Today Brent and I celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. Gosh 15 years of marriage has passed in a blink of an eye. It is exactly 5465 days of continuous sleepovers with the same person. But on a serious note – we made the commitment to love, trust and choose each other every day for the rest of our lives.
Considering the statistics of the ever increasing divorce rate; we deserve an accolade for sticking it out and making it work. When we entered into marriage on this day in 2004; we didn’t do it with an expiration date in mind. The intent was a lifelong commitment. And after 15 years our marriage is still relevant.
Throughout our 15 years of marriage there have been many challenges, we have experienced lots of joy as well as pain. We embraced change and accepted the things we cannot change. Over time we have changed, grown together and are wiser than we were 15 years ago.
There is no denying that marriage is flipped hard work. Our marriage is no different and it is definitely not perfect. As a married couple we are no relationship experts and this blog post is not to give you advice on what is the right or wrong way to go about making a success of your marriage.
This is our journey through marriage and the continuous efforts we put in to withstand the pressures that often dissolves a marriage.
But how exactly did we make it to 15 years of marriage, what solidifies and contributes to the success of it?
Brent’s spiritual journey is deeper and stronger than mine; however we both respect the fact that our growth in Christ is at a different pace. In saying that; this does not pose as a threat to our marriage as God has always been positioned at the centre of it. Continuously praying for each other and our family is important. God’s foundation gives us the ability to rely on HIM when we are faced with adversity. Similarly we praise and thank God when we prosper in life. His wisdom guides us through decision making and gives us the understanding to be humble, patient, to forgive, not to control, to be grateful and to project kindness towards each other and other people. This has contributed to the success of our marriage.
Never stop talking
Effective communication is key in our marriage. Don’t assume that your spouse is okay with how you deal with a situation or that he/she has the ability to read your mind. Believe me when I say that assumptions is the mother of all f** ups. As a married couple we have learnt the hard way. As newlyweds our communication style was so different to what it is now. After 15 years of marriage, we have both learnt to assert ourselves in a meaningful way and to listen to each other. Acknowledging that both of us have a voice and having the freedom to express our thoughts, concerns and opinions. And trusting each other to give input and advice on issues. That to me is a big deal.
Following communication; is paying attention. Being physically present does not mean that you are paying attention. Truth is that Brent and I get unintentionally distracted when we are together. For instance there are times when Brent will say “I hear you” but I know that he is not paying attention and not actively listening to me at that particular moment. Hey, I’m guilty of getting distracted too. Whether it is our phones, the kids, something that is on TV – we get distracted. No doubt that life is full of distractions; however we make sure that these distractions does not become a hazard which can ultimately sabotage our marriage. Although there are times when we get distracted; we don’t disregard the little things. We make observations and are very attentive to each other’s needs. Things don’t go unnoticed in our marriage. We know exactly what the other one’s love language is, our likes and dislikes. We pay attention when there is a change in mood, appearance or any gesture no matter how small. For us it is important not to ignore but to acknowledge, encourage, compliment and appreciate.
Arguments are beneficial
Some people perceive my husband as sweet but truth is we are both headstrong. So yes, there are times when we get annoyed and frustrated and it leads to an argument. Words are powerful; it can uplift but at the same time it can hurt and breakdown. Controlling what we say is not always easy. However I have to say that our arguments are never screaming matches – we do it constructively and respectfully. We also know when to pick our battles and when to walk away. Arguing about nitty-gritty things are not worth it – so we tend to agree to disagree. Having arguments allows us to be honest about things that are bothering us. The fact is we are two different people who have different viewpoints on issues. Instead of keeping our emotions bottled up, we are not afraid to bring it to the forefront. In my opinion, that is healthy.
However there must be a resolution to work through these differences. Arguments are a learning curve that gives us a new perspective on issues. At the same time it allows us to grow together, to stay committed, find common ground and to compromise. Having occasional arguments doesn’t change the way we feel about each other. Arguments should never break any relationship; on the contrary it should make it stronger.
Pursue what makes you happy
For both of us it was important not to lose sight of our identity and independence in our marriage. Even though we love doing things together; it is also imperative that we give each other personal space to do things apart. We remain each other’s number one priority but having our own set of friends outside of our marriage is crucial. We support each other’s interests and hobbies. Brent loves running, so I afford him the time to do that. And the same goes for giving me space to do what I like to do. It is all about finding that balance. We have our own needs of self fulfilment. Therefore it is important to stay true to ourselves, pursue what makes us happy as individuals and not to feel suffocated in our marriage.
Don’t get stuck in a rut
It is not uncommon to fall into a pattern once you have been married for years. Trying to balance work and life can be challenging. Although set routines are beneficial to maintain the balance; repetition can lead to boredom and disconnect. Therefore we try not to become too complacent. When we see things are going slightly off track, we sit and evaluate our marriage. Because things seem easy doesn’t mean we have to take it for granted and accept it. We constantly strive to nurture and nourish our marriage in order to maintain that spark.
Don’t keep a record of wrongs
Everyone makes mistakes and we are no different. Both of us are imperfect and have lots of flaws. Making mistakes should be a learning curve. However to learn from it; we have to take ownership and responsibility. In turn it requires us not to resent but to forgive, to bury the hatchet, move on and not to mention it again.
Don’t bad-mouth your spouse
In all the years of being together, I have no recollection that we ever bad-mouthed each other to our parents or friends. Both of us have good and bad qualities. Our private issues are no one else’s business. Negatively portraying their character by bad-mouthing and belittling your spouse is a sign of betrayal and can jeopardize a marriage.
Intimacy is more than just sex
Not losing interest and maintaining a healthy sex life is important in any marriage. However, intimacy is more than just sex. To us intimacy means to be completely comfortable with each other. Intimacy is having that security that we can trust each other wholeheartedly. Confiding in each other by being honest about our feelings without fears of being judged. Feeling free to be our authentic selves without limitations or expectations. Revealing it all and not feeling ashamed – my curves, my makeupless face and messy hair. Intimacy is when my husband is my safe space and rock in my moment of weakness. When I feel most vulnerable and want to cry an ugly cry. Intimacy is when we unconsciously hold hands while sleeping. Intimacy is when we take care of each other when we are sick or in pain.
Be a team player
Marriage is not a one man show. In order for our marriage to remain a success it requires working together. When it comes to making decisions that will impact our life, we decide as a team. Household duties and parenting are shared responsibilities. Like any other team, we need to consider, support, respect and value what the other person brings to the party.
No financial secrets
Financial infidelity can be the root cause of marital problems. Before we got married we vowed to be completely open and honest about our finances. To us it is important to be on the same page when it comes to financial objectives like saving, budgeting and spending. Yes we all have debt – gwizz you need a flippen credit record to get anywhere in this country. However it is vital not to rack up more debt and to stay within our means. Financial bullying has no place in our marriage and we don’t dictate what the other can buy or cannot buy. Although we have seperate accounts; we don’t have an attitude of “my money”. Major financial purchases and financial goals remains a joint decision and therefore we have this concept of ”our money”.
Continue to date
We prioritise date days/nights. Sometimes we need to cancel due to unforeseen circumstances but we always reschedule. Having alone time away from the children allows us to focus on each other, to connect and experience things together.
Humor is always good
Marriage is definitely no joke but it also doesn’t have to be stiff. Life is too short to be serious all the time. I will be honest in saying that there is never a dull moment in our marriage. I personally believe that humor relieves stress and tension. It’s healthy for any relationship.
So there you have it – these are the factors that contributed to our 15 years of marriage. Looking forward to our next journey and making it to 20, 25 and beyond.