Tomorrow marks three wonderful years of marriage for McGregor and I. It’s pretty hard to believe that three years has already gone by. I remember the day vividly – despite it going by so quickly. I’ll also never forget the fact that 1/3 of our total wedding cost can be attributed to alcohol, which is precisely what I budgeted for. Oh how well I know our guests. LOL.
As anyone (and the statistics) will tell you, marriage is not easy. You can have all the love for one another in the world, but if you aren’t continually working on your marriage, it won’t get you very far. I feel grateful that its something McGregor has expressed from day one; that he’s here to continue to work on our relationship and grow together.
We have had so many ups and downs in our first three years of marriage: we’ve had a miscarriage, we’ve experienced a very sick baby, and her needing two open-heart surgeries, we’ve also purchased our forever home, and have gone on many dream vacations.
The good times are always amazing, and through the rough patches we’ve had, we’ve always emerged as a stronger couple. By learning together, being open to understanding one another, and compromise (because the reality is, you do need to compromise!), we’ve weathered the storms that life has brought our way and have come out as a stronger team than we’ve ever been.
Everyone has their ways of working through things, and McGregor and I are certainly learning on the fly, but here are the three most useful things I’ve learned after three years of marriage.
A Flexible but Structured Schedule Goes A Long Way
I think this point is particularly relevant if you have children. If you don’t have kids yet, live it up! Make time to do whatever you want together, make time to do whatever you want separately as it’s healthy to have your own lives outside of your marriage.
However, if you have children, it’s less simple to go and do whatever you want, but we’ve found a structure that’s been working for us. Here’s how we came to it:
McGregor is good at making an effort to balance his family life and his social life. Both are important to him. When he feels like grabbing a beer with his buddies, he will set it up. I applaud him for that but also won’t deny that once Sloane was born, I had moments of resentment for it.
Why, you ask? Well, I found it incredibly challenging to get out (or stay in) and do my own thing. It was a combination of mom guilt and wife guilt all rolled into one. I spend long days with just Sloane and I alone, singing the itsy bitsy spider, for an average of 10 hours a day. When it came to just “doing me,” I’d feel guilty not doing something with the family or taking time away from McGregor to be able to do his thing.
I know it’s twisted, especially since I literally did nothing for myself, but when you’re overly aware of people’s reactions to you getting some time, and “what society says you’re supposed to do,” you quickly feel like the worst mom and spouse in the world.
We then implemented Sunday mornings (ALL morning and most of the afternoon – until Sloane’s up at 3) being my time to do whatever it is I want: if I want to stay in bed and watch Netflix, yes! If I want to work on this blog, yes! If I want to see my friends, yes! Now that it’s known that Sunday mornings are my time, I don’t have any guilt or built-up resentment that I never get to do anything for me because Sundays are my choice, regardless of whether or not I have formal plans.
I will say that if it ever came down to an issue that McGregor didn’t make time for himself, we’d make the same plan for him. He does get a Saturday sleep-in day but doesn’t take the entire morning “off.”
It’s also not a rigid plan – if we need to switch to Saturdays or if we need to cancel it for a weekend based on other plans, we do, but we figure out different ways to make sure everyone gets their own time to do their thing.
The point is, I think everyone could benefit from working with their spouse to figure out some form of a schedule that works for you: if you want to go for a run in the morning, and so does your significant other, swap days that you can each get out, or swap times with one another.
It has been an enormous game changer in our home.
Constant Open Lines of Communication
No doubt this one is easier said than done, and after three years of marriage, we’re still working on this. I imagine in three more years it’ll still be at the top of my list for things I’ve learned, and it’ll still be something we’re working on.
Communication has never been my strong suit, but I am slowly getting better. I certainly work hard on it, and so does McGregor.
McGregor and I will often check in with one another: what drives the other insane, what can we improve upon, how do we feel about certain things?
We then will talk it through and each put in the effort to make a difference. The best example of this right now is our comfort level around COVID. We both have low-comfort with everything going on but are always checking in to see if our thoughts are still the same – especially with new information coming out frequently. We can then take a collaborative and educated effort to figure out what our family approach is to this whole situation.
Most recently, a friend asked McGregor to go to a local brewery for a beer, and he wasn’t sure if he wanted to go. Neither of us feels great about restaurants, but we talked it through and decided if he sat outside, sanitized the surface he was sitting on, and brought his own cup (yes, we’re those people) that we’d both be comfortable with it. So he went, did all of those things – didn’t love the brewery experience – but that’s beside the point. We talked it through and agreed on an approach we were both comfortable with.
When we talk about what drives the other insane, it’s a different ball game, because sometimes these things aren’t easy to say – but we are getting better at it, and we are both open to working on whatever it is. Mine is currently spending less time on my phone (which has increased ten-fold given my new job as a blogger extraordinaire), especially when we are all together as a family. McGregor’s is to help more with things around the house.
I am delighted to say that through constant communication, I broke his ice cream spoon in the sink habit.
Modify Your Expectations as Life Changes Three Years of Marriage
Anyone’s life can drastically change whether it be because of a new, more demanding job, needing to care for a family member or any other challenges that might be thrown your way. Our lives quickly shifted to a new reality once we welcomed Sloane into our world.
Suddenly, my type-A personality, you know, the one that needs everything to be “just-so,” got a serious reality check. After months and months of being frustrated about literally everything, I realized I needed to change what my expectations were about, well, almost everything.
McGregor and I had a LOT of capacity to take on a ton of random things before Sloane was born, but now we don’t have that same bandwidth. Our daughter takes priority, and as a result, I’ve readjusted my expectations to match what is realistic in this house.
If I asked McGregor to do something, I used to expect it to be done immediately – now, I give it a week because he’s not home all the time and, while that pile of laundry is important, spending quality time together as family tops it all.
Modifying my expectations has helped me be happier with our new reality. I am still working on stepping away from a mess and cleaning it up later and not just doing tasks I delegate myself if they aren’t done soon enough. But as I mentioned, marriage is a work in progress.
The theme of all of the three things I’ve learned after three years of marriage is that teamwork really does make the dream work. So cliche and so cheesy, but it’s true. McGregor and I are working together on everything, daily, to continue to have a long and happy marriage.
So, to my dear husband, cheers to three years of marriage. Thanks for being my ride or die and always having my back. I love you more than the day we said our vows and can’t wait to see what our next three years hold.
P.S. this is your anniversary card this year. LOVE YOU!