I’ll be honest with you: marriage isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s for the brave, for the ones who like a challenge. Marriage is also beautiful. Finding that one person in the world who makes you feel safe is an incredible feeling. I wouldn’t change it for anything.
That said, in our society of everyone’s picture perfect lives on social media, I like to be a voice who helps others know that they aren’t alone, that their struggles are legitimate, and that other people have them too.
So, here’s a summary of what I’ve learned in my six years of marriage – some lessons are good, some are great, and some were just plain hard.
1. Parenting Makes Marriages Both Stronger and Weaker
I’ve been honest in the past about how challenging it is to be a parent. There are some days when I’m so incredibly amazed that the hubs and I created such gorgeous and perfect children and other days when they cry so much, I just want to lock myself in the bathroom.
The stresses, triumphs, challenges, successes, and day to day grind makes our marriage both stronger and weaker depending on the day.
It’s stronger because we have an intense bond because of the two lives we created, two little kids who are half hubs and half me.
There aren’t enough words in the English language to adequately describe just how much we love those little humans; it’s an intense love we’ve felt from the first few days we met them and held them and marveled at their existence.
At the same time, we disagree from time to time on parenting topics. We both get worn down by their endless energy. It makes us short tempered and tired, which hurts the marriage, but other times, the beauty and the love is so great, it only makes us stronger. The lesson here is to just take it one day at a time; at least, that’s what works for us.
2. Budget Meetings Are Worth the Pain
There was a time in our marriage when I took care of every line of the budget, every bill, every ATM withdrawal, etc. etc. As we added kids to the mix and my business got bigger, things got more complicated. So, I started having budget meetings with my husband.
Getting hubs more involved in our day to day financial life has been good for us. It makes me less of the bad guy, less of the person who is always the one who reminds the hubs about the budget. Sometimes budget meetings get tense; however, it’s worth the pain because we really are on the same page financially now.
3. Spontaneous, Sweet Moments Aren’t Spontaneous Anymore
When the hubs and I were first dating, we were so silly and spontaneous. One day, we’d just decide to go to a museum or try a new restaurant. I remember one weekend we went out and bought the whole first season of LOST and watched it all day long. Can you even imagine us doing that now? Those early, carefree days of going to football games, studying next to each other in coffee shops, and going on dates have been replaced with intense work schedules and immense responsibilities.
So, spontaneous moments have to be planned these days, if that makes any sense. On our most recent anniversary, we went to New York City. We went without a huge plan in mind (that’s the “spontaneous” part.) We just parked and started walking hand in hand. I saw an amazingly cool store full of fossils that we spent a good hour in because it was so unique and interesting. Then, we went into a camera store, and I got the camera I’d been wanting. We randomly found a restaurant and just walked down the street of NYC holding hands. It was wonderful and carefree, and we realized we need to spend more days like that together!
4. Mental Health Should Be a Priority
Hubs and I both have a bad habit of powering through when we’ve had rough days. After all, we have kids to feed, dinners to make, clothes to fold, and just life to deal with. However, we really try to give each other mental health days, even mental health mornings if that’s all we have time for.
Typically one of us will let the other sleep in one one weekend day and then switch the next day. I get tired of making breakfast for the twins every day, so hubs usually takes over on the weekends. Sometimes I’m even nice enough to let him change all the diapers on weekends too since he misses out on the fun during the week. 😉
Either way, we both try to encourage the other one to take some time away if we need it, even if it’s just five minutes alone in a room to finish coffee in peace without small kids climbing all over us. Too much work, too much kid time, and too many chores and responsibilities will wear on anyone. Giving each other a bit more understanding and leeway and time to recharge is great for two introverts who happened to marry each other. 🙂
5. Speaking Up Avoids Resentment
My hubs will tell you the best thing about me is that I speak my mind and the worst thing about me is that I speak my mind. 😉
Hubs, of course, is the opposite (because being the same is so boring right?) The past year, I’ve really tried to encourage hubs to speak up more when he’s stressed or upset so I know what’s going on. Similarly I’ve tried to not speak up so much. It’s a delicate balance and one I’m sure we’ll be working on for the duration of our long lives together.
6. Being Supportive is the Best Gift You Can Give to Each Other
The hubs and I are a work in progress. We should improve so many things on many different levels. We lose our tempers. We argue. We get tired and grumpy and take it out on one another from time to time. However, if there is one thing we do exceedingly well, it’s that we are 100% supportive of each other.
This year, we’ve really shown that to one another more than any other year, and for that, I am truly grateful. This year, hubs has encouraged me and pushed me to grow my business. He encouraged me to spend money and invest in myself when I didn’t want to, and in retrospect, he was so right and it has been majorly worth it.
