5 Things I’ve Learned in 5 Years of Marriage

5 Things I learned in 5 Years of Marriage

And we’re back! After taking last week off, I feel refreshed and ready to get back on track with lots of fun fall content and some exciting giveaways coming up.

Over the weekend, Anel and I celebrated* our five year wedding anniversary, and instead of doing our yearly interview (last year and the year before) with wedding photos yet again, I decided to change it up and share five lessons we’ve learned over the last five years. One of my favorite blog posts of all time was the one where I compared marriage to a team sport, and it seemed to resonate with you guys, so I thought some more marriage tips might be helpful.

I’m by no means an expert on relationships, but Anel and I work hard for a strong relationship and I’m proud of what we’ve built together.

Full disclosure: I stole the title of this post from a post I read a few months ago on The Everygirl.

* By celebrated I mean we ran out for the fastest dinner of all time while we had a babysitter and then ran back so I could get to bed before 10pm. We sure know how to have a good time these days!

1. Communication is key

Anel and I grew up in very different ways with parents who have very different communication styles, so when we first started dating, we used to butt heads constantly. I would get frustrated with the way he was speaking to me, and he would be annoyed with my controlling tones. It took a few years, but we both learned to speak to each other in a way that makes the other person feel loved, while still getting our point across.

After we worked on how we communicate (although it’s a forever project IMO), we worked on what we communicate. If something is bothering one of us, we try to share it in a calm way with the other person. Obviously this doesn’t happen all the time, especially in the heat of the moment if we’re arguing, but we always end up coming back to this. Talking about our feelings sounds cheesy, but is a huge priority for us, as we’ve seen it make our relationship stronger.

2. Put in the work

If you’ haven’t heard yet that marriage is hard work, let me be the first to tell you! Just kidding… you’ve definitely heard this before because it’s true. When you say your vows, you can’t imagine what life might throw at you in the future. When you commit to putting in the work at that time, it abstract and far off. But then you get home from your honeymoon and the work begins. Then you go through something serious, and the harder work begins.

To me, “the work” means working on your communication (per above) which might include going to couples therapy to learn how to do that or might now. It means talking things out when you’re angry and putting aside your ego when the other person is trying to tell you something that you’re doing wrong. It means supporting one another both in your dreams and through the tough stuff. It means not giving up and doing whatever it takes to make it work.

Your relationship started with love, but it will last with hard work… and hopefully lots of love too!

3. But don’t expect perfection

You can go to couples therapy all day every day, but that still won’t make your relationship perfect. Anyone who says that have a perfect marriage is full of sh*t. It can be great and full of love and support, but not perfection. And that’s ok! There are going to be hard times and things you will never agree on, but learning to live with those imperfections is just part of the game.

4. Prioritize “the marriage”

Self care is big these days, and while I’m all for getting that monthly massage or taking yourself out on a date, don’t forget to treat your spouse with that same kind of love and care. Sometimes you have to practice self care not only on the individuals in the relationship, but on the relationship itself. That might sound insane, and as I’m writing this sleep deprived, it might be.

But what I mean is, make the time to date each other (weekly date nights are our favorite), leave each other love notes (I like to put them in the food Anel brings to work for lunch), and spend time every evening asking questions about each other’s days. When we remember, we try to say one thing we’re grateful for about the other person right before going to sleep. Little caring gestures can really add up to make the marriage stronger.

5. Most importantly, don’t forget to laugh

#adulting is no joke. Things like mortgage payments and fighting sketchy health insurance claims take up lots of brain space, and sometimes it feels like everything is just too serious. Throw a baby into the mix and that’s amplified 1000%. When things get too heavy and serious, Anel is really good at taking a step back and making me laugh. I’m often resistant at first if we’re in a stressful situation, but once I crack, the entire mood shifts and everything feels right in the world, even if we’re both (literally) covered in baby and/or dog poop.

I tend to take life too seriously sometimes, and I’m so grateful for the moments when we can laugh our way through both the tough stuff and the fun stuff.

  • I’m coming up on 9 years (yikes!) this month and love your list, especially about date nights. Weekly babysitters aren’t in our budget so we do at home date nights, whether it’s turning off the TV to play a game and hang out or our latest in catching up with Game of Thrones. Nothing special but definitely made a difference to set aside that time to connect.

    • Wow amazing, congrats! That’s a great idea for at home date nights. We’re going to try it this weekend, thank you!

  • This is so inspiring! I’m about to get married, and I’m excited to start building a life with my fiance! Great tips Julia!

  • Elizabeth

    Great tips! Marriage is work but it’s so worth it. When my husband and I were getting ready to be married, we had to go to Pre Cana with the Catholic Church. During one discussion about family and children, the instructor said, “the best thing you can ever do for your children is to love and respect your spouse. The kids will see that you have a strong, stable relationship and they will feel loved and secure, too.” Now that I have a baby, I see how true this is. Congrats on 5 years (and the beautiful baby)!

  • Happy anniversary! I think it’s wonderful that you both made it a priority to celebrate your anniversary even if it was just a quick dinner. I know some couples that don’t even acknowledge their anniversaries because they’re “too busy”! Date nights really are so important and my husband and I have been married for five years as well and we always do a weekly date night.

  • Anne Fahlgren

    Love these! We are coming up on our 10th anniversary, and I think the best thing we do for our marriage, especially after our daughter was born 6 years ago, was to make time for just each other. Date nights are great, but we try to get away for an adults only trip at least once a year. We are very lucky thatwe have parents who can fly in, even though they don’t live close, and they love the grandkid time. It makes so much of a difference to be away without any distractions for more than just an evening.

    • I love that! I hope Anel and I can continue to travel (sometimes without the baby). It’s so special to get away together!

  • Taylor Cannon

    I absolutely love these! Such great points and definitely things I try to implement in my major but I loved this reminder to do a bit better and go the extra mile. Thanks for the inspiration!
    Taylor | http://www.livingtaylored.com

  • Sepideh

    I love these types of blogposts because every relationship is so different so I always learn something.
    These tips all resonate with me! We just celebrated our first wedding anniversary and I also shared what I learned and some of the points you make are similar. I think the biggest one is communication and learn how to talk to each other but WHAT to talk about is also a great point!
    To many more years of a happy marriage!
    http://www.elleisforlove.com