My wife and I have been married for 14 years. In that time, we’ve learned a lot about what it takes to be married. It’s easier than everyone says it is.
Here are seven things we’ve done that have made our marriage work really well—and helped us have a lot of fun.
1. Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously
In 14 years of marriage, we’ve never had the bad year. We don’t fight and never have. I can remember three kinda fights in 17 years of being together. But they diffused very quickly. Within the hour.
I’m not bragging. I’m just saying that if youre in a dating relationship and you fight all the time, it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s possible to be in a long-lasting relationship, without fighting. My wife and I are ridiculously laid back. We don’t take anything or ourselves too seriously.
2. Mock Each Other
We laugh all the time. We talk smack and jokingly mock each other. She’ll ask me to take out the trash. I respond with: “I’ll take YOU out to the trash.” Then, she’ll respond with “Your face is trash.” Then, we both die laughing.
This constant joking is hilarious, fun and such a healthy dynamic in our marriage. It’s our love language in a very hysterical, and slightly disturbing way.
3. Give Selflessly
My wife is relentlessly selfless. She gives and gives and gives like no one else I’ve ever seen in my life.
I try to be selfless, but she wins by a mile in that category. It’s just who she is.
4. Don’t Be a Fan
I love that my wife is not a fan of mine. She loves me for me and not my career or anything. I’m an idea guy and I bounce ideas off her all the time.
Most of the time, it goes in one ear and out the other. It can be frustrating, but it keeps me humble. But sometimes I have an idea that causes her to break down into tears immediately.
One of those moments was when I told her about an idea called Help-Portrait. I recently had another idea that made her cry. It’s a massive dream of mine and shes always pressing me and asking, “When are you going to pursue that one?” She is the ultimate idea barometer and always seems to be right.
5. Be The Average
My wife averages me out in my confidence.There are days that I feel like I suck. My ideas suck. Everything sucks.
As an artist, many times I have absolutely zero confidence. Those are the days she somehow figures out how to remind me I don’t suck and I’m actually quite good at what I do.
Every now and then, I’m a little too high on an idea or a project. I think for a minute that I’m kind of awesome. She’s quick to bring me back down to earth in those moments. She’s an expert balloon-popper. The balloon being my ego, of course.
6. Trust Each Other
I’ve always admired her trust in me. Not every wife would say: “sure, go tour with Britney Spears for three months.” Or “sure, go shoot all these beautiful women and make them look even more beautiful.” But she does that and continues to trust me.
It’s amazing how, the more she trusts me, the more I want to earn and respect that trust. Jealousy kills relationships. Shannon has never once been jealous of what I’m doing or who I’m working or traveling with. That’s a strong woman.
So guys, its possible to have a successful career, travel the world and stay faithful to your wife. Crazy concept, I know, but its pretty amazing. Our culture tends to celebrate sleeping around and showcase men as strong and tough if they get a lot of women. I think it’s the complete opposite.
Staying faithful to your wife as a man is strong and tough. Cheating on your spouse is weak.
7. Be Patient
My wife is so patient with me. I tend to be quite spacey. I’m always thinking or dreaming of something. Its part A.D.D. and part dreamer in me. It’s hard for me to be present sometimes. I can be in the room and not present at all.
But Shannon understands that about me and is patient with me. She’s patient every time I drive the wrong way and miss all those turns. She’s patient when I forget those groceries or forget the important story she told me about her day. She’s patient when I simply don’t listen.
That’s a tough one for most women. She gets frustrated sometimes. but shes still more understanding than she should be.
I love my job and I love technology. Its easy to be glued to my iPhone. I’m also a people-pleaser. I feel like I have to respond to every email, text, Facebook comment, Facebook message, Twitter reply, Twitter DM, blog post comment, phone call, LinkedIn message, Instagram comment, etc. Did I cover them all? Probably not. But you get the idea.
Keeping up with it all is hard. Family comes first, obviously, but it’s hard sometimes to balance it all. Shannon is extremely patient with my struggles there.
We’re not perfect. We dont have it all figured out. I don’t mean to imply that. But marriage these days seems to be in a lot of trouble. It feels like divorce is far more normal than happy marriages. But from a guy who has a good, healthy marriage, these are simply a few of the things that have helped us. And I hope they help you, too.
Jeremy Cowart is a Photographer, Entrepreneur and a Humanitarian. He founded a global photography movement called Help-Portrait and recently launched an iPhone App/Social Network called OKDOTHIS. His goal in life is to use his platform, ideas and creativity to inspire and help others in need. Check out his website, jeremycowart.com, or follow him on Twitter @jeremycowart.