when we got back from our babymoon, I didn't think it was possible to love Lu anymore. at some point I asked him, "do you still feel as excited to be with me as you did on our honeymoon?" and we both agreed, yes, of course - and even more so! even though a babymoon isn't as emotionally exhilarating as coming off a wedding, it's special in its own way, because it's the start of a new chapter together.
I still feel like we're newlyweds, so when we got back and realized our anniversary was in a couple of days, we couldn't believe it! I love my husband more than I did when we first got married. I'm sure there are some married couples reading this and rolling their eyes. "Just wait!" people like to say to us or, "Talk to me in 10 years!"
who knows what will happen in 10 years - or heck, even ONE year! - but I like to live in the now, in the moment, and treasure every day I have with Lu, because every day is different and special. and what's great about being a blogger is that I can look back on all of this and learn from it!
I'd like to say that we're a very happy couple. we have only had two big fights since we started dating, where I've been brought to tears (I only cry once or twice a year, so crying to me is an ultimate display of upset.)
the first fight was during wedding planning (hello, stress!) when Lu basically told me I was spending too much money on a band and I should just "get a DJ" - and this was only a few weeks before our wedding, in May of 2015. since I had planned most/all of the wedding and I was stressed, I just took it really personally and freaked out on him (I ended up RIPPING apart our foam board seating chart when we got home, haha!)
the second fight was this year, in January. PREGNANCY HORMONES. we went out with a group of our friends when I was about 8 or 9 weeks pregnant and because I wasn't drinking, some of the drunk people started taunting and teasing me, shoving drinks in my face - and Lu didn't do anything and when I expressed my frustration afterwards, he made me feel crazy for being so upset by it. I freaked the EFF out and have never yelled so loudly in my life- I mean, I was beet red in the face. after profusely apologizing, I forgave him :)
so what have I learned from the GOOD and the BAD?
in celebration of our two year anniversary (June 20th!), here are some of the things that have made our marriage successful (aside from the obvious good communication):
don't go to bed angry or giving your spouse the cold shoulder
our guest book was basically a "tips book" where all of our guests wrote their best marriage advice and sealed it in an envelope. after our honeymoon, we opened up all the notes - one of the best pieces of advice was "never go to bed angry". we always go to bed with a kiss goodnight and an I love you - and every day when he leaves in the morning, I walk him out the door and kiss him goodbye.
feelings of resentment can build up and it's better to talk everything through - and life is precious, why go to bed upset? plus, you'll get a better night's sleep snuggling than separated - and more sleep is better for everyone!
always, always make up. no matter what! put your pride aside.
keep each other laughing and never take life too seriously
Lu makes me laugh harder than anyone has ever made me laugh. he's a funny guy. we find the same type of humor funny, which is helpful, but regardless, we always try to find light in situations and get a laugh out of it. if we're having a horrible experience somewhere, we'll crack a joke - it makes everything better and bonds you more closely.
don't keep score - learn how to agree to disagree
don't count how many times you've done the dishes and he HASN'T. it's not about who has done more or less. it's not important.
if you feel like you're putting in 80% and your spouse is putting in 20% most of the time, then maybe, yes, there's an issue. but as long as it evens out to around 50-50, it's all good in the end. for example, there will be weeks when Lu is really tired and doesn't want to do the dishes and I cook, so I'll end up cooking and cleaning, but I do it, because I know that most of the time, he does the dishes and I let those other times slide.
don't sweat the small stuff
leaving the toilet seat up, leaving your socks by the door, and little things like that shouldn't make or break your relationship. you just need to learn to live with it! yes, little things add up, but the more you complain about it, the more it'll irk you and cause you to resent your partner.
for example, Lu is physically incapable of putting paper towels or toilet paper on the right way (so that you pull the paper out correctly), and it's something that used to drive me NUTS, but now, I just quickly switch the paper around and don't say anything. it is what it is - what's the point of getting angry about it? sometimes I'll give him a gentle reminder and who knows, maybe one day he'll put the paper on the right away!
compliment one another - meaningfully
you can literally make someone's day by giving them a compliment. sometimes, it's hard to think of giving compliments when you live with someone 24/7, so you have to make an effort out of it. and saying, "you look handsome today" is great, but not that substantial. tell your spouse you're proud of something they've accomplished. if you're shy about giving compliments and pouring your heart out, write it in a card (that's what Lu likes to do.) complimenting one another brings you closer together.
accept that men and women are different
unless you're in a same-sex marriage/relationship, this one's crucial. men and women are just wired differently. SO differently. sure, some men are as emotional and sensitive as women, but even so, they're emotional and sensitive in different ways than women are.
sometimes, I just don't get why Lu can't focus or why he can't multitask. I literally go crazy sometimes when I'll be talking to him for a minute about something and he won't reply or answer. it's because his brain was connected to a task and he was drowning me out! I can literally do ten things at once and still have a full engaged conversation, but it's a woman thing - we're designed that way! you have to learn to let it slide.
romanticism can take different forms
along similar lines, many men aren't "classically romantic." I've dated the full spectrum. I dated a guy who never bought me flowers once in a three year relationship to a guy in college who would leave roses and notes on my car so that I'd find them and follow love trails. nuts!
