Today is my wedding anniversary. Twelve blissful years, and three children later, my husband and I remember that beautiful, crisp Saturday well. The day was magical, but it was far from perfect. Looking back, I think November 15, 2003, was predictive of what both marriage and life can bring: unexpected outcomes.
My parents, who divorced when I was just nine, were on one of their non-talking phases. They sat at separate tables. One of the groomsmen, who also happened to be my teenaged brother, left the church without the bridal party and missed the post-ceremony photos. This led to both he and my mother arriving late to the reception, delaying the event and causing the cocktail hour to last a wee bit longer than it should have. Despite being a lovely event held at the historic Valley Green in Philadelphia, I later learned that a few unruly guests vomited in the bathroom because they imbibed too much. Finally, one of my bridesmaids suggested that I fire the wedding coordinator on the spot. I didn’t.
You get the picture. It was a day many won’t forget. But, man we had fun, and I’ve got amazing pictures to prove it. Everyone danced up a storm. The venue and weather were beautiful, and I felt like I hit the lottery finding this man who shared my dreams, my values and loved me despite my crazy family.
Marriage was sort of an unlikely event for me. I never had wedding-day dreams that many little girls do. In the fourth grade, I wanted to be an astronaut or a spy. I spent hours learning the names of the stars in the constellations, and looking at the night sky. I enjoyed bike rides on dirt paths I discovered on the outskirts of our neighborhood. I was nosy and curious, traits that led me to journalism school after college.
So when I met my husband and fell in love with him over the course of our dating relationship, I didn’t fully understand what makes a marriage work. I had some of the basic ideas, but they still existed as ideals I saw in movies or in other families. As our married years together passed, I learned what makes a marriage happy. Of course, people write entire books devoted to this subject, but if I had to break down the five most important things that I will tell my children, they would be:
- Respect and support each other’s differences, but go into the relationship with similar goals and dreams. My husband and I are very different, but our core values are in lock step.
- Be considerate and realize that the little things really do matter. He scrapes the ice from my windshield and checks the tire pressure in my bike tires. I make the buttery egg noodles with cheese that he loves, even when I’m trying to limit my carb intake.
- Try your best to be a good listener. He doesn’t always understand the things that stress me out, but he always listens and tries his best to find solutions for my worries.
- Don’t go to bed angry, apologize and forgive. You or your spouse is going to be a jerk at some point. Realize when you’re wrong, put your pride aside, and admit your shortcomings.
- Celebrate your alone time. I think every good marriage requires time for individual pursuits, but find regular, scheduled time for just the two of you. Whether it’s a walk, a date night or time talking about your future, never forget what brought you together.