A couple of weeks ago, Keelie wrote about what she’s learned in our 14 years of marriage. I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned as well.
Marriage is great, except when it sucks
This was a piece of advice I gave to my nephew right when he got married. When it’s going well, marriage is one of the best things you can imagine. When it’s not going so well, it can be the worst. And that’s ok.
We have to go into marriage knowing that it won’t always be perfect and you might not always be happy. Life is hard, and when you bring two lives together, it can be almost impossible sometimes. Recognize that this will be the case, and then choose to hang in there.
I know that not every marriage will last and not every storm can be weathered. But in general, if you commit to love your spouse, things will get better eventually. Hold on during the really hard times, and cherish the good times. During the next tough spot, look back at the last one and remember that you made it through before, you can do it again.
You can’t change your spouse
You can’t make anyone do anything. I hate this about life, but it’s true. As much as we may want to, we can’t change our spouse either. You can suggest, give advice, and remind, but you can’t make them be different.
A lot of couples make the mistake of thinking they can. Some even go into marriage thinking this. My mother-in-law used to say to Keelie, “If you don’t like him the way he is now, don’t marry him. You won’t change him.” It’s so true! Your spouse will change over the years, hopefully for the better. But we have to learn to love the spouse we have now and not what we hope they become.
But you will be changed by your spouse
Now, when I said, “you can’t change your spouse,” I was only telling half the truth. Living with another person for a couple decades will certainly change you. But in a healthy relationship, it will be voluntary change because of love, or a strong example, or lots of encouragement. It won’t be the result of nagging, cajoling, and annoying.
Keelie and I have realized over the years that responsibility is usually best handled by yourself instead of placing it on your spouse. When there’s conflict, ask yourself where you’re to blame. If things aren’t going great in the bedroom, figure out how you can spice things up. Don’t expect to change your spouse, but be changed by your spouse. When you take this approach, it’s amazing how things will improve.
This one is so simple, yet so important. It can be easy to start taking each other for granted and get a little callous towards each other. Constantly strive to be kind and gentle with your spouse. Are you using harsh words? Do you snap at every little thing they say? Are you considerate of their feelings?
Committed, monogamous sex is HOT!
Keelie and I have shared before that we were virgins when we got married. I’ve never experienced a life of multiple sexual partners, so I don’t really have anything to compare to. But I can tell you this, married sex is not boring.
Are there sexless marriages? Yes. Do some married couples have bland sex lives? Sure. But it’s not because monogamous sex is boring or unfulfilling in and of itself, despite what some in our culture think.
Magicians Penn & Teller have been performing together for 40 years. Some of the tricks they do in the Vegas show right now are the same ones they did when they started. Others were developed just this year. Watching them perform is amazing. They are seamless. They are in sync. They are masters of their craft, and it shows. Why?
Instead of looking at monogamous sex as boring and a drudgery, I like to think of it as something we get to spend 40, 50, or 60 years practicing and perfecting. There are aspects of our sex life that have been there since the beginning. Hopefully, there will be new things we’re discovering decades from now. We’ve been married 14 years, and it just keeps getting better!
There are plenty of you out there in the Love Hope Adventure Community who have been married way longer than Keelie and I have. What are some of the things you’ve learned? Share some of your secrets in the comments below!