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It’s been 11 years since John and I said…well, we didn’t really say much, because that’s not how the Orthodox wedding sacrament goes, but it’s been 11 years since our mutual martyrdom, and honestly, I can’t imagine life any way else. I have definitely embraced the suck and I’m glad for it.

I’m going to share something that I try to share every anniversary, because it’s what has worked for us.

Some of things I’ve learned:

Decide if you want to be right, or if you want to be married. There are times when the two are not compatible. If you have to be right all the time, you won’t be married for long.

Decide which hill you want to die on. They’re not all worth it.

Sometimes, sleeping on it is a good idea. Fighting while you’re exhausted and fuzzy from lack of sleep can make you say things you normally wouldn’t.

Decide on the rules you’ll fight by. Post them on the fridge, or somewhere else you’ll see them regularly.

Don’t drag up things that you said were over and done with.

Forgive each other. Be the first one to ask for it and the first one to give it.

Treat your husband with respect, and expect the same in return. No fighting in public. No backbiting each other with mutual friends.

Don’t hang out with people who are unhappy in their marriages. Don’t hang out with friends who encourage you to do dumb shit.

Laugh with each other. Make time for each other. Remember silly things about each other. Tuck notes into his lunchbox or her briefcase. Hold hands.

Ask for what you need, tell him what you want. DO NOT expect him to be a mind-reader. He probably doesn’t have ESP and can’t know what you’re thinking. Don’t give hints. Most men don’t get them. If you like to get stuffed animals for presents, tell him. Ask him what he wants and needs.

Realize that marriage will change you. You’re not a single woman any more, but half of a whole. Your priorities should change.

Figure out money stuff NOW. Set down rules for spending. Don’t assume you’re on the same page, unless you’re already living together and have worked this stuff out. Money is a huge issue for a lot of people. Set up the rules for big purchases.

Make time for each other. Make each other the highest priority in your lives.

If faith is important to you, practice together.

Cuddle with each other. Not sex, but just cuddling.

Remember sex does not solve most problems. It just lets you hide from them.

OH, yes. There will be days that suck. No matter what Hollywood says, some days will be good, some days will be bad, some days will be “meh.” There will be days when no matter what you say to each other, the birds are singing and the sun is shining and everything is golden. There will be days when you can’t say the right thing to your husband or he can’t say the right thing to you. (For me, I have to be aware of PMS since I get really prickly about everything when I’m about to start my period.)

There will be days when you look at the housework and the velvet Elvis he just *had* to hang on the wall and the laundry and the ice cream dishes on the counter and fortheloveofallthat’sholywhycan’themakethe#$%^*&@bed????? and think that you want to just pitch it all out the window. It’s okay. That’s normal. He’s probably thought the same thing, too. As long as you take a deep breath, go look at the zombie bunny he bought you for a first present (my husband and I are weirdos of the first order, okay?) and realize that this, too, shall pass, you’ll be okay.

Sorry that got long and I hope I didn’t come across as preachy, but these are some of the things I believe in with my whole heart.

A few other things I would add, too.

Don’t try and change your spouse. It probably won’t work. Leopards and spots, okay? If he’s a slob (and you’ll probably be able to tell) he’s not going to suddenly change because you’re living there. He may change his behaviour, but he’s not going to change his fundamental personality.

Unless you’re planning on following through with it, DO NOT toss out the “big D” (and I’m not talkin’ about Dallas, y’all) to get your way. You will be horribly surprised when your spouse finally gets fed up and takes you up on your offer.

Make sure you have hobbies in common and hobbies apart.

Have a similar sense of humor. It helps to find the same things funny, so you can laugh about the things that would otherwise drive you nuts.

Some things I’ll add that I’ve learned since the first writing of this:

Marriage is a team sport and YOU ARE ON THE SAME TEAM. You don’t win over your spouse at the MarriageBowl. You don’t make a good marriage by keeping score. (If you MUST keep points, make them brownie points and try to rack up more than your spouse.) If you’re more interested in how many times your spouse has done “X” in comparison to you, you need to step back and figure out your priorities, because it ain’t being married.

Remember why you got married in the first place. The love, the laughter, the fun you had with each other. Yeah, bills and real life can hurt that, but set aside time to remember that you are married first, and housemates second.

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