10 Things I’ve Learned After 20 Years of Marriage

Every girl dreams of a fairy tale marriage. Growing up, we were made to believe that a happy ever after awaits us as soon as we get married to our handsome prince. Unfortunately, fairy tales are different from real life.

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You had a perfect wedding. You married the love of your life. What could possibly go wrong? Well, marriage is more than just a storybook ending. It isn’t an end goal but rather the beginning of an incredible journey. It has its ups and downs. It involves hard work. It is also a daily decision to stay committed to the other person, regardless of circumstances.

Here are ten lessons I’ve learned after two decades of marriage:

1. Accept Each Other’s Differences

You thought you found your soul mate. You have so many things in common. But then at some point in your relationship, you realised that you are nothing like each other! Don’t try to solve the situation by changing the other person. The best thing to do to have a harmonious relationship is to accept the other person for who he/she is. When you accept someone, you accept not just the good traits but also the bad ones as well. Accept the fact that you are two different individuals. Celebrate each other’s uniqueness. Use them to complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

2. Choose Your Arguments

Disagreements do happen in any relationship. You will have disagreements on big issues as well as small ones. The key is to choose your arguments. There is no need to attack each other every time there is a disagreement. Sometimes, it is better to just stay quiet. Keeping still does not necessarily mean you lost. It only means that maybe fighting with your spouse over small details is simply not just worth it.

“Don’t let something that does not matter cause you to lose something that does.”

3. Do Things Together

Marriage is all about creating memories together. You may have different hobbies and interests but for sure you will find some things or activities that you both will enjoy.

My husband and I have very little things in common. I like spending time with people, my husband would rather spend time alone. He loves watching documentaries while I am into drama. I love modern furniture and he is so passionate about vintage and antiques items. That’s how opposite we are. But we both love travelling. We both like discovering new places together. We love eating outside. We also love buying groceries together.

My point is find something that you both love doing and spend time doing those things together.

4. Learn Each Other’s Love Language

Different people have different ways of expressing their emotions. There is a big possibility that your love language is different from that of your spouse. Understanding your partner’s love language is vital to a healthy relationship. It can also help avoid misunderstandings.

There are five love languages that relationship counsellors and therapists use as guide. These are:

  • Acts of Service – doing something for the other person like cooking a meal, opening the car door or changing the baby’s diaper
  • Physical Touch – holding hands, kissing, hugging and making love
  • Quality Time – giving your spouse your undivided attention
  • Receiving Gifts – a gift is a symbol that you are thinking about the other person
  • Words of Affirmation – simply telling your spouse that you love them

5. Learn to Say Sorry

This is one thing that is very hard to do but you need to learn to do. Apologising means accepting the fact that you have hurt the other person. It takes courage and humility on your part but it can do wonders to the relationship because it opens the door for healing. By apologising to your spouse, you are restoring the his/her dignity by acknowledging that you are wrong.

6. Pray Together & for One Another

As cliche as it may sound, you really need to put God first in your relationship. You can only do this by spending more time with God. You need to seek Him and talk to Him. Share your deepest thoughts, worries, desires and even joy. For us, Sunday is not just family day; it is also a day for the Lord, a day of worship and rest.

Pray for your spouse. Pray for his/her safety. Pray for his/her dreams. Pray for wisdom.  Pray to keep your spouse away from temptation. Pray for friends that will become positive influences in your marriage life. At the same time, say thank you for all the blessings that your family have received.

Sometimes, differences in opinion could lead to a full blown argument. In such situations, it is better to seek God’s help. Pause for a moment, pray and ask God to diffuse the heated moment. You will be surprised how this simple act of asking God’s intercession can help you cool off.

7. Respect One Another

Respect is the key to a long-lasting relationship. If there is one person that can boost your spouse’s self-esteem that will be you. In the same way, you also have the most power in crashing his/her self-confidence. Don’t let this happen. Be your spouse’s number one fan, not the anti-fan. Support his dreams and aspirations. And never ever under any circumstance point out your spouse’s faults and mistakes in front of other people. Do your constructive criticism behind closed doors.

8. Be Transparent When It Comes to Your Finances

Did you know that according to statistics, money issues are the number one cause of divorce or separation? It is not just merely about the lack of money, but rather it is about differences in handling money.

The best way to prevent this from happening is to talk about it. Set your financial priorities. Discuss how you are going to manage your money – your goals, bills, savings, spendings, debts, investments and if you have other family members to support. Be honest from the very start and be transparent. It is also advisable that you track your expenses so that you have an idea on where does your money go.

9. Take Time for Yourself

While your priority should no longer be about yourself, it is still important that you still take time for yourself. Go out with friends, get a hobby, read a book, go shopping, give yourself a massage and just simply take a break and do whatever it is that will make you happy. Don’t lose yourself just because you got married. The point is you need to learn to love yourself first, only then will you able to truly love your spouse.

10. Honor Each Other’s Families

When you married your spouse, you also married his/her family. You need to honour your in-laws that same way that you honour your spouse. Love them. Respect them. Have patience with them.

This can be quite tricky especially for Asians wherein the concept of extended family is very common. It is so strong that it is actually, the second cause of separation among married couples.

It can be a challenge especially if you or your spouse have family members that are quite manipulative. If disagreements arise between you and your in-laws, your spouse will be the one that will be caught in the middle. Thus, it is important to set your boundaries from the start to avoid these things from happening.

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