When Hope was a baby/growing up, we didn't know to nurture our relationship the way it needed. We were so wrapped up in our amazing daughter, being a family, and making ends meet, that we didn't go on dates or trips or make time for each other. It somehow felt like a selfish thing to leave our daughter with someone else and go goof off or whatever. Trips were out of the question for us. We once went to Chicago and back (around a 17 hour round trip) in a day to see a concert because we couldn't/wouldn't leave Hope overnight. Yikes. As you would expect, Hope got older and doing things together became a little easier. We still weren't making time for each other like we should.
1. Marry Your Best Friend. I mean, people say this all the time, but seriously. Marry someone you like to hang out with. Someone who makes your life better.
2. Pretend To Like Baseball Sometimes. Okay, not specifically baseball, but whatever your significant other is into, be into it sometimes. Do I want to hear about who's getting traded and who got injured in today's game ALL THE TIME? No way. But I make it a point to see a couple of games with Johnny each baseball season because I know he likes it. Does he really care how many snap peas are on my plants today? Possibly not, but indulging each other shows you care.
3. Hang Out Together In Groups. It's great to have your couple time, but don't forget to have friends! Some of our best times together are spent laughing with our friends over drinks or games. It's important to have common friends.
4. Hang Out With Other People. Go on dates. Do that. Hang out with your friends together. Do that. But don't forget to be a friend to your friends and let your significant other do the same. Johnny and I are getting pretty good at setting aside time for our other friends. It's important and healthy to have good friends outside of your marriage, too.
5. Do Fun Things Together. Duh, right? Really, though. Go bowling together if you think that is fun. Have some swim time or visit a brewery. Whatever you guys like to do, do that. Make time for the happy moments!
6. Don't Bicker. Especially in front of people. If you find this happening, try zipping it, saving it for later, and deciding whether it is worthy of a real conversation or whether you were just irritated or edgy at the time. This has helped us a lot over the years.
7. View Personality Differences As Complimentary Character Traits. I'm spendier and Johnny is more frugal. I wear my emotions on my sleeve and Johnny is more like a sealed envelope. I squeeze the toothpaste from the bottom and he still squeezes from the middle. Things like this could be points of conflict (and still sometimes are), but we try to view our character differences as balancers. Ways of helping bring each other back to the center.
8. Don't Forget That You Are Young. Now you're older and you have a job and a family and so you're a real grown up, right? SO WHAT. You can still be silly and stupid and jump off balconies into pools (well, not me EVER) or play with weird Japanese dolls or thoroughly enjoy adult cartoons. You are young until you aren't (Which I believe is never. You are never not young. Get that?) Be fun, have fun. Life is fun, guys.
We aren't perfect poster children for marriage-- we still struggle like everyone else, but somehow we will be celebrating 14 years of marriage this December and we still kinda like each other. I guess that means we're doing okay. :)