3 Secrets for A Long-Lasting Marriage
Ah, looking back...as I'm revitalizing the post, I'm now quickly approaching fifteen years of marriage. How do you build a long-lasting marriage? It's been so fun having these blog posts to look back on and see what still holds true. And this topic...still stands strong.
It's been fun creating pieces that challenge me in my own marriage and parenting - to stay focused on what is most important. Compiling 37 tips to save your marriage, addressing the most important question to ask yourself before you communicate, addressing gender roles, and knowing who you are has all been powerful for me to not only write about, but live out in my own life and marriage.
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Love, Sweet Love, that binds us...
Looking back to the time I originally compiled this list, we had just celebrated our ten year anniversary. To say "time flies" is so cliche, yet as I'm now approaching fifteen years, we're quickly arriving at a time where we've been together longer than we haven't.
It feels like we've been connected for an eternity. In a way, we have. I truly feel that what we have is so powerful, so special, so deep and so genuinely happy, that it goes beyond this life to a connection with our souls.
Wait. Hold up.
May I add a small disclaimer here? I sense the cynicism, eye-rolling, and "lucky for you" from some of you. Marriage is not always sparkles and fairy dust.
Marriage is a choice. Not just a choice to say "yes" to the proposal or "I do" on your wedding day. It's not a one-and-done approach where you make a commitment and you're in it forever.
It's a choice each and every day to wake up, show up, and be committed that day to making your marriage work. Unfortunately too often people think they have a "get out of jail free" card once they are married and don't have to work for it anymore.
That's like working out and being in perfect shape when you're twenty and expecting it to be maintained into your 50s without you doing anything else.
Marriage and a wedding ceremony is simply our cultural norm for a relationship to conform within the government standards - I was committed to him long before we said "I do".
It's not the wedding ceremony or the marriage certificate that gives our relationship significance in my world. It's the daily choice to love him whole-heartedly and commit to making our relationship work for us both. Each and every day. Period.
So let's get back to this studly man-o-mine. It's hard to express in words the depth of my love for my soulmate, my best friend, my husband. I can go on and on about the qualities I love about him - yet this isn't just a Nathan tribute. The qualities he has that make our relationship thrive are ones we've worked hard on.
Here are my top three principles for a beautiful, long-lasting relationship that truly thrives:
1 - Check Your Ego At The Door
Nathan amazes me with his authenticity. There is no "putting on a show", macho-ism, or need to keep up with the Joneses. He is who he is with no need to puff himself up. He's a testament to letting his life speak for itself.
Have you ever noticed how the ones that crow the loudest about how great they are seem to feel the need to really convince others of it? We can waste a lot of energy talking about it, but it's in our actions that are the true testament.
In actuality, only one of the definitions of ego equates to conceit or self-importance. So, in our relationship, we see ego as simply acknowledging our own individuality within the world.
It's a concept to understand who we are and how we're processing our emotions - but that in no way means a hierarchy has to be created. Be authentic.
The only comparison on greatness is that which you challenge within yourself
In our marriage, we are individuals who work together as a team. Conceit or entitlement has no place in our relationship. We honor and respect each other and place mutual value on what we both bring to our marriage and our family.
Being goofy and playful can be so fun when the kid in you is free to thrive. When we drop our pretenses and pride and allow ourselves to be real, even when we mess up, we recognize the humanity in each of us.
Which leads me to...
2- Be Authentic
Feelings are so powerful. Remember, people may forget the way you looked, the things you did, the words you said...but they never, ever forget the way you made them feel.
The first step in authenticity is being in tune with your own emotions - both the good and the hard. Be angry, sad, hurt, embarrassed, frustrated, happy, silly, etc. Be in the moment and truly allow yourself to feel.
Remember that any time you come in contact with anyone else (especially your significant other), you are responsible for not only the words you say, but for the way you channel your emotions.
What pours out of you? If you're angry, can you express it in a positive way? (Yes, it's possible). What is your goal?
For us, it's to open our hearts and our minds to the other - so when we're upset, we don't attack; we share how we feel and why, and work together toward a solution. Because the ultimate goal is for us to come together, not spend life worlds apart.
3 - Touch
It's crazy how this can be overlooked. How many days have you gone since you gave your love a kiss? How about a real hug - not a quick one, but just standing and holding each other?
Have you tried having a discussion/argument while holding hands or putting your hand on each other's legs? It completely changes the dynamic. How about that wonderful amazing intimate love connection?
But first...the SEX Challenge
Way back to the year I got pregnant with my second daughter in 2009, Nathan and I got into a friendly discussion regarding our sex life. Nathan is super active in general. His FitBit will clock him at around 10 miles a day of walking, just from his regular basic movement. So of course, he has the energy to be very, ahem, active.
When I had a girls' night out with other mamas that week, it was painfully brought to my attention by some of my friends that there were many relationships around me where they had sex maybe once a week, once a month, and literally, some had gone over a year.
So what did Nathan and I do? We started a challenge. Could we have sex every day for a week? For a month? For longer? Well, this propelled us to try. Now, almost a decade into it, we still make love at least 5 times a week, if not daily.
Why is this such a big deal?
Does this mean everyone needs to have the energizer bunny stamina in the bedroom? Absolutely not! With Nathan and me, yes, it started as a joke to see if how many dots we could put on our calendar. Yet it quickly became so much more. This wasn't about just sex. It's all about the touch.
It's hard to be distant emotionally when we are so in tune with each other physically. Empty your mind of thoughts and try meditating during sex - doing nothing but feeling. It's powerful stuff.
Touch has become a daily practice, and key for a long-lasting marriage. Like yoga, meditation, and stretching, it is something that revitalizes our soul...and it connects us to one another. Again:
A Long-Lasting Marriage, like life, is an ongoing evolution
Not a day goes by that Nathan and I don't marvel at the ease and joy in our relationship. Yes, we don't always agree, and there are times that tensions are higher.
We aren't saints and we definitely don't have the world - or each other - all figured out. But then again, how boring would life be if we actually DID know it all and there were nothing more to learn and grow from?
When you are synced into a long-lasting marriage where the common goal is for mutual success and to thrive...and you connect at the levels above, it's a wonderful, wonderful ride.
Here's to you, Nathan Gray, and for going even deeper in our relationship, laughing even longer, and loving life together even more in the next ten...twenty....thirty years to come.
I love the way you make my heart smile, and how there is no place in the world I'd rather be than by your side as we live life to the fullest - together.
How would you rank your relationship?
Where do you stand with your partner? Do you feel like you've got this, or is it time for a reset?
The beauty of this is, every moment is an opportunity for a clean slate and to start again. As a relationships coach, the first step is to look inward and recognize your strengths and what may trigger a negative reaction. If you're struggled in your relationship, maybe now is the time to have an outside perspective.
Coaching differs from counseling, as there is clear intention on getting you to where you want to be vs. processing through where you've come. If what you dreamed about marriage is not what your reality is, maybe it's time to ask yourself why.
Having a non-biased third party can help to mediate and put into perspective, as well as validate where you are and push you both to grow without the defensiveness that can crop up when partners are coaching each other.
What is working in your relationship? What has room for growth?
Personality styles, marriage/intimacy, parenting, education, minimalism or travel - what is pressing on your mind?
I'm here for you. From free resources to full on 1-1 coaching for your unique situation, you aren't alone.
You invest in toys, date nights or Disney. When was the last time you invested in something to get intentional with your family connection?