Alex and I are celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary tomorrow. Over the years, I’ve learned many things about marriage—both what to do and what not to do. Here are my top eight…

Alex and I are celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary tomorrow. Over the years, I’ve learned many things about marriage—both what to do and what not to do. Here are my top eight…

1. Put each other to bed. Alex is a night owl, but I’m a big nerd and always fall asleep early. So every night, after I’ve brushed my teeth, Alex will come into the bedroom, lie down, and chat with me. We’ll often recap our days, tell stories, gossip, whisper sweet nothings; other times we’ll talk about the babies, life decisions, worries or fears. There’s something deeply intimate about lying together at night.

2. Let things go. When you share your life with someone, you see each other when you’re happy…and also when you’re sleepy, sick, stressed, when you have a bit of spinach in your teeth, when you’re depressed, when your eyes are puffy from crying, that morning when you wake up hungover with the baby at 5am and just can’t deal. So! There will be times when you’re grumpy and snappy, and if your partner is going through that and snaps about something random, LET IT GO. Don’t escalate things. Don’t take things personally. Understand where they’re coming from and stay chill. On the flip, if you’re the snappy one, apologize profusely 5 minutes later with a kiss. (Note: Alex is 1,000 times better at this than I am. He is so calm! But I’m working on it!)

3. Be polite. Say please and thank you. Compliment each other (“you smell great,” “you were so funny at that party,” “I was proud to introduce you to my boss,” etc.). Smile when your partner walks into the room. Laugh at each other’s corny jokes. Actively focus on their best qualities. Basically, strive to be an overall nice life partner. It sounds so obvious, but it can be weirdly easy to forget when you’re distracted or stressed, and it’s also surprising how much warmer you can act when you’re conscious of it.

4. Try new things together. We’ve gotten into our share of ruts—we watched every single 30 Rock rerun when Anton was a newborn—but the most thrilling times in our relationship happen when we’re trying something new. Now and again, we’ll shake things up and try a new noodle bar in the neighborhood or stop by an art exhibit or go kayaking on the Hudson. Even just watching a quirky documentary on Netflix or playing a board game at home can be enough to feel that little shock of novelty and learn something cool about your partner.

5. Realize that it’s ok (and good) to want time apart. When Alex and I moved in together, we spent all our free time together until one day when—SHOCK AND HORROR—he told me that he wanted to spend the day alone. A tried-and-true extrovert, I had always assumed the more the merrier, so I figured he must be mad at me. That evening, of course, he explained that he needs time alone to recharge, and nowadays we both enjoy spending time apart and cherish that independence. (Even on vacation!) This might be a no-brainer to most people, but it was a lesson learned for me.

Plus, three things I’ve mentioned in the past:

6. Say I love you *during* a fight.

7. Meet at the restaurant.

8. Schedule sex.

What about you? What have you learned about relationships through the years? I would absolutely LOVE to hear…Thank you so much for reading, and a big thank you to Alex for being the loveliest husband and partner and for never shaving his beard because he knows I like it. xo

P.S. Our first date, and will you change your last name when you get married?

(Photos of our wedding ceremony by Max Wanger)