The Gift of MarriageI get to celebrate being married to the same man for 11 years! What a gift and honor to be his wife!

While Googling gifts for an 11-year wedding anniversary, I stumbled across a blog about lessons learned during 11 years of marriage.

Being married to a very practical man (who could care less about ‘gifts’), I had no clue what to get him and thought, well, I am a writer, I can write and give it to him and maybe help a few souls struggling in love.

So here goes:

11 Things I Have Learned and Appreciated During 11 Years of Marriage To My Amazing Husband

1.  LISTEN

Seems simple, right?  I hear women talk all the time about their guys not paying attention when they speak.  Well, my hubs is the best listener on the planet. I am forever blown away when he brings up a conversation from months passed when I could have sworn he was not listening to me.  Or when he walks in the door with something that I have mentioned wanting or “needing” for the home.  My goal is to practice being a better listener when he talks.  I mean, really hearing him.

2. Love Tanks

Birthdays, anniversaries, you name it.  Early in our marriage, I had birthday parties for Hubs. His birthday falls on Christmas Eve, and I thought, “well, he has probably been ripped off through the years.”  So, I would throw him surprise parties on Christmas Eve.  Of course, after the third year, he caught on.  One day I asked him, “do you even like that I throw a party?”  He said no.  He felt that it was important for the people I invited to be with their families, and he felt like we were inconveniencing them by coming over on Christmas Eve.  Also, I learned he does not like surprises.

See, I LOVE surprises.  I sort of got let down when his reaction was not like mine.  At about 5 years, we went to a couples group gathering.  Most talked about problems they had; we giggled a lot and, after a few weeks, realized we would rather be doing something fun than trying to come up with a problem. Clearly, we both felt we did not have any big ‘issues’.

We did learn about love tanks, though, and how his love tank may not look like mine.  Sure enough, he likes walks, homemade dinners, a clean home, folded laundry and me; and I like “shiny objects”!  We learned it is ok for each of us to get filled up differently and how to honor each other’s love tanks.  I get lots of shiny objects from the hubs. My goal is to honor his love tank moving forward. More walks, holding hands, dancing, singing, homemade dinners, snuggling and being together.

3. Relationships

I had a habit of creating three-way conversations.

Example: I talk to a relative and tell them things that Hubs says.  Then I share with hubs what relatives say and how I told them things he has said. Oops!

I have heard words often come out of Hubs’ mouth such as, “do not speak for me”.  It used to sting when I heard that.  Then I realized how often I did it.  Sometimes he would get off the phone with his mother, and I would drill him.  What did she say, how is she, what is new, is she doing this or that, and on and on.  He has been great about not sharing other’s information and saying, you should call her and ask her yourself how she is doing.  This has helped me to have relationships with family and others without hearsay.  How many times have you been with someone and they ask you about another person?  They ask many questions about them?  That used to be me.  Because of Hubs, I have learned to pick up the phone, email, or do whatever, to get ahold of others who I am thinking about.  It is so much nicer avoiding chit-chat about others.  Again, I practice this… I am not perfect.

4. Alone time

Before we got married, I remember telling Hubs about a fear.  “What if you die?  How will I move forward?”  He said to me, “no relationship lasts forever”.  I was crushed. Then he explained… all things end and flow.  Eventually, one of us will die as no one makes it out alive.  The thing I have learned from this is to get filled up from the inside and have a connection with the God of my understanding so I never feel alone.  I have a wonderful group of special ladies in my life, hobbies, a business and so much more that fill up my soul.  We are not the end all in our marriage.  We are two whole people that come together to share life.

I recently was at a wedding and the minister talked about two people becoming one.  I get what he means, and for me, I have to be one on my own.  Trust in a God of my understanding and then I get to share with Hubs’ life!  It is so much nicer being two whole people!  For years, I tried to find my soul mate that would help me to be ONE. Time alone and with our friends is a very important part of our marriage and crucial to staying true to our whole selves.

5.  STUFF – Keeping up with others …or NOT

Yup stuff!  As I said in No. 2, I like shiny objects.  I used to like them a whole lot more.  I was brought up on the East Coast.  I am not sure if this is a thing of the East, but it seemed like it.  My perception was if someone has the nice home, cars, clothes, and other stuff, they were somehow liked more and had a better chance for happiness.  It was all about the outside. Bigger, cleaner, better, somehow equaled happiness.  Again, this was my perception.  Being married to Hubs and watching how he values “stuff” continues to slowly change my perception.  I am learning to value what is deep inside a person and let go of the “stuff”.

