When my husband and I got married, we were practically kids. I was 24 and he was barely 25. I could not wait to marry him. He was so many things that I thought I wanted in a husband, but we were also so different. He didn’t finish college. In my family, I’m not sure anyone had ever met someone who didn’t have a degree and even who hadn’t gone on for their masters or to med school. When we met, he was living at home and I was in NYC. I was struggling to make enough money to buy drinks on the weekend, and he was already working full time in his family business. For our second date, he took me to Atlantic City and we stayed in a huge suite. I was a long way from my tiny West Village apartment. My first thought was that he must be in the mafia. I had seen Goodfellas, and when Adam started handing me hundred dollar bills to gamble with, I suddenly thought maybe a mobster’s wife wasn’t such a bad role in life. Turns out, he was just a hard worker saving his money while living at his parents’ house for a few years.

I could tell that Adam would always bring excitement to my life, and that’s something I wanted. What I didn’t realize was how much work marriage would be. I too was a hard worker. I did well in college and had multiple jobs since high school. But those were things I was interested in doing. I didn’t realize marriage meant not only taking into account what is important to you, but what is important to your spouse as well. 

Adam bought a condo in NJ when we were still dating and I moved in with him because I was miserable being so far away. I was, and always have been, a messy person. I leave a trail of my stuff everywhere I go. It’s a fact. Adam is super organized and immaculate. Getting used to living together with that difference caused a huge issue in our marriage before it even began. We fought incessantly about the cleanliness of the apartment, then our townhouse, and finally, our house. We fought constantly about roles and responsibilities and all the small things that were important to one of us, but not the other. 

There were quite a few times when I did not think our marriage would last. But through those first few years, that connection and spark we had always had never left us. We absolutely had a love for one another, and a desire to work everything out. There was lots of crying, screaming, frustration, and misunderstanding. But there was also passion, fun, laughter, and adoration.

I can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened, but at a certain point, once our kids were born, something changed. It was like we had spent so much time being in love and having this amazing time together, but we had wasted so much of it fighting. We had made incredible friends and had three amazing kids, and we were just ready to put the fighting behind us and do whatever it took to make our marriage awesome. Don’t get me wrong, we still fought (and still do). But none of those little things we once had fought about seemed worth it anymore. It wasn’t making our life any better. If anything, it just kept moving us backwards. 

We started to spend less time nagging one another about ridiculous nonsense, and more time just being together, doing what we enjoyed. There started to be way more laughter and constructive conversations about life, and less concentration about what the other person had done wrong. It freed up so much time. Instead of texting each other about something we were upset about, we started texting each other just to say “I miss you,” or anything that would make the other person smile and feel excited. It wasn’t that we were repressing and ignoring the things we were upset about, it was that those things just didn’t matter to us the way they once had.

Those texts, conversations, dates, jokes, and moments alone became infectious. Those instances felt so much better than the arguments and the ridiculous things we once fought about. When we fight now, it’s about something that we really need to work out. And when it happens, it’s an explosion. The difference is that neither of us wants those feelings to last. We have such a fabulous place of happiness when we are in it together, that we always want to arrive as quickly as possible back to that feeling. I don’t have many regrets about the beginning of our marriage because we were growing and learning. The most important thing is that we never gave up. 

Now, when Adam comes home and the sink is filled with dishes, or the laundry hasn’t been folded, he barely bats an eye. He comes in, kisses me, and we decide what we are going to do together that will be fun and fulfilling. We’re constantly trying to figure out how to make the other person happy rather than feel criticized. It’s a work in progress. It always will be. I cannot believe how far we have come. After 15 years, we are happier every year because we are always heading to a better, happier, healthier place. Fifteen years goes by fast. But it’s also a long time, and filled with days that can be spent nagging one another, or in love and appreciating one another. We each have that choice. Once we start making the decision to send the loving text rather than the nagging text, the results are astounding, and it’s hard to go back from that. 

I don’t know what the next fifteen years will bring, but I know that we will be in it together. Here’s to working hard at our marriages each day; to making life together adventurous, fun, happy, and to working hard, because it’s hard work. My promise is that I will keep working to make us happy. As long as we both do that, I know it will continue to grow and get better. 

*This article was originally published at www.wheretheeffismyhandbook.com

Danielle Silverstein

Danielle is a stay-at-home mom of three awesome kids and two rescue dogs. My blog, Where The Eff Is My Handbook, is meant to keep moms laughing and feeling supported along this crazy journey.