We’ve had over 31 years of adventure days, my husband and I. When people ask me how we’ve made our marriage work for over 30 years, this is what I tell them….
The Best Advice
A month before my wedding, my grandmother pulled me aside and gave me two pieces of advice. One, marriage is not 50/50 like everyone tells you. Marriage is 20/80, 70/30, 60/40. Marriage is a give and take. Sometimes you take and sometimes you give. It takes work. It isn’t easy. You need to be in it 100% Did people tell you it was? Well, I am here to tell you it isn’t. It’s not unicorns and fairy tales. Do they factor in? Definitely!
They used to call the time before marriage as courtship. Think of it like that. Everyone is on their best behavior, you rarely fight, you love and lust a lot. That’s courtship.
Marriage is figuring out who does the dishes, who does the laundry, who cleans the toilet bowls. Marriage is talking and making sure you are on the same page on the big things and the little things. Do you stay-at-home when you have kids? Do you work part-time? Work full-time? Are your roles reversed and it works for you?
The day my father passed away is an example of this. I could not give more than 10 and my husband gave 290. When I broke down, inconsolable, he made sure the boys who were 6 were taken care of. He made the calls to family. He held me and he gave me space. He put aside his grief to help me through this devastating day in my life.
Later, when work was consuming for him, when he put in 14 hour days, i stepped into the giver role. I did not rally at him. I did not bitch and moan. I knew that he was doing what he had to for our family. I made sure that everything in our home was taken care of. I mowed the lawn, I cooked his favorite things, I made sure that he had some peace and quiet when he needed it, I made sure he went fishing to relieve his stress. I gave 120 because he was giving too, just in a different way.
My grandmother’s second piece of advice: Men are just little boys in big packages. Was this meant to demean them? No, my grandmother was simply saying that sometimes what they need are not the big things we can give, but the little things. If you have kids, you know what I mean. My sons loved Legos, but they could play for hours with a simple refrigerator box. They loved to be wild and crazy in their play, but they loved the quiet time of reading and cuddling.
She was telling me to figure him out. Know his likes and dislikes. Watch his cues. Know when he needed a date night out in the city and when he needed to simply stay home and enjoy a home cooked meal, a movie and a snuggle. Recognize his frustrations and his passions. Work with him.
Does this mean it’s all one sided? Absolutely not! My husband does the same for me. He knows that I clean when I’m angry. He knows I don’t like pea and spiders freak me out. He knows that while I find cut flowers beautiful, that I’d prefer not to get some.
Be The Example
My grandparents lived and loved into their 90’s. They met at a dance in Wisconsin where he was visiting a friend in the town where she lived. They grew up more than 100 miles apart. It was a chance meeting. He was Methodist, she was Catholic. Her mother didn’t approve. They eloped and married anyway, so strong was their love.
Was their marriage perfect? No, none are. They worked at their marriage. They also respected each other. He didn’t ask that she become Methodist and she didn’t ask that he become Catholic. They talked. They held hands. They fought. They made up. They loved.
My parents met when my mother was 14. They didn’t live in the same town or go to the same school. A friend knew him. They met when she went to borrow a Spanish book. They dated. He went into the Navy and saw the world. He came home and married his sweetheart.
Was their marriage perfect? No, none are. They worked at their marriage. When each of us left home, my father spoke to us and asked that we watch over our mom should anything happen to him. All three of us received this request. Never at the same time and unbeknownst to the others or our mom. The day of father’s memorial we were sitting on the floor of their dressing room going through his things for her. One of us brought it up, I don’t remember who, and we all were like, “You too?!?” We all continue to do as he asked. We watch over mom, not because he asked, rather from the example of love and giving they set for us. Because we had great examples to follow.
Our sons are 21. We hope that we have set the same example. Remember this in your own marriages and relationships. Kids notice. Teens notice. Young adults notice. Strive to be the example that you want them to see. If you weren’t blessed with examples of good marriages or good relationships, work to find a way to be that for your children. It’s not easy. There are ups and there are downs. You work through the tough things and don’t give up. You celebrate the little things. You support and respect each other.
So you are asking, what does this title have to do with marriage? Well, another thing we all have in common is that we all love having adventure days. They are simple dates. We did them through out our marriages. Michael and I call them adventure days.
They are random, sometimes spur of the moment dates. Adventure days don’t have to cost money. They don’t have to take an entire day. They are days doing something together. It’s willingly joining your spouse when they run errands (and not complaining). It’s a picnic in the park. It’s trying a new brewery because he wants to and in spite of my beer allergy. It’s a day exploring a new city or town. Sometimes the adventure is just the two of you. Sometimes it’s more. They thing is you are spending time together, talking, communicating.
To my friends who have kids at home, it is even more important to take the time as a couple only when you can. Have a date night. Put down the cell phone and talk. Hold hands. Connect with one another. Build on the foundation you had before kids. It doesn’t matter if it’s once a month, once every few months, you need to do this!
Let me be frank, it’s not about sex. You can have kids and make time for that. This is about refreshing the connection of you as a couple. Recognizing during your adulting, kids, work, car pools, meetings, that if you two don’t communicate fully that things can crumble. Emotional intimacy.
Don’t have family near by? It’s called a babysitter. Money tight? Do a trade out with friends in a similar situation. Just do it! Michael and I went on dates. When my mom visited we did overnights away. We look back now and are so glad that we made that time. We didn’t sit down once the kids went off to college and look at each other and wonder, who is that? We knew.
Make sure you have adventure days in your life, in your marriage. Do all of these things just apply to marriage? No! All of this works with friendships too. I’ve had some awesome adventures with my girl tribe. I also know that true friendship works best when it is a shared friendship. I’d like to think I know my friends likes and dislikes as they would know mine. I know when they need space and they know when I’m mad. Friendship also takes work to maintain. You can’t give all or take all and expect it to last.
Enjoy life with a little more adventure in it. Follow me on Instagram as that’s where you’ll see many of our adventures these days!