We moved to a log home on the side of a mountain.  When we moved, I let go of so much!  I practice decluttering, giving things away and then — here is the key for me — not adding more to replace what I gave away.  It’s about living with less and being appreciative for what I currently have.  Our home is furnished with mostly used furniture.  We have one tiny computer screen for the TV. Our home is cozy, comfy and filled with love.  It does not matter about what I think others perceive of our life or our home, to me it feels like LOVE when I walk in the door each day.

6. Frugal or Smart

I married a finance guy.  When we got married, I had a business and a house. I was in debt.  I spent more than I made and always had.  I thought nothing of charging things and even charged my down payment on my first home. (I know, that was before 2008!) I would see something or need something fixed and buy it or hire someone without blinking.  The first (or second) time I did this in our marriage, Hubs was a bit blown away.  He asked why I did not get a quote first?  I looked at him as if he was speaking a foreign language.  A what?  After having the reigns to do a home remodel, I started getting quotes and budgeting.  I ran numbers by Hubs.  I almost kept within the budget. The difference was, I knew what I was spending and was cost comparing.  I have learned that this saves so much money and, in the long run, time.  I love living with a guy that has taught me the value of money and if you don’t have it, how can you spend it?  (Again….progress not perfection on this one!)

7. LOVE… love is love.

I fought this.  I thought there were different categories for love.   You know intimate, friendship, family and on and on. Hubs has pointed out the simple Fear prayer: God, please remove my fear and turn my attention to someone I may help.  I pray for LOVE.

When I am in FEAR, I do things like chat about myself ALOT, loathe in self-pity, make bad food choices, pick on him and others. These are not lovable or attractive characteristics. When I am in LOVE, I am able to be a giver. When I am giving, I am able to get out of self. I become loveable. For years, I thought it was the other way around, you get love and then give it! I have never met a more giving man than my Hubs! His actions teach me to be a giver, to give LOVE and then get filled with love.

8.  Snickers Bars

I eat dark chocolate (when I eat chocolate).  Each time I have bought chocolate over the years, I have brought Hubs something.  Usually some fancy milk chocolate treat from my fancy chocolate shopping.  Each time he has said, “I like Snickers bars”.  For 11 years, I have tried to convert him to eating fancy chocolate and have ignored the fact of what he likes.  I am learning to stop trying to change the man and buy him a darn Snickers bar!  Letting go of who I think he ought to be and accepting exactly who he is as he accepts me.  Tough one at times and yet so important!

9. Sounding Board

Hubs has been a great sounding board through 11 years.  However, he is a fixer… this is not a bad thing, it is a fact.  So, if I share a problem with him, he is going to try to fix it. He is my biggest hero. If someone hurts my feelings, he is going to want to beat them up (not literally).  The lesson here is to practice bringing problems to the God of my understanding or a mentor in life first.  Real adult conversations probably will happen instead of using him as a fixer and then getting mad when he becomes my Superman. The lesson, as Bob Newhart says, STOP IT.

10.  Intimacy

Yup, I am going there!  Hubs has no problem grabbing me in the airport or grocery store and dancing with me, or holding my hand, or hugging me.  I HAVE THE PROBLEM!  I remember one time, we were in the grocery store when he did this — grabbed me and started slow dancing to some song that was playing. I tightened up and pulled away. This little old lady came up to me and said, “honey…. don’t ever stop dancing with him.” I will never forget that and yet, I still have trouble being intimate.  I love that Hubs is proud and fearless to show his love. When we were a few years married, we took a ballroom dance class. By the third or fourth week, I started crying. The instructor scolded me and told me to LET HIM LEAD! Oh…so much trouble letting go over what control I think I have over others! My goal is to practice ….letting go and dancing with the Hubs!

11.  Compliments

Again, simple, right?  Hubs is forever saying things like, “you are beautiful”, “you are so tiny”, “you look amazing”, “you are awesome”.  Oh, accepting these wonderful compliments is the hard part for me.  I am learning to say thank you and mean it, instead of asking why, or doubting why he said that, or explaining that he must be wrong as I have gained or lost weight, rather than simply saying THANK YOU.

So many amazing lessons in LOVE over the last 11 years.  Marriage is a beautiful gift to be honored, enjoyed, and not taken for granted.  I hope some of my lessons have helped someone out there with their marriage/partnership. I feel beyond blessed today to be married to a guy that gets all of me and loves me anyway!!!! Thank you, Bobby Williams, for being my guy, my husband!

As always, if this has been helpful to you, please comment, like, share, or email alaskatracy@gmail.com to be added to Alaska Tracy’s Social Sensei Group! Thanks!