Mr. Trekker and I celebrated our wedding anniversary this week! Since we started dating early in our freshman year of college, we’ve been together half our lives! I’m not sure we can remember what it’s like to NOT be a twosome! 😍
For a long time, we just hung out as friends, within our shared group of friends, and got to know each other casually. Mr. Trekker and I were best friends first (in my opinion, that’s the way to go!) At first, I didn’t even consider him as a potential romantic suitor (although if you ask him, I was always in his sights). 😊 We just clicked in a way I never had with a guy before. We became inseparable, best friends, almost instantaneously.
One of the first times we hung out was a group trip to the local gas station. (Ok…we went to a SMALL school in the middle of podunk-nowhere Indiana, there wasn’t a lot to do there. Most of us didn’t have cars. We were also poor, college students, and this was before Netflix or Amazon Prime–I didn’t even have a cell phone till AFTER I graduated college. 😮) Due to these factors, a quasi-tradition was a midnight, slurpy run to the nearby 7-11. One of the nights, Mr. Trekker and I tagged along, individually, with a group of friends. When two friends, who were dating, started a round of piggyback rides, I casually mentioned, “I want a piggyback ride”. Then I hear this deep voice emanating from this tall, lanky kid behind me, who I barely knew, “I’ll give you a piggyback ride…” That’s how it all began folks! See guys, you can still sweep a lady off her feet, even in the 21st century! 😉
Now that we’re in our second decade of marriage, I think it’s fair to give out a few tips on how to make a marriage last…
1. MARRY YOUR BEST FRIEND!!!
I cannot stress enough how important I think this is. If I could give only one piece of advice on how to have a successful marriage, this would be it. This will ultimately affect the way you relate to your spouse throughout the entire course of your relationship. You will likely live through both the best and the worst moments of life with that person. Why would you want it to be anyone other than your best friend? I can’t imagine trying to navigate childrearing, or any of the other stresses and difficulties that life will inevitably throw your way, with anyone other than your best friend!
Your best friend is the person who knows what you’re like at your worst, yet is still willing to put up with you. 😉 They will ultimately end up being one of your highest priorities anyway, so why wouldn’t you choose that person to marry? Your spouse knows you more intimately than anyone else. They know every one of your embarrassing, disgusting details (whether you want them to or not). 😛 Why would you want anyone other than your best friend to have that kind of incriminating material on you? 😉
Your best friend is the person you have the most patience for, and the one you’ll do anything to fix a divide between. Your marriage relationship should be this strong. Your best friend should be the one you have chosen to be yoked to for life. People have actually told us, “you guys just seem to actually LIKE each other”. Um…yeah…we’re married! Is this a common thing these days? That people pick marriage partners they DON’T like spending time with?! 🤔
If your current spouse isn’t your best friend, figure out a way to change that. Yes, it IS that important. Find something the two of you enjoy doing together. Find a way to bond. I GUARANTEE you, without a shadow of a doubt, this will make your relationship better.
If you’re engaged to someone who isn’t your best friend, don’t give up hope yet, but for the best chance of making your marriage succeed long-term, find a way to change this BEFORE the wedding.
The person you are “just dating” may not be your best friend, yet, but do they have that potential? If not, rethink the relationship now before it gets more serious. On the other hand, could the person who’s currently your best, platonic friend be a potential mate? If that isn’t a practical option, figure out what qualities they have that draw you to them, and look for those in potential mates (honesty, integrity, empathy, humor, drive, quirkiness…)
2. Play together!
Really! Life is serious enough, have fun with the mate you’ve pledged your life to. Goof around, pick on each other (good-naturedly of course). Enjoy fun activities together. Make each other laugh (they say it’s good for the soul!) Tease, flirt, do fun, silly stuff with each other. “Adulting” can get pretty dull, spice it up! Got a day full of errands? Find time for a quick ice-cream or lunch date in the mix. Go on walks together. Get in food fights!
One of Mr. Trekker and my favorite memories from college is when we got in a food fight with buffalo wings from Dominoes. Sauce got everywhere, it was epic! His former roommate still doesn’t know that one of the wings ended up in his shoe (we cleaned it up!) 😮🤫😇
So play around and have fun with your mate…you know, like you would with your best friend… 😮
Hehe…yeah, my momma, my momma-in-law AND multiple extended family members read this blog so…that’s all I’m gonna say on THAT subject… 😲😋😘
4. Pay attention to the little things
People tend to show you their true selves, in subtle ways. Watch for clues for how your intended will treat you years down the road. You know, once the lovey-dovey, rose-colored glasses of dating life are removed and the ugly reality of spending the next 50-odd years with someone sets in. 🙃
These are things like, do they put the toilet seat down? This is, admittedly, a bit trivial, but it can have serious implications for things to come. Something like this is a small, simple sign that a person is considerate of and empathetic towards others. That’s not a bad indication when considering someone as a potential, lifelong mate! What’s the old saying, if you can trust them with the little things…
5. Say “I’m sorry”…OFTEN, and then…FORGIVE!
Whoever came up with the old adage “love means never having to say you’re sorry” is an idiot. 😋 Seriously, that’s horse pucky. We’re all human so we all make mistakes. We’re also all intelligent enough to know when we were wrong. So humble yourself, apologize when you’ve screwed up, and try to improve on your actions in the future.
