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Adding More Partners In Our Marriage

Have you waded past your first decade of marriage? Yeah, a hurricane can form at any moment, but by year ten, you’re surfing the big waves.

Whether or not you know how to work the board.

In 2014, even an easy marriage is hard to maintain. MTM travels for work. I travel for work. Because I work from home, I’m always working. We both give presentations and have appearances after hours and on weekends, and while I’m grateful for those things, I miss the days where the phone didn’t buzz and beep and ring, the internet moved like molasses, and my after 5pm/weekend focus was my husband.

A couple of weeks ago, we wrote out marriage vows for our new year together. They reflect our mutual wish to unplug. To slow down. To focus on building our relationship.

marriage vows

If you could do one thing to improve a relationship, be it with a partner, a friend, a family member or yourself, what would it be? Share your thoughts in a comment today.

67 Comments Post a comment
  1. We’re well into our 4th decade of marriage having navigated through very similar lives to both of you. One thing that we’ve found is that we don’t need any renewals or vows as we’ve become one. One gets pissed off with oneself every now and then….but that’s cool πŸ™‚

    June 30, 2014
    • MTM’s already scored on the flowers. πŸ™‚ I think we write these things down because life gets so crazy sometimes. They’re visual reminders we can return to. You and Jenny are examples for many of us, Roger.

      June 30, 2014
  2. Very nice! We’re in our third decade.. Makes us feel old! My parents had 62 years, and they were like a romantic couple till the end

    June 30, 2014
  3. What a lovely idea, my husband and I are approaching our 16th year of marriage 😊

    June 30, 2014
    • Congratulations, Diana. Every milestone is cause for a party.

      June 30, 2014
  4. Congratulations to the both of you. TEN YEARS!

    June 30, 2014
  5. Be kinder and more complimentary.

    June 30, 2014
  6. Talk, just talk.

    June 30, 2014
  7. My husband and I will be celebrating our 25th anniversary in August. For that, we’re going back to the small town where we got married, go back in time to when we used to hike together a lot, and just hope our knees don’t give out πŸ˜‰

    The one I’m trying to do to improve my relationship with myself, my husband, my family, and my friends is spend less time on the computer … and the irony that I’m on the computer right now doesn’t escape me.

    June 30, 2014
    • The computer has become what flipping television channels used to be for me: A mindless diversion that wastes a freaking lot of time. I have to constantly remind myself of my vow to segment my online day, but I’m writing so much now, meaning I’m on the computer for up to ten hours a day. It’s hard not to creep over to the internet and see what’s going on…….even though NOTHING is EVER happening that couldn’t wait for scheduled time. I applaud you, Marie, for following through and making less time online happen. You’re a good example for me. (And I hope you’ll write about your 25th anniversary trip. I’d love to hear about it.)

      June 30, 2014
      • Andra, thank you for your kind words. It is indeed a challenge to avoid internet creep when you need to be doing other things. Kudos to you for being so productive despite the diversions πŸ™‚ And I do fully intend to write about our anniversary trip, probably not in real-time, but there will be posts and photos πŸ™‚

        June 30, 2014
  8. Remember: life is short and unpredictable – have fun NOW!

    June 30, 2014
    • Sometimes, I fear we have too much fun now……but one can never have too much fun, right?

      June 30, 2014
  9. Beautiful vows, Andra. The advice someone told me that I never forgot was always speak well of your spouse (or significant other) to other people, even when you’re angry with him or her. Things have a way of getting back to the person you’re talking about, which adds more fuel to the anger. I used to work with a woman who constantly complained about her husband while flirting with the guys at the office. I can’t imagine what her husband would say if he heard what she said. I left that job, so I don’t know what happened.

    June 30, 2014
    • I’ve known women like that. Heck, I was so unhappy in my mistake marriage that I probably did it myself. I hope MTM knows the things that get on my nerves. I try very hard not to do the things that get on his.

