8 Things Ive Learned About Marriage

Alex and I are celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary tomorrow. Over the years, Ive learned many things about marriageboth what to do and what not to do. Here are my top eight…

1. Put each other to bed. Alex is a night owl, but Im a big nerd and always fall asleep early. So every night, after Ive brushed my teeth, Alex will come into the bedroom, lie down, and chat with me. Well often recap our days, tell stories, gossip, whisper sweet nothings; other times well talk about the babies, life decisions, worries or fears. Theres something deeply intimate about lying together at nightand its so much cozier than waving goodnight as you exit the living room. 🙂

2. Let things go. When you share your life with someone, you see each other when youre happy…and also when youre sleepy, sick, stressed, when you have a bit of spinach in your teeth, when youre depressed, when your eyes are puffy from crying, that morning when you wake up hungover with the baby at 5am and just cant deal. So! There will be times when youre grumpy and snappy, and if your partner is going through that and snaps about something random, LET IT GO. Dont escalate things. Dont take things personally. Understand where theyre coming from and stay chill. On the flip, if youre the snappy one, apologize profusely 5 minutes later with a kiss. (Note: Alex is 1,000 times better at this than I am. He is so calm! But Im working on it!)

3. Be polite. Say please and thank you. Compliment each other (you smell great, you were so funny at that party, I was proud to introduce you to my boss, etc.). Smile when your partner walks into the room. Laugh at each others corny jokes. Actively focus on their best qualities. Basically, strive to be an overall nice life partner. It sounds so obvious, but it can be weirdly easy to forget when youre distracted or stressed, and its also surprising how much warmer you can act when youre conscious of it.

4. Try new things together. Weve gotten into our share of rutswe watched every single 30 Rock rerun when Anton was a newbornbut the most thrilling times in our relationship happen when were trying something new. Now and again, well shake things up and try a new noodle bar in the neighborhood or stop by an art exhibit or go kayaking on the Hudson. Even just watching a quirky documentary on Netflix or playing a board game at home can be enough to feel that little shock of novelty and learn something cool about your partner.

5. Realize that its ok (and good) to want time apart. When Alex and I moved in together, we spent all our free time together until one day whenSHOCK AND HORRORhe told me that he wanted to spend the day alone. A tried-and-true extrovert, I had always assumed the more the merrier, so I figured he must be mad at me. That evening, of course, he explained that he needs time alone to recharge, and nowadays we both enjoy spending time apart and cherish that independence. (Even on vacation!) This might be a no-brainer to most people, but it was a lesson learned for me.

Plus, three things Ive mentioned in the past:

6. Say I love you *during* a fight.

7. Meet at the restaurant.

8. Schedule sex.

What about you? What have you learned about relationships through the years? I would absolutely LOVE to hear…Thank you so much for reading, and a big thank you to Alex for being the loveliest husband and partner and for never shaving his beard because he knows I like it. xo

P.S. Our first date, and will you change your last name when you get married?

(Photos of our wedding ceremony by Max Wanger)