Top Ten {Tuesday}: 10 Secrets to My 17 Years of Marriage

I once met a couple on their 50th wedding anniversary, and when I asked them how the years had been, the wife told me:  “I never once considered divorcing my husband.  I thought about killing him a few times, though…”. (true story!)  On April 16th, my husband and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary.  I feel like that’s a real accomplishment in this day and age, and I thought maybe today I’d share 10 Secrets to My 17 Years of Marriage.

  • Ask for what you need.  This doesn’t always mean you’ll get it, but since the only person you’re responsible for is YOU, make yourself clear.  This may not apply to the -1% of you who have husbands with ESP, but for the rest of us, it’s best not to play the “I wish he knew what I needed without having to tell him” game.  There’s just no winners there, I promise you.
  • Manage your expectations.  I often wish my husband could handle all the things I am called to handle on any given day.  And then I realize:  if I was married to someone just like me, I would go insane.  My husband is not me, period.  Sometimes I am unreasonable in my expectations, and I have to leave room for him to just BE who HE is.
  • Forgive and ask for forgiveness.  Sometimes he’s wrong, sometimes you’re wrong.  Don’t have too much pride to fix it before it becomes one big grudge match.
  • When things seem hard, just bear down and wait for time to pass.  A researcher once interviewed couples on the brink of divorce who ultimately decided to stay together.  When interviewed five years later, a high percentage of the couples said they were grateful they stayed together.  Time does wonders for healing, adjusting priorities, and giving perspective.  It can totally be on your side, if you use it well.
  • Make sure you spend some time together like this:

Our 14th Anniversary, spent in fabulous San Francisco   Our 14th Anniversary, spent in fabulous San Francisco

(the fabulous San Francisco Downtown Marriott, where we spent our 14th anniversary)

  • And like this:

  

(for part of our 17th anniversary, we crashed for 30 minutes in the lawn furniture section at Target.  it was hilarious!)

  • Be prepared for change/be willing to renegotiate.  My husband and I married when I was 19 and he was 21 – and we knew each other less than 2 months before we eloped.  I’ve never had the luxury of saying, “You’re not the man I married,” because honestly, I didn’t even KNOW the man I married!  What that’s taught me is that it’s entirely possible to learn, change, grow, and not necessarily grow apart.  I am not the person I was 17 years ago; in fact, I’ve probably been through at least 5 revisions of that person, and it’s the same for my husband.  But changing togetherover time is possible if you’re willing to renegotiate the landscape of your relationship to accommodate for those changes.
  • For pete’s sake, HAVE FUN.  Just recently I had to sit my husband down and point out that all we ever talk about anymore is what we’re worried about:  bills, kids, selling the car, projects around the house, etc.  Boooooooooring!  Some day all those things won’t be as big of a concern, and then what?  When we’re not unified over fixing our life up “just right,” what will be unified over?  Hopeful, we’ll be unified by the continued ability to just be silly together and create funny memories (like our night in the Target lawn furniture section!).
  • Know when to cheer, and when to be the party pooper.  Admittedly, this is one of the hardest things on this list to figure out.  It takes a delicate mix of time, intuition, and guts to do it properly.  All I know is that if I had cheered on every one of my husband’s schemes, we could have either lived in a French-speaking Canadian province, scraped by on a jazz player’s meager wages, or struggled to see him become a pro golfer.  I have said, “I don’t think so” more times than I can count, always in an effort to keep food on the table and shoes on my kids’ feet.  BUT…when I’ve seen a true glimmer in his eye and felt more positively inclined towards an idea of his, I do cheer with all my heart.  It’s a balance, that’s all.
  • “Loving” can be just as good as being “in love.”  My idea of love and happiness has changed a lot over time.  I rely a lot less on surface emotions and much more on the deeper contentment and love I feel for my husband.  Some moments bring a return of those butterflies when I’m with him, but when your life is diapers and dishes and negotiating household roles/duties, you can’t get hung up on always wanting that “rush.”

What about you?  Do you have any relationship secrets I can use over the next 17 years?  Do tell!

  • Happy anniversary! 17 IS an accomplishment. 🙂

    I got a good laugh out of your Target picture. I used to babysit for a family where to father worked for an airline and was often out of town. More often than not they spent their date nights shopping and running errands together. I didn’t get it. With all the fun things to do (dinner, movies, dancing, etc.), why would they go shopping?