      June 30, 2014
  10. Ya know, Andra, after 40+ years and all that entails, spending more time just walking hand in hand, appreciating each moment is right where I’m at – that and a daily self mission to a better person. πŸ™‚

    June 30, 2014
    • Good to know, Penny. We spent time walking hand in hand yesterday. πŸ™‚ There were bees involved, and I thought of you. We visited the farmer who does our CSA, and he loans space to a beekeeper.

      June 30, 2014
      • My kind of day. I wish I could find a beekeeper who would like to set up hives here. We’ve plenty of clover and could use the pollinators. πŸ™‚
        Planning a post on urban farming in a repurposed food processing plant in the Back of the Yards neighborhood in Chicago. Slaughterhouse morphs into aquaponic farm. MTM might be interested.

        June 30, 2014
      • It was really cool. As we approached, I wondered why all this ramshackle furniture was set up in the back field. I figured it out when I saw all the bees.

        The woman who illustrated my book has a bee colony in her office. I wonder how hard it would be to start your own, just one?

        MTM and I need to get back to Chicago. We haven’t been in several years. They’re always doing progressive things there. I know it comes with its own blowback, but it’s always refreshing to see and experience.

        June 30, 2014
  11. this is fabulous, andra. and i’m working on the partner thing……)

    June 30, 2014
    • I wish I knew someone worthy in MI, Beth.

      June 30, 2014
      • thanks, andra. keep your eyes open –

        June 30, 2014
  12. Being with someone long enough where the vows become automatic behaviors is divine.

    June 30, 2014
    • Some of our other vows have stuck. I’m always hopeful these exercises will make me a better person than I am today.

      June 30, 2014
  13. I may have said this before, but in my opinion being more comfortable with yourself makes relationships better. I’ve been at this for 35 years, log enough to see some improvements in myself in that arena. Of course, all advice is autobiographical, right?

    June 30, 2014
    • While it’s hard to be comfortable with oneself when she’s upended her entire career and started on a crazy journey writing books, I spend my entire day happy with what I’m doing, and I hope that makes me a better person. It’s the guilt over the making-less-than-no-money part that gets to me. I’ve taken care of myself my entire adult life. It’s very, very uncomfortable to let MTM be the breadwinner. He believes it’s temporary. Because he’s always right, I put my head down and try to believe.

      June 30, 2014
  14. I think Carnell and nancyrae4 have each touched a vital point with their comments.

    Every partnership/marriage/friendship requires constant effort, a certain amount of selflessness, and close attention to nurture what’s working, prune out what isn’t, and occasionally make a course adjustment. I think you two must be doing much of that right already. Congratulations on ten years!

    June 30, 2014
    • It always helps when both partners are willing to do that. So many relationships are 90-10 or 80-20.

      Thank you. I still can’t believe it.

      June 30, 2014
  15. Talk about the big stuff, not just the mundane housekeeping items. Play. Make time to play.

    June 30, 2014
    • You’ve got some big stuff to do with housekeeping, though. When I met MTM, I was living in a house I really loved, one I’d turned into exactly what I wanted. I sold it and moved into MTM’s house (a house I really didn’t like), but I was happy there for close to a decade. It’s such a hard decision. xo

      June 30, 2014
      • Ugh. It’s giving me an ulcer I think. I’ve been having thunderclapper-style bathroom stuff going on. Why can’t I just win the lottery??

        June 30, 2014
  16. I love that you both wrote down your new vows, Andra. It looks like you’re headed for a fantastic second decade together. πŸ™‚

    June 30, 2014
  17. More adventures and less routine. πŸ™‚

    June 30, 2014
    • Adventure is always good, Amber. I hope you’ll chronicle yours.

      June 30, 2014
  18. I’d put down my phone, and really listen.

    June 30, 2014
    • The smartphone is among the worst impediments to staying present and connected to the people in front of us. I agree.

