15 Years of Marriage – What we’ve learned.
Reaching 15 years of marriage has triggered a flurry of “what’s the secret?” “What advice can you give us?” and “Wow, that’s a long time” type questions and responses. Let me say from the beginning, I claim no expertise in the area of marriage, nor would Anne. However as we sat down to gorge ourselves with many many crab legs at our local Red Lobster, we thought we would write down five or so things that we think are important to making it to 15 and beyond.
So here they are, the five things the Jolly’s think will help sustain your marriage to the 15 year mark:
1. Communication – Finding this on the list probably isn’t a surprise to you. But it’s there because it’s that important. After 15 years, we still haven’t figured it all out, but we still strive to understand each other. Do we yell, yep now and then we do. After 15 years though, we’ve never slept apart (because of a fight). We are committed to being together even in our differences and disagreements. We forgive quickly and try to forget quickly too. This is foundational to the rest.
2. Fletch – He’s been with us from the beginning, really before we were married. It’s not really Fletch that has held our marriage together, but it’s what we do when we watch it, we laugh. We both find ourselves quite hilarious. We can text each other any of the many one liners and we have a connection and we laugh. Fletch isn’t the real number two, the real number two is have fun together. For us Fletch is part of that. We like to do things together that make us laugh. Last night the movie Date Night did that for us. It was quite honestly a great 15 year marriage movie.
3. Sex -We think that there is too much emphasis on it. Maybe not worldwide, but here in the states, yep.
For the guys, try not to make such a huge deal out of it, you’re marriage is much more than your weekly romp in the sack. (side note: Although a small part of my mind knows this is true, 99% of the rest of me still struggles with the idea). Also for the guys, don’t believe that how much sex or how eager your wife may appear to have sex with you be the indicator for her love and devotion to you.
For the girls, you’ll never completely understand the drive/need inside your husband for sex. It’s kinda like a guy trying to understand what it’s like to be pregnant or have menstrual cramps. I can tell you this, he would love for you to initiate every now and then.
4. Financial Agreement – This is one that we think it is hugely important, but only landed on our list in the last couple of years. It affected our marriage from the beginning however. We have had little financially and we have had more than a little. During our first few years of marriage we lived below the poverty line and lived in subsidized housing. We on more than one occasion found ourselves in line at a restaurant or Walmart without enough money for the items we wanted to buy. We lived on credit, we lived paycheck to paycheck and we never knew how much money we had. We lived beyond our means and had over 11K in credit card debt at one point… plus car payments and the house.
We didn’t have a plan and it tended to bring stress to our lives. During the past two years we have changed that and wish we would have lived with more control over our finances from the beginning. We recommend the Dave Ramsey plan, because for us it has brought peace to this area of our lives. This doesn’t mean it gave us more money, but it has helped us partner and set up agreed upon goals.
5. Short-Term goals – This one isn’t so much about the goals themselves as it is something that, as a couple and family, we have to look forward to. It could be a vacation, a Saturday trip to the museum, or to the mountains. The idea is that it is planned just far enough out that you can look forward to it and plan for it together. It doesn’t have to cost a lot or be something really big. One thing that we do every couple months is drive to Las Cruces. It’s about 45 minutes away. What do we go to do… the farmers market and Coas, our favorite used bookstore. It’s something that we all enjoy doing. This summer we’re planning a trip to either Mt. Rushmore or San Diego. We haven’t decided yet, but we’re going to decide as a family.
There they are, we know there are more and we have probably left some important ones out. These however are the few that we think have helped get us through the 15 years o four marriage. One last thing I’d like to add is pre-marital counseling. I can’t stress enough the importance of working with a good counselor before you jump into marriage. The work you do before will make the work you do in marriage much more successful.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on our list and I’d love to hear what you’d add if you made your own. We’re looking forward to another 15 years of marriage… one year at a time.