8 Things I’ve Learned About Marriage

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)

  1. I really relate to #5! I feel so rejuvenated after a little alone time, but I forget to prioritize it. The benefits of scheduling date nights (and sex!) are discussed lots… Maybe we need to think more about how to schedule valuable solo time, too!

    Justin and I recently celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary. These are 10 things I’ve learned along the way, if you’d like to see:

  2. Jess says...

    Opening this thread back up – about to celebrate our 5th anniversary and struggling with “wood” gift ideas… any inspiration would be greatly appreciated :)

    • Riley says...

      Me too! 5th Year anniversary is coming up — Sept. 1st!
      Totally in love with your little marriage perspectives along the way Joanna.
      Keep them coming. Happy Anniversary to you both, Jo & Jess. xo

    • Chris says...

      I got may husband a titanium and Koa wood ring – he loved it and wear it on his right hand.

  3. It’s great to see some of the things that have worked for you in your marriage. I like how you mentioned putting each other to bed. What my wife and I enjoy doing is looking at old wedding photos from our photographer. It’s fun to look back at that day and see how far we have come.

  4. Although I’m not married to this very sweet man which I’ve lived-in for almost 6 years now, but he definitely treats me no less than a wife. Growing up in Asia and in an Asian family, I tend to lean on the introvert side. So sharing how I feel isn’t a usual practise for me. I’m working on letting him know how I feel at times and telling him how much I appreciate what he does for me and the relationship. Let things go is another thing which I definitely am still trying to learn every single day =D

  5. This is actually my first time to your blog and what a wonderful post this was! My husband and I are almost at our 1 year and I think these are some amazing things to keep in mind. I also couldn’t stop reading all the comments below. You have such a lovely group of readers!

  6. Great article, gives a realistic approach to marriage and expectations, just the type of things that my readers need to hear :)

  7. I love this list!! The only thing I’d maybe add is “stay open” – after thirteen years if marriage we’ve hit our tough spots and sometimes, for me at least, I’d find it easier to close up on myself and stay mad. But when I stay open to love I can receive my husband’s love, even after a fight or when I’m tempted to be upset or mad or give him the cold shoulder. That never ever helps. Love always wins.

  8. Happy Anniversary. I’ve just started reading your blog and I enjoy it.

    Your comments about marriage are dead on. I finally found the right one the second time around and we’ve bee n married 10 years and together 25 years. I would add a few things though.

    1. Your comment about being alone sometimes is so true. You need to make sure that you don’t lose yourself when you love another.

    2. It’s little resentments that kill a marriage. People think its the big things but it’s the little things that corrode the relationship over time.

    3. Separate bathrooms. I kid you not. I married a neatnik and I am certainly not. So not having to share my messy space has made his life so much easier.

  9. Thanx for sharing your thoughts! Me and my husband have been married for 7 years and one of the most important things in our marriage has been communication. We are very different in many ways and therefore it has been very important for us to learn how to communicate in a way that both feel understood and appreciated.
    We try to take at least one evening off every month to check how we are doing.. if there’s been something bothering my or my husbands mind, how our marriage is doing, if we have given each other enough time and shown appreciation, how our kids are doing etc…
    I really think that is one of the most valuable things in any relationship to make it grow and stay strong.

  10. This is very nice blog.
    i just sent it to my husband.
    Our 5th anniversary is going to be in January, we got married very young, 3 months after we graduated and we ‘ve got a daughter.
    God bless you
    plz.visit my blog

  11. Happy (belated) anniversary!
    I love the bit about putting each other to bed! I always go to sleep before my husband, and he comes in to give me a kiss goodnight and ‘tuck me in’, but I love the idea of having him lay with me for a bit and talk :)

  12. Such wonderful advice! Esp. love putting each other to bed and allowing each other time to recharge.

    For young couples, I would emphasize to be mindful in always placing each other first. This includes family, friends and yes, even your children.

    As best friends, lovers and as husband and wife, you will always want what is best for the other and understand best how to find compromise. However, when family and friends come and go and children grow up and move away, you want to be left w best friend you know intimately. One who is still at your side championing you- not a stranger.

    Secondly: Fight fairly. If you find yourself in a situation where it’s absolutely not your fault, take a time out. For every action there is a reaction. Think, write and sleep on it. What role might you have played in this situation? As you said- starting out with, I love you, brings the tension way down.

