12 For 12...Some Thoughts on a Joy-Filled Marriage

We had just walked out of Pitch Perfect 2. It's pouring rain. 

"Let's make out in the rain!" she exclaimed.

And that was all it took for us to have a spontaneous few minute adventure splashing and kissing and laughing with one another. Times like these are the times that remind me how good I truly have it.

But it wasn't always this way. Jenny + I have worked hard to get here.

On May 17th, Jenny + I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary. We met when I was a sophomore in high school and she was a freshman. 19 years later, we're happily married with 3 awesome kids and 1 adorable (and kind of lazy) basset hound. Life is a pretty solid mix of chaos + joy + struggle + laughter.

Our story has plenty of ups and downs. It definitely wasn't love at first sight, but today, I want to share with you 12 things we do that have helped get us through the tough times...

Note: This started out as a post a few years ago on the Happy Family Movement (RIP) website, but I've updated and added to it since life has changed a bit for us these last few years.

    1. We end most days with a good old fashioned snuggle. We're with each other a lot, like, all the time, it's the way our life is set up, but we always try to go to bed at the same time. Sometimes she'll take a bath and I'll spend some time reading/writing/meditation, but night time is a time to snuggle close, and reflect on the day, chat about anything on our minds. I love those times together.
    2. We don't just say we love each other, we SHOW that we love each other in our actions. Our love is shown through the little glances I catch Jenny giving me. It's found in our laughter. It's found in the way we constantly do things to make the other one happy, just because that's what people in love do for each other. I'm only as happy if she is, we're a team, and we work hard to make sure our days matter. I still love that I can walk up behind her, give her a little kiss on the neck and know she appreciates the gesture.
    3. We dance together. Often. We'll dance in the rain. We'll dance in the kitchen even though there's the noise of a busy house all around us. I even have a Slow Dancing in the Kitchen list on spotify for those moments.
    4. We push each other to be better, to work harder, to always remember the WHY we live our life the way we do. Does this one need any explanation?
    5. We are better people with each other than without each other. Her strengths are my weaknesses and vice versa. It's uncanny how we're exact opposites. I'm a dreamer, she's a realist. I'm super creative, she's an accountant. I'm a hippie at heart, she loves the suburbs. These differences make our relationship stronger. Again, we're a team, and a team needs to be solid at all positions.
    6. We're explorers. I could never stay married to someone who didn't like to travel. Traveling and seeing the world (with our kids) is kind of our thing. I love how adventurous she is. 37 States as a family and counting. A few countries under our belt, and more coming soon now that we have Max's CF under control. I couldn't imagine having a better partner to travel the world with.
    7. We still go on dates. Sometimes it's lazer tag or go-karting, oftentimes it's dinner and a movie. Either way, time together without the kids is important to keeping our sanity.
    8. I know you've heard this one a thousand times, but we don't go to bed mad. Yes, we have those fights that keep you up until 4 am, everyone has those, but we never fall asleep while we're still mad at each other. We always talk it out. 
    9. We're not afraid to play. If one of us is grumpy, you bet the other is planning something. It might be a nerf shot to the back, maybe a water gun spray to the face, or the good ol fashioned tickle throwdown. Yes, I'll hold Jenny down and tickle the grumpies out of her just like we do with the kids. When it comes down to it, life is more fun when you're laughing, right?
    10. We CHOOSE to be. We CHOOSE to be with each other, every single day. We make the choice to wake up, love each other, and raise our kids to love themselves, their family/friends, and the world. We CHOOSE to sit on the same side of the table when we're out eating. We CHOOSE to run through any/all sprinklers we see turned on. We have SO many choices in life...an overwhelming amount of choices, but the most important choice I'll ever make is who I spend my time with. I CHOOSE Jenny, every single time, and she CHOOSES me.
    11. We don't live on autopilot.  The things we do and say to each other come from the heart. They have soul behind them. We look each other in the eyes. We're intentional in our relationship, so we can focus on what really matters.
    12. Show up + love well. This is a lesson I've learned over and over and over the past few years. When we show up for one another + strive to love one another well, things are great. When we check out, we fight and argue and struggle. 

Committing and working on my marriage is the hardest thing I do every day in my life. I feel our marriage is the foundation that needs to be strong to raise our kids well. I want to show our kids, day in and day out, what it means to love another person well. 

I'd love to hear some of the reasons you're happily married/committed to your spouse/partner. Leave a comment below or shoot me an email. 

Josh Solar

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