My husband and I recently celebrated our 8th Anniversary. I was talking to a co-worker and realized I am at the stage where newlywed wives are looking to me for advice and support. I’m no longer a “newbie”!
I decided to share 8 lessons I’ve learned from each year of our marriage. I will be the first to admit – we are not that “happily ever after” fairy tale story. We have had our moments but we’re committed to each other and our family.
Year 1 taught me the importance of open communication. We spent almost half of our first year apart because of a military deployment with a 14 hour time difference. My husband would wake up super early his time so he could talk to me once I had put my son to sleep and right before I turned in for the night and I would call him on my way to work which usually coincided with him getting off work or having his evening meal. I am not a phone talker at all, but it was the main source of communication we had (this was pre-Skype popularity). If someone said something that did not sit right with the other, we couldn’t tell by non-verbal clues. We had to say what we meant and mean what we said. That’s something that we have continued to do throughout our marriage – sometimes that’s a great thing and other times…..
Year 2 taught me the importance of not speaking out of anger. Remember the kindergarten rule “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all”? That applies to your marriage. Sometimes you will need to walk away and take a breather. The words you say in the heat of an argument or out of frustration can never be taken back – even after years have passed, you’ve apologized and moved on – the memories of them may still be there. (I have to point out I was extremely hormonal during year 2 as I was pregnant with our youngest son, adjusting to living with my husband for the first time ever, and unemployed for the first time in my adult life once we moved to his new duty station with the US Army)
Year 3 taught me the importance of having my own identity. Yes, I am a wife and a mother – but it’s important to remember and respect that I am Michelle, too. This was the year that Divas With A Purpose was originally launched and I needed an outlet that was separate from my role as wife and mother. I love both roles and appreciate the life lessons I have learned in each however my husband and children are not all that I am. I had gotten so focused on them that I had lost focus of who I was and my needs and wants.
Year 4 taught me the importance of cherishing the time you have together. I had a miscarriage and my youngest uncle passed away very unexpectedly during this year of our marriage and it affected us both very hard. It was a harsh reminder that life is short and helped us to re-evaluate our priorities and focus more on family.
Year 5 taught me the importance of never saying never. Our little diva was born this year. After my previous difficult pregnancy with my youngest son and a miscarriage, we were both adamant that our baby days were over. Boy were we wrong and oh-so-glad we were! This was, also, the year we moved into our first home. We had sacrificed for two years to save up for our first home and, to be honest, we had gotten a little discouraged. We accidentally came across our home and we both knew this was where we wanted to establish our roots.
Year 6 taught me the importance of dating my spouse. Kids, daycare, mortgage, daycare, adjusting to life with a tween, toddler and a newborn, daycare bill – see a trend? Funds were tight this year but my husband and I made it a point to spend quality time together when we could. With two little ones, nights out weren’t really feasible so we began going on weekly lunch dates. Sometimes we’d meet at home and eat leftovers, but it was quality time spent together without the kids and not having to scrounge around for an affordable babysitter.
Year 7 taught me the importance of submitting to my husband. What?!? I know some may take issue with that but it is what it is. In my faith, the man is the head of the household. I hadn’t given my husband that respect regularly throughout our marriage and it took a toll on our family dynamics. Please realize that there’s a difference between being submissive the way God directs us to be and subservient in a demeaning way. My husband respects my voice. In so many areas of my life, I am a leader. At home, we are partners. It can’t be Michelle’s way or no way. Unless I want cheesecake….then all bets are off!
Year 8 is has been a blast and has taught me the importance of having fun together. My husband is my best friend. He’s the first person I call with great news and the first person I turn to when I need a hug. We’ve laughed until we’re both in tears and forgotten what we were laughing about. We’ve harassed our kids with our corny moments. We truly enjoy being with each other and I look forward to sharing a lifetime of love, laughter and joy together.