Admittedly, 10 years ago when we said, “I do,” we knew very little about what those words and this new adventure would look like. Two clueless kids, head over heels in love making the biggest decision of their life. I’m thrilled we’ve made it 10 years. We’ve learned so much along the way and will continue to learn we are sure, but perhaps these are the 10 biggest lessons we have realized thus far:
1. Love is a choice
After the butterflies fly away, you’re left with someone, and a choice. Are you happy? Do you feel content with your partner, or are you going to chase more butterflies? Every relationship I have ever been in starts with this crazy excited feeling that is incorrectly labeled “love”. Oddly enough, a little time, a disagreement or two and suddenly I was on to the next “love”. After 10 years I can tell you that love is a choice. It’s a choice when we are stressed and racing around in the morning before work, it’s a choice when we are cleaning up vomit from sick kids at 2 am. It’s a choice when we are out for date night. It’s always been a choice. A choice to love one another. Not an unstoppable emotion, but a conscious “I love you more than…” choice every single day.
2. Don’t fight at 3 am. Ever. It will end badly.
This one should be a no brainer, it’s not. You will wake up middle of the night, someone will say something, and you will get mad. BE QUIET. Don’t speak. Go back to sleep. If you’re still mad in the morning, have at it. But at 3 am, hush. Neither of you is in a good place. I promise, it will end badly.
3. People always make the time and the money for the things important to them.
I remember as a kid listening to mom say they were “broke” and then would go on to take us to the movies, or order pizza, or whatever. It always puzzled me, how can you be broke and still have money? But then Ashley and I became adults. And frankly, I realized the truth. People ALWAYS have the money and the time for what is important to them. Think about it. How much time did you spend watching tv this week to catch up on shows, while telling your friends you don’t have time to go out? Or did you skirt around a bill or two this month, but still make your Target run?” No shame. We all do it. We did it this week. It’s just the truth, we make the time and the money for what is important.
4. Intimacy is far from easy
Sex is fun y’all! But it wasn’t easy. Our wedding night was special for so many reasons, but we had zero clue what we were doing. Some nights even now are kind of tough. But beyond the physical, we as a couple are just wired differently. Learning to provide intimacy for your spouse or providing patience for them (depending on who you are) is tough. Learning to love your spouse through intimacy is part of growing up in your marriage. Sometimes each one of you needs to chill and think about the other, sometimes you need to speak up and say what you need. Sometimes it’s so easy and fun, and other times you need to do it because it’s important to the health of your relationship. It’s tricky but learning this delicate balance over the last 10 years was incredibly important.
5. Nothing says love like “I’ll get up with the kids, you sleep in” or “Here, I brought you coffee.”
Simple actions for each of us often speak louder than the big to dos. Honestly, a very simple and sweet note to Ashley will sometimes give her the confidence and joy to go about her day boldly. And for Asa, when the coffee is set the night before and it’s one less thing for him to ‘stress’ about, that goes a long way.
6. Have people you trust to advise your marriage, but don’t listen to everyone.
When we got engaged everyone had advice for us. Seriously, from our parents to random strangers at the store, people had suggestions. Our heads were often spinning with advice. We learned some valuable lessons by listening to really bad advice. Here is what I want you to know, have the 3-4 people in your life you normally TRUST to get advice from and listen to them. Smile and say thanks to everyone else. Only listen to your people, those that know you, know your spouse, know your situation, and most importantly CARE about you. Opinions are like buttholes, everyone has them, doesn’t mean you want to see or hear them all.
7. Kids change everything. You’re never really ready, so don’t wait until you are.
We had been married three years when we decided to try for kids. We had good jobs, an apartment, cars, etc. On paper, we were in good shape. We weren’t. As we got closer and closer to the birth we kept saying “people less equipped than us do this every day”. Which is true. But most importantly, your instincts will kick in, and you’ll learn parenting is part of your DNA. It’s who you are. If you wait until you’re “ready,” you will wait forever. Nothing I say here, nothing you’ll read elsewhere, no job or house or anything can prepare you for the daily responsibility of self-sacrifice for another life. Kids change everything, they’re incredible gifts. Just don’t wait until “you’re ready”.
8. Adulting is hard, life costs money. But how much is up to you.
Ever notice that the more you make the more you want? And that happiness doesn’t really seem to follow? We all have things we want, things we need, and things we have. Life costs money, but how much it costs generally depends on you. Cars, houses, LIFE-- comes with so many variations of price tags. We really can decide how much we are going to spend, how much we are going to need. We don’t have to be slaves to things that make us slaves to work.
9. Confidence in a stable, secure spouse has made all the difference.
Dating was so rough. The thing I hated the most about dating was the impermanence of it. You know, that weird anxious feeling that either of you could walk away in a heartbeat? That extra uneasy feeling you get when there is a disagreement? After 10 years I know that Ashley and I can argue, fight, be downright nasty to each other, and we’ll both still be here in the morning. It’s not a license to abuse one another, quite the contrary. Everything said now HAS to be resolved. We have to work through the pain to be healthy again. But working through it, knowing both of us intend to work through it. Knowing both of us are here for the long haul. Knowing that walking out isn’t an option has made all the difference. It’s a permanence we both so desperately needed in our relationships.
10. Your spouse can’t read your mind, no matter how much you want them to. You have to speak up.
Communication is paramount. I can’t expect Ashley to know what I’m thinking or know what I need. There are lots of times when I do know her well enough to anticipate her wants and needs, and those times are great! There are also times when she can get mad at me for not reading her mind and not knowing what she wants but she hasn’t asked me or told me about her needs. Here is the truth y’all, if what Ashley needs is a hug and someone to tell her it’s all going to be ok, I’m happy, no THRILLED to provide her with that. But if what Ashley communicates is anger, stress, or disappointment than how can I know her honest need? Men can be thick headed, but rarely are we so selfish that we can’t meet you where you’re at. Just tell us.
Scroll through the slideshow below to see some of our life before kids, when it was just us and our dog children! Ten years have gone by much too fast…so we are holding tightly to the next ten and the next ten after that!