My husband and I recently celebrated our 30th anniversary.
Here are a few things I’ve learned.
Forgiveness keeps this thing moving. It’s easy to hold on to the hurt and nurse it into something big. It’s hard to let it go. It takes a conscious decision, but it’s essential.
On that note, it’s easy to deeply hurt the other person. We each know exactly where to place that knife for maximum injury. We’ve chosen not to do it. We have to be willing to be vulnerable and trust that the other one isn’t going to wound us in that way.
God must be at the center of the relationship. It is each of our jobs to help the other get to heaven. Attend Sunday Mass weekly and Eucharistic Adoration together. It makes a difference. When things get hard, God gives grace.
Sometimes you both will be barfing. It’s always ugly and unpleasant. Try not to judge too much. He feels as horrible as you do.
If you know what makes the other person laugh, do it often. Everything’s better when someone is laughing so hard he or she cries.
Try not to freak out simultaneously. Only one person should be losing his or her mind at a time. If it’s your spouse’s turn, do what you can to keep it together for him. When it’s your turn, realize the generosity of his patience.
When there is an unpleasant thing that must be done that neither person wants to do, rock-paper-scissors is an equitable way to get it done. We play one-out-of-one, loser-does-it. I’m the frequent loser but it can’t be helped. It was fair after all.
Give each other the benefit of the doubt. It may seem like he is intentionally trying to anger you but that is probably not the case. Assume the best and give each other some grace.
When it’s time for that bug/bat/mouse to be dealt with, the person who is most able to handle it should immediately step in and be the hero.
The things that make us crazy about the other person are opportunities for practicing virtue. There will be many.
There are some things that will never change no matter how much nagging is done. Surrender may be your best recourse. He will always leave the bathroom cupboard door open and I will always place stuff on the stairs. Deal with it.
Children will be a big challenge to the marriage and a bigger blessing. This is where your mettle is tested — when you are sleep deprived, covered in throw-up or wearing your heart outside your body. There are times they will love you best and times they will love him best. Be grateful they have you both and stay united.
The children will fare better if the marriage is strong. Take time for a regular date night. Modeling a relationship that is joyful and manages the differences in opinions will help them in their own future relationships. If you fight fair, it’s OK to let them see you disagree, work it out, and forgive each other. (See the first point.)
You’re going to change physically, mentally and emotionally. That’s OK. We’ve learned where one is weak, the other can be strong. We’ve also learned not to be too judgmental regarding the tummy cushion that just won’t seem to go away. We’re in this getting older thing together.
The children will grow up and move out. This is what they are supposed to do. This means we did our job well. We miss them. We sometimes pine for the days when they were younger; however, we’ve learned that after the hard part of parenting babies into adults comes people who can be really fun to be around. Their adulthood is not a big black wall — it’s an invitation to more fun.
After the children move out, there is new freedom. It’s fun to plan the future together.