better Listener and You’ll Be a Better Lover
When I learned to stop talking so much and really listen to my wife, our relationship leaped to another level.
11) Fight Fair
Disagreements will happen. Here’s some of my favorite fighting fair advice from Dr. Phil: “The question is, do you go into it with a spirit of looking for resolution or do you go into it with a spirit of getting even, vengeance, control? You’ll never win if you do that. If you make your relationship a competition that means your spouse has to lose in order for you to win. It’s not a competition, it’s a partnership.”
Comments Question: What is the most important relationship “secret” you have learned from your own experiences?