My husband and I were supposed to celebrate our 20th anniversary on a family cruise in the Caribbean this week. Instead, we are at home in Edmonds, ordering Door Dash.
It feels like the past two decades have gone by in a flash. Here are 20 life lessons I’ve learned along the way.
1. Don’t make your partner wake up or go to sleep when they don’t want to. Respect that they are adults in charge of their own schedule.
2. Make eye contact and smile when they enter a room. That sounds easy, but it can be hard to remember to look up from your phone.
3. Clean up after yourself. But if your partner cooks you dinner, clean up after them.
4. Take turns waking up in the middle of the night with babies.
5. Say what you mean in a nice way. Don’t hold your emotions in, but don’t let them explode either.
6. Use “I statements.” For example: “I would like you to replace the light fixture,” is a lot better than: “Why haven’t you dealt with the new lamp yet?”
7. Listen more than you talk.
8. When you discover a pile of clean laundry on the bed, fold it.
9. Find a TV series that you enjoy watching together. If you have small children, sometimes Netflix is your best chance for together-time.
10. Make friends with your in-laws.
11. Support your partner’s path to good health. Take care of the kids so your spouse can exercise and expect that they will do the same for you.
12. Pay attention to their stories from work, even if you don’t understand anything they’re saying. At the very least, remember their co-workers’ names.
13. Respect their hobbies. You want your partner to be happy, right?
14. Don’t send your partner into a situation where they will fail. Mow the lawn if they are allergic to grass. Do the grocery shopping if they become confused in Fred Meyer.
15. Make an effort with your appearance — after the pandemic, that is. In the meantime, keep rocking those sweatpants.
16. Encourage your partner to follow their dreams.
17. If your partner has a hard time waking up in the morning, make them coffee and don’t expect lucid conversation until after they drink it.
18. Forgive your spouse for feeding the dog pork roast that later made the dog puke. It’s not your partner’s fault the dog is so cute.
19. Be honest about money, including how much you earn and how much you spend. Be honest with yourself, too.
20. Be their cheerleader. Everyone deserves someone who roots for them.
Champagne and sparkling cider with our children over a table laden with take-out boxes is still a celebration. Who knows? Twenty years from now, in 2040, maybe we’ll finally take that Caribbean cruise and bring our future grandkids.
Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as Jennifer Bardsley Author. Email her at email@example.com.