    Bring the focus back to how the situation made you feel and admit what role you may have had and apologize.

    Speak as you would want to be spoken to. Seek solutions, not blame. Offer solutions on how you can help- make it a win-win and seal it with a kiss! That’s what life partners do- they look to resolve problems respectfully and always have each others back.

    Happy 5th Anniversary. May you enjoy many more!

    Be well, live well!!

  13. Happy belated anniversary Jo! I am recently engaged and I love hearing the advice of happily married couples. I especially love the idea of putting each other to bed since I tend to go to bed early as well. Thanks so much for the great advice :)

  14. Congratulations! Funny coincidence: turns out I got married on your anniversary this year! Thanks for the advice :)

  15. Wow, 5 years already! I feel like I was just reading the news on Smitten…

    Being polite is one I practice seriously. I think it’s easy to feel you are unappreciated, especially if you’re cranky. So just a thank you goes such a long way.

    Honesty is the best policy too. Sometimes, this is silly, but I do get in a bad mood for hormonal reasons, and get offended easily. I have learned to recognize when I am overrreacting, and give him a head’s up.

  16. It is good to look at things from the positive side. It has been two years now that we are together with my husband, and I have to admit we have had some really rough times. We are both really good in escalating our conflicts, but we are aware of it and try to overcome it. Sometimes, our marriage resembled a crappy Hollywood movie rather than a serious union between two adults. This is why I wanted to thank you for your advice, and wish you all the best for the next decades.

  17. I absolutely love this post….I needed it, thank you for sharing!

  18. I’ve been with my husband for over 6 years and I totally agree with your post! The keys to our success have been to communicate, to be nice to each other and to have fun together.

  19. 24 years happily married, like everyone life has had ups and downs. My secret? He makes me laugh…..every day!!
    Happy anniversary xx

  20. Happy anniversary!! i loved this post, it is so beautiful (and true!!); great tips to keep in mind. thank you for sharing. I wish both of you many anniversaries more to celebrate!!

  21. Jo how right you are! I will be married for 5 years this September, (we are together for 10 years already), and we constantly do your suggestions! (apart from the one day apart) He is my best friend, and this is the most important bond we have. One thing we do always when we fight is to hug ourselves as soon as the situations gets crazy! and it works wonders!!!

  22. Good advice, especially saying sorry… I grew up in a house where nobody said sorry for their irrational behaviour, but it’s something I’ve learned to do, it’s so important, and especially important for our children to see respect towards each other. About to celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary here!

  23. I like these! We’ll be celebrating 11 years of marriage in 2 weeks. And since it took us a long time to conceive, we were childless for all of that time until we had our daughter last month. So we had a LOT of time to grow together and figure out how to make each other- and ourselves- happy. My biggest piece of advice is to practice the fine art of compromise. That’s how we’ve stayed so happy for so long. :)

  24. As a single girl, my sister always tells me to find a guy that can say “i’m sorry”!

  25. I wish you and Alex a very Happy 5th Anniversary and many wonderful years together! My husband and I have been married for 36 years.

  26. I am not sure if it is a magic way to make a marrige go on. We have been together for 17 year, and married for 8. This is a disntance race!
    I am reading “men are from mars
    women are from venus” and you cand find very easy advice to enforce in your routine and make your
    coexistence much better

  27. Happy anniversary! Funny, when I read the title of the blog post I thought, ooh, I’ll bookmark this, it might be handy if I get married one day. And then I remembered, I am! It’s only been 6 weeks since our wedding, so still forget sometimes ;-) Anyway, I loved number 1 especially — we’re both freelancers but have different creativity times, so we’ve started doing this just recently and it really helps! Lovely post x

  28. Happy anniversary!
    I have been together with my hubby for almost 9 years. I totally agree with the first one about putting each other to bed.

  29. I’m introverted and my partner is too, but we still forget sometimes that the other isn’t being mean; we just need down town, even from each other. Thanks for sharing your advice, Joanna. I sent it to my partner and he and I agreed, you are one smart lady. It’s our sixth anniversary this october and I’m sure we will keep following your advice for years to come.

  30. Great advice
    I agree # 1 is to be nice.
    I learned to be realistic with my expectations, (and it shouldn’t hurt to discuss them); and, Don’t look to a partner as hero…Look at your love as a person.

