Our 10 year wedding anniversary is May 26th. 2006-2016. Wow. I can’t believe it has been 10 years…
…and then I look at our four (!) children and think, “yeah, I can believe it.”
When I think back to my days as a 22 year old bride, I want to pat myself on the back, laugh, and tell myself, “Girl, you just need to chill out.”
I wanted to be a good wife–the perfect wife! But I didn’t know what the heck I was doing.
Here are 5 pieces of advice I would give to Young Bride Brittany…after 10 years of marriage:
1. Don’t throw away his stuff
My husband had this red baseball cap…well, it used to be red. It was faded to pink in some spots and was smudged with dirty brown in others. The brim was curled and the fabric was unraveling.
It smelled terrible.
So, one day, when I was cleaning up, I threw it away.
I thought he wouldn’t notice (I did not know the man I married–at all).
I will let you imagine our conversation:
My husband was aghast (“That was my favorite hat! It took me years to get it that way!”).
I was self-righteous (“I was cleaning! It was gross!”).
Here is the advice I would give myself: Don’t ever, ever throw away your husband’s stuff without asking. You will never hear the end of it
My 10 year takeaway: What’s important to him may not always make sense to you. Try to be accepting of what he loves, even if it drives you crazy.
2. It takes time to grow a family
I thought getting married would be like, BOOM! Instant family, with all the comforts and traditions that I was used to.
We lived very far from both of our families and we both found ourselves missing the familiar rhythms of family life. Everything seemed new and awkward. I was lonely and confused. Is this marriage?
Slowly though, we discovered OUR dinner rituals, OUR holiday traditions, OUR inside jokes and the awkward loneliness disappeared.
Getting married is like planting a seed. It takes time and patience to grow a family that you feel comfortable in.
My 10 year takeaway: Be patient, girl. Try new things at Christmas. Laugh. Store away those jokes and whip them out when you both need to laugh. Give it time. Your new family is young, but it’s growing.
3. The tough conversation doesn’t always need to happen right now
As a young wife, if I was upset about something, I needed to talk about it RIGHT NOW. It didn’t matter if we were in the middle of church, if my husband had just walked in the door from work, or if it was 3am.
My timing was usually terrible, and choosing the wrong time to talk often made me even more frustrated.
After 10 years of marriage, I’ve discovered that there are better and worse times to have tough conversations, and I’ve gotten a lot better about choosing the right time to say “Can we talk?”
Instead of hashing it all out in a 30 minute lunch break, I’ve learned to put a bookmark in my racing thoughts and say to my husband, “I want to talk about ‘x’ but we can wait until we have more time.”
As a young wife, I would have been terrified of waiting to talk–This issue is important and this conversation has to happen NOW!
But 10 years of marriage has shown me that you forget about the little stuff (or you can laugh about it in 3 hours) but you won’t forget about the big stuff. That tough conversation WILL happen.
My 10 year takeaway: Choose your timing wisely. Eliminate distractions. Make your talking time productive. And don’t hold an emotional grudge until the conversation can happen. Just pause, breathe, and plan the right time to have that tough conversation.
4. Always take your husband’s hand when he offers
My husband doesn’t really like to hold hands. It just isn’t his style. Our pattern is usually a quick squeeze across the car console, and then we let go.
I do like to hold hands so I am usually the one reaching for him. He knows this, so when it really counts, he reaches for my hand.
The thing is, those “really counts” moments are when we’ve had a spat and my feathers are all ruffled up. I do not want to be smoothed, thank-you-very-much!
But deep down, I know he is offering me more than just his hand for me to hold. He’s offering his love, his forgiveness, his apology, his “I (still) Do.”
Sometimes, I want to look at his hand, turn up my nose, and cross my arms. Nope! I’m too mad. No hand holding for you!
But deep down, what I really want–more than being right, more than feeling justified in my position–is connection.
So I take his hand.
It’s always the right choice.
My 10 year takeaway: A pity party feels good but it gets lonely. If he’s trying to fix what’s broken between the two of you, always, always, take his hand.
5. Read your man, not the marriage books.
I wanted to be a great wife so I bought a bunch of marriage books and poured over them as a new bride.
Out of all those books, I read one that had one piece of advice that I still use today (Thank your husband for being a hard worker).
All the rest were just confusing (My husband’s love language changed daily) or laughable (one book said that separate bathrooms was a must for any marriage so that the husband wouldn’t intrude on the “magic” of his wife’s beauty routine, therefore preserving the “spark” in the marriage. For real, folks).
Marriage books can be great but they are general (and sometimes weird). In our 10 year marriage, I’ve learned that the best thing I could do was to “read” my husband, like discovering what he needs from me in stressful situations, figuring out our communication style, learning how to encourage him, and talking about what we like and don’t like, anything from food to affection.
I wanted a book to tell me how to have the perfect marriage. The truth is, books can give us some great principles but only we can discover what works in our marriage and what doesn’t.
My 10 year takeaway: Read your man. There is only ONE man you are married to and that man is a unique person–your marriage will look like YOUR marriage, not any one else’s.
Our marriage has not been easy. I almost wrote “has not always been easy” but that’s not true. Even after 10 years, it still isn’t “easy.”
But it is good.
We have formed a family. We have built a firm foundation of love, trust, communication, forgiveness, laughter, and tenderness.
I’m so proud of our 10 years. And I can’t wait for 50 more with my wonderful man!
Did you ever throw away your husband’s stuff?
What advice would you give to yourself as a young bride?
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