Last weekend we took a trip to Fernie, B.C. to celebrate our 7 year anniversary in the place where we got married. The whole story of how we ended up getting married in the middle of a snowfield on the side of a mountain in Canada is quite a story, and I’ll have to write it down one of these days if you’re interested! But for now… suffice it to say, it’s been a wild ride over the last 7 years, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Pretty much nothing has worked out the way we thought it would, but it’s been absolutely amazing anyways.
We had a fantastic time in Fernie and were completely amazed at how much it’s changed over the last several years. We’re heading back again this summer to do some hiking in the area, and I’ll write an adventure post detailing all the best places to go, and things to do in the area. There were several ‘new to us’ restaurants in town, and it was fun to branch out a bit.
Over the years of driving back an forth between Canada and the States we’ve passed through Fernie hundreds of times, but we’ve never stayed there because of time constraints. Usually we go to the Curry Bowl which is on the main highway, but instead of going for familiar and comfortable, we opted for new and exciting on this trip. Stepping outside the comfort zone can be a really inspiring experience. We both came home happy and rested, and of course saying that we need to get away more often!
Seven years is a really drop in the bucket when you think about those couples that have been together for several decades, but I do know it’s enough time to have learned a few tips! Below are my 7 tips from 7 years of marriage, and they’re not in any particular order of priority except the first one.
1. The first piece of advice we received after being married just a short time was to ‘never stop dating’. And to this day, I still feel like it’s one of the most important pieces of advice I could ever pass on to anyone else. There seems to be this short period of time when you’re dating where life leaves you alone, and time stands still in the bubble of new love. But as you and I well know at some point life comes crashing back in a full speed, and it’s easy for the early magic to be crushed. Taking time out to ‘date your spouse’ is the perfect way to keep that magic alive. Regularly taking a time out of life’s responsibilities to spend quality time together keeps me sane, and it’s also my favorite moments of every week. We’ve definitely been better at this during some years than others, and I can say with absolute certainty that we both face life’s challenges better when we take a time out for ourselves!
2. Communication is indeed key! Life is challenging no matter what with the to do list growing ever longer, and stress mounting with increased responsibilities. Being on the same page makes it all seem doable. When you’re both set to conquer, these challenges don’t seem as insurmountable with someone by your side. I also firmly believe in telling the truth, so when my husband comes home and asked me how my day went, I don’t gloss over it and pretend to be something I’m not in that moment. Simply by acknowledging that the day was less than stellar, it’s easier to move on and have a nice evening together. Other days when everything went awesome, it’s natural to be excited, and it’s always nice to share something good with the other person.
3. Having respect for your spouse and making your relationship your #1 priority. For the first 4 years of our marriage we lived in 2 countries, I lived in Montana, and he lived 6 hours away in Canada (this was due to immigration status). Those 4 years were nothing short of insane, and I can’t tell you how many people would ask me ‘so… are you still married?’ (by the way so not helpful). But over those years we talked every night on the phone, and every weekend one of us would make the drive to see the other. We spent about 80 hours a month just talking on the phone and driving back and forth, yet somehow we were always able to find the time because we made it a priority.
It’s really easy to get too busy in life and put your spouse last. I know for myself it’s hard after a full day of really giving it my all to have anything left over at the end of the day. But in so many ways this is not fair to the other person, so in spite of whatever happened during the day, I try to show up 100% for our time together.
My husband and I have some of the same weaknesses, and we try to respect that and help each other out. For instance neither one of us seems to have the ability to say no. Knowing this is a weakness for both of us, we’ve sat down and put together some rules for how to handle certain situations so that we don’t constantly overbook ourselves. And when inevitably one of us slips up, we both try to be patient knowing that we both make the same mistakes. Instead of dwelling on how things sometimes don’t go well, or the fact that we maybe didn’t make the best decision in the moment, we try to have respect for the other person and learn from the situation, knowing that we’re both doing out best. Respecting your relationship in all ways helps you put it first, and I know for myself, decision making gets easier when I remember what my priorities are.
4. Thoughtfulness goes a long ways in making both of you happier! Finding ways to add a little happiness to the other persons day helps so much in this fast paced, overly busy world we live in. It’s truly the little things in life that count, not the amount of money spent. Over the years, sometimes we’ve bought gifts for the special occasions in life, and sometimes not. Having a tangible gift isn’t as important to either one of us as having an experience to remember, so that’s were we tend to spend our money. Once in a while one of us will go above and beyond with something extravagant, but more often than not, we tend to celebrate with some kind of weekend away to spend time together. For the everyday things, it’s sometimes nice to add a little something unexpected – like a massage on Tuesday, or a peanut butter cup (one of his favorites) packed in his lunch on Thursday. To be honest some weeks I’m just trying to hold on, but when I do take a little time to add something out of the ordinary to his day, it’s amazing how much it perks up both of our moods.
5. Challenge life’s problems head on. Speaking from experience this can be so hard to do, especially when there’s always so much piling up. But by challenging things head on it creates a forward motion that I know helps me in all my relationships. When I feel completely bogged down in life, it’s pretty hard to be thoughtful and caring towards anyone else because I start to get a bit self centered. And by challenging things head on, not only do you make good progress in life, but you also keep anything negative or destructive from taking up too much time in your life. It’s easy to want to bury your head in the sand, but at the end of the day the problem only tends to get bigger, so it’s always best to ‘strike while the iron is hot’ so to speak.
6. Appreciation and thankfulness for the other person is everything! Like I mentioned above, it’s easier to get caught up in everything that’s going on for myself and what’s on my plate. So it’s always good to take a step back to have a look at everything my husband is always doing for me. It doesn’t take very long before I’ve forgotten my own stress, and I’m thankful to be married to my best friend who helps me through every day of life. My husband never knows what he’s going to come home to, and luckily for me he takes it in stride. Somedays he comes home to a calm and collected wife getting dinner started, and other days he comes home to a stressed out disaster in need of a lot of help. This is probably one of his qualities that I appreciate the most, he always accepts me right where I am and doesn’t have expectations. Taking a little time out to be thankful and feel appreciation for any relationship always seems to put life back in perspective.
7. Set aside a little time everyday to talk. Even during our craziest busy years together we’ve always made a little time together every day non-negotiable. Now that we’re living in the same country, it’s definitely a little easier, but on the other hand it’s also easier to get sloppy, and take things for granted. I know that when we were living apart, making the effort to be together wasn’t even a question. Now that we’re living in the same house, it’s easy to get caught up in patterns of overwork, or spending too much time on life’s situations. So lately we’ve been spending about 30 minutes over dinner discussing our day, but also talking about things that inspire us. We’ve both started listening to podcasts about topics we’re interested in, and that gives us something in common to talk about that’s more about the fun side of life, instead of always talking about the more serious things.
Most of all I think all these tips just add up to living in a way that makes you wildly happy despite the responsibilities and challenges of life. And now I’d love to hear from you, what your best tips are for a happy life and great relationships!?!