As for him, due to his schedule as a medical resident, I have the challenging role of taking care of the kids pretty much all the time. Instead of giving him endless honey do lists and nagging him about taking out the trash when he’s home, I’ve instead tried to take care of as much of the household as possible so he can rest and enjoy his children outside of his 80 hour work week. I’m not perfect, and I get grumpy sometimes about his absence, but I know the more I support him now, the better he will be at his job, which will allow him to really support us a few years from now.
As they say, it’s short term pain for long term gain.
Overall, our six years of marriage have only made us stronger. Sure we’ve had arguments and tough points like other couples, but we’ve grown together and worked together more and more each year. We have really worked hard on strengthening our bond, making difficult decisions together, planning our future together, and regularly discussing what’s best for our kids and our finances as we go along this path called life. It’s not a perfect marriage, but it’s certainly perfect for us. <3
Are you married or in a long term relationship? How many years? What’s the biggest lessons you’ve learned?
45 responses to “6 Hard Lessons I’ve Learned in 6 Years of Marriage”
Happy Anniversary! We celebrate our 16th last year. There are certainly ups and downs as a parent, but I believe the ups out weigh the downs. Sure we’ve all had that tough moment or day, but watching our children grow, learn and become their own person is well worth it all. 🙂
Yes! Congrats on your 16th anniversary. That’s awesome! Being a parent is definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s also the most rewarding too.
Happy anniversary!!!! We are approaching year five in May and yup, kids sure do change everything! We got pregnant within three months of marriage so I kind of feel like we missed out on the whole newlywed thing, too. But, John is my rock. I couldn’t imagine not doing life with him.
A day in NYC kid-free sounds amazing!! I’m glad you guys had fun! Cheers to many, many more years of love and support 🙂
It was a nice day without the kids, but a lot of time when we have kid-free time we end up talking about them anyway. 🙂
Beautiful post, and congrats on 6 years of marriage! I can relate to so much of what you’ve expressed here. Our relationship has changed so much since we were first dating, but it’s been powerful to learn from each other and grow together. One of the things I love most about your blog is how you share about your marriage. Thanks for your openness!
Aww! Thank you! We have really grown together since we first started dating too. 🙂
What a great post… and I can relate to all of them. Those spontaneous moments are pretty much gone or include our toddler which isn’t so bad but we are limited to what we can do these days. I agree that working together and supporting each other is the glue that holds us up day in and day out. Parenting and marriage takes a certain kind of couple to get through it all. I bet just writing about it helps keep you mindful of all the reasons you love and support your family. I’m always impressed by you.
Thanks! That really means a lot. The kids have definitely made us less spontaneous, but we still enjoy spending planned spontaneous time together when we can.
Happy Anniversary and congrats on the youtube channel. I have a sneaking suspicion it will do very well! Thank you for being honest too about what life is like being married with twins. I think too often there is this impression in mommy hood that you can do it all and everything is like Real Simple magazine, but I’m sure that’s hardly the case, but nevertheless you are working on making your married lives and lives as individuals stronger1
Thanks, Tonya! I always try to keep it as real as possible. 🙂
Its funny how you mentioned the lack of spontaneity, because we are definitely living it right now. Ever since our son came last June, things have been crazy! I’m focusing on at least one date of month this year and yes, it requires a great deal of planning. I miss those days when we could take random trips or dinner dates, but life is certainly revolving around the kids these days. As a matter of fact, it’s been this way from the start of our marriage. We will be married 7 years in May and our daughter was a honeymoon baby. So, 9 months after saying I-do she comes and shakes everything up. We definitely wouldn’t have it any other way because I can’t imagine any other life, but you’re right that it can create weak and strong moments in marriage:)
As long as you work to keep your relationship strong and that the good moments outweigh the weak, then you’ll be ok.
Happy Anniversary! So true with #1. I often hear people say that they had kids to “help” their marriage…and while it is amazing to see a baby that you and your significant other created…raising a child also increases stress and you often have a lot less time than you had before the baby. Parenting styles may also be an issue and cause conflict. In the end, if you have a strong marriage and good communication, you would resolve those issues like you do other issues. My wife and I need to work on speaking up…sometimes we keep things to ourselves which breeds unhappiness.
Hubs is really working hard to be more vocal when he’s unhappy about something and I think it’s helped our relationship a lot.
Happy Anniversary!!!!! And I agree with all of this. Bill and I never fought until we had my son and despite our mad love for him, he definitely created marital challenges that we had no idea would happen and I can’t even imagine if we had two! Congrats on working through it together and supporting each other! Can’t wait to read what you have to say for year 7!
Thanks girl! Having kids really makes or breaks a marriage. I’m so glad you and Bill have grown together and overcame those challenges.
Awwww, so sweet! Happy anniversary! I love how you two support each other so fully in your careers and dreams–that is just awesome and inspiring. And, parenting is definitely an interesting (to say the least) new venture for our marriage too. It requires the ultimate in teamwork, as we’re now learning :). So happy for you two!
