What I've Learned from 5 Years of Marriage
Updated: May 29, 2020
(Make sure to go all the way to the end for my wedding highlight video!)
Yesterday was my five year wedding anniversary to my best friend.
Five years since I wore that pretty beaded white dress, those blue and lace shoes, and drove to the golf club venue with my Dad in an old school ’39 Buick (the same kind of car that the Queen rode in on her visit to Canada in 1939, NBD). It's been five years since we said “I do,” danced to Just a Kiss, and laughed the night away with our friends and family.
But marriage is more than just that one day, it is the work you put into the rest of your life together, and the tests that life throws your way as a couple.
Although five years doesn’t sound like a long time (after all, it’s just a drop in the bucket of what our marriage will be), a lot has happened to us in that time. Kids, moving, school, jobs, good things and bad… these all took place at some time during the last half decade.
Marriage is a lot more work than just uttering those two little words and making promises in those well-written vows (I should know, my vows references the Simpsons once or twice – no joke). Here are five things I’ve learned in the last five years of marriage, the good and bad:
You need to make time for each other
When you first get together, you can’t imagine a day apart. A weekend away from one another feels like a lifetime, even when you text every few hours. My husband and I were definitely guilty of spending ridiculous amounts of time together at the beginning of our relationship, and even in the first while of our marriage.
One of the differences with us is that we had our oldest child out of wedlock. We were engaged, but got married when she was 17 months old (and the cutest freakin’ flower girl ever), after nearly a year and a half in a whole new stage of our lives.
Even with one child at home, we went on a lot of date nights – utilizing parents and friends for babysitting duties in exchange for snack and baby snuggles – and brought our daughter to get-togethers with friends whenever possible.
Fast-forward to now, with three little ones at home and no formal date nights anywhere in sight (even pre-Covid I believe we went on one date since our youngest was born in November). We definitely had times where we would barely even speak to each other in a day; we wouldn’t text unless it was a “let the dog out please” or “are you home?”, we spent our time after the children went to sleep doing our own thing, and when we were lucky we might have given each other a quick peck goodnight. Real life had kicked in and we started drowning in work, to-do lists, kids’ activities, and the other pressures of adult life - and we forgot to schedule time for each other.
After some heartfelt talks, we now make sure at least once a week we have a date night, even if it’s at-home, where we put everything away and spend time together. Though you think it may be silly to have to schedule time for each other, it helps give you quality time together that reminds you of why you decided to be with this person!
Compatibility and communication is key
Apparently there are five types of compatibility: sexual, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and financial. Even if you’ve discussed these topics ahead of time, during the course of your marriage (and I guess your life in general) your thoughts can alter. The idea is to figure out what your ideals are in each of these categories, and see where you either align and agree or where you agree to disagree. For many people, there can be one or two of these compatibility types that are deal breakers. Hopefully you discuss most of these before you tie the knot, but you should definitely make sure you keep discussing with your partner where you align to see if things are still eye-to-eye.
They say money is usually the big fighting topic in marriages, and I can see why; Connor and I haven’t always agreed on how to spend or save our money. We learned pretty quickly how to communicate without getting over emotional, how to delegate who pays the bills so they don’t become forgotten and how much to put in what type of savings.
To say we aligned perfectly in all the types of compatibility is laughable, as it is for 99% of couples, because we are individual people coming together. The important thing here is that we communicated whenever we felt unheard, misunderstood, or altered our thought process on a certain subject. It was rocky at times and we could get defensive, but we worked through our goals together and to this day still come together to talk about our lives, goals, and aspirations for ourselves and each other.
Nothing prepares you for the hard work
I don’t think there’s a single expert, book, or otherwise who can truly tell you what to expect after you get married, or to prepare you for all the shit that will get thrown at you in life.
Going into marriage, my partner and I had been together for just under 4 years with a child, so we felt like we knew everything there was to know (we felt like we were already married most of the time, anyway!). Obviously, I was wrong! Marriage is a whole new level up in life, full of roller coasters and obstacles that you can’t really prepare for in advance.
I am so thankful and grateful for having my husband as my rock and my support during some tough times and hard decisions in those years. I had to leave a job before knowing if I had secured another one; we were getting evicted from our rental, because the owners moved back, and had to figure out all our rights and make quick decisions on buying a house (if you’ve bought a house, imagine the added pressure of eviction); we struggled with the scheduling and balancing of daycare/school pickups and drop-offs, extracurricular activities, and the like; we even had some health scares in our last pregnancy (that’s a whole other story!).
We have experienced some hardships and come out on the other side so much stronger and united as a couple. I know this isn’t the last of the tests we will have, but I know as long as we work as a team, we will face them head on.
You WILL drive each other crazy sometimes
You know those romantic scenes in movies where they walk away holding each other, hand in hand, for what seems like every second of their lives?
HAHA. That’s a nice story! Yes, we love to hold hands when we can and be connected in that way, but we are more likely to be walking while I am tugging at the hand of a toddler and the baby is spitting up all over your shoulder, while also uttering annoyances at my husband even though he is dealing with our oldest having an emotional moment. It’d be amazing to wave a magic wand and have those picturesque moments all the time, but its just not reality.
There are times where I just need space, and I know he feels the same. Even the most unwavering love can be tested by too much time together (or tempers being shortened due to pandemic-ordered isolation together). You know what? THAT’S OKAY. We’ve learned it’s okay to crave individuality and time apart, and I believe it’s actually healthy for your relationship. Sometimes we need to learn to not sweat the small stuff, but sometimes you just can’t help it and need space to breathe.
Whether just doing our own thing in the evening to going out to spend time with our friends without each other or kids, we make sure to find time to refill our cups with activities we enjoy. Take time to fill your cup so you can fill your husbands, instead of throwing it at him!
What you consider romantic will change
Before marriage, we would go out for a beautiful dinner, see whatever movie was in theatres or go to a late night comedy show, and have a few drinks together.
Now, those types of romantic nights are few and far between, but it doesn’t mean we don’t show our love with romantic gestures anymore! When my husband is having a tough day, I like to grab him peanut M&Ms or Sour Patch Kids to cheer him up, where my husband would get something chocolate for me or do something even more romantic, like do the dishes! Oh yes, he knows housework without being asked is an easy way to my heart now.
Is that a little sad? It might be for some people, but it helps us make each other smile, and it’s an easy way for us to show our love, understanding, and appreciation for each other. Plus, it makes those candlelit dinners together seem that much more special.
Marriage is a wonderful thing full of surprises, tests, and beauty!
I am not a marriage expert or a relationship therapist.
I’m just a woman who loves a man, and decided that creating a family and life with him is worth all the hardships… and so far, it’s been MORE than worth it. I am so lucky and hope if you decide to marry, you can feel the same love and support that I have!
As a little extra...
I’d love to share my highlight reel from my wedding with you. It’ a little selfish, because I just love it so much and it was one of the best days of my life. Here it is for you to enjoy!
Love your love! xo