My Top Piece Of Advice After 10 Years Of Marriage

Today, Ben and I have been married for 10 years!

It simultaneously feels like forever AND just yesterday...it truly truly has just gotten better and better and I feel so blessed. I say it all the time - I'm like a broken record - but I feel so lucky to have met the love of my life at such a young age. You can read our love story here!

I thought in honor of hitting the 10 year mark, I'd share my number one piece of marriage advice. Now, I in no way think I'm an expert - but I do feel very proud of my marriage and I do have a big piece of advice that I think is worth sharing. When I've told people what I'm about to share, they often brush it off or don't quite understand what I mean. So I'll explain.

Because in my opinion, it's the most important thing you can do to cultivate a healthy, happy marriage full of unity and respect. Here it is:

Look for the GOOD in each other.

Ok. So, this sounds simple. This sounds like...no big deal. But it's actually very hard. Let me explain.

I feel like a very common thing is to see spouses LOOKING for things to be annoyed about, or upset by, or to be angry about. They are LOOKING to be let down. They are ASSUMING that their spouse is acting from a selfish place, or a careless place. They INTERPRET actions or words as something negative or bad or careless or insignificant. It can be an easy trap to fall into.

For example:  let's say your husband leaves a mess in the kitchen after fixing himself a snack.

It could be easy to see it this way: he is careless, he's messy, he doesn't even consider the fact that I'm going to end up cleaning this up, he ASSUMES I'll clean up after him, he doesn't appreciate me, he is lazy, etc... etc... etc...

BUT, if you are looking for the GOOD in your husband, you will see the situation from a place of love. Your husband's strength may not be in tidying up - he may not care about it as much as you do...and that's ok! If YOU care, you can clean it up. Or you could ask him if he wouldn't mind helping you out by cleaning up after himself when he gets a chance. You can choose to see the situation in a positive light - maybe it's endearing that your husband is messy. Maybe that's a part of who he is - and you love him! So you accept that!

Or, another example: Your baby has a poopy diaper. You are tired and you feel like you always change the diapers. You wait for your husband to take the initiative and change the diaper. But he doesn't.

It could be easy to see it this way: Your husband is purposefully ignoring a necessary task, he's expecting you to change the diaper, he's not taking responsibility, he's not helping, etc...

BUT, looking for the good in your husband, you could understand that since you DO change most of the diapers, your husband has every right to assume that you are just going to change this one. If you want some help, simply ask - in a nice and respectful way.

These are just two examples where I feel like I've seen spouses react in a way that seems as if they ASSUME THE WORST from their spouse. Doing this breaks down respect on BOTH sides.

You will see what you look for. So look for the GOOD!

The way I look at it is this: Ben is my husband. He is the GREATEST man and husband in the world. He is sweet, loving, smart, brave, hard-working, funny, honorable, humble, devoted...the head of our house, my best friend, my life-long team mate, the father of my children.

It's easy for me to see the good in him! BUT, even in situations where we may disagree, or where we may have a mis-communication, I always stop and LOOK FOR THE GOOD. I try to see where he is coming from in the best possible light. I will stand up for him, have his back, show him respect, fight FOR and ALONGSIDE him, until the end. Because he's mine. My other half. My perfect match. Every situation, I approach from this perspective. Ben and our marriage come first. They are the cornerstone, the foundation, and the base camp. He is my person. I see the good in him. Always.

It's about loyalty. It's about seeking out the BEST in YOUR better half. It's about making your team the BEST it can be by viewing and treating your significant other with respect and with trust and with KINDNESS.

I NEVER speak badly about Ben to ANYONE. Not that I would ever have a reason to. But in general, I don't buy into women (or men, for that matter) bashing their spouse to their friends or family. As a married couple, YOU are one. YOU are a team. YOU deal with your issues or concerns amongst YOURSELVES. YOU show your spouse the respect of not speaking about them behind their backs. By focusing on the negative and discussing annoyances and problems with others, you are weakening the strong front of your relationship with your spouse. It's YOU TWO against the world.

Or, at least, that's how Ben and I see it. :)

Anyways, I'll stop there. I feel so strongly that there is a huge lack of respect and the seeking out of GOOD within marriages. I hope this post makes sense and that it is helpful in some way to at least ONE person.

In my opinion, a marriage is the most important relationship of a person's life. Everything else revolves around that union. Love, look for the good, respect, work together, trust, encourage, compliment, listen, forgive... cliche, but so so important.

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Our Love Story

Today marks eight incredible years of marriage to my handsome, kind, wonderful husband! If I'm being honest, it feels like longer than that...not in a bad way...in a good way. As in, I can't remember life without him in it.

Being married to him just feels like what life is and what life should be.

I thought today would be the perfect day to share a brief summary of our love story! I've had a few requests for this, so now seems like an appropriate time to get it written down. I think it's a pretty romantic, fairy-tale-like story, but then again, I may be biased. :)

Love At First Sight

Ben and I met on the 4th of July in 2007. We were both 18 years old and he was one of my best friend's older brother's best friends... did you follow that? Ok, good.