    Now that I have children, I get it. Totally get it. I only have two children. They had four. You have five. Date night at Target, I get it.

    P.S. We share an anniversary week. Ours is April 14th.
    .-= Rachel D´s last blog ..Kioshi Love + Happy News =-.

  • Happy anniversary! 17 IS an accomplishment. 🙂

    I got a good laugh out of your Target picture. I used to babysit for a family where to father worked for an airline and was often out of town. More often than not they spent their date nights shopping and running errands together. I didn’t get it. With all the fun things to do (dinner, movies, dancing, etc.), why would they go shopping?

    Now that I have children, I get it. Totally get it. I only have two children. They had four. You have five. Date night at Target, I get it.

    P.S. We share an anniversary week. Ours is April 14th.
    .-= Rachel D´s last blog ..Kioshi Love + Happy News =-.

  • “to father” -> “the father”
    .-= Rachel D´s last blog ..Kioshi Love + Happy News =-.

  • “to father” -> “the father”
    .-= Rachel D´s last blog ..Kioshi Love + Happy News =-.

  • Congratulations! And thanks for sharing these tips… it’s good to be reminded from time to time that making a relationship work is often work.
    .-= Ashley´s last blog ..Confirmed by God =-.

  • I LOVE this post! I am going to print it out and put it on my fridge!!! I especially love the first point, ask for what you want. It is so true, noone can read your mind!! Thank you for this top ten tuesday!!
    .-= Amy Christensen´s last blog ..A new pet =-.

  • I LOVE this post! I am going to print it out and put it on my fridge!!! I especially love the first point, ask for what you want. It is so true, noone can read your mind!! Thank you for this top ten tuesday!!
    .-= Amy Christensen´s last blog ..A new pet =-.

  • Happy Anniversary. 17 years is a huge accomplishment.

    I love this list, everything is true. I’ve only been married for 6 years, but I can relate to all of these. Especially knowing when to cheer on and when to be the party pooper.

  • Happy Anniversary. 17 years is a huge accomplishment.

    I love this list, everything is true. I’ve only been married for 6 years, but I can relate to all of these. Especially knowing when to cheer on and when to be the party pooper.

  • What a fantastic post. #10 is SO true. And it helps to remember this in the middle of conflict. Wow. I want to reread this.

    Your pic in Target is awesome. Something my husband and I would do! LOL!

    a
    .-= oh amanda´s last blog ..Top Ten {Tuesday}: The Great Urban Race Atlanta =-.

  • What a fantastic post. #10 is SO true. And it helps to remember this in the middle of conflict. Wow. I want to reread this.

    Your pic in Target is awesome. Something my husband and I would do! LOL!

    a
    .-= oh amanda´s last blog ..Top Ten {Tuesday}: The Great Urban Race Atlanta =-.

  • asdf

    Solid advice. Nice post.

  • asdf

    Solid advice. Nice post.

  • Bob

    What a great list! I am my wife’s biggest fan: I cheer her on even though she may be knee-deep in problems.

    Thanks!

  • Bob

    What a great list! I am my wife’s biggest fan: I cheer her on even though she may be knee-deep in problems.

    Thanks!

  • Shane

    Love the post,
    My wife and I have been married for almost six years now and only new each other for a couple of months before we were engaged. We did however wait a year before actually getting married. It’s been an interesting road for sure but the one thing that I know is that marriage is not 50/50 you both have to give a hundred percent of what you are and it is alot of work but as they say nothing worth while is easy. The years we have been together have brought us some fights and almost to divorce yet we are happier now then we have ever been so thanks for the tips and hopefully with a lot of love and hard work we will be able to celebrate our 17th congrats

  • Shane

    Love the post,
    My wife and I have been married for almost six years now and only new each other for a couple of months before we were engaged. We did however wait a year before actually getting married. It’s been an interesting road for sure but the one thing that I know is that marriage is not 50/50 you both have to give a hundred percent of what you are and it is alot of work but as they say nothing worth while is easy. The years we have been together have brought us some fights and almost to divorce yet we are happier now then we have ever been so thanks for the tips and hopefully with a lot of love and hard work we will be able to celebrate our 17th congrats

  • Anonymous

    Congratulations! And thanks for sharing these tips… it’s good to be reminded from time to time that making a relationship work is often work.
    .-= Ashley´s last blog ..Confirmed by God =-.

