After 11 years of marriage, here's what I know.
After eleven years of marriage, I feel like I'm an expert hostage negotiator. We by no means have a perfect marriage nor do we pretend to. But we do have a deep love and respect for each other. We respect that sometimes we're jerks to one another, and sometimes we have to admit when we're wrong. (Note: I'm never actually wrong.)
We've been through some real low times as well as amazing highs. We're still working on compromise, and we will until we're senile and meet each other for the first time again.
We have two wonderful little boys and when they were born, we learned the true meaning of survival. When they came home, we learned that we would be a force to be reckoned with.
As they've grown bigger and messier, we learned that we can adapt to even the worst conditions. Together. Side by side in a sea of grossness. I'd like to think that I've learned a few things about marriage and life through it all. Maybe you agree, and maybe you think I'm completely off-base. If it's the latter, write your own damn advice column.
Here are a few tips and tricks from a woman who's been married longer than you. Remember to fake it until you make it.
1. Forgive, and forgive often.
You don't have to forget, but you do have to forgive. Not forgiving opens up the rabbit hole of resentfulness.
2. Touch each other.
Hold hands and kiss. I have this stupid sign above our bed that says, "Always kiss me goodnight." I make him kiss me even when I'm a snotty mess, or when we're in a fight. Speaking of which, you can go to bed angry. I do it a lot. You know what happens when I wake up in the morning? I usually feel silly about whatever I was angry about.
3. Say you're sorry, even if you aren't.
At some point, you have to compromise in a fight, and forgive and be forgiven. Just say it.
4. Defend each other.
Someone says something about your spouse that isn't flattering? Say something. Not only are you defending your other half, but you're defending your decision to marry this person. You aren't an idiot, right?
5. Realize that there are very few unforgivable acts.
I consider this treason. If you've married a defector, get out. We have no place in America for commies. Unforgivable acts include cheating, abuse of any kind, and wearing socks with sandals.
6. Laugh together.
Laugh with each other and at each other. Tickle if you have to.
7. Love with your entire heart.
Love the best and worst of your partner. One day you will have to wipe their ass. This would be the worst.
8. Don't take each other too seriously.
9. Be proud of one another.
Stand tall next to each other. Even when he makes stupid dad jokes. Cringe on the inside, not the outside.
10. Remember the young, naive person you fell in love with.
Provided you didn't have an arranged marriage. If that's the case, remember why your parents forced you to marry them.
11. Be kind. Oh, be kind.
Words can hurt. Sticks and stones hurt more, but words can cut right through the heart.
Laura Birks is a freelance writer with twin boys and a husband. So that in fact makes her an expert. Google it.