Joanna Anastasia

marriage

10 things I learned in 10 years of relationship with my hubby

This year marks ten years since me and my hubby met and became a couple and I thought it’s about time for me to start writing about couple life. Because while we may not be your regular perfect instagram couple ( I don’t think we have an up to date photo together-without-kids to be honest, not to mention a romantic one holding hands and looking all cute) we are a pretty happy marriage of over 7 years, with three kids, two cats and a whole lot of crazy going on!

So today I figured I’d share with you the 10 things I learned over the years that I think are essential to a happy relationship :

  1. Don’t expect your partner to make you happy – this is so important, but yet we don’t hear it often enough. You can’t expect another mortal being to be in charge of  YOUR happiness . Your wellbeing and life satisfaction can’t depend on your partner. They can and will be in relation to him/her, but you need other activities, passions & interests too!
  2. Pick well because you can’t change a person. It might be a cliche but if you go in to a relationship with someone who’s never joking and never happy, always finding something to be upset about and usually in a bad mood- well then that will be your life. People can work on themselves but the overall mood and temperament usually stays the same. So pick well.
  3. Stay intimate. Your physical connection is the glue to your relationship, so sometimes it’s worth to overcome the tiredness and cuddle more! ( this is the tip for the tired mom of young kids.. I think we all know that sleep always wins but hey, you need to choose your couple connection over sleep from time to time!)
  4. Sometimes it’s good to let it go, stop discussing and go to sleep – Funny how most arguments happen in the evening once the kids are asleep – but it’s also the time when we are so tired we sometimes lose our rationality and become overwhelmed with emotions. From my experience, in the morning problems usually look much smaller and less important, and you might not even remember what you were so upset about the night before. So next time you feel like fighting late at night, just let it go and go to sleep – and maybe in the morning you will be less upset, or maybe your partner will understand you better after a nights rest!
  5. Do explain your point of view and listen carefully to his/hers. Always try finding a common ground, since you’re a team now, and you’re working together towards your goals and not against each other! So yes do explain how you feel and, do listen carefully to your partner. Listen how they change and show them how you change. Ask each questions even if you already asked those questions years before. People evolve and it’s important to check in with your partner and see who he/she becomes the new version of themselves. That way you can evolve and grow together- and not apart from each other.
  6. Say thank you everyday : thank you for making my coffee, thank you for thinking of that thing I forgot, thank you for putting kids to sleep etc. Even if it’s a normal responsibility of his, or a part of your family responsibilities, even if it’s something that your spouse does everyday – say thank you. Everyone likes to feel appreciated – and most likely your partner will show the appreciation back. And if he won’t, ask him to do so!
  7. Don’t make them guess. If you want something, just say it, ask for it, plan it, explain it. Your partner is not a magician to read your thoughts, but most likely a regular person who can be mistaken, who has his own likes and dislikes and who would happily make things for you – as long as you will verbalize your needs!
  8. Joke and laugh. When you’re tired and on the edge, joke. Laugh is the best remedy for almost anything. If you want to say a nasty comment or be ironic and sarcastic, better make a joke and forget about the nasty part.
  9. Have plans together outside of family/life-with-kids-plans. Even if they’re long term. This is a difficult one for couples with young kids as sometimes it feels as everything revolves around those little creatures! Just remember that at the beginning it was only the two of you, and most likely at some point it will be just the two of you again. So make sure you still have things that include only you two going on!
  10. Give each other freedom to be yourselves and make mistakes. This is probably the most difficult balance of all. Because as a couple that is also a family with kids, we are so focused on the neverending to-do lists and on how-things-should-be-done that sometimes we see our partners marley as people who should do things in a certain way. We might feel the need to tell them how they should care for kids, how they should deal with problems and how they should be helping us. But when you really accept each other’s quirks, ways and limitations you can only grow better together ( and avoid unnecessary fights ).

Now, I may not have some miraculous tips here, but if ever you wondered how people stay happily married with young kids, this might be the answer! Oh, and probably a grain of luck might have something to do with it too 🙂

What all couples should do before having a baby

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I strongly believe, that before your life as a couple changes drastically, like I’ve already explained here, there are some things that you should do. As a couple. Things that will let you embrace the changes, and that will help you prepare. Because honestly, otherwise you could end up imagining your life without kids, and the unspoiled freedom aka happiness that you could live in stead of, let’s say, changing diapers at 5 am. And living an imaginary life is never really healthy.

So here are the things that I think every couple should do before having a baby, to prepare yourself for changes, and to live them happily when they happen :

1. Travel together.
First, because it’s much more difficult to travel with kids. Second because while traveling, it’s really only the two of you in a totally new environment. Meaning that together you’ll experience totally new things. And that’s something that usually gets people closer to each other. So either it’ll get you even closer together, either you’ll decide you’re not right for each other. ( Which is a good thing to find out before you have kids. )

2. Move in together.
As with travelling, it either makes you stronger as a couple, either it’ll expose that you’re not made for each other. Cleaning the house, doing groceries, and paying bills is not as romantic as, let’s say a trip to Venice, but it definitely helps you find out if you should live together. It gives you time to adjust to each other expectations. And it’s easier to negotiate who’s doing the dishes before there is a baby to take care of!

3.Have an important event/celebration.
For most of people it’s a wedding. But it doesn’t have to be. It’s really about a moment when you gather your family and friends, and you announce your love to each other. Surly, a wedding gown, flowers and gifts makes it even more special :). Later on, when you’ll wake up in the middle of the night for that crying baby of yours, you’ll have this beautiful memory that’ll help you go thru the night.

4. Talk money.
Think about all the possibilities. What if one of you will want to go back to school? Stay at home with kids? Are you going to put aside money for kids studies? What about insurance? These are some important things to figure out before you have a kid.

5. Have a pet.
A dog or a cat. Fish doesn’t really count because there is not that much work involved to it :). Yes, I don’t think that you should take a pet just for fun of it! I think you should get a pet to live a transformation period from a no-worries lifestyle to a I-have-someone-to-feed-and-clean-after kind of one! Having a pet together, let’s you learn how to care and raise a creature as a couple. It forces you to limit your freedom a bit ( no more last minute vacation) but with a bonus of some furry love. So it lets you live the first stage of parenting, before it actually happens.

6. Learn how to fight and make up.
Everyone fights. What’s important is how you do it, and how you make up : do you hold on to your anger? Can you let go? Do you forgive?
And if your way of fighting is raising your voices, smashing the doors and dramatically gesticulating, than maybe you should raffinate your communication skills before having kids ( it might be stressful for babies to watch you fighting ).

7. Talk about your childhood issues.
It’s great to know what you lived through, which of your parents methods you want to duplicate, and what you would newer do as they did. Make sure that as a couple, you are mostly on the same page here. If one of you can’t imagine a happy childhood with out travelling the world, and another thinks it’s a huge waste of money to travel with kids, cause they won’t remember half of what they’ve seen, then you better talk it through before.

8. Imagine future in 10-20-40 years.
When you think about your life in a long term, do you have similar visions, or completely different? Can you relate to one another’s visions of future? Are there kids and grandkids in your vision? Because if not, than maybe you’re not ready to have kids after all..

Of course these are my personal musts, but I’d love to know what are yours? And if you are a couple with kids, but you didn’t do any of the above, what is your secret to a happy family life?

Before having a baby