Five years ago – July 28, 2012 – Conor and I began our life as a married couple. (I can’t believe how different life has become in five years! Just look at those two young kids…)
During the last five years, we have traveled across North America and Europe, eaten some really amazing food (and some really awful tasting stuff), moved three times, shared countless laughs, gotten into a handful of horrible arguments, and received the most beautiful gift we could have ever imagined, Catalina.
Throughout our five years of marriage, I have learned many lessons, sometimes the same lesson many times…
In our family and friends, we are so blessed to have amazing examples of marriage. With the help of these beautiful examples, and through our own experiences, Conor and I have learned so much about ourselves as individuals, and as a couple.
I know (well, I hope…) that we will continue to learn and grow throughout our coming years, but for now, here are my top five lessons from five years of marriage.
Talk it out. Express frustration, but also vocalize gratitude. When I’m angry with Conor, I let him know. But, by the same token, when I’m proud of Conor, I tell him. Not only is it good for Conor to hear, its also invaluable for me to articulate my feelings. We try to take the time to let ourselves be vulnerable and totally open. Letting Conor see me at my weakest and opening up completely about my thoughts and feelings – whether they are good, bad or in between – has only made us stronger.
Whether planned or spontaneous, go on adventures together! I am definitely a fan of Netflix, wine, and snuggles, but I also know that Conor and I need to be creative with how we spend our time together. One birthday, I gave Conor six months of preplanned dates, including 18 holes of golf, a trip to the theater, and a James Bond marathon (martinis included). One weekend, Conor surprised me with two of my favorite things, hiking and bison burgers. And, clearly, the two of us love to travel together and explore new places.
Conor and I are competitive…really, very competitive. Sometimes, this is a good and fun trait that we have in common (board games, football season, shooting hoops…), but sometimes, this competitive attitude becomes pride. And when we’re both prideful, we tend to lose sight of what matters. When we argue, its been important for both of us to learn to be humble. I find it hard to ask for help and Conor finds it difficult to admit when he’s wrong. At times, we’ve both let pride get the better of us. But slowly, I’m learning to be vulnerable and we are both learning to ask forgiveness. Humility is a big lesson, and an ongoing one.
Be Sappy and Silly
Neither Conor nor I could be called romantics (one of our “date night” movies is The Fast and the Furious), but it is SO good for us to be a little cheesy. We hold hands, look at old photos, and even two-step in the kitchen while cooking dinner…and other times we pretend to break dance in the kitchen while cooking dinner. Some of our biggest laughs are from mushy moments gone goofy. Just last week we were holding hands in the waves when I tried to dunk Conor under the water. I jumped onto his shoulders, sure that I surprised him, when he suddenly grabbed my legs and hurled me into the ocean…it was a dunk failure, but it was great to belly laugh.
Every single day, Conor and I choose to be present to each other and to our family. On our best days, this isn’t difficult at all. We don’t bring phones into the bedroom, we try to go on walks or sit on the porch in the evenings, and we pray together every night, with Catalina at her bedtime and later just the two of us. Some days, though, its really difficult to choose to stay present. Anxiety, anger, or simply apathy can creep in. This last lesson actually gets down to the root of every lesson: a marriage isn’t just made at the wedding, it is a choice we make every single day.
The most important lesson I’ve learned in five years of marriage is to say “I do” each and every day.