Lu is romantic in his own way. he's not "classically romantic." if I want flowers, I have to say "are you going to bring me home flowers on our anniversary?" sometimes, I'll even go into his phone and set a reminder to "pick up Ali flowers" a couple months in advance on a random day, because I know he's not wired to spontaneously buy me flowers. and I always forget about the alerts anyway, so it's up to him at that point. sounds crazy, but it lightly trains him to know that I like those sorts of things - and it takes the pressure off him.
I've learned to accept finally that while Lu may not bring me flowers all the time or whisk me away on surprise vacations, he's romantic in his own way. he makes sure I always feel loved - and to me, that's romantic. he surprises me in cute, small ways - like he'll call me and say he's stuck at the office for another hour and then five seconds later, he'll be knocking at the front door. I get all giddy and excited, always.
I'm not going to get into this one too much, but even if you and your spouse aren't having sex as regularly as you'd like (life happens!), make sure you're still always physical. whenever I'm sitting on the couch with Lu, I'm touching him in some way - I think physical skin-to-skin contact is important in life (not just for newborns!) whether it's just a random hug, holding hands, little kisses, or full-blown hotel room sex, be physical. it brings us all closer and releases endorphins!
this is the #1 thing Lu and I bicker about. I have to be on my phone for work 24/7 - I like to keep on top of my social media and it results in me scrolling Instagram and responding to messages all the time. when Lu and I sit down to grab dinner and he opens the New York Post app or starts scrolling through Instagram, I get SO angry. he says right back, "you're ALWAYS on your phone, why is it okay when you do it but I can't?"
the solution? be clear and set parameters. unfortunately, it's 2017 and this is a real issue. what I say is that if we're just hanging out doing our own thing (i.e. zoning out on the couch or laying by the pool), it's fine to be on your phone, but if we're sitting down to dinner or doing something intimately, phone's are off the table and away. I still break the rules sometimes to do "work" social media, and Lu understands - but then I have to be a bit lenient with him if he wants to check something.
the key is not freak out about it. the easiest thing to do is just put your phones in your pockets or in a purse, out of the way.
let the other person know they're needed, wanted and important
I think this is one of the most important parts of marriage. let the person know you want them, need them and that they're important in your life and you couldn't live without them. if you can live without them, then why are you married? I'm not afraid to let Lu know that I can't live without him.
it can be as little as something as needing him to open a jar of pickles every time to sighing and saying, "I don't know what I'd do without you." wouldn't it feel nice if someone say that to YOU?
define your roles in the household
HUGE. there are certain things that Lu does and things that I do. of course, when the other person can't do those things, we step in. but generally, we have what I like to call our "defined roles." it just helps living together be easier and less stressful. and no need to "keep count" per my earlier piece of advice.
for example, Lu doesn't cook anything - he barely spreads his own hummus on a carrot. however, I don't clean dishes. Lu has never placed an Amazon Prime order for garbage bags or shampoo, and I have never scrubbed a toilet or shower.
have your "me" time and time with friends
this is pretty self-explanatory. make sure you schedule time with yourself and your friends. your best friend should be yourself - if you're not happy with who you are, you can't fully love and appreciate the person sitting next to you. work on yourself and always practice self-care and self-love.
respect one another
I think the second you lose respect for someone, the relationship is over. it's impossible to love someone if you don't respect them. I respect Lu so much and I'm proud to be his wife. if you've lost respect, find out why - and try to gain it back. if your spouse does something that isn't honorable, speak up and tell them that doesn't fly. tell them you're disappointed in their actions. it hurts when someone's disappointed in you and you learn your lesson and become a better person because of it.
men want to feel like men
men feel sexiest and most confident when they're treated like men. yes, it's 2017 and women are more independent and strong than ever. but at the end of the day, we're men and women - women don't have testosterone and men don't have estrogen. men like to feel powerful, so throw your man a bone every once in a while. make him feel manly!
maybe this doesn't apply to your man (or woman), but it does for mine and I had to include it. men are simple creatures - make him a meal (and do the dishes!), touch his arms and tell him he feels strong, and have him change a lightbulb - works every time.
I hate seeing women who emasculate their husbands and laugh about it. it's not funny - would you want your husband to make you feel like a man? I wouldn't!
have fun, always
travel, experience new things, dine at new restaurants, whatever it is - get out and do things TOGETHER. explore the world, meet other couples, and make a point to book at least one trip a year to somewhere new. if you don't have the financial luxury of traveling far, it can just be a day trip in a car (or train! or bus!) to a nearby town and walk around, have a meal, and call it a trip! I think one of the main reasons people in college become so close is because they experience a whole new life after living the first 18 a certain way. it's exhilarating and it immediately bonds you!
and just a few things to always remember:
- from the moment you and your spouse are wed, you're a family! family is #1, above all else - so prioritize your relationship and your time together. schedule it if you need to!
- don't manipulate or play games - that's for middle school.
- NO secrets.
- never talk poorly about your spouse or vent about him to other people. if it's a harmless tease here and there, that's okay, but don't air out your dirty laundry at every dinner with your friends.
- organize date nights if you don't normally go out.
- people don't change - accept that.
- find a hobby together- Lu and I love working out together!