  31. one of your best post , for sure….

  32. These are so true, and it’s so good to have a reminder! I’m celebrating my FIRST year of marriage this weekend…already I can see how important the 8 points you have about marriage are! Congrats on 5 years! Hope y’all have a wonderful celebration!

  33. Congrats you two! Such a honest and lovely post and something I passed along to so many of my friends married and single. Thanks for sharing and wishing you guys many more years of joy and happiness!

  34. Thanks for posting this! I’m getting married in April, and while we’ve been dating for 10-years, non-cheesy “real” relationship advice is helpful (I’m looking at you Mrs. “never go to bed angry”…)

  35. What a sweet post! :) Have you read The Five Love Languages? I think you would love it. It’s all about how to love someone in the way they best receive love. The five are: words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, physical touch, and gift giving. My top two are words of affirmation and quality time. It is hands down the best relationship book I’ve read. Second best relationship book is “For Women Only”

  36. I adore your posts! We are working on 8 years of marriage and 15 years of living together and I mean “working on” because it IS work, but the most meaningful work I’ve ever done. Congratulations to you and your hubs!

  37. I am getting married in December, and it seems like such a gargantuan task, building a relationship that will endure life (especially when so many people joke that their lives ended when they got married). We talk frequently about how to do this, but sometimes my dear reminds me that we are actually doing it day by day, and then it doesn’t seem so big :)

    I watched this yesterday, and I felt like what the the husband says at the end sums up our hearts on marriage: “So whatever happens, we’re definitely doing it together.”

  38. ND says...

    These are great tips, and so true. The others I would share are to try to laugh as much as possible — if there is something you know makes your S.O. laugh, a funny face or voice or inside joke, do it! And, to not get fatalistic if you go through a down phase every once in awhile. I’ve struggled with this, but sometimes, for whatever reason, you and your S.O. may be “off” for a little bit… know that it’s not necessarily indicative of your relationship, and let it pass :)

  39. Jo, this is a very, very lovely post. So thoughtful. Thank you.

  40. We are anniversary twins! Celebrating our 5-year today, too. Congratulations!

    You nailed this – especially with #2: Let things go. Inevitably little niggles will pop up when you live with someone and know them (better than they know themselves sometimes) so well. I can have a really short temper (and get over things quickly as well) but I have learned a huge lesson in what’s worth discussing and what’s just not a biggie. Great advice!

  41. This is one of your best posts yet :) love to hear encouraging bits of marriage advice. My husband and I have only been married for one year but it had been wonderful. My husband is wonderfully patient and I have learned from him the importance of being understanding. We have learned to not pick unnecessary battles and to more earnestly focus on what is important. We have also been studying our love languages. I’m quality time and he is acts of service – we are trying to love each other in the way that resonates most. Maybe most of all we love to laugh together – to be completely silly and just willing to be ourselves! My favorite noise is Nate laughing uncontrollably. :)

  42. Happy Anniversary!

    This was a beautiful post :) I’ve just begun the big “moving in together” adventure and definitely agree with taking time to yourself (apartments just aren’t built for all the time!)

    My favourite thing is to decompress together at least once a week over a glass of wine. Hit the porch with a glass, each other, and no cellphones! I always end those nights remembering why I love him so much

  43. Never put down your partner in front of others. My husband will often tell me how glad he is that I don’t put him down when all the other wives are rolling their eyes because their husbands can’t fold a fitted sheet, or the like.
    Mine can’t either, but he will unload the dishwasher every morning because I hate it.
    See the best in who are with.
    12 years, 3 boys, still in love.

  44. Congratulations to one Joanna from another! We are going on 27 years now, and it’s funny how hindsight gives 20/20 vision, isn’t it? Loved your advice – and I’m working on the going to bed together one… I shared a similar post just as we were approaching our 25th anniversary. Have a lovely day, and keep the wonderful posts coming!

    Scroll to the bottom for the English translation. :-)

  45. You have NOT been married 5 years- how long have I been reading this blog?! Wayyy before that, I am sure! Oh Joanna, you guys are so beautiful together!

