My handsome, charming and brilliant husband and I met in Austria in January of 2000. We both attended Franciscan University of Steubenville, but never met on campus in Ohio because I was a junior and he was a sophomore and I was an accounting major and he was a Theology major. We ran in completely different circles! God knew he had to send us to Europe to meet and start a romantic courtship that is still going strong 13 years later.
When I first met Phil, I liked him right away, but unfortunately I was seriously dating someone from back home at the time. About a week into getting to know Phil, I told my roommate that I wanted to marry a man just like him. And I knew that meant breaking up with my boyfriend from back home, over the phone, from a continent far, far away. Can you say “bad girlfriend?” Yes, that was me. I casually mentioned to Phil that I was now single, and he waited a couple of weeks before officially asking me out right before my 21st birthday.
A few weeks after we were dating, he finally got up the nerve to kiss me in Assisi! I was wondering what was taking so long, and then he explained that I was his first girlfriend and first kiss. How sweet! We were able to travel together throughout Europe with a group of friends, and Phil was always the perfect gentleman. One of my fondest memories is when we were in Italy and he let me know that he wasn’t planning to do anything more than kiss me until the day we were married. We were both practicing Catholics, and while we knew sex should be saved for marriage, to have the man be the one to communicate it was just beautiful. Be still my heart!
And wait until our wedding night we did. We learned a lot of patience and self-control over the two years of dating and engagement, and our honeymoon truly was magical. Even now, at over ten years of marriage, the physical love that we share is so powerful and somehow continues to improve year after year. We never stop learning about one another and trying to put the other one first.
Getting married young (I was 23 and he was 21) and having our first baby 9 months after our wedding day was honestly the perfect plan God could have laid out for us. We never got set in our own ways or felt that children would detract from life as we knew it. We started our adult life together, and became parents immediately, and have never known anything else. We have struggled financially for most of our marriage and been blessed with more than one surprise pregnancy! We now have five of the most awesome children I’ve ever met.
Has it been an easy ride? Not at every moment, but honestly, with such a strong and wonderful partner at my side, it has been so much fun!
And so without further ado, the top ten things I’ve learned in ten years of marriage:
1) Finding a partner with the same values and morals as you is KEY to being happy together. You can have different tastes in music, clothes, hobbies, etc. but if you don’t agree on basic values then there will be many, many disagreements in the house!
2) If possible, have kids soon. I think having children really gave our marriage a purpose. We promised at our wedding to accept them lovingly and we were lucky to conceive very easily. We have the energy now to raise them and look forward to the possibility of being young grandparents as well. I know some people say you should get to know each other before starting a family, but that’s what dating and engagements are for. Marriage is for family.
3) If possible, have lots of kids. Again, this is just my personal recommendation. But we agree with John Paul II’s statement that a sibling is the best gift you can give your child. Having one child is much harder than having two because they want all your attention, but once they have a sibling, boom! Instant playmate for life!
4) Wives, be generous to your husbands. You know what I’m talking about ;) And husbands, be generous to your wives. You also know what I’m talking about.
5) Use Natural Family Planning when spacing out your family. It’s healthy, natural, free, and completely open to God’s Will in planning your family size. The times of abstinence make the times of togetherness that much better!
6) Thank your spouse. There have been plenty of occasions where I take for granted all the little ways Phil serves our family, and then when I have to take over one of his duties, I finally remember to thank him for all he does.
7) Never stop flirting! We text each other messages during the day, send pictures of something cute the kids are doing, or do something special to let the other one know that they are loved. No big gestures needed, just pour your spouse’s cup of coffee for them, change the baby so they can sleep in five extra minutes, refill the toilet paper. Anything goes!
8) Talk to each other. Communicate about everything, and never be afraid to learn more about your spouse. I just recently learned that my husband feels very loved when I make the kids lunches at night, which is usually his chore. So easy!
9) Love is a choice not a feeling. 99% of the time, love is still a warm fuzzy feeling for me, but for that difficult 1% of the time, I remember that we chose to love each other forever, and made vows we will not break.
10) A successful marriage takes 3. Husband, Wife, and God. Family prayer is a beautiful thing. The times I feel so close to my husband are when we pray or attend Mass together. Thank God daily for the gift of marriage and family because it truly is a precious gift!
Colleen Martin chronicles her always-crazy, always-busy, always-wonderful life over at Martin Family Moments. As a wife to her best friend, mom to five littles and full-time Business Manager at a Catholic High School, she loves blogging and exercising as a way to escape from the many demands in her life. She and her husband went to the same college, got married right after graduation, and now work at the same place! They have been married for ten years, and hope to make it many more. God has blessed her family abundantly, taken care of them always, and they're happy to share their faith with anyone willing to listen!