  • What a great post, Stacey. Wonderful advice.

    Congrats on 17 years!!!
    .-= Stacie @ The Divine Miss Mommy´s last blog ..Boy Scouts of America’s Adventure Base 100 in Atlanta! =-.

  • What a great post, Stacey. Wonderful advice.

    Congrats on 17 years!!!
    .-= Stacie @ The Divine Miss Mommy´s last blog ..Boy Scouts of America’s Adventure Base 100 in Atlanta! =-.

  • Love this! Did you really fall asleep in Target?!?

    Happy anniversary!

    ~Alicia
    .-= Alicia´s last blog ..Menu Plan Monday–April 19th =-.

  • Love this! Did you really fall asleep in Target?!?

    Happy anniversary!

    ~Alicia
    .-= Alicia´s last blog ..Menu Plan Monday–April 19th =-.

  • Fantastic advice! Marriage is SO SO hard. Like really hard. I love this “When things seem hard, just bear down and wait for time to pass.” There have been many times where I’ve felt like throwing in the towel. But, I am determined to stick it out.
    .-= Jen @ Little Bit This n That´s last blog ..Top Ten No-Fail Gifts for Women =-.

  • Fantastic advice! Marriage is SO SO hard. Like really hard. I love this “When things seem hard, just bear down and wait for time to pass.” There have been many times where I’ve felt like throwing in the towel. But, I am determined to stick it out.
    .-= Jen @ Little Bit This n That´s last blog ..Top Ten No-Fail Gifts for Women =-.

  • Amy

    We’re only working on 12 but all of those are great advice!
    .-= Amy´s last blog ..Sunday Highlights: imPOSSIBLE: Letting Go of Your Baggage =-.

  • Amy

    We’re only working on 12 but all of those are great advice!
    .-= Amy´s last blog ..Sunday Highlights: imPOSSIBLE: Letting Go of Your Baggage =-.

  • Stacey, When I read “I was 19 and he was 21” I thought, “Dude, are they LDS?” And you are! I’m glad to (re)find you through Top Ten {Tuesday} It’s my first and I’m having a blast.

    BTW, we were a bit older, but my husband and I also only knew each other for a few months when we got married.
    .-= Amber @ Because Babies Grow Up´s last blog ..Top Ten: Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and a Giveaway =-.

  • Stacey, When I read “I was 19 and he was 21” I thought, “Dude, are they LDS?” And you are! I’m glad to (re)find you through Top Ten {Tuesday} It’s my first and I’m having a blast.

    BTW, we were a bit older, but my husband and I also only knew each other for a few months when we got married.
    .-= Amber @ Because Babies Grow Up´s last blog ..Top Ten: Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and a Giveaway =-.

  • Lauralee Hensley

    Having almost been married 17 years myself, and only knowing my husband for three months before marrying him, one of the fun things we’ve done is rode the kiddie rides at the park. We rode on the mini train around the lake, the carousel, the little bitty roller coaster. Then we had a picnic lunch and feed the geese and ducks at the pond. People were looking at us like we were crazy riding the kiddie rides, but we didn’t care, we had a blast.

  • Lauralee Hensley

    Having almost been married 17 years myself, and only knowing my husband for three months before marrying him, one of the fun things we’ve done is rode the kiddie rides at the park. We rode on the mini train around the lake, the carousel, the little bitty roller coaster. Then we had a picnic lunch and feed the geese and ducks at the pond. People were looking at us like we were crazy riding the kiddie rides, but we didn’t care, we had a blast.

  • Mom

    Great post Stacey! My theory is that you have to “like” each other as well as “love” each other. You can love someone whithout “liking” them…I learned that the hard way as you know. Respect, trust, and liking who they are…is a strong combination that will get you through all the ups and downs of a marriage! Like the song says “Life’s a Dance you learn as you go…sometimes you lead…sometimes you follow” xoxoxoxoxo

  • Mom

    Great post Stacey! My theory is that you have to “like” each other as well as “love” each other. You can love someone whithout “liking” them…I learned that the hard way as you know. Respect, trust, and liking who they are…is a strong combination that will get you through all the ups and downs of a marriage! Like the song says “Life’s a Dance you learn as you go…sometimes you lead…sometimes you follow” xoxoxoxoxo

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  • Daniel_Moyer

    They aren’t really secrets if you tell the whole internet, now, are they?