Kayla and I got married at the young age of 19 and just celebrated our 9-year anniversary. As much as marrying my high school sweetheart sounds like a fairy tale, it hasn’t always been happily ever after.
I love my wife more than I could ever imagine. She has pushed me further than I ever thought possible and each year my love for her deepens, but marriage is a roller coaster.
Filled with ups, downs and periods of expansion and contraction (much like the stock market).
It’s been a beautiful ride and we’ve both learned so much. There’s no way to distill everything into 9 lessons, but here are 9 that I’m thinking of today.
Here are 9 lessons I have learned being married for 9-years in my 20’s.
We Need To Be The Best Team
Every day, the world tries to tear our marriage apart. If we sit back and stop putting forth the effort, we begin the process of growing apart.
Whether it’s movies, advertisements, social media, friends, family, work, etc… There is always something trying to come between us and take our attention off each other.
Social media presents an unrealistic look into other lifestyles and relationships. Our own social media profiles are unrealistic representations of our life (it’s our highlight reel).
By consciously focusing on each other and reminding each other we’re on the same team has been very important to our continued happiness in marriage.
We Need To Make Time For Each Other
It’s so easy to stay focused on our kids, our work and our goals that we lose focus on what keeps it all running smoothly. Each other. There have been times in our marriage where we’re simply “ships passing in the night.”
We need to regularly make time that involves just Kayla and I. No kids, no distractions, no stress. We continue to date each other regularly. This has been so important to us.
We strive to go on a date each month of the year. This doesn’t have to be fancy, or expensive, but it’s about making the time together. Our favorite thing to do is dinner and a winery afterward for dessert.
We also plan at least an overnight trip every 6-months with just each other. This has improved our marriage more than anything else we’ve done.
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Patience… Young Grasshoppers
When we were in our early and mid-20’s we felt like we needed to do and experience everything as quickly as possible. This led to overspending and unrealistic expectations.
By stepping back and getting patient, we’ve been able to look at the long game of our marriage and life. This has reduced our stress levels and allowed us to appreciate what we have today and not what we want tomorrow.
We have to be in it for the long game. Marriage and a family is a big ship to steer. A small adjustment today can lead to a massive course correction in 20 years. Patience is truly a virtue.
Sex Isn’t Going to Happen Every Night
As much as I thought I’d like it to, it’s just not the reality. We have 3 boys, 2 full-time jobs, and a long list of other responsibilities. Someone in our household is always sick or simply just tired.
It’s been important for us to continue to cultivate this expectation and to keep each other’s needs in mind. I will say, we’re in a good spot at 9-years and I’m happy how our intimate relationship has evolved over the years. It’s a wonderful thing.
Communication is so important here. If someone feels their needs aren’t being met, it needs to be brought to the surface before resentment, anxiety, and despair have a chance to take hold.
If you can’t talk to your spouse about your intimacy, you need to get professional help, ASAP.
Kids Are Temporary
Having kids is such an awesome responsibility. One that we don’t take lightly. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done and will likely ever do, but it’s only temporary.
We have such a short amount of time to help them become who they’re going to be for the rest of their lives. Give them your time, attention and most importantly, your love.
Before we know it, they will be out of the house and we’ll be 45 years old. It’s sometimes sad to think about this, but it’s all the more reason to live in the moment as much as possible. They move through their developmental stages so quickly, it’s staggering.
Someday It Will Just Be Us, Again
There’s a day in the future where it will just be Kayla and me again. I’m excited about this for two reasons. We’re both aware of this and we’re building a strong relationship.
Our goal is to not have to “repair” our marriage when we become empty nesters. Our hope is that we continue to have the same/similar goals after kids and can smoothly transition into this new lifestyle when the time comes.
As it stands today, we love each other so much and are looking forward to the day when it’s just us again.
Combining Our Finances Has Kept Us Together
Not that either of us would want to leave our marriage, but combining our finances has led to us achieving our marital goals. If we didn’t combine our finances, we would not have finished multiple college degrees with zero debt, we would not have had 3 kids (with zero debt). The list goes on.
We’ve been on the same financial page since day 1 and I’m so grateful for this. It’s not her money, my money, it’s our money. This actually benefits Kayla much more than myself because I make nearly twice as much as she does.
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We Will Always Have What We Need
We can’t just sit back and expect our needs to be met, but both of us believe that we will be provided for. This has proven itself true many times in our marriage. We don’t always get what we want, but we’ve always received what we need.
If you’re willing to work and put forth the effort, you will have your needs met. It’s that simple.
We Have To Carve Our Own Path
We have heard it all. Getting married at 19 generates so much negativity and judgment. It was hard to deal with as a young person. Then having kids at 21, 25 and 27 started it all over again.
We’ve had to become experts at shutting out the noise, cutting ties with those who bring us down and really focusing on our immediate family unit. It’s your life, you only get one shot, carve the path that makes sense for you.
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Perspective is Key
One of my strengths is being able to take extreme ownership of our marriage. Being able to see when my ego is in the way, for example, has been super important for me to be a better husband.
Kayla isn’t always right, and I’m the first to tell her that :), but neither am I. I need to see that as well. In fact, neither of us needs to be right. We just need to find solutions and agree on a path forward.
We’re two separate beings with unique backgrounds and upbringings. Our behavior patterns are not the same and we see the world through different lenses. It’s been so important for me to realize this. It’s not just my life, she has her own life and it’s every bit as important as mine.
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