Yes! Teamwork during the first few months is crucial. We are learning that it’s just as important now that the twins are toddlers too.
Getting married this December! Thanks for the advice!
We are right now in the stage where our Saturdays consist of quietly studying in a coffee shop!
Love these lessons! So important. Relationships are hard and a constant work in progress. I don’t even have kids but we also have to plan for more date nights b/c we have less spontaneity than we used to have.
I think spontaneity is something that can fizzle out when you’ve been together for a length of time. I’m glad you guys are working to bring it back into your relationship.
Six year of marriage is really something. I am glad that over the past years, you have realized all these things especially no. 1 and 2. It is really difficult to be a parent and stay as one because there are really times that your patience is tested. But, you got no choice but to go through and surpass it. Happy anniversary! More anniversary to come!
I love all the lessons and I pray you guys find the Grace to continue in love, forever.
My favourite lesson is Number 2. My partner and I have been together for 3 years now and money used to be my thing. Now, money is OUR thing. It gets so complicated as the years go by that having just one person handling the finances can take a toll on both parties. I’m glad someone else agrees.
Parenting has a funny way of either bringing you close together or going at it with each other. I agree, it’s so important to take time to spend together. It’s easy to get lost in the stresses of daily life and neglect your marriage.
That’s exactly it. Sometimes we get caught up in our daily routines and tasks and forget to say “Thank you” or “I love you” but we are really working on being better about that.
Happy Anniversary! We celebrated 10 years last year 🙂
Congrats! That’s awesome!
Happy anniversary! Tim’s ADD makes it hard for him to deal with a lot of budget stuff. But now that he’s medicated, he’s getting a bit better. He still needs reminding, which we’re working on. But… yeah.
You’re right that mental health has to take precedence — and speaking up is integral. We’ve run into a lot of problems in the last year because Tim’s worried about adding to the stress I’m so vocal about. So he kept from me for quite awhile just how bad his depression was. By the time he owned up — which took a lot of arguments — it was very, very bad.
We’re working on fine lines (which he’s terrible with). Yes, if you can handle a small thing yourself, don’t worry me. Depression or something that’s really important, tell me. And keep telling me until I get it!
Like most things in life, marriage is a process.
You are right. It’s definitely a process and we are always working to make things better in our marriage and our family.
Congrats on 6 years!
We’re 7 years in now, and can relate to all of these. I always tell people marriage is the BEST hard work you will ever do. But it definitely is work. Each year presents a new challenge, but also new opportunities to grow deeper in love and character.
Praying for continued growth and success in your marriage, family and business! 🙂
Congratulations on your 6 years! That must have been so fruitful! Six years are really something! I and wife are going for our 5th year this year, and it has been a great journey so far. Hope you do too!
Happy anniversary!! We’re on year 8, so I definitely understand the spontaneity thing! That’s one of our goals this year 🙂
Happy anniversary (and V-Day!) I couldn’t agree more with all of these (though not parents yet).
I understand what you mean about “spontaneous” moments needing to be planned now. I think when you’ve been in a relationship for a long time, it’s easy to get complacent and overly comfortable, and to stop doing the things you did when you were dating. Even if you can’t be truly spontaneous anymore, you can still plan your spontaneity and make sure to spend quality time together.
For my husband and me, we have both been getting a bit too comfortable and not doing sweet things for each other like sending each other mushy text messages or leaving each other little notes. I’m going to make an effort to start doing more of those types of things that I did when we first started dating.
Aw I’m getting married at the end of the year so these tips resonate with me! Thanks for sharing!
I love this post so much Cat. Love your honestly and authenticity. Wouldn’t expect it any other way from you. XO
Perhaps the most important thing you have said, Cat, is “What I learned. . .” That is what makes it possible to be brave and to be compassionate through the rough bits — willingness to learn. You have learned, and through learning have grown and grown together. You are setting a great example for the little ones even before they are old enough to have any idea of that. It sounds like the perfect marriage to me because perfect marriages are always in the making.
I love what you said last the best!
Thank you for sharing! It’s stories like these that encourage others in their own life. These are great examples of every day situations that you may face with marriage and great tips on how to overcome.
Six years! Wooh! That’s totally amazing! You learned it so well and the hard way, Cath. I and my husband have been married for more than a year, and there are still so many lessons we need to learn. Hopefully, it’d turn out just like how it did to you both.
Great Post Cat!! AND happy anniversary!!
Just got the memories refreshed.
I’m glad you have found balance with your finances and relationships!
Happy Anniversary! 🙂 we are in our 2nd year of marriage, but we were together for 4 years before that. Ah…I agree with all of your points. I think number 6 is the most important!