7 lessons From 7 Years of Marriage

Jessica Pedraza


Photo by Vitor Pinto on Unsplash

Do you remember watching romantic movies as a young child? The endings were so magical, and the weddings were epic. The couple stands at the altar staring adoringly at each other. Family and friends dance and rejoice at the new union.

Towards the end, the couple smiles lovingly at each other while they wave goodbye to their family and friends. They wave from their car and head off to their honeymoon with giggles and smiles. You can even throw in a sunset and flying doves in there somewhere.

So idyllic, right?

As a child, movies teach you marriage is the ending of all struggle. They teach you fairy-tale endings are the pinnacle of your life. Some rush to get married in an attempt to fabricate such feelings.

It’s no wonder 50% of marriages fail.

I had one of those idyllic weddings. The joy and happiness were palpable in the air. In some ways, my life post-wedding WAS easier. I had a partner to rely on and someone who accepted me unconditionally and vice-versa. There is power in love, the kind of power you need to get through life’s hardships.

We had our natural ebbs and flows throughout our marriage. There was an adjustment period after our son was born. We now had responsibilities beyond ourselves — boy did that change the game. We had moments of sheer joy and happiness. We also struggled to get in a groove after our son was born, and didn’t nurture our love consistently. Luckily, we realized it and put in the work to reconnect. In our 7 years of marriage, I’ve learned 7 key lessons we will continue to apply in our marriage forever.

Lesson One: Go on Adventures Together Often

“What we find in a soul mate is not something wild to tame, but something wild to run with.” ― Robert Brault

Many times, marriages come with a lot of expectations. You have to save to buy a home quickly, have a baby quickly, upgrade said home, and repeat. We often forget marriage doesn’t mean the end of adventure and experiences. Having a baby doesn’t mean we stop growing ourselves. Having a family doesn’t mean living a stagnant life.

There are responsibilities — I get it. Going on adventures together doesn’t have to mean worldwide trips. It can be going camping in your own backyard, taking a scuba-diving class, renting a jet-ski, or going on a road trip. It can also mean trying something new.

My husband and I have taken this lesson to the extreme. We traveled for two years with our boy around Europe. It was a lot of adventure for a long period of time. It’s not for everyone. You have to be a certain type of crazy to do what we did. Then again, we treasure those adventures and created an unbreakable bond because of them. We wouldn’t have created this bond inside the comfort of our home. This bond can only be created by overcoming challenges together, facing fear as a team, and by being outside our comfort zones. This bond is only fortified by continuing to have adventures for the rest of our lives.

Lesson Two: It’s Less About Date Night and More About the Effort You Put into Date Night

“Marriage must fight constantly against a monster which devours everything: routine.” ― Honore de Balzac

We’ve all heard date nights are important — especially after a baby. Date nights have been of utmost importance for our marriage. They were so important we prioritized them as soon as our baby was a couple of months old. That space you create to connect and talk is vital for any relationship.

To get the most out of date night, the best strategy is to put in the effort. This means dressing nice for each other, trying new things, and planning ahead. By putting extra effort, you elevate date night to a different level. When they say a healthy marriage requires work — this is the type of work that is fun.

Getting creative with dates and even adding a little adrenaline can be memorable and exciting. These new memories you create build your love tanks and remind you why you fell in love in the first place.

Lesson Three: Be Mindful of How You Communicate

After being married for so long, there’s a tendency for humans to chill. We stop courting each other and we stop showing our best selves to each other. There’s something beautiful about this part of the relationship too. There’s a comfort there. It’s a comfort created by the secure feeling you are loved unconditionally. But many times we get TOO comfortable.

Dr. Gottman from the Gottman Institute says we should treat our spouse like a stranger is in your house living alongside the two of you. This means speaking in a nice voice, being polite, and showing consideration. This shows each other respect — a foundation for a healthy marriage.

Lesson Four: Check Your Expectations

Very often we have higher expectations for our spouses than we have for ourselves. This doesn’t mean you should lower your standards. It just means we should be cognizant our spouse is . . . human. When we set high expectations on others, we create tension and negativity. When this happens, it’s good to take a step back.

Being married means supporting each other no matter what. This means treating each other with flexibility and kindness. It also means not expecting your spouse to read your mind. When we communicate and check-in with our own expectations, we create a fairer dynamic.

Lesson Five: It’s Not You Against Each Other; It’s Both of You Against the Problem

It’s healthy for married couples to disagree, and it can even be a sign of a healthy marriage. According to Gottman, marriages that disagree and argue are healthy relationships, if they know how to do it properly. When solving a problem as a couple, it’s always a more productive discussion when we speak of the problem as a team. Instead of wanting to prove a point or “win,” we analyze the problem like a team. By doing this, arguments are less about ego and more about working together as a couple. At the end of the day, this is what marriage is all about — teamwork. Most importantly, it’s about leaving your ego at the front door.

Lesson Six: Have Goals Separately and Together

Your goals as a married couple give you a vision and a purpose. When you have goals together, you add life to any marriage. Routine and an aimless marriage can be detrimental in the long-term. When you have a goal and work towards it as a team, you create an unbreakable bond.

My husband and I are more in tune with each other when we have a “couple goal.” Currently, it’s investing in a property. A couple of months ago, it was teaching our son to read. We have “meetings” about it and discuss strategies. These goals remind us we are going through life as a team.

Creating individual goals, separate from your partner, is equally as important. Spending so much time together can make you feel you know everything about each other. I always promised myself I wouldn’t lose myself in my marriage. My personal projects have kept me to my promise. It’s refreshing to hear about your partner’s projects and goals. It’s like being teammates that root for each other from the sidelines.

Lesson Seven: Communication is Everything

I know you’ve heard this a million times, but it’s worth repeating. In marriage, communication is the foundation of a healthy relationship. Here are some examples:

Talk about your fears and dreams in detail and ask questions.

Talk about what you don’t like about each other. Then talk about what you do like about each other.

Talk about sex.

Talk about things you’ve never shared with anyone else.

Talk about each other’s expectations.

Have respectful conversations about your feelings without being afraid to hurt each other.

Talk about your worst insecurities.

My husband and I often say our home is a “judge-free” zone. We want to encourage each other and our son to talk about anything. We want to listen without an agenda or preconceived notions. It’s this type of open and honest communication that creates strong bonds and healthy relationships.

Final Thoughts

Getting married to my husband seven years ago and starting a family has been a time of exponential growth. It has also been the best time of my life. I learn something new every day about being a mother and a wife. It’s the best adventure of all — to love and be loved. Perhaps fairy tales do exist after all — if you’re willing to learn and grow together.

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A mother, wife, traveler, writer, and lawyer — in that order. Contact me: jesszolt@gmail.com or follow my Instagram: @seekinggurustravel

Miami, FL

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