My husband and I recently celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary. This is a bullsh*t anniversary. I mean, 10 is a big deal and 15 is kind of cool, but 11? Nobody cares! Hallmark doesn't even get excited. The suggested gift is steel. Steel, you guys. I guess I could get him pots and pans? Or buy him a quirky stainless steel Star Trek flask and fill it with good bourbon? Or maybe I should write him a list. After all, I've learned exactly 11 things in 11 years of marriage. Crazy how that works, huh? Are you amazed? I am amazed. Here we go:
1. Sync your iCal. Or whatever calendar thingy you use. Most of our fights are because I told him we were having drinks with Fred and Anna Thursday night, but he wasn't listening because he was watching the Kings game. Or he told me not to talk to him Tuesday night because the Kings game would be on, but I wasn't listening because I was buying shoes online. If you both know the schedule, you'll be way less likely to get your signals crossed.
2. Let your partner watch what they need to watch. If your husband or wife wants to watch three solid hours of bad food TV, geez, go in the other room while they watch weirdos decorate cakes or whatever. If they need to watch Scandal every week in silence, don't give them crap; let them get their Olivia Pope on. If you're tolerant of their obsessions, life will be a lot easier. Hey, whatever gets you through the day, right, gladiators? (I love you, Olivia Pope.)
3. Compromise with family obligations. If your significant other's parents require attendance at every Thanksgiving, Easter and Columbus Day, then you guys should spend Christmas or Hanukkah, 4th of July and Labor Day with your family. (Save Halloween and New Year's for friends, though. That's enough family time, guys. Who are you, the Sopranos?)
4. Ask how they are. OK, this one seems super obvious. But, when you get really familiar with someone, it's easy to forget the niceties. And the niceties are, you know, nice. My husband asks me how I am every morning and I love it. I always ask him back. Even if we're both just saying a generic "OK" or "fine," it still feels good that someone in the universe cares how you are that day.
5. Let them be right once in awhile. I know. You're always right. But consider how infuriating it would be to live with someone who is always right for more than a decade. Pretty "ugh," huh? So when your husband or wife has a point and you deep down KNOW they have a point, why not step back and tell them you get it? It only stings for a second, I promise. (Unless the fight is about Scandal, then stand your ground. I love you, Olivia Pope.)
6. Sometimes, you really do look gorgeous. It's a fact of life that your partner is going to give you compliments. Occasionally, you should consider taking them. Try saying "thanks" instead of ticking off the reasons that red wrap dress makes you look like either a gorilla or George Washington in drag. Also, realize that your spouse loves you and sees you in a different way: a way that's not watered down by years of self-deprecation and doubt. Maybe you really do look gorgeous. Suck it up, you gorgeous gorilla.
7. Compliment them daily. On the flip, make sure you tell your husband or wife what you appreciate about them. This has the effect of making you love them even more because you're reminding yourself of their awesome qualities. I regularly tell my husband that I appreciate him cleaning everything always (he's one of those neat people), but my favorite thing is to just jump on him and squeal, "You're being so cute right now!" If this isn't your style, a well-timed ass squeeze or an outburst of "Your arms are so hot" in the frozen pizza aisle of the supermarket are also quite affective.
8. If you're not in the mood, you can get in the mood. Seriously, try it. It works every time, I promise. I mean, unless you have the flu or something, then maybe take some Nyquil and get some sleep, you horn dog.
9. Put on your game face just for them. I feel like my husband gets the brunt of whatever challenge I'm facing. Because we live together and because I love him, I tend to let him see the big ugly more frequently than I'd like. But lately, I've been making an effort to give him the brave face I'd give my barista or my yoga teacher. And, you know what? It's working. I feel better about things in general and I'm quite certain he feels better about not being my dumping ground.
10. Spend time alone. This isn't revolutionary advice. I'm sure you have this pinned on a Pinterest board, only more eloquently stated and in a cuter font. But, it's common advice because it's true. My husband goes to Vegas once a year with his guy friends. I go to Texas and get stupid on margaritas with my sister. I do yoga; he golfs. I like to lock myself in a room with a good book; he likes to lock himself in front of the History Channel with a good cocktail. Whatever it is, don't spend every waking moment together, because you'll get sick of each other after a decade, no matter how fascinating you both are.
11. Be grateful for what you have. Take a moment and thank the universe that you have someone to hit happy hours with, to watch Supernatural with, to roam around bookstores on the weekend with. Allow yourself to thank your lucky stars that you have someone who makes you laugh and hugs you hard and does little dances when he grabs a beer from the fridge. Whether it's been 11 years or 11 months, it's pretty cool to connect with another human. Acknowledge this and everything gets better. (Except Scandal because it's already perfect. I love you, Olivia Pope.)
Photo by Lori Needleman.