    Great post, too :)

  46. Happy anniversary to you two. I agree with you in all points but I think this is not only the key to a good marriage but also to a good relationship. I am together with my husband for over 4 1/2 years and married since June this year. For us it is important to respect eachother, show eachother your love with littly things (like a message that you think about the other or let the other one sleep a little longer at the weekend especially when you have kids), talk and go on dates with eachother (this is very important).

    Thank you for your blog which I love to read and for your honesty in your posts.

    Best wishes

  47. Jo, how do you get over your different sleep cycles? I am also going to bed early, and it kills me that I mostly go to sleep alone. It became one of the major issues in our relationship (well, mostly the fact that I kept bugging my husband and saying that it reflects his lack of commitment to compromise sleep time, or even his lack of love for me).
    Later, I learned to be ok with myself and not see meanings in everything (yes, we have different sleep habits, that doesn’t mean we don’t love each other). And he also comes to sleep early more often. But it’s still difficult, sometimes.
    Any advice, here? I don’t want to “make him” change, I’d rather work on myself. How do approach your own ok-ness, while you go to sleep alone?

  48. This is so wonderful, I’ll keep for myself some of that tips. I’m not married, but I think some of them are perfect if your are in a relationship.


  49. Wow! Love this! Great advice! I totally agree on putting each other to bed. My husband and I are the same, I fall asleep on the couch, he could stay up all night. But I’d rather snooze on the couch and go to bed together. That’s something I’ve always been big on, no one goes to bed alone. We always go together! And my hubby is good at keeping that!

  50. Such a beautiful post! Amazing tips! Happy Anniversary, Joanna and Alex. Wishing you guys many,many more years of happiness.

    xo Donna

  51. Joanna, this list has the most sound and loving marriage suggestions. While I am divorced, I’m also lucky that my ex-husband and I remain close friends; and I think being able to maintain a kind and respectful post-marriage relationship has a lot to do with the level of kindness and respect we had in our marriage. This is the best line: “strive to be an overall nice life partner”. I think something seemingly so simple and basic can be so powerful. Thank you for sharing these gems. And enjoy a wonderful anniversary!

  52. Great list! You and Alex make such a beautiful couple :) Hope you have a great anniversary.

  53. Happy Anniversary! We have been married 10 years today! I love your list and would add – forgive one another. Your partner will inevitable let you down or hurt you in some way or another. It just come with the territory of living together say in and say out. But you must learn to forgive. Otherwise you’ll hold onto small grievances which will plus up and lead to bitterness and resentment. My husband and I try to truly never let the sun go down on our anger and end our arguments with understanding and forgiveness.

  54. Happy anniversary! I love this! All true. I’ve been married for just over a year, but my husband and I had been friends for seven years before we even started dating, so we’ve spent a lot of time together and know each other well. The one thing we like to do, which I would add to the list, is surprise each other with adventures. For his birthday, I just told him to get in the car – I had planned the whole day based on what I know he loves or things we love to do together, and he’s done the same for me (in fact, he’s planned way more surprises – I have some catching up to do).

  55. 5 years for us this year too, a move across the country, countless jobs & 2 daughters later… what we have learned is that as long as we are each other’s biggest fan & supporter than we have the worlds.

  56. I rarely post but have loved your blog for over a year (missed you when you went on hiatus/vacation). Anyways, it’s my husband and I’s four year anniversary tonight and I couldn’t agree more with this post but also having you recap these things is great for us. As we sit at out annicersary dinner in TriBeCa, I made him read this post. Spawned great convo and hopefully a great end to an evening ;) Thanks Joanna for all you do.

  57. Happy Anniversary Joanna and Alex! Always lovely as usual and may you continue to enjoy as much happiness as your hearts can stand! Enjoy your special day! Tucked in Bedtime stories are my absolute favorite. ;)

  58. Happy Anniversary! Always lovely as usual and wishing you both as much continued happiness as your hearts can handle! Enjoy your special day!

  59. You have summed it up beautifully! I tear up when I realize that THIS IS MY LIFE and that my partner and I are set for thick and thin. We just reached four years together. I love hearing about other happy (grounded) couples. Congrats! Now if only every living person could know what it’s like!

  60. Congrats Jo! We got married the same day! August 29th, 2009! Five years and counting! Wishing you beautiful years to come!

  61. Congrats on your anniversary! I’ve been married 11 years and together with my husband for 17. I think being open to growing together (which sometimes means apart) is an important step to any relationship – so long as communication is happening the entire time.

