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First Twenty Years

What I've learned during my first twenty years of marriage.

Next week, my husband and I will celebrate our twentieth anniversary. Applause isn’t necessary and yes, I’m aware that I’m really too young to have been married twenty years. While evil Dara would like to send out “told you we would make it” cards to the doubters (including my own mother) honestly, just knowing we are happy and secure in our marriage is enough revenge. My husband and I are often asked the “secret” to our marriage and while twenty years is nothing to sneeze at, I’m not sure it makes us qualified to write a book about love and marriage. However, during our first twenty years we’ve dealt with our share of issues and I have learned a few things. Hopefully, they will get us through the next twenty.

  1. Like the person you married – You might think this is a given but often, it’s overlooked. Some couples get so caught up in physical attraction, they forget to be friends. Being friends and actually liking my husband has gotten me through some serious, dark times.
  2. Do thoughtful things for one another regularly, and show gratitude – This is huge for me. Even the smallest thoughtful thing will go a long way. I’ve always said flowers on a random Tuesday are better than four dozen on my birthday (however that doesn’t excuse you from birthday flowers honey). And don’t forget to say thank you, even for the little things. Simple tasks, like cooking, cleaning and paying bills become habit and are often unrecognized and resentment sets in. Trust me, it’s hard to get rid of so don’t let good deeds go unnoticed!
  3. Don’t hold grudges – After you work through an issue, drop it and move on. Don’t bring up past challenges and let the past be the past. Also, don’t argue about petty things. Just because he forgot to take the trash to the curb or drank all the milk and didn’t tell you doesn’t mean you need to start World War III!
  4. Date night is a must – Once a week, spend time alone and get out of the house and enjoy one another. You don’t have to spend money, just go out and enjoy one another. Go to the park and take a walk or take a drive through the country and remember why you feel in love in the first place.
  5. Never say the word DIVORCE – If you are truly committed to building a long lasting, healthy marriage, don’t mention divorce. Sure, you can think it, but don’t throw the word around like it’s a basketball. It leads your partner to believe you aren’t 100% committed and makes cracks bigger than Texas in your marriage.
  6. Laugh – I can’t say this enough; never, ever forget to laugh with one another. Sure, it’s easy for me because my husband is the one dancing in the stands at football games or singing Taylor Swift songs with inappropriate lyrics but it’s important to share your sense of humor. Do you really want to spend the rest of your life with someone who doesn’t make you smile? I shudder at the thought!
  7. Finally, and most importantly, don’t follow anyone’s advice, even mine – Yes, I said it. Do what feels right to you. If someone says something that resonates with you, take it to heart and use it, but don’t follow advice and always remember, there’s a difference. 

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David Brown November 27, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Dara, congratulations on your twentieth wedding anniversary. That is a great accomplishment. I like your seven pieces of advice. My wife and I just celebrated our 32nd anniversary Thanksgiving Day. I fell in love with my wife all over again recently during a difficult time for both of us. I had successful surgery for colon cancer and am currently in the middle of chemotherapy to help ensure the cancer doesn't return. I was struck anew by my wife's love, compassion and patience. The best advice I can give to the husbands out there for a long marriage is this. Your most important job is to keep your wife happy. A home functions better when the wife is happy.
Dara Gamble November 27, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Wow David, 32 years??!! That's amazing, congratulations! I am so sorry to hear about your recent health issues, but what a wonderful testament to your marriage that the two of you were able to overcome the difficulty that illness brings to a marriage! Good luck with your treatment and good blessings to your health and marriage!

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