My first wedding anniversary is coming up in a matter of days, and to be honest, I can’t believe Dan and I made it. I thought for sure that we would have killed each other or ourselves by now, and the fact that we haven’t is nothing short of a testament to what complete masochists we are.
With that said, I’d like to share these lessons I learned (mostly the hard way) during my first year of marriage, so you don’t make the same mistakes I did. (Though if you do, it’s good blog fodder.)
Lesson 1: Be considerate.
Let’s say that your partner makes an inappropriate joke that you think is HILARIOUS. And you think it’s SO HILARIOUS that you want to put it on the internet where everyone can see it, but he asks you not to, because, uh, it’s INAPPROPRIATE. Do yourself a favor and HEED HIS REQUEST. Because if and when you do post that inappropriate joke on the internet, and he sees it, he’s going to be mad. Real mad.
Lesson 2: Observe spousal privilege.
If you want to bitch to your girlfriends about how you thought you were going to have sex tonight but you came home from work to an unwashed heathen eating popcorn off his dog-hair covered basketball shorts and were all “OH HELL NO,” that’s legitimate. But maybe don’t send them a blow-by-blow account of your fight with your partner regarding his hygiene while it’s happening. He deserves SOME privacy, no matter how gross he may be.
Lesson 3: Agree to disagree.
One of the biggest issues Dan and I have had is our political differences. I’m pro-choice; he thinks abortion is the devil. He’s anti-gun control; I’m still not totally sure what gun control is. In the months after we got married, I suddenly felt like all of these issues needed to be resolved IMMEDIATELY. And we fought and fought, and went to therapy, and fought some more, and guess what? Nothing changed. He’s still incredibly conservative, and I’m still liberal (when I’m paying attention). And that’s who we are, and that’s what this is going to be. But as long as we can compromise on what to tell our future children (which we’ve done), we can continue on with our differences in tow.
Lesson 4: Insist on being right sometimes.
I’ll occasionally react to something in what is, for Dan, a less-than-desirable way, and he will, on those occasions, tell me to “calm down.” I HATE being told to calm down, because it makes it seem like I’m being crazy when I’m having a natural reaction to something that genuinely upset me. There are times, I’ll admit, when I am overreacting. And in those instances, Dan’s response of “calm down” is usually the final word. But if I feel like I’m in the right (a perfect example: him almost driving into another car because he was looking at his phone), I will push the issue. I will tell him that I don’t appreciate being told to “calm down,” because his driving (or whatever) really scared me, and I think he should apologize firstly for scaring me to begin with, and secondly for minimizing my fear. And you know what? He usually will.
Lesson 5: … But also be okay with being wrong.
Sometimes, you’re not going to be right. You’re just not. It happens, and it’s okay. So on those exceedingly rare occasions, be adult about it. Own up to your mistakes. Apologize to your partner. And try not to hold too big of a grudge against them for winning this argument.
Lesson 6: Be forgiving.
If you and your partner are in it for the long haul (which, if you’re married, is presumably the case), be prepared to show a little mercy. Like when he breaks your favorite popcorn bowl that was your mom’s in the 1970s, or when he forgets to close the front door before he comes to bed and you wake up COVERED (and I do mean COVERED) in mosquito bites. You can fuss a little bit (or a lotta bit, depending on the severity of the situation), but be prepared to accept an apology, once given. Your partner is human, and he’s going to make mistakes, JUST LIKE YOU ARE. And you both have to learn to move past them, because grudges are poisonous to relationships.
Lesson 7: Remember every day why you love your partner.
Sometimes, there will be a grand romantic gesture. Maybe it’s a bouquet waiting for you when you come home from work at the end of the day, or a spontaneous trip to a cute little bed and breakfast in the middle of nowhere. But for the most part, it’s the little things you have to watch for – he cracks a hilarious joke; he offers to help your aging parents move; he actually does his laundry so there’s not this monster pile of dirty clothes slowly creeping across the bedroom floor. That’s the stuff that is going to inspire “the feelings” on a daily basis. And as long as you get a little bit of that every day, everything else should be easy to figure out.
This piece originally appeared on Twenties Hacker.