  62. Happy Anniversary Joanna! We just celebrated 3 years! I couldn’t agree more with being nice and saying please and thank you! I’m so grateful that my mom made me say it as a kid, because now it’s automatic. I really need to thank her for that!
    We have our squabbles very now and then but overall the past 3 year have been a honeymoon!

  63. @i.d., stubble is the worst! that’s when it’s all scratchy and annoying—encourage him to grow a full beard, so it’s nice and soft and smoochable:)

  64. thanks for these funny, wise and insightful comments! love them all xoxo

  65. These are great! I too go to sleep early while my husband is a night owl, but he always comes into the bedroom with me when I go to bed, even if he doesn’t fall asleep for a few hours. It’s definitely something we both love. Happy anniversary!

  66. Congrats on 5 years! These are all so good. One thing that has meant a lot to me over the years (especially through the struggles) has been to remind each other that we are on the same team, not fighting against each other. Kind of an “us against the world” mentality, you know? It’s especially helpful when I’m frustrated with him…making myself say out loud that I’m on his team often calms my frustration and enables me to view him with love instead of anger.

  67. You are definitely on the right track for five years with your 8 Things. This year will be our 34th year – do little special things for each other every day. When you disagree or fight- say what needs to be said then let it go. Happy Anniversary.

  68. Joanna, can you please do a post on how you cope with beard rash!? I love my boyfriend’s stubble too but kissing him really irritates my sensitive skin…

  69. I love, love, love this post, Joanna! And say a fervent “yes!” to all of these things. You and Alex are such a wonderful couple.

  70. My five year anniversary is tomorrow too! It feels like such a milestone for some reason! Happy anniversary.

  71. Tomorrow is my five year anniversary too! Feels like such a milestone, doesn’t it? Happy anniversary!!

  72. I definitely do #3, with my mom. I’m not married or dating, but #3 applies to how my mom is. She will just randomly harp on something without any provocation, and my dad lashes out at her, and a giant fight erupts. I just take most of what she says in stride, and let her vent.

  73. love you guys! congrats!!

  74. Honey Bun, you are the best. We are coming up on our 26th anniversary and those 8 still hold true. I would add to it when you say, “I’m sorry” leave it at that. My husband says I’m notorious for saying, “I’m sorry but…” which basically goes into a description of why it’s his fault!!! Once he pointed it out to me, I try not to do it. Cherish your little family, life is good.

  75. I would be celebrating my 5th anniversary next week, but we are in the middle of a divorce. I find these lessons to be so poignant. There’s a fine line between letting things go and speaking up… And I think too far either way can be the death if any relationship. Thanks for sharing, Joanna!

  76. I remember when you got engaged! Funny story…a couple years ago my mom and i, also a long time reader, saw Alex on Bleeker one night, prob running to the deli or something, and both turned to each other and said “cup of jo”! We both love reading about your home, family life and Cornwall.

  77. I love the idea of meeting at a restaurant for dinner!!! I just read your post about it and it gave me butterflies! Can’t wait to try it with my hubs :)

  78. Beautiful post Jo. Thanks for the simple reminders inm marriage…and Happy Anniversary!

  79. Love this list! We’re going on 5 years of marriage in October, with baby #1 due two days after our anniversary! I’m excited and nervous since it’s just been the two of us for so long, but can’t wait to see how a baby changes our family! We definitely need time apart, I’m a nurse and work 3 nights a week so he gets to enjoy that time doing whatever he wants. It makes our time together more purposeful. Congratulations on five years and a beautiful family!

  80. I really like the post and I hope you can post more like this one in future. I like the intimateness of it but I don’t mean that in a creeper way haha

  81. My 4 year anniversary is tomorrow. These are so true, specially the bed time one.

  82. Happy anniversary!

    We are going on 7 years in october and my best advice is to try to genuinely enjoy or learn one (or more) of your partners hobbies even if it isn’t your cup of tea. My husband is way more outdoorsy than I am, but I make sure to schedule time for hikes or bike rides with him, and keep a good attitude about it so that he doesnt feel like he is dragging me along. He does the same for me, and will spend hours at a bookstore with me (and listen to me recap entire plots) without complaint so that I can find a good book to take on our next camping trip :)

    The good attitude and genuine interest in what they like makes a huge difference in our relationship, and people often describe us as best friends. Which is true :)

  83. Thank you for sharing this! It’s been also our 5th anniversary this year, and I find it very accurate what you are writing about it.
    I agree, and I realize that all I regret is always that I should talk to him more and tell him more often how much I love him and appreciate that he can stand me… we are very different but I learn that loving someone so different is such an enrichment! and such a chance!