For the spouse being apologized to…FORGIVE!!! This is key when talking about a long-term relationship. We all have times when we can be complete jerks. We all lash out, from time to time. Unfortunately, our spouses, by the very nature of how intimately we are connected, are most often the outlets for our frustrations. I don’t know why we seem to have this fault in our human nature that the person who is supposed to mean the most to us is also the one we default to treating the worst. It’s probably because they are the one person we can truly let our guard down around.
If your best friend is a jerk to you, don’t you want to forgive them as quickly as possible to get back to your fulfilling relationship? Be forgiving of your partner, we all have our bad days. Remember, you chose them for a reason. And the next time you are feeling cranky, remember how it felt to bear the brunt of that emotion from someone else, and maybe try to be as gentle as you can with them.
This goes hand-in-hand with #5. Because we are all human and therefore, all flawed, we’re going to screw up…A LOT. Show patience towards your mate. They are the one you dedicated your life to, they should be the one you grant the most patience to and are most tolerant of when they become frustrating…kind of like you would your best friend…🙃 (Yes, I’m going to keep harping on this point. I TRULY believe it is THAT important).
7. The “dreaded” in-laws 😱
I was fortunate to be blessed with pretty great in-laws (and I’m not just saying that because my mother-in-law reads this blog…REALLY! 😉) Seriously though, I know family dynamics are complicated. Not everyone is blessed with an extended family that’s easy to deal with. HOWEVER, those family members played a large part in making the person you have chosen as a life-long mate into who they are today. When you marry that person, you marry their family too. Why not do everything within your power to make your relationships with those people as peaceful as possible? If you don’t get along with them, don’t do it for them. Do it for the person you have chosen to love, above anyone else.
8. Show restraint with complaints…
Ok, before anyone yells at me, I’m not saying you shouldn’t speak up if you’re feeling unhappy, or that your needs aren’t being met. HOWEVER, I think there is a time, place, and manner in which to bring up grievances. The old cliché that “it isn’t what you said, it’s the tone you used”? Yeah, that one is actually true! The best time to air your frustrations is probably not in the midst of your anger. If you can hold your tongue just to the count of 10, or a few minutes, or maybe even a few days, the problem may be able to be resolved more quickly and/or with fewer feelings hurt.
How do these things usually play out? Someone says something in the heat of anger that may be true, but that isn’t very kind. Then later, apologies are garnered and the situation is talked over and resolved calmly, right? So, why not just skip the anger and drama, and jump right to the calm discussion? I find I can usually express myself more effectively when I’ve had time to think about exactly what is upsetting me anyway. Wouldn’t you strive to be gentle with your best friend when confronting them about something they do that upsets you?
9. Don’t let life’s little hiccups ruin things
Life is messy, sh*t happens, don’t sweat the small stuff. Living by these ideals will make life easier. Eventually, things aren’t gonna work out as we planned. We gotta buck up and deal with it kids. We gotta learn to “just groove“. Besides, sometimes a minor disappointment, such as a rained-out picnic in the park, can lead to an even better result…like a Subway picnic on the floor of your dorm room. 😇
Speaking of rain, don’t be afraid of a little rain on your wedding day (…even if it is an outdoor wedding! 😮) They claim it’s good luck! I recently learned the supposed reasoning behind this and it’s kind of cool…When you get married its called “tying the knot” right? Well, what material is often used for knots? Rope. And what happens to rope when it gets wet? It swells. So…the idea is, a “knot” tied on a rainy, wet day, will swell and be impossible to untie…ha! 😉 (In case you are wondering, yes, it was rainy and in the upper 40’s the day of our OUTDOOR wedding, and it was wonderful! It was nothing that a covered gazebo with a roaring fire in the stone fireplace couldn’t cure!)
10. …and last but not least…
Did I mention you should marry your best friend? 😉😇
These tips are just my personal opinion, of course. You can decide if you take them to heart or not. But I think it’s fair to say that long-term marriages aren’t a super common thing these days. I believe in learning from the lessons of others. So, I try to follow the models of other long-term couples (both for what TO and what NOT to do. 🙃) These tips are things that work for us. The Trekkers have big shoes to fill. Both of our parents have been married almost 40 years (or longer), and most of our grandparents came close to (if not hit) the 50-year mark! 😮 I pray we are lucky enough to have–at least–that many years together!
Do you have any pieces of advice for a long and happy marriage? Let me know in the comments!
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