First I want to congratulate Shell and Justin on their wedding and wish them a long, happy marriage.
When Shell first put the call out for guest posters I knew exactly what I wanted to write about. I’m on my second marriage and I can tell you, this will be my last. Don and I will be celebrating our 10th anniversary this month, the 29th to be exact and I look forward to our 50th. I learned a lot from my first husband and marriage that I wish I could have learned them sooner.
First there’s a difference between loving someone and being "in love" with them. I loved my first husband and thought I couldn’t live without him. Don refers to that as the "puppy dog in love" phase. The problem was, we, or at least I never left that phase. I was 24, we or I should say I planned my dream wedding with long white gown, the perfect venue and the right flowers and songs. The honeymoon was a cruise and we settled down in our cute little apartment. Less than 6 months later he decided he didn’t want to be married anymore. A few weeks after that I found out he was dating a high school student he worked with and a week after our 1st anniversary I made him move out.
To say I was devastated would be an understatement. I was depressed but more than that I was embarrassed. I was embarrassed that I failed; my perfect, ideal dream was gone.
When I met Don, neither of us was looking for a relationship. I was comfortable with my life and didn’t think I could share it with another person. We fell in love slowly by becoming best friends first and then decided we wanted to be together. You need to be friends first and foremost for without that friendship once the stars in your eyes are gone, what do you have. I knew I was in love with Don on our first date when he was holding my hand as we walked across the parking lot to the restaurant. I was proud to be with him and didn’t want that night to end.
Neither of us wanted that big wedding, after all, we both had one with our first marriages and the wedding was more for show. I was living in Chicago and Don lived in Alabama so we decided I’d fly to Alabama and he’d plan the wedding. All I had to do was show up. I trusted him to plan my day and I realized I didn’t just love that man, I was "in love" with him.
I once told Don that use to dream about that man I was going to marry. How he would treat me, how he’d know what I was thinking or what I needed without me having to say anything. The problem was, in my dreams that man didn’t have a face. Once I met him that man in my dreams now had a face and he’s everything I could ever need or want. I loved him before we ever met.
What I Learned About Marriage
-Make sure you’re in love with the man and not just the idea of a Happily Ever After.
-Don’t take each other for granted. Don’t forget to thank them once in a while. The thank you could be as simple as thank you for loving me
-Don’t try to change them. You married that person for a reason so why would you want them to change?
-Pick your arguments carefully. Are those socks left on the floor REALLY worth saying things that are going to hurt or saying something you’re going to regret later. We all do things that annoy the heck out of the other but are they worth a fight. When Don fails to put the ketchup bottle on the shelf I like it or puts the toilet paper roll on backwards and I’m ready to blow up at him I stop and ask my self, if he were gone tomorrow is this something I’d miss? The answer’s usually yes so I quietly turn the roll around or move the ketchup and smile at the little reminder that the man I love is still here.
-When arguing, don’t bring up the past. It’s easy to say you never do this or you ALWAYS do that but is it really true or are those still little reminders that the person you love is still here. In addition, when you bring up things they’ve done in the past you’re not giving them credit that they could change or grow. Are you the same person you were 10 years ago? I bet you’re not so why hold them to their past. If there’s an argument happening then keep it to the point at hand so you can sound like a mature, rational adult and resolve whatever the problem is.
-Remember what attracted you to this person and why you fell in love. Take a trip down memory lane once in a while and remind each other of all your hopes, plans and dreams. I bet you’ve achieved more of them than you realize. Oh, you might not have 10 kids or that mansion on the beach but I be the 2 kids you have are perfect and that little cottage is a lot warmer and full of love.
-Give your spouse some "me" time. This is time doing what they enjoy whether it’s sitting alone reading or hanging out with friends. Everyone needs that to recharge. You might be saying I’m home with the kids all day and he/she gets to go to work. I hate to say it but work isn’t considered "me" time. Work is something they have to do but not always what they want to do or enjoy doing. This "me" time might be an hour a week or an entire afternoon. Just because you’re a married couple doesn’t mean you have to be joined at the hip 24/7.
-Respect your spouse. You can do this by not telling embarrassing stories about them when you’re out in public. Don’t belittle and put them down in front of others. Don’t cheat on them.
-Above all else, tell the other person you love them and mean it. Better yet, not only tell them but show them. Let them know you thing they’re the best thing that’s ever happened to you.
Dee Landry lives in a small town in Alabama with her husband Don and their 3 puppies, Stretch, Ellie and Rascal. In her spare time Dee loves to write, photography and spending time with her 7 year old granddaughter. You can read more from Dee at her blog Dee Says.