My husband and I recently celebrated NINE long years of being married. There are plenty of people who have been married for much longer, and then there are those that are only in their first few years of marriage - I envy both.
I envy the couple that has been married for 25 years and are still going strong, or really, just still going at all. I also envy the couple that is fresh into their marriage, planning out how to live their dreams and discussing the possibility of having children.
BUT, more than envying those in a different stage of marriage than myself, I feel a gratefulness, a contentedness, a sense of security, and feelings of excitement when I think about the place my marriage is currently in.
You see, when people have been married for over, let's say eight years, there is a definite chance that some feelings of intense love have lessened. It is around this point (and for many, even way before then) that one or both members of a couple start to take each other for granted. I would say that passing eight years can be considered a turning point. Eight years into a marriage and you and your spouse have probably established your individual and joint dreams, have decided whether or not to have children, and have agreed upon your plans for the future - all really big, important, life-altering decisions.
Under the weight and stress that these decisions may cause to both you and your partner, you (individually or mutually) may feel a sense of drifting apart. But, what I would suggest and ask of you is that you harness that drift in your favor. Find the positive in the drift, use the drift's momentum to alter it and ultimately turn the direction of the drift back towards your partner.
How do you do that? I'll tell you ...
I want for you to get back to craving one another, but I also want for you to accept the normalcy of your relationship.
I want for you to move toward your common goals with optimism and zeal, while weathering each challenge, obstacle and any tragedy with both physical and emotional strength.
I want you to stop looking to your spouse to "fill your love tank," because the truth is that nothing is more attractive to your partner than for you to have a full love tank - one that you filled all by yourself, for yourself.
I want you to let go of all of your insecurities and let in some jovial humor.
I want you to focus on appreciation of your partner for what they have offered to you, and for what they continue to bring to the table.
I want you to give whatever it is that you can offer to your partner (compassion, support, romance, friendship) without the expectation of receiving something in return.
I want for you and your spouse to understand that the depth of love found between a married couple is only created and maintained when both partners are continuously working towards constant enjoyment of each other's presence, during both the ups and the downs.
And, oh yeah, I want for you to never give up. Never, never, never
Our ninth wedding anniversary seems to be a fitting time to state to my husband some new, updated vows that are more aligned with our current stage of marriage, so here they are:
To my husband -
I vow to never give up on us, no matter how challenging things become.
I vow to never stop finding you attractive.
I vow to always remember why we fell in love.
I vow to forever be grateful to you for making me a mother.
I vow to always admire the father that you are to our children.
I vow to try to depend on you less for my day-to-day happiness, as that is an unfair weight to ask you to bear, day in and day out.
I vow to try to be more carefree and open-minded, like the girl you fell in love with.
I vow to try harder to make our relationship a priority.
I vow to take more time for myself when I need it, instead of blaming you for my lack of it.
I vow to work on finding balance, and to not let my struggle for finding it overcome me.
I vow to say "yes" more when we are offered opportunities to leave the children and have more date nights.
Do you know what I vow now more than ever before? I vow to always be willing to make adjustments to these vows, and adhere to them, as our relationship will require it.
Marriages and relationships are not simple and are not certain
Conversely, they are extremely complicated; the needs of both partners and the relationship as a whole is constantly changing. We have to change with it. We have to use the drifts.
So, the nine-year itch? Yep, I've got it. But I am not itching for a way out. Nope. Not at all. What am I itching for? I am itching to maintain the often hilarious, consistently messy, but undoubtedly beautiful and blessed life and family that we have created.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Nicole Merritt's website. It has been republished here with permission.