By Carol Traulsen
My husband I have been married for 24 years and we’ve been together for 25 and a half years. My joke is that when we have been married for 25 (September) years, then we can consider ourselves professionals. We have learned a lot of lessons along the way. Some are small lessons in how to live together day-to-day without driving each other crazy. Others are about how to handle a crisis and support each other when the world feels like it’s falling down around your ears. Here are a few things I wish someone had told me long ago.
Just because I love you doesn’t mean I have to spend every waking minute with you. Sometimes lunch with girlfriends or a day out alone is a good thing.
Find the thing you do best and do it. I cook- my husband balances the checkbook and provides tech support. For us this division of labor works.
If you argue, don’t stay mad at each other. Life is too short.
Say, “I love you” every day.
Make time to be together. We realized the importance of this when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. We have continued the tradition of a date day for all six and a half years of my remission. Some days we just go to lunch or a movie, sometimes we take a day trip. Sometimes we just go for a walk.
Share your talents and abilities. Have a life or passionate hobby or business outside the marriage. Share your successes and trials with your partner- it keeps things fresh and gives you an identity away from the marriage.
Be honest. This person is supposed to be your best friend and love you (warts and all), so there should be no reason to hide things.
This is the biggest lesson I have learned: For most of us there is a tomorrow. You get another day to make up, to make it right, or to plan an adventure. Use it.
Sometimes words of comfort won’t come when your partner is hurting from devastating news or in pain. In that situation you have only one job and it’s very simple: be there. You may not be able to solve or change anything. You have to understand that it is not your role. Hold them, support them, comfort them. If you cling to each other the tough decisions and situations, they will seem less daunting.
Laugh. I cannot stress this enough. Family life and marriage can be ridiculous, and it helps to have a sense of humor. My mother and father were married 57 years and my father made her laugh every day. My husband makes me laugh every day.
Balance is key. Work hard, and share your passions. Know when you and your partner need some space and respect your partner. Just try not to take it too seriously. If you’re going to spend the rest of your life with someone don’t you want it to be fun?