I am coming up on my 10th wedding anniversary next week. TEN. YEARS. MARRIED. What?!? It went by in a flash and yet, the anniversary feels like an accomplishment to both of us, something to be proud of in life. Vows being kept, promises fulfilled, a dream created together. Real life, real love, in real time.
We danced until 5am, watched the fireworks arm-in-arm, he tried to push me into the cake (this is true), and we all wound up in the swimming pool. It was a magical moment and one of the most miraculous 24 hours of my life.
Since that day, we’ve worked side by side to build Booty Parlor. We had hard-earned, big wins and a few epic fails in our business. We’ve traveled to exotic places and had brilliant adventures. We became parents to two amazing kids. We made it through a couple scary emergency room visits. We moved our lives from Los Angeles to Brooklyn, and then onto St. Lucia. We’ve laughed our asses off along the way. And we’ve had very few fights that lasted longer than 20 minutes.
I love being married to Charlie. I have never once considered a life without him. And while no marriage is perfect, I think that this one is pretty damned dreamy. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about myself, about him, and about how to make a marriage work.
So, as I step up to celebrate ten years of wedded bliss, here are…
10 Lessons I’ve Learned in 10 Years of Marriage:
Lesson No. 1: Love Conquers All
In a marriage, there will be squabbles over money, sex, where you’re going for the holidays, and whose turn it is to take out the trash (it’s always yours, Charlie). And then there’ll be the life-altering, soul-shaking moments that shock, surprise and challenge your relationship to its core. This is life, right?
But no matter the issue, big or small, we commit to getting through it together. We come back to what matters the most, and that’s HOW MUCH WE LOVE EACH OTHER. Our love and trust is bigger and stronger than any grievance or challenge, and so in the face of a problem, LOVE is what we remind ourselves of. It seems so simple and clichéd, but it’s so true.
Lesson No. 2: Communication is King…
Although I’ve always considered myself a great communicator, marriage has coaxed me into a state of even greater openness. There’s simply no ‘cold shouldering’ in our household. If something is up, we let each other know right away.
I give Charlie a lot of credit for this habit in our marriage – he just can’t stand to have any “looming dark clouds” between us. He senses if something is up and immediately encourages me to talk it out. I do the same for him. That openness keeps a clear channel between us for more love to flow. Those honest conversations can be hard — truth can be scary! But on the other side of those icky-sticky, truth-baring talks is an even more connected relationship.
Lesson No. 3: … But Hot, Frequent Sex is Queen
So, yessss… Communication is the pillar of our strong relationship, but hot & frequent sex keeps us lusty, connected and feeling alive and youthful as a couple. Not to mention, I think it keeps us faithful! Why even think about going elsewhere if you’re having hot, satisfying sex with the one you love? We explore. We’re adventurous. We aim to please one another. We have fun. We go for it even when we feel tired or hungry or would rather watch Netflix. And when we have a problem in the bedroom? We go back to Lesson No.2 and TALK about it.
Lesson No. 4: Keep Yourself Up & Compliment Each Other
Even though #EvaMendes took heat about her sweatpants comment, I definitely believe it’s important to keep up your appearance — for both yourself and your spouse. I want to feel sexy and confident as a woman, mom and wife, and for me that means I don’t wear ratty sweats around the house. I put on a little make-up. I stay fit. I do this for me and for him. I want him to want me!
And OF COURSE he wants me because I’m a good woman, a wonderful mother, and his best friend… but he also wants me because I make an effort to feel hot, year after year. I like that and it goes both ways. I don’t want to see him in holey boxers with his business hangin’ out. I want him to impress me. And to recognize one another’s effort, we actively compliment one another. It feels good to hear “You look great, babe,” or “Nice dress!” My favorite is when he says, “It’s marvelous to see your pretty face.”
Lesson No. 5: Be Together
Charlie and I are both very busy — working, parenting, keeping it all moving forward all the time. It’s a lot, and there’s not a whole lot of “free time” left at the end of the day. So, there’ve been waves in our relationship where our desire for individual free time starts to separate us. He’ll get deep into a tv series or working late on a big project, I’ll get into reading or, ummmm, sleeping. And then all of the sudden, a whole week has gone by without us connecting at night. It feels too distant, so when I notice it happening I reel it in quick.
Even though I’m ALL for pursuing separate passions and having quiet “me-time,” I know how important it is to come back together and connect at the end of the day. So, we’ll play a card game or cook, and put our other individual pursuits on hold for the sake of simply being together. It’s always helped keep our relationship in tune. .