      June 30, 2014
      • I find I don’t even mean to do it. It has nearly become like breathing, but then I also realise half the time I can only tell you a few words someone said. I’ve been saying for a while now that I’m going to take a kids on a holiday and all of us are going to leave our various electronics at home. I’m still sitting here….damn.

        June 30, 2014
      • I will tell you I’ve done one electronics-free holiday, and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’m doing it again for two weeks in August. It takes a couple of days to get used to it, but after that, everything adjusts. I came home feeling so much lighter, and I was able to carry those habits for months.

        June 30, 2014
  19. tarakianwarrior #

    Be in the present moment. Get rid of the ego.

    June 30, 2014
    • I sometimes think Life is an exercise in destroying the ego. πŸ™‚ I wonder how I still have an ego almost daily. πŸ™‚

      June 30, 2014
  20. Loving those vows, Andra. Such a great idea to do this. #2 always comes up in our conversations as well.

    I always advocate for more fun. Sometimes I think Mr. B is afraid to have fun – it’s almost a bad word. He and his 5 brothers have such a strong work ethic that they feel guilty when they are experiencing fun and need to get back to work. Problem: he married a feisty, social, adventurous puerto rican woman. He has no choice but to have fun…or else. πŸ™‚

    June 30, 2014
    • Men who work hard, like your husband, often have a hard time unwinding enough to have fun. It’s great that he has you to balance him out. πŸ™‚

      June 30, 2014
  21. Lance #

    1) talk about everything, all of the time

    I like the travel and learn Spanish together. As one baby bird prepares to fly the nest we are looking forward to more money and time for each other.

    This was lovely. I will show it to Bobina.

    June 30, 2014
    • I don’t know why MTM made it ‘learn together.’ He already knows Spanish, having lived in Spain for a year-and-a-half. He forgets it, but it comes back pretty quickly. I, on the other hand, know almost NO Spanish. He’ll blow through it way ahead of me. πŸ™‚ But we’ve determined any eventual ex-pat life will be Spanish-speaking, so I might as well get my speech in gear.

      June 30, 2014
  22. We both recognize that we each need more time for ourselves. Our together time is, generally, most excellent. Reminders to listen more carefully are always important. My observation is that if you can survive your 40s, your 50s are more secure, just by definition. I’ll let you know how the 60s are when I’m done with ’em. So far, so good.

    June 30, 2014
    • In many ways, my 40s have been my hardest decade. I’m glad to hear the 50s may be better. πŸ™‚

      June 30, 2014
  23. Dedication to each other is truly what matters. I’d hope that we (Having just completed our first decade together) can find more things to do upside that we both love. Bill can’t do heat or back-stressing activities, so perhaps we’ll find a way to get some kayaks? But the fact that he tells me of his love and shows it in hundreds of small ways is good too. Though I do wish out involved more small gifts.

    June 30, 2014
  24. I do need to improve communication with some of my friends. I tend to put off a telephone call because I know it will be an hour and “I’m just too busy” to mete out the time. I will have to remember that next time I spend three hours writing a post and surfing Facebook. A few of those friends are overdue for some face time…

    June 30, 2014
  25. I’ll snipe numbers 2 and 9 from your list, in addition to more long walks in the evening and more weekend getaways.

    June 30, 2014
  26. Great list Andra.!! I would love for us both to live in and enjoy the present. I feel like we are always worried or planning some future event. I’d also like to laugh more together πŸ™‚

    June 30, 2014
  27. Carlos Ovalle #

    1. Every evening we sit in bed together, she with her iPad, me with my laptop. Does that count as together time?
    2. Does it count if it’s with others?
    8. I always remember, she doesn’t, so it’s always a great surprise for her.
    9. We do this one a lot, even with our grown children.
    10. She’s trilingual. We tried learning French together, it was a miserable experience.

    June 30, 2014
  28. Today is our 7th wedding anniversary πŸ™‚ we went out to the place we got engaged and sat looking at the view, drinking coffee from a flask. We walked and discussed poetry. We had dinner with friends. It was lovely.

