My anniversary is one month away. Seth and I will be celebrating 14 years married on September 3rd. It feels like 30 years. I don’t mean that in a bad way. We have just been through so much in our years together. We lived in an apartment and two houses together. We have three children, said goodbye to four fur babies and welcomed three new pets into our family. We have been through a lot of cars. I’m driving my fourth minivan (insert my gag response). I am counting down one year to get myself a super cool three row SUV. Maybe I will regret getting rid of my super convenient minivan but I am not that mom who loves her minivan. I’m acting like a total spoiled brat right now! I am totally thankful for the life we have together! Seth has provided me with 12 years home raising our kids! He works super hard and pays for this minivan that I complain about! How about just saying thank you?

My lesson number one: you can never say thank you enough! “Thank you for working so hard today! Thank you for driving Max to soccer! Thank you for running to the store for me. I appreciate you!” If you just say I love you, thank you and I appreciate you every day you will see a significant improvement in your marriage! Seems like such a little thing but it is big! If I complain about my minivan it makes Seth feel like crap and I have to remember that. How many people out there would probably love to have a nice minivan to drive their children around in? How about thank you for this nice new loaded minivan! Don’t laugh! I have a fancy minivan!

My lesson number two: don’t assume that you know what your partner needs from you. Ask your partner what their top three needs are and how you can meet those needs.

Emotional needs: affection, attention, listening. This is a big need for both Seth and I!

Physical needs: one of the biggest disagreements I hear from my friends and past clients was how often to be intimate. This is definitely an ongoing conversation and negotiation. This is the one and only precious thing that you two have with only each other.

Concrete needs: housework, driving kids, gardening, errands, money!!!

Social needs: I try to meet both of our needs. We both need friend time and couple friend time.

Informational needs: trips, camps, activities, appointments, dog trainer, you name it. I do a lot of this stuff but Seth is always willing to help me. He tends to be the more logical one who brings me facts on whatever the topic may be!

What do you need? Spend some time thinking about it and share it with each other. It’s an ongoing evaluation. It’s not a concrete answer that will stay the same. This week I may need Seth to help me get two kids in two different directions for 9 AM camps but next week I need him to help me in a different way. We try to talk about each week and our schedule and what we both need to do. Seth tends to request date nights with me. I tend to request help with driving the children!

One of the things that I love is that Seth tries to take care of me. He knows I will never make an appointment to go to the chiropractor (despite the fact that I was raised with chiropractic care and both my brother and sister in law are amazing chiropractors) so he makes appointments for the whole family. I would like to note that my brother and sister in law don’t live here so we go to other great chiropractors in town. He knows I will never book a massage so he books them for me. He knows that I hate being our travel agent and he is so much better at it so he tends to book our trips. Find out what your partner doesn’t enjoy doing and take care of it for them! I know Seth will just go without eating so I make his lunch every day. I know that he will go out the entire weekend for our family if I have too much planned. I try to take care of him and give him some down time!

My lesson number three: put your partner at the top of your list. Seth has told me that he feels like he comes after the children on my list. That doesn’t make him feel good. I have to ask him and myself what I am doing to make him feel like that. The best thing we can do is to not be defensive and actually listen and hear what is being said to us. I tend to get lost in the demands of raising three children!

My lesson number four: commit to your marriage. Stay in it every day. Do something for your spouse every day. I know you’re exhausted! Do it anyway. It could be as simple as slipping a note into their work bag or sending a sweet text. Let’s talk about texting! Seth sends me a sweet text every day! It means so much to me! I try to put a nice note in Seth’s lunch every day. Seth tells me one of the highlights of his day is when he gets to work and he immediately goes in his lunch bag for the note to start his day off right. It sounds so simple and so little but these little things add up to something big! When I got married I got married for the long haul. I didn’t get married because it seemed to work for me at the moment. Marriage is two imperfect people who will never give up on each other. Put up with each other’s imperfections and celebrate the things you love about each other. Take notice of the things you don’t like about yourself or something that bothers your spouse and work on it. I screw up every day and I try to do better the next day.