Lesson No. 6: Be Apart
As important as it is for us to be together, it’s also important to be apart! Distance makes the heart grow fonder and a bit of separation always brings a hint of intrigue back into my relationship.
Both Charlie and I travel on our own for work, and after a week apart we get a sense of giddy excitement to see each other again. Time apart breaks up the routine and, when you miss someone, it gives you a jolt of perspective on just how good you have it. When we’re not traveling, we’ll still take a night each week away from one another – out with the Ladies’ or on a Boys’ Night. I am always rejuvenated to have a night alone, and I’m pretty sure he is too 😉
Lesson No. 7: Get Away From the Kids
While it’s a little heartbreaking to leave the kids for a couples vacation, the benefits of being together on our own dramatically outweigh our initial nerves. To wander together without a schedule, to create adventures outside of routine of family life, to SLEEP LATE! — these vacation moments have a direct and major impact on our happiness as a couple.
We rediscover ourselves and each other in fresh light. We meet interesting people. We stay out late doing ridiculous things. We create new memories. These trips are some of the best, brightest moments of our relationship. (I’m trying to remember this as I nervously prepare to leave the kids for our anniversary trip to Miami next week!)
Lesson No. 8: Change is a Bonding Experience
My husband loves to make big changes. I have always despised it. In the last 4 years, we made bold life changes, moving four times across three time zones – and had two kids along the way.
All this change brought up a lot of resistance in me, and truthfully, I started feeling resentful. Not wanting to allow that to poison our marriage (because resentment IS poison), I had to get on board with being in the change together, as a team. It couldn’t be my desires against his – we had to find a way to approach change as a team, intent on designing a life of mutual happiness.
Once I retooled my thinking a bit, I’ve realized that change can be an extraordinary bonding experience for a couple. New situations create opportunities to explore, be courageous and stick together, and there’s actually a whole lot of fun in that. This has been, perhaps, the hardest lesson to learn in ten years, but I’m ever so glad I’m learning it.
Lesson No. 9: But Some Things Don’t Change!
It’s not exactly a news flash, but some things just do not change. When Charlie is deep in thought, he sometimes doesn’t hear me. He LITERALLY does not hear me. I never believed this was possible or true. I thought he was ignoring me and it was infuriating. But after all these years of his imploring me to believe that it was a real thing, I finally accepted it as truth and realized that particular behavior wasn’t going to change. He’s very focused and goes deep into concentration. It’s part of who he is.
Once I stopped trying to change him, I became less irritated, more accepting and far more patient. It was kind of a revelation. I can’t change my spouse, and there’s things about me that can’t change either. And oddly enough, it’s the acceptance of that simple truth that’s led us to a new and improved ways of relating to each other.
Lesson No. 10: Save the Last Bagel
On our wedding night, we returned to our room at 5am and found two cream cheese bagels, left for us by my mother-in-law as a snack. Charlie fell asleep on the couch, but I had a burst of post-party hunger and quickly ate both bagels. Ummmm. Yeah, I ate your freakin’ bagel. You snooze, you lose! It hadn’t crossed my mind that he’d wake up 5 minutes later, starving, and wonder where his snack was. But he did and he was genuinely upset that I’d snarfed his bagel up without any consideration for him (there was nothing else in the fridge!).
This ‘wedding night bagel episode’ was a wake-up call. We were now officially a team, for life. As a true team, I couldn’t only think about myself, my own hunger and desires. Suddenly, his needs were not only as important as my own, they were my own. That’s the bond of marriage, it’s not you or me. It’s you and me, as one. (That’s my version of true love, and how I learned to keep a back-up bag of bagels in the freezer!)
In all of these lessons, I’m most grateful that I’ve learned about myself and how to evolve and grow as a woman, wife and mother through love.
Many women I work with say they have forgotten who they are — that they feel disconnected and unsure of their own identities and desires. I am fortunate that my marriage is strong and fulfills me; but what I want to make clear is that I’m not bragging about a wonderful marriage because I’m lucky. It is because I am committed to working at it, committed to feeling the way I want to feel, committed to honoring myself and my man and not letting life or circumstances get in the way of our happiness.
It’s because of that commitment, and these lessons I’ve learned, that I turn to other moms who might be struggling with their personal identity, deservability, and fulfillment in motherhood and marriage (and let’s face it, most of us experience these struggles at some point!). I know what’s possible if you put in the work, and it’s my mission to inspire you to create your version of the sexiest and most satisfying experience of motherhood and marriage possible. Because it is possible.
I hope you enjoyed and related to these lessons from my ten years of marriage, and as always, I’m curious to know your thoughts! What lessons can you share from your marriage? What makes it work for you? I’d love to hear from you in the space below.