I did not get up early to watch this morning’s marriage ceremony of the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, but I did catch parts of it online today. Catherine’s dress is what I most wanted to see, but I have to say, the entire wedding was like a fairy tale come true. Watching her walk down the aisle, with the wide shots from above, and those adorable little kids, well, it looked like a movie. I cried watching the vows, but I laughed when William agreed to share all of his “worldly good.” If I were Catherine, I would have been fist pumping inside so hard.
To celebrate this occasion, I’m sharing some tips that I’ve learned after 10 years of marriage.
- Remember why you fell in love in the first place. Marriages have their up and downs. There will be times when you are in the middle of a disagreement with your spouse when you will look at him/her and think “%$#$%#&@^&*^&*!” Those are the times when you need to take a deep breath, step back, and remember why you are together.
- Make time for yourselves. This is the hardest one for us. With two kids and us both working full-time, it’s really hard to find time that’s ours. We may not get out alone very often, but we at least make time to reconnect after the kids go to bed. Whether you have kids or not, spending time together is necessary. Whether you have date nights, eat dinner together regularly, or take nightly walks, taking time to rehash your day and focus on each other is important.
- Have fun. When the novelty of marriage wears off and you find yourself going through the daily motions, remember to have fun doing it. Laughing together is healthy for your relationship. Sometimes we just watch TV or a movie together. Other times it’s getting out of the house with the kids and doing something fun like going to a movie or the zoo, or even playing in the back yard. You can have fun doing mundane things like grocery shopping. We play games with the kids in the car. Showing your kids that everyday things can be fun too is a great lesson for them.
- Do your own thing. We each have our own interests.When my husband tells me he wants to buy a toy helicopter, I am fine with that. Does it make any sense to me? No. But it matters to him. So we now have 2 remote controlled helicopters, and he loves to play with them when he gets home. And since he doesn’t dive bomb my head, I’m totally cool with it.
- Make time for friends. Sometimes our neighbor will call and ask if my husband can “come out and play” and I always say Yes if I can. My husband does the same thing for me. We both work hard at work and at home, so when we have a chance to get out with friends, we both shoo the other out the door.
- Check in with your spouse. My hubby and I usually text or call each other at least once during the work day just to check in. If I know he’s has a big meeting, I’ll check in and see how it went. If he knows I have a deadline he’ll see how it’s going. We both also understand that the other can’t always talk right then. When I call him and he’s on a conference call, I don’t get mad. I get off the phone so he can do his job. It’s not a reflection of his love for me – actually, I take that back – it IS a reflection if his love for me because he is working hard to support our family. But I don’t get offended if he can’t talk to me right that minute. I also know if I called and it was an emergency, he would stop everything. He also trusts me NOT to make everyday issues “emergencies.”
- Talk finances. And keep talking about them. This is always one of those sticky subjects, but you HAVE to be on the same page with money. In our house, he handles the bills because I suck at it. So when I want to buy something out of the ordinary, I check with him. I don’t ask for his permission, but I check to see how our finances are looking. He does the same with me, though, because we’re partners. It’s OUR money and we respect each other enough to have a conversation before buying, say, two remote helicopters.
- Get a financial planner. Speaking of money, invest in a financial planner. We sat down with ours and looked at our current financial situation and future. We figured out our priorities (retirement, paying off debts, and kids’ education) and that’s where we put our money. If only one of your works, have you thought about retirement? How much will it take to retire? If you don’t know, find out, and then figure out what to do about it. One of the best things we both did was start putting away for retirement in our early 20’s. We now have a decade of savings that is building interest. But we learned it’s not enough to get us where we want to be when we want to retire, so we made adjustments. And just because you’re barely making ends meet is no excuse to not take a look at your finances and your goals. If you truly can’t afford a financial planner or just don’t want to deal with one, at least sit down and be realistic about your money. If you don’t know where you are and where you want to be, you’ll never be able to figure out how to get there. That’s how you end up at 60 thinking you’re going to retire in a few years and find out you still have to work because you never saved. Social Security is not going be enough to support you, so take charge of your own future now.
- Make a will. This is important for everyone, but if you have kids, you need a will. We made tough decisions about who will be their guardians and who will be responsible for their finances. They’re hard conversations to have but necessary. My husband’s employer covers the cost of working with a lawyer so we didn’t even have to pay for it, but there are also ones you can download online (disclaimer: I am so NOT a lawyer, I have no idea what is and isn’t legal anywhere as far as wills, so check to see if something downloaded from the internet is legal. You may have to simply sign it, you may need it notarized, you may need to stand on your head and sing the alphabet, I have no idea). We also made decisions about our health, such as if one of us is in a coma and won’t ever ever ever wake up.
I realize some of these are issues that William and Catherine won’t have to deal with (I think they’re retirement plan will be just fine), but hopefully you’ll find them useful. If you have some good tips please include them in comments.
Oh, and back to the dress, I thought she looked stunning. It was a perfect mix of traditional and modern. It immediately reminded me of Grace Kelly, but it had modern touches. The tiara and veil were perfection. She is so poised, I would have been a nervous wreck, but she handled it so well. I wish them many happy years together!