found! not lost blog

“Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” ― Mary Oliver

Avoiding the nine-year itch

Once upon a time in a land far far away (or just about 400 miles southeast of here), a young business analyst fell in love with her former co-worker, they dated for several years and, eventually, married.  They enjoyed their newlywed life; traveling the world together, entertaining friends, supporting each other in their careers, trying as many new restaurants as they had time for, and even engaging in sloth-like behavior such as weekend movie marathons where they barely left the couch let alone the house – getting up only to pop more popcorn!

The couple went on to have two kids. Soon their lives became inundated with the typical mundane activities of a young family – work, daycare pick-ups and drop-offs, soccer practice, swimming lessons, an occasional movie out, frequent Target runs, and a sprinkling of Disney Junior TV shows and iPad games mixed in for good measure.

Yes, if you hadn’t guessed by now, that couple is my dear husby and me.  And don’t get me wrong, even if our family life is not necessarily remarkable, it is a good one.  I attribute much of that goodness to our nine years of happy marriage, the anniversary of which we are celebrating next week.

{Here we are, sealing the deal: August 2, 2003}

A few of my unmarried friends have asked me for our relationship secrets, that is, why does our marriage feel like a joy more than a chore? (though I’d be lying if I said it was never a chore – after all, comfortable routines like ours above can easily slip into boring ruts if you aren’t watchful). How do we keep the seven-year-, eight-year, and now nine-year-itch at bay?  I’m not even sure myself… it helps we are still in love with each other, of course, plus a few big decisions we’ve made and tons of little ones I imagine.  When I Googled around to find out what the pros say, this article resonated for me, “The 7 Steps to Happily Ever After”.  It’s a good read, so definitely check it out.  I agree with all of the points so I’ll summarize here the 7 and how I think it works for us:

  1. Find a shared dream for your life together – our dream is a happy home, filled with love, laughter, and stability for our girls, rooted in family and in our faith. Also, the ability for our family to have many opportunities and experiences, while growing in the purpose of our lives to help others as we go through them.
  2. Ignite (and reignite) a sexual connection –  Yes, there’s fear of the  unavoidable monotony of monogamy – and we have discussed and addressed that openly. It’s not an insult to your spouse to bring this up – we all know that “forever” is a very. long. time. Talking about it puts us on the same team to solve that potential problem before it arises. Let’s leave it at that. 😉
  3. Choose each other as your first family – This is a biggie for many, and worked itself out in our first two years of marriage. We agreed then that we would always stand up for each other with our own families if disagreements came up. And on the little things like how often we see our families we’re aligned (I actually view it as my job to make sure we see his since they are out-of-town and mine are local). I’m lucky my husband loves to be with my family, and often suggests inviting them over!  But even with that, we know boundaries are still important.
  4. Learn how to fight right – a trouble area while dating and early in our marriage because of my fiery temper and embarrassing lack of maturity. But, I’m happy to report either I’ve mellowed in my middle age or I’m actually learning. Probably both. We can still argue, but it’s less frequent and much more productive than in the past. Also, we’ve learned to see the humor in some of our arguments or old “habits” and get over it.
  5. Find a balance between time for two and time for you – I probably need more time than he does both with just us and with just friends, which I think is really typical of women. BUT, it’s nice that we both have outside friendships and work lives that give us more to talk about and keep us interesting to each other.
  6. Build a best friendship – We nailed this one early since that is how we began to date, because of our friendship!
  7. Face down a major challenge together – We are blessed in so many ways, that it’s hard for me to think of a “major” challenge. But we’re  like many others too – in our time together we have had job uncertainties and loss, miscarriage, the stress of selling a home in one of the worst real estate markets in recent history, and parenting two under three-years-old.  And I have honestly felt like all of those things did bring us even closer together because of our team approach in tackling them and talking about them. That’s probably the secret to why they didn’t feel that major!

But no relationship is perfect, and I like to use our anniversaries as time to look at how to make it even stronger, make sure we’re still headed in the same direction, and yes, to celebrate how far we’ve come together!

In the way of reconnecting and celebrating we plan to re-live our “glory days” as a couple by escaping to Chicago for the weekend, the city in which we met over 13 years ago. Fun plans which mainly revolve around food, so I’ll be sure to share whatever I can from that trip soon!

P.S. another article with good tips: http://www.hitchedmag.com/article.php?id=1180

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This entry was posted on July 28, 2012 by in kids/family and tagged , , , , .
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