20 Things I’ve Learned in 20 Years of Marriage
Twenty years ago today, Cody and I officially became a family of two. Best decision of my young life, and I do mean that. Neither of us has a clue how it’s possible that 20 years have come and gone already, and I feel more grateful than ever that we have built our own story.
I felt inspired to share some things here on my blog because I hope there is something that perhaps will spark an idea in someone else’s mind about what kind of effort they may want to put into their own marriage. Or perhaps it helps some of you to turn inwards and think about the things you’ve learned in your own marriage.
The truth is, I have fallen in love with Cody and out of love with him but we never give up.
In 2-O years we have managed to make it through buying a ranch, taking over Cody’s parents ranch, 4 pregnancies, deaths and are kind of rocking the twin parenting and teenage boy thing. We really have nothing to complain about.
HERE IS WHAT I’VE PERSONALLY LEARNED AFTER 20 YEARS OF BEING MARRIED
Lesson number one: Cowboys really are from Mars!
Okay, I’ll get to the real list. (But seriously.) I have to say there really are more than 20 I’ve learned in these 20 years, but this is obviously a more narrowed-down list. These are in no particular order!
1) Marriage is not a 50/50 type of relationship – This one was something that I had to learn the hard way. You see, this belief caused us to fight a lot until we figured out that we both must set aside selfishness and give everything we have, over and over, to make our relationship successful. We both have to give 100% each.
2) Stay humble, Stay Kind- we all are imperfect, right? Yes, we are, and we need to be humble enough to admit it. It is our human nature to be right all the time, but we all know that is not ever going to happen, making humility essential. When Cody and I have a situation we don’t agree on, I have noticed that my attitude can change our disagreement from a fight to just a talk, especially if I can admit that I am wrong, we find the solution a lot faster.
3) I’m busy. He’s busy. Everyone is busy. But never be too busy for each other.
4) Communication – we have learned that communication is so important. Chat with each other. I cannot assume that Cody can read my mind and I know that I can not read Cody’s mind either, especially working cattle! We have learned that if something little is bothering us and we let it fester, then we eventually will have a huge disagreement. Communication whether it is good, bad or ugly, talking is so important in a marriage.
5) Listening – Communication is a two-way street where you have to listen as well. Understanding where each other is coming from is important, and that can only happen if you stop and listen.
6) Marriage, then the kids – this one is a tough one because our maternal instincts come out, but we have learned that it is so important to put “us” before “them”. We have learned that if we neglect our relationship while raising our kids, we slowly grow apart. I also believe that it is important for our kids to see their parents spending time together. We need to be good examples to our kids and it is okay to close our doors and have some quiet time with each other. In addition to this, children gain a sense of security when they know their parents are happy.
7) “Don’t go to bed mad” – On our wedding day, my grandpa, who was in his 90’s, gave us this advice. He was so right.
8) It is okay to have differences – differences actually can be a blessing. We are different, Cody is quiet while I am not!! Cody is reserved and I am outgoing. Cody is a planner and I tend to fly by the seat of my pants. You see, while sometimes our differences may cause a little conflict, we try to pull each other out of our comfort zones. Our differences make our life interesting, exciting and cause us to grow. I think that it is a blessing.
9) Don’t try to change each other – Ever tried to change someone? It does not work. The only person that can be me is me. The same is in a marriage. Don’t try to change your spouse. One of the turning points in our marriage is when I figured out that I should support Cody, not change him.
10) Make time for Date Nights – You don’t have GO OUT on the town, a simple alone time is considered a date to us. We go horseback riding, 4-wheeler riding, we go check water together and sometimes we just put the kids to bed and have a glass of wine together. If you think about it, the main purpose of dating is to get to know someone, to enjoy his company, have fun, and nurture the relationship, right? So why would you stop dating when you get married?
11) Don’t talk bad about each other in front of kids, friends and family – talking bad about each other will do more harm than good and to be honest, it really gets you nowhere fast. This also includes calling each other bad names. I want to add to this as well, don’t compare other marriages to your own marriage.
12) Money – it is important to get on the same page about money. Finances break up a lot of marriages. If you both commit your hearts to God and follow His leading by releasing, in your heart, your money to Him, then you will move forward together.
13) Laugh, Smile, Be Silly – Laughing together can take the edge off many stressful situations. Doesn’t it make a day go by faster when you can laugh, smile and be silly? You bet it does. Just having a good sense of humor is critical. Learning to lighten up about life in general, makes life happier.
14) Compromise – We have learned that we never get anywhere if we are both not willing to bend. We are different, so we must rely on compromise. It is not a matter of who’s right. It is about meeting in the middle between our differences.
15) Be the “safe place”. It is so important to be each others safe place. I can vent, cry, and carry on to Cody and he will listen, have advice and offer his opinion. Likewise, Cody can share things with me and know that I am not judging him or sharing it with those around us.
16) Never let your praying knees get lazy – I know that this is the key factor in keeping our marriage stable. Having God in the center of our marriage helps keep our life agenda on track. Keeping God in the middle of our relationship helps our marriage survive. As we both look to our God as our example of how we should be, we are happier and our marriage soars.
17) Have a good partnership – marriage is a partnership, it is made up of two different individuals that have different goals. We need to acknowledge that we need room to grow this partnership and this partnership works together as a team. So while Cody is good at breaking horses, I am better at giving them treats!! You see what I mean?
18) Don’t lie – ever. Always the tell the truth. That is all. And if you can not tell the truth to each other, you have bigger problems.
19) Forgive and forget – we all make mistakes in our life and in marriage and I get that, but we have found it crucial to be willing to apologize and a be ready to forgive each other. Did I mention that you have to do this over and over and over?!!
20) Positive reinforcement for the win! This one is so important and to be honest, sometimes the hardest to remember to do. When I see Cody being the best dad ever, or the best cowboy every, I try not to just think it in my head. It is so important to point out those observations. When Cody does something that is a turn-on and I tell him (and let’s be honest – show him) how I feel about it, you better believe he’s likely to repeat it!! And o by the way, it works both ways!! 🙂
Bonus – Service is love in action. Cody needs hugs and kissing while I am receive love through gifts. We have learned what the other needs. When we figured these this out, our marriage life got 10 times better!!
Bonus – My comment about Cowboys are from Mars (and women are from Venus.) The truth is….we solve problems in our different ways. We respond to stress in different ways. We express ourselves differently. We react differently. So guess what? We are different. When we celebrate our difference and practice patience in doing soo.. well it softens the heart which makes our relationship better.
Bonus – It is so important to establish traditions and rituals. A friend asked me the other day about our traditions and this is what I said:
“We have started our own traditions with our family but we also have carried on traditions from my side and from Cody’s side, the key is that we make our family unique.”
and one more thing,
Say “I love you” often.
Happy 20th Anniversary to a special Cowboy!
There you have it, friends. This list is not exhaustive, and I would sure love to hear what you have learned in your marriages.