Today we are celebrating our 9th Anniversary. I wouldn't say we have it all figured out, but we have learned a few things...
  1. A little kindness goes a long way.
    Being a grown-up comes with so many have-to's. But, being kind to your partner isn't one of them. You could bring them an unexpected latte. You could text them a sweet “thinking of you” message. You could rub their shoulders. You could offer them 15 guilt-free minutes without the kids around. Today, you and I get to figure out a way to show and tell the most important person in our lives that we love them. It’s not a “have-to,” it’s a “get-to.”
  2. Don't fight over the butter.
    Isn't it great when you can learn lessons from OTHER PEOPLE'S experience? This was advice we got at our wedding and it's stayed with us. We try our best to choose our battles wisely and not to get too nit-picky over the stuff that won't matter in the long run.
  3. Our relationship with each other is more important than our relationship with our kids.
    We love our kids like crazy, but we know the best thing we can do for them is to take care of each other first! We're in the thick of it with 3 little ones (I was pregnant with our youngest in this photo) but someday it'll just be the two of us again and we need to make sure we've loved each other well all along so that we don't feel like strangers when we become empty nesters.
  4. Defensiveness gets you nowhere.
    Because we know each other so well, we also know how to push each other's buttons. We've learned that getting defensive doesn't help. When we're feeling defensive, it's a good indication that we need a break and we need to find another way to listen and be heard.
  5. Dreaming together is a necessity, not a luxury.
    We each have our own dreams and ideas of what we want to do with our lives, but we make it a priority to share our dreams with each other before we share them with other people. This gives us the opportunity to cheer each other on every step of the way. This pic is from a time Tony took time off work to come cheer me on while I talked about sex and intimacy with a group of married couples. He's my favorite! ❤❤
  6. Stay curious.
    I'm not the same person I was when we first met and neither is he. Staying curious about each other, making time to ask good questions and then really listen and learn keeps us engaged in our relationship instead of drifting away assuming we already know all there is to know.
  7. Expectations without clear communication leads to conflict.
    We have to be able to communicate what we want. I resisted this for a long time, thinking it would be better and I would feel more loved if my husband figured out what I wanted on his own and then did it because he wanted to, not because I asked him to. The truth is, if I don't ask, I don't get, and that goes for everything from presents to help around the house to sex. Being brave and asking has made our lives so much better!
  8. Even great marriages go through really crappy times.
    We've had our share of rough seasons. There were times when I thought we would never see eye-to-eye, never find a solution, never get back to those first feelings of love. We've gotten through those seasons, but I'm sure they'll come again. That doesn't mean we need to call it quits. What we have is fundamentally good, but that doesn't mean it'll always be easy.
  9. You're never justified for being a jerk.
    The question is not whether or not you should argue with your spouse. The question is *how* will you argue? Will you be respectful while you argue, avoiding low blows, name-calling, and ultimatums? Will you approach believing your partner is guilty before they’ve had a chance to explain themselves OR with the intention of giving your partner the benefit of the doubt? It's ok to be angry. It's never ok to be cruel.
  10. But, sometimes you will be. So apologize and forgive often.
    Yes, that's 10 lessons instead of 9. Will you forgive me?