Connect the Dots Ginger | Becky Allen: 15 Years Married- Tips on how to make marriage work!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

15 Years Married- Tips on how to make marriage work!

Yesterday the hubs and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary! I can't believe it honestly. And most people don't believe us since we have such young kids. They assume that we have only been married for 7, 8 years max! But nope, since it took us 8 years to finally get pregnant. And we did get married pretty young but that is neither here nor there, because here we are, 15 years in, married and still in love with each other.
In a way it feels like we are defying all the odds. So many of our friend's marriages haven't made it. It breaks our hearts when we hear of another couple that separate. So I wanted to share some advice on how we have made it work these past 15 years
1) No marriage is perfect
Nope, not even ours. We have had ups and downs, good and bad times but we never gave up on each other. There are many reasons why things get tough: financial problems, infertility, lack of feeling needed or wanted, loss of identity. Our fertility struggles almost broke us to be honest. But, what can help keep a couple strong is communication. You must talk to each other, and talk often. Talk about money, don't let just one person handle the finances. Go over you budgets. Comfort each other through infertility. Hold each other. Be honest and real with each other. Talk about your goals, wishes and your struggles. Work through them together. But talk! And talk often!
2) Don't ever stop dating your spouse
Just because you are married doesn't mean that the romancing or dating stops. No, you are still in a budding relationship which is ever changing. Your relationship and feelings need to keep growing just as you age together. Make it a goal to go on a date as often as you can. GET OUT OF THE HOUSE TOGETHER! Even if that means grabbing a cone at McDonalds. Strive for a weekly date which is ideal, or can't do weekly do a monthly. Don't go too long between dates. We have been using Mason's karate school's Parents Night Out for our monthly date, because we can't go weekly, but before we had kids, we were going on weekly dates. And hold hands and TALK during your date. But not about the kids. About each other.

3) Always say "I love you" to each other as much as possible
I can't say, "always say you love each other before you go to bed," because, we haven't done that. We have had our fights just like anyone else, where Matt slept in the other room, or during his deployments where we had restricted communication. But what I can say is that we have said that we love each other almost every day. Even with the fights or arguments. Anytime we talk I try to remind Matt that I love him. Because I do. We fell in love for a reason and we are staying in love. And we mean it. Make it count. Give your spouse a big nice kiss and tell them that you love them, as much as you can.
4) Show your affection often
I'm not just talking about sex, which is another point, but make sure you show your affection in front of your kids. Hold hands, kiss, sit next to each other and cuddle. Let your kids see what a loving relationship looks like. Matt tells me all the time how he remembers his grandpa lovingly pat his grandmas butt in front of him. Or I remember saying "ewwww" when my parents would kiss in front of me. Now my kids are starting to do that too to us, but they always have a smile on their face because behind the "grossed out" mask they wear, the are happy to see us so happy. Hold hands, cross legs, or snuggle as much as you can. Just like you did when you were dating, cause...remember, you are still dating!

5) Have sex, often
Yes, I said it. Because it is necessary. Break the standardized "married people only have sex once a month" stigma. Because it isn't true. It's up to you and your hubs how often you do have intimacy, but the more you do the more your are reaffirming your affection for each other. Building that mental bond between each other. Again, you fell in love for a reason, this is your way to show it!
6) Family comes first
Remember your family, meaning, your husband you and kids, you all come first. Your happiness and love as a family. It all comes first over various activities that happen in your life. Make it a point to have dinner together every day. To talk about your day. Having good wholesome fun, like going for walks, playing in the backyard, going to the park. We are all too connected to our devices. Our goal is no tablets or phones or toys at the dinner table. We put them down, and leave them to rest while we have our time together. Even if that means that our oldest will sit and scowl at us because he is refusing to eat dinner again, he is still required to sit with us at the table and scowl while the rest of us talk. Dinner time is important to us. If you can do anything, leave your dinner time sacred, as a time that you have together and other activities don't cross with. Even me, I have rehearsals on Tuesday nights after I teach. I still try to spend a little time with the family before I have to leave, if I can. But a good 6 out of 7 days, we are all around the table at the same time, talking and enjoying each other.

7) One more thing...
Remember, you guys came first before you had kids and you guys will be together long after the kids have gone. Keeping the line of communication open, dating often, being intimate will help bridge the gap from when it was just the 2 of you to when it is just the 2 of you again. My parents have been married for 41 years. They are a huge a huge inspiration to me with raising kids, and now watching them as have been empty nesters for awhile, and semi-retired, and what they are doing by seeing the world  makes me excited for the days when we are retired and can see the world too! You want to have that loving relationship with your spouse when the kids are gone. And the way to make that work is to work at it while the kids are still home. Never give up on your love for each other. Remember you married each other for a reason.

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