    If I could do one thing to improve our marriage it would to tidy up and declutter. Unfortunately, that is the hardest thing to ask me to do as I am an unrepentant hoarder! I’m trying (very trying) but I am a WIP πŸ™‚

    June 30, 2014
  29. Another good one to add is finding a competitive sport the couple can do as a team. Rallying, yachtracing, tennis, bowls, etc.

    June 30, 2014
  30. Before I forget I would have to say that numbers 1,2,5 &7 would be an awesome improvement in our marriage, even after 24 years. Congratulations to you and MTM on a wonderful decade of marriage. I took the time to slowly read all of the comments. I loved each one of them. I would have to say that listening to what your spouse/partner is saying is important. That means disconnecting from the electronics all around us, and connecting with our hearts, minds and ears. One of the things I had to learn early on was that I could not change Katy. I had to learn how to love the good and learn how to accept those things that irritated me. Looking in the mirror and realizing that I probably have more irritating things helped me to deal with that. LOL. I have had to learn how to love Katy through my words and actions. I have no problems with verbalizing my affection, but I need to find more practical ways to show this love as well. (Like taking out the trash without having to be begged to….silly stuff like that). We also learned that we should never go to bed if we are angry about something. We find a way to work out our differences (kiss and make up) and then we can rest much easier. Ok, I will stop blathering now. Enough said. πŸ™‚

    June 30, 2014
  31. What I like most abour your posts is the honest sharing and especially your sweet handwritten vows in this one πŸ™‚

    My ex-husband and I made it to 10 years in spite of many many ups and downs. To celebrate this milestone we had a small get together with a few close friends at home which included a blessing over us by our priest … but we never made it to 15 because marriage is indeed hard to maintain and takes 2 willing committed people (you cannot clap with one hand). I salute you for being ‘maintenanced’ focus and for recognising that marriage is a partnership which involves dedicated effort. Congrats on 10 years and here’s wishing you 10 x 10 more years to come πŸ™‚

    June 30, 2014
  32. I love your list, and I think that you take the time to write down “renewals” is a beautiful gift to one another. After 42 years of marriage, a really great weekend is one spent working side by side in the garden, pulling weeds and planting vegetables! LOL! We just enjoy being together, and it rarely matters what we’re doing. We’re grateful. We have gratitude that we are both healthy and together, and that’s all we ask for. πŸ™‚

    July 1, 2014
  33. Laughter and better table manners (on my part)

    July 1, 2014
  34. When you kiss, be present for that kiss.
    When you embrace, be there for that too.

    Many times we are mechanical in nature, each kiss, each embrace should be special, unique and timeless.

    Schedule time for the computer and stick to it as to not take time away from each other. Time together should be scheduled as well and when it is, put up the distractions. Dinner (date night) should not include the phone, Facebook and so forth. Does anyone really want to see a picture of your food?

    End each day without anger or unresolved conflicts. Remember that anger is a poison that you take, expecting it to affect someone else ..

    Starting my 4th decade of marriage very soon with β€œno time off for good behavior ” :).

    Each day is a journey cherish each one.

    -best

    July 1, 2014
  35. Our 53 is coming in September. We still have to remind ourselves to do some things that are fun for both of us.

    Why have we lasted 53 years? Good question. I guess we loved each other enough to plow through problems that we did not realize at he time could have been killer of a marriage.

    I am the yapper of the two of us. My husband calls me Donald Duck. He is the quiet and considerate one who always thinks before he talks. Maybe someday I will be more like him, but not yet. Some marriages are doomed from the beginning and there is nothing that will fix them. I Thank God for my husband and his easy going ways. We grew up together and maybe that has something to the longevity of our marriage. We were 16 when we met and 18 when we married. Love has held us together.

    July 1, 2014
  36. Kristin #

    makes me smile

    July 1, 2014

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