My lesson number five: what you focus on in your marriage and in life expands. Seth was telling me that nothing that he said was right. He was focusing on this every day and it’s like a self fulfilling prophecy. If you believe something you will make it true and you will look for it. I told him to change his story. I also focused hard on what he was saying right and letting him know. Seth can be short with me and I know I am sensitive. That doesn’t amount to a good combination. Through the years Seth has grown more sensitive in his word choices and tone and I have become less sensitive. I realize he is never trying to hurt me.

My lesson number 6: this brings me to communication. I know that if I communicate when I’m angry I will say things I regret. I also know that sometimes I shut down. I am learning to say “this is too much. I need some down time to regroup before we finish this conversation.” That way I have communicated what’s going on with me instead of Seth feeling like I just checked out and don’t care. I know that I need to get myself to a calmed down state before I can communicate effectively. I have also learned that even when I am right or think I am right that is not what marriage is about. Being in love is so much more important than being right. Seth has learned that if he is short and prickly with me
I just get upset. He is learning to be patient with me and repeat himself if necessary. He is also learning that his one sentence takes me longer to spell out to him. I try to summarize but women tend to be more detail oriented.

My lesson number 7: I know how lucky I am. My ex boyfriend really helped me develop a list of what I didn’t want in a husband. It really helped me figure out what I was looking for! I certainly found it. Our marriage isn’t perfect. No ones marriage is perfect. However, I know that I am very lucky to get to be married to Seth. I am thankful for him and our children and our life every day. I try not to take it for granted. There are times that I have nightmares that I married my ex and I wake up and pinch myself. My life could have turned out so differently! I am very thankful for the road I chose to take!

My lesson number 8: have marital goals. Our current marital goal is to take a vacation together. We are also trying to go on more dates together. I get very wrapped up in the children’s schedule and it is easy to forget about making time for my marriage.

My lesson number 9: remember back to what made you fall in love with someone my mom says to me as she sits next to me as I type this. What do you love most about your spouse? What qualities attracted you to them? I was attracted to Seth being strong, decisive, and ambitious. I asked Seth last night what quality he likes best in me and what quality he likes least. He told me it is the same quality for both. Seth told me he fell in love with my kind heart but that my giving helpful personality tends to work against him and I too. My learning to say no more will give me more energy for my husband, my kids and myself. I don’t have to be giving all day every day. I have come a long way since he met me. He has rubbed off on me in a good way! I have made him kinder and he has made me tougher. I don’t love when Seth gets prickly or abrasive but it can work in my favor too! I was attracted to it and I needed him to balance me out!

My lesson number 10: only say or do something if you would do it in front of your spouse. Protect your marriage. Seth can look at my phone, texts, emails any time. I have nothing to hide.

My lesson number 11: from Tony Robbins:
what women are looking for: to feel listened to and to feel like their husband is strong. I completely agree with this!
What men are looking for:
to be admired and to have a relaxed partner! They are most attracted to us when we are relaxed. This is funny, right! I know we are exhausted. I know we are trying to fit everything in. I get it!

My parents have almost been married for fifty years. Here is what they told me.
Mom: put the other person first.
Dad: love conquers all. All you need to do is act loving.
They’ve taught me that marriage is through thick and thin.

My brother and sister in law are visiting. Here is what they told me:
Brother: she puts up with me. We are in it together. Marriage is a goal. She tells me when I screw up. I see that they respect and admire each other.
Sister in law: she told me about what Tony Robbins research says about marriage in lesson 11. We talked about how Tony says the key to marriage is the polarity of the masculine/ feminine energies.

Seth told me last night that if you put two people together and have them live together they will get on each other’s nerves sometimes. That is normal! Sometimes you need to take a break! I’m talking about going to Starbuck’s and taking an hour for yourself! Go for a walk and get some space. Don’t expect perfection! Appreciate and enjoy the imperfection that you have created together and work on your marriage every day!

I would love to hear what makes your marriage successful! Please feel free to share! There are a lot of people who need to hear it!

Wishing all of you a happy and successful marriage!

Laughing, Learning, Loving,
Rebecca Greene