My parents live on a lake and have a boat, so I invited a few of my girlfriends over to celebrate the 4th and play in the water. My friend brought her older brother along and a few of his friends (one of them being Ben). Ben was in the Marine Corps based out of Camp Pendleton in California and was just up for a visit. Ben and I flirted and we all had a great time hanging out at the lake.

A few days later, I got a text message from a number I didn't recognize and it turned out to be Ben. He had gotten my number through his friend who got it through my friend. He was back in California at that point, so we began a relationship over the phone. We would talk for hours and hours every day, getting to know one another. He was set to deploy to Iraq in a few months. After a couple of weeks of chatting on the phone, Ben flew up to be with me for a weekend and we officially became boyfriend and girlfriend on July 26, 2007. We fell hard and fast.

After that it was a whirlwind. Ben came up most weekends to see me. I flew down to California for a visit too. I started at Seattle Pacific University at the end of September, right before Ben was set to deploy. It was an exciting, crazy time.

One night while Ben was up visiting, he asked me to marry him. We were both 19 at that point and had been dating for about two months. We were unofficially engaged when Ben headed off to Iraq.

The deployment was really really hard. Being a part from one another and not getting to talk very often was rough. Not to mention that I was worried sick about Ben the entire time, all while taking on my freshman year of university. It was a long, hard, emotional time. I wrote Ben a letter every single day that he was deployed, which is maybe a little crazy. But he saved every single letter. They are currently in a garbage bag in our garage. haha

When Ben got back from Iraq in May of 2008, I flew down to California and was waiting for him when he got off the bus. I was so nervous about how things would be, seeing as we had only been dating a couple of months before he left. But my nerves were put at ease instantly when he grabbed me in his arms and held me and asked me to marry him again. *swoon*

I had to go back up to Seattle to finish out the school year at SPU. Ben and I continued to talk for hours on the phone and he flew up to visit frequently. We hated not being able to be together all the time.

On the 4th of July, 2008, exactly one year after we met, Ben proposed again, this time with a ring. We had had enough. We knew that we didn't want to be a part any more. So we made the decision to have me move down to California.

Elopement

I packed my things and headed south. I think I shocked my family and friends when I did this. But me moving to be with Ben was nothing compared to the shock of what we did next. A few days after I arrived in California, Ben and I eloped. We drove to a courthouse in Santa Ana and said our vows and got married on July 17, 2008. We were both 19 years old.

I know the fact that Ben and I eloped was very hard on our families because they weren't there, and I regret how that must have made them feel. And I know everyone at the time thought we were crazy. But while I feel bad about not telling our families and about them being so caught off guard and worried, I honestly love the fact that we eloped. It was so special, having our wedding day be just me and Ben.

2009 Marine Corps Ball

Married Life

Married life was amazing right from the beginning. We had such an incredible community of friends from the Marine Corps. Ben and I went on adventures and got our puppy, Gunner, and enjoyed every minute we could together.

He deployed again in January of 2009. This time, he was on a MEU based out of Okinawa. We were able to talk a lot more than we were on his first deployment. Gunner and I moved home and lived with my parents while he was gone.

In December of that year, Ben's four years in the Marine Corps were up. We moved back to Washington, and began our life outside of the military. It was bittersweet and we missed our friends from the Marine Corps terribly...still do.

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Vow Renewal

In 2010, after two years of marriage, we had a vow renewal ceremony so that we could share our marriage and an actual wedding with our friends and family. It was so special to be able to do this! It was such a perfect, beautiful day. My dad got to walk me down the aisle, my grandpa performed the ceremony, and Ben and I got to get wedding pictures taken.

Happily Ever After

Life being married to Ben has been a dream come true. I know that sounds cheesy, but it really is the best way to describe it. I still get butterflies around him. He makes me feel like the most loved, precious, beautiful, cared for person. He teaches me something new every day and we go on the most amazing adventures together.

I know that no marriage is perfect, but honestly, to me ours is. I feel so blessed and thankful to have met my soul mate at such a young age and to have been able to grow and achieve amazing things together. I wouldn't change a thing, and I am so grateful for this adventure-filled life with my very best friend! 

Our Next Adventure

Our first baby is due in about a week, and we are so excited for this next big adventure together! I can't wait for our son to arrive and to see the little human that Ben and I created!

Our babymoon in Paris, January 2016

It is so wonderful knowing that whatever life has in store, I will have Ben by my side. I can't wait for the rest of our lives together and for the future. But I'm also just loving every minute of the present. Life with Ben just keeps getting better and better and I know how blessed I am and I thank God daily for this beautiful life with such an incredible man!

Thanks for reading and for letting me share a little brief bit of our love story! I'd love to hear yours - share in the comments below! I'm a sucker for romance. :)

xo, Anna