    Happy Anniversary!!!

  84. After seven years of marriage I’ve learned just how differently two people can view the world. I would add another tip of giving your spouse the benefit of the doubt when in a disagreement and take the time to understand where they are coming from. They may have totally different paradigms that influence how they interpret conversations, people and situations. It’s been fascinating to be able to “see” through my husband’s eyes and I love him even more because of it.

  85. Great reminders! Thanks, and happy anniversary. x

  86. I am a new reader and have been reading your blog religiously Monday through Friday. I absolutely love it! This post is so sweet and congrats on the anniversary, I also will never let my boyfriend shave off his beard. We often joke that if he does I am going to pack my bags and move out.

  87. I agree so much with #3! Often I overhear couples talking so rudely to each other in public. I understand being comfortable with each other but you wouldn’t be so impolite with your friends, so why your partner?

  88. My husband and I are celebrating 5 years in October! One thing my husband and I like to do is plan a date centered around each other’s interests. For instance my hubby loves to go to dive bars, shoot pool, drink some beers, play some music on the juke box and eat some fried food. So we do that even if it’s not my thing all the time. Then he’ll plan a date that centers around my interests like a book store, coffee shop, walk around the city and Thai food. It’s always a blast!

  89. Has it been five years?! Haha, I remember when you were all about the wedding planning. :) One of the reasons I so love being with my boyfriend is precisely that fact that he doesn’t take it personally when I need time away just to be alone. And he doesn’t escalate stress or tension. On the flip side, I like to think that I cheer him up when he’s blue, me being the incorrigible optimist that I am, and I like to bust us out of restaurant or travel ruts by going to the new place or checking out a new exhibition etc. So far it works pretty well. :)

  90. Oh, I SO agree with all of these, wonderful advice! I personally think it’s very easy to take “please” and “thank you” for granted and it’s actually the easiest way to have your partner help you with enthusiasm and feel appreciated. Also, trying new things together has kind of the same effect. I would have never thought I could swim 500 feet from a ship to a natural spring in the freezing ocean just to share that experience with my husband, or hang from a zip-line 160 feet above the ground (I’m not the sporty, athletic kind like he is), but I would do it again 100 times. He was very proud of me and it was beautiful to enjoy those moments as a couple. Bottom line: don’t miss the details, compromise a little and make your partner feel loved. Besos!

  91. We are one week away from our 1 year anniversary, so I’ve been reflecting a lot on the last year. I love what you said about putting each other to bed. It took months of me feeling so sad we were on different schedules to finally see that as long as he tucks me in it is ok that our bedtime doesn’t look like other couples. I would also add two things 1. Get away together. It could be as simple as a day drive to the beach or two nights away to a fun city. But the sex and conversations are always better when you step away from the normal day to day. 2. Don’t compare your marriage or your partner to anyone else’s. Ever. This will rob your joy and your marriage is something you need to protect from comparing. Happy Ani you two!

  92. 25 years for us this year!
    Respect each other, treat each other like the best friends you are, and laugh every day. Oh and always be kind!
    Thank you for sharing and all the best for the years to come!

  93. My husband and I have only been married 7 months, but many of these have applied to our relationship. We joke about having to schedule time for sex when we have kids, but we’re not quite there yet.

    Number one is especially applicable. We used to have the exact work schedule, so it was easy, but now that he’s back in school I have to gently (and sometimes not so gently) remind him that he falls asleep within 5 minutes and needs to come snuggle.

  94. I agree with all 8, but especially the alone time. Doing things independently for a few hours, a whole day, or even for a vacation is so important. Absence makes the heart grow fonder!

    Enjoy your night out, but most of all enjoy each other.

    Happy 5th Anniversary,

  95. Lovely! I would add- verbalize your appreciation. Just because he usually takes the garbage out doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve a huge thank you every time!

