We’re celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary this week. It’s a funny kind of milestone, since we’ve actually been together for 16 years (and have known each other for more than 20), but I’m a sentimental sucker so we went out for a nice meal and had a great evening. As we shared a few glasses of champagne I reflected on what particular brand of magic (or prayer!) helped us make it through the past decade which included: one move, two babies, one crib (unused), two diagnoses, five nannies, and the same old double bed.
My best friend often talks about 90% of parenthood being about ‘showing up’ and I believe her. Parenthood isn’t just about the big moments, like Ryan learning to ride a two-wheeler, it’s about all the little insignificant moments in between – the teeth brushing, story reading, bum wiping, sock sorting, lego picking upping, lunch packing, and sunscreen applying. In short, the stuff of daily life.
As I enjoyed a second, much deserved glass of champagne last night I realized the same held true for marriage – 90% of it is showing up. We just need to show up for slightly different things – like listening to each other’s work stories, or remembering to compliment, or to apologize, or to ask for something. And it’s not just about ‘being there,’ it’s about actually being present.
Here’s a few things that have helped with that:
- Date night. Yes, it’s trite, but we have a weekly date night. I’d be embarrassed about it, but it really works! It’s the one night where we go out and talk, laugh, and leave our ‘business meetings’ about life and scheduling behind. Some of our friends book a night at home so there’s no sitter cost and that’s great too. I work from home, so I need to get out. We have a standing order with a babysitter and that’s worked for us.
- Shared interests. We are nerds who love a lot of the same things in life: politics, newspapers, camping, birds, stars… it’s made a big difference in our ability to enjoy each other’s company and connect during good times and bad.
- Anything said in the dark doesn’t count. This started when the boys were babies and in our bed and NOT sleeping. If the light is out there’s an amnesty on any cussing or complaining that takes place. Next morning is a new day.
- Friends. Hanging out with friends really takes the pressure off your primary relationship. It also puts life back into perspective.
- Self-care. When I started exercising again my outlook on life improved dramatically. When I started meditating the same thing happened.
I’m sure my friends are laughing as they read this post, since I’m certainly not a poster child for the ideal marriage, but I’m ‘dancing with the one who brung me’ and feeling really good about that. We’re laughing together. Crying together. Sometimes yelling together (or at each other). In short, we’re showing up – each and every day.