In April we celebrated 5 years of owning Skill of Strength and posted 50 things we learned about owning a gym in 5 years.
Today, my business partner, who is more importantly my HUSBAND, and I celebrate 9 years of marriage.
That means today you get something a little different…
Nine Things I’ve Learned About Marriage in Nine Years
1. Communication is key.
I almost feel like I could stop here and be done. I feel pretty strongly that the success of a marriage boils down to communication. Always…even when you don’t feel like it.
Learn how to communicate in a way that resonates with your partner and do your best not to bring up touchy topics when either one of you is fired up or grumpy. Pick and choose your battles, working towards letting go of the small things and focusing on the fundamental issues that really matter. When you do battle, listen more, fight fair and be nice. Remember, empathy goes a long way. Put yourself in your spouses shoes once in awhile and understand why they may feel a certain way, even if you disagree.
“Be Silly. Be Honest. Be Kind”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
2. Practice gratitude.
Find a way to start and end the day on a positive note. Tell your spouse what you’re grateful for. Find ways to lift each other up when you’re feeling down. Focus on your partners awesome qualities instead of getting stuck on the negative ones.
Don’t take anything your spouse does to make your life easier for granted. Always say thank you. Be specific and mean it.
3. Spend time together as a couple.
Having kids is hard on your marriage. Honestly, harder than I would have thought. You’re exhausted, worried all the time and all of a sudden you go from spending tons of time together as a couple to spending most of your time as a couple plus a baby.
Yes, I know this is pretty much necessary, especially when you have a newborn, but when you’re able to it’s really important to get back to spending time together alone. Sooner, rather than later, before it simply becomes the new normal to not spend time together.
The best thing Mike and I have done for our marriage is to implement regular date nights. No kids allowed and we must leave the house. I was listening to a podcast a few months ago where a coach told a story about a client who didn’t want to spend money hiring a babysitter and buying restaurant food for dinner. That same client got a divorce that cost $75,000 a few years later. Lesson here: just spend the money and date your spouse.
4. If you work with your spouse, or you don’t, have specific job roles.
Set expectations for who does what around the house, with the kids, etc.
Be open and honest with each other about who is responsible for what. When you own a business and are married this means you have to talk about your roles and expectations of each other even more considering you share responsibilities at work and home.
Note: you may have to reassess these roles everyone once in awhile if you feel like you’re starting to have a little resentment towards your spouse. Ask for what you need. See #1.
5. Respect each other’s space and need for time alone.
Mike and I don’t work in the same space more than 1-2 times a week. Usually, we work together at the gym one day each week, but otherwise, if he’s working at the gym, I’m home working or with the kids and vice versa.
For us this works well, both to have some individual space and also to keep our household running and take care of our kiddos. It can be hard to find time to be alone. Guilt sets in and it seems selfish to take time to do something for yourself. I mean there’s work to do and kids to care for, right?
Just remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Fill your cup. (With coffee and wine preferably…)
Squeezing in self-care is tricky when your time is limited, but it’s like anything… if you practice making time, it gets easier and you learn some tricks that allow you to prioritize what is important. Set each other free for a few hours and your marriage will benefit.
6. Maintain your friendships.
Friends are awesome. We have some friends that we hang with as families and couples and we both have our own individual friends as well. I feel strongly that all of these dynamics are important. Life is about relationships and relationships will all serve different purposes in your life.
I couldn’t survive without my girlfriends. I recently spent a weekend with some of my long-time besties and the conversations were priceless. We just get each other in ways our husbands will never understand and that’s okay. Of course there are things that should stay behind closed doors, you should respect your partner and not bad-mouth your marriage.
However, I do think sharing some struggles and also the successes you have in your marriage is incredibly valuable. Isn’t it nice to hear how someone you trust dealt with a similar situation?
7. Choose your suitcases wisely.
When we did premarital counseling, our counselor told us we needed to figure out what suitcases we were going to bring from each of our families into the marriage.
People often don’t realize they come into a marriage with an idea of how a family works based on their own family. This is true, whether they liked their family rules/traditions or not. When you start your own family unit you can decide what pieces of luggage are coming along and leave the rest behind.
8. Stay active and encourage healthy habits.
Our marriage is so much better when we are both taking care of ourselves. Things like keeping healthy foods in the house, making sure we get enough sleep and taking turns exercising on the weekends help keep us in check.
Better yet, exercise together! It’s amazing for your relationship. Some of our best conversations happen when we’re spending time lifting, sweating or even just taking a walk outside. It’s sexy to see your spouse working hard. I love when couples train together at our gym!
Staying healthy will help you both be happier and plus, you want to be around each other for a long time, right?
9. Love each other, always.
…and keep learning. Mike and I fight. We both mess up. It’s okay. We love each other and we’re committed to figuring out how to keep getting better at this whole marriage thing.