  96. PS – Five years for us, too! High five :)

  97. I’m great at the please-and-thank-you part of being polite, but not so great at the compliments. Thanks for the reminder! I think maybe I’m nervous that if I compliment without critiquing the small bad part, it will get worse…when the reality is, complimenting someone usually makes them want to fulfill those kind words.

  98. This is a lovely summary! Thank you for sharing. Happy 5th and love to hear what you guys do to celebrate :)

  99. I’m getting married in November, and I recently re-read all your old “Secrets to a Happy Marriage” posts. I had remembered reading them five years ago, but they had hardly applied! Now, five years later, I’m happy to say they do. It was wonderful advice then and is still wonderful advice now. : )

  100. I just recently wrote about my 4th wedding anniversary this June. My hubs and I have had more than our share of ups and downs in four years–we’ve lost three parents and are expecting our second child, all during our 4 year marriage, as well as the usual ups and downs of adult life in general.

    There are lots of little tidbits I could say I’ve learned, or am still learning, but for me I think the most important thing is that you hold on to each other during the difficult AND joyous times. Turn to each other first for support, comfort, and celebration.

    And definitely say “I love you” during a fight. It’s a good reminder to both of you that a disagreement doesn’t take away from the love you have for each other!

    Here’s the link to my anniversary post :-)

  101. What a lovely post to read the week before my wedding! I hope that my husband and I will be able to use these tools as a guide. We are going to try the time-apart on trips during our honeymoon! Just an hour or so. He doesn’t like heights, and we are are going to London, so I will ride the Eye while he checks out the neighborhood or finds a good coffee shop :)

  102. Thank you for this! My fiance and I are headed to get our marriage license this afternoon, so this was especially timely. Love your blog!

  103. I agree with all of these. There is something very wonderful about living with a life partner and being able to truly be yourself. But the downside of that is that sometimes you end up being your UGLY self (grumpy, mean, snippy). It can feel so awful for everyone. My husband and I sometimes actually say to each other… OK, talk to me like I am one of your co-workers. Or ask, Can you please talk to me like I am the amazing person you wanted to marry. :))) Both bring the tension down.

  104. So glad to see this post – especially since I’m getting married in a month! :)

  105. I LOVE number one! We do the same exact thing. My husband loves his late nights whereas I’m sleepy by 9! He always puts me to bed and even turns down the covers and sprays lavender linen spray on my pillow and turns on the white noise app on my phone. :)))

    Happy almost anniversary!!

  106. I adore the idea of putting each other to bed. My husband and I are the opposite, and I stay up really late doing work when he and the baby are asleep, so I LOVE this idea of going in for a little chatsie when he’s going to bed. One thing I’ve learned over 15 years together is to continue to say thank you for the little things. It seems small, but to be thanked every day for dinner, or for taking the bin out (him not me) makes us still feel so genuinely appreciated and helps us not to slip into being taken for granted. Congratulations and happy anniversary for tomorrow!

  107. This is wonderful, I love the bit about putting each other to bed. The two best pieces of advice that we strive for are to be the first to apologize (my husband is better at this but I am working on it ;) and to constantly be dreaming up the next adventure to keep things exciting.

  108. This was helpful and sweet. Thanks Joanna, and happy anniversary!

  109. Happy Anniversary and cheers to many more to come. Great tips. How are you guys celebrating tomorrow?

  110. I remember you planning this wedding, and I remember the first posting of the photographs – hard to believe it’s been 5 years. I would second the “recharging” although I’m the introvert and he’s the extrovert. I think, after almost 9 years, I’ve learned more from him about being kinder to people and really getting to know them, and realizing people value me as a person if I let them in! Please and thank you go so far with chores! (So does sex, but that’s another story) I echo most of these, especially the “trying something new” which sometimes requires a babysitter. We’ve found (or maybe hired the right people) that the kids look forward to a new face in the house almost as much as we cherish the alone time. I wish you and Alex many more years!

  111. Happy anniversary guys. We were 5 yrs this year too. Great tips. Good to remember that you do like each other when you’re driving each other crazy.

  112. I agree! We’ve been married (happily) for 45 years, and you are spot on with each of these… Being nice is #1…

  113. I love this! While I’m sure it has it’s ups and downs, your relationship always seems amazing and is so inspiring! Have a great time celebrating your anniversary and many more happy years to come.

    Kat x

  114. LOVE THIS. We just celebrated 10 years and I’d say all of that is very true :)