My parents-in-law recently celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary. When I consider what their 45 years’ of marriage must have entailed, I have no idealistic view. I don’t romanticise my husband’s parents. They are not “cute and romantic”, they are real people, with issues, temperaments and character. Loads of character.
My husband and I have been married for 11 years now. 11 years is not a race won. As a matter of fact, in the bigger scheme of things, aiming at a lifetime commitment, we’re only about a quarter of the way there. There have been times where I can look back on the relationship and say: “That was a remarkable moment.” But there are also times that I have to justify in order to keep working on the relationship as it should be.
What words of wisdom do I take from my mother-in-law and implement in my marriage?
This is such a cliché. My husband recently joined a new company. His overtime is extensive and we often don’t find time to talk in the week. On the weekends, between the whirl of children’s parties, buying groceries, and living, it’s rare that we have an uninterrupted moment. Which brings me to my second point.
2. Date night.
Don’t kid yourself – your extended married life without a date night is not enough. Take the initiative, find a babysitter (naturally, someone you trust), and take your man out for a night on the town. Make sure you don’t come home before 10pm, and whilst you’re out, talk about anything EXCEPT the kids. Dress up. Make him feel special, and remember why you dated him in the early years.
3. Get intimate.
The way to your husband’s heart is not through his stomach. Whoever coined that phrase aimed a little high. Your husband has a different love language than you do, so take the opportunity to rediscover the appeal of intimate moments. No, he wouldn’t rather be eating lasagne. Trust me.
4. Be a friend.
You will disagree, at some point. Put your “friend” hat on, and ask yourself how you would respond to the questions you have directed at your husband. Walk a mile in his shoes. If the shoes still stink, discuss the terms of the argument further. But don’t attack him without exploring his feelings first, and how you would feel in the same circumstance.
5. Be considerate.
Your husband has feelings too. Sometimes, it’s better not to be perfectly honest. Women have a tendency to give a lot of detail. If he asks for the detail, tell him. If not, don’t. Men tend to be “fixers” – what they hear when you’re relating something that was discussed is not the sharing of your emotion, but rather, what you expect him to do about it. Don’t put that pressure on either of you if you can avoid it.
6. Get out.
As much as you need to make time to spend together, you need to make time to spend apart. Encourage your husband to develop a hobby with likeminded men. Take the opportunity to develop your own creative skills, have a glass of wine with friends, or start a book club. Develop your interests, and find that communicating with your husband becomes far more interesting when you have new things to discuss.
7. Speak up.
It’s not healthy to keep your anxiety bottled up. Use the twenty-year rule: Will this discussion’s outcome affect me in twenty years? If yes, you need to open the subject up, and discuss it in a healthy and productive way. Don’t call him names, and don’t regress to the emotional aptitude of a teenager. If on the other hand, the item for discussion will not affect you in twenty years? Drop the subject. It’s not worth it.
8. Love him.
No, I’m not being sarcastic. You married this man, making vows that entitled both of you to a lifetime of love. We often miss the signs that the love is gone. Love is a choice though – if you intend to see your marriage work, then choose to love your husband every day.
In conclusion, you’re a team and you have hitched your horse to his cart. Make it work – it’s your life we’re talking about.