I’ve often been asked, “What’s the secret to a happy marriage?” and “How have you guys stayed together so long?” Typically I reply with a simple word such as “communication” or “friendship”. And although those are actually true, they don’t even begin to define my marriage or scratch the surface of the many years my husband and I have been together.

I feel like I can confidently say that many couples wouldn’t have made it to where we are today if they were placed in our shoes. They wouldn’t have survived his deployment to Iraq not one year into our relationship. They wouldn’t have survived both his and my adjustment to life with him back home and out of the military.

They wouldn’t have survived the years where we were both adult college students, and we pinched pennies to pay the mortgage, both working odd jobs to keep the lights on. Other couples wouldn’t have survived the struggle of infertility, the feelings of inadequacy we both carried, wondering why God wouldn’t give us a child.

Other couples wouldn’t have survived the early days of that much-wanted baby’s life—the extreme colic and the postpartum depression. They definitely wouldn’t have survived the pain of trying to add to our tiny family two years later, and losing not just one, but two of our babies in one year.

They wouldn’t have survived another round of postpartum depression after our rainbow baby was born, nor my anxieties associated with my feelings of adjusting to life as a stay-at-home mom. They wouldn’t have survived his constant battle with PTSD and the burden he carries every day to provide for his wife and two children.

You see, when I tell other people how we’ve made it this far, I don’t want to tell them all of that because for all of the hard times we’ve had, we’ve also had some darn good ones. Like many other couples, the “D” word has been thrown out at each other during arguments and times of hardship. This year alone has been particularly hard on our marriage. But, we’ve stuck through it.

The real secret to happy marriage is to remember the reasons you chose that person who rests their head next to yours at night. Maybe it’s his sense of humor? Or the way he kisses the back of your hand when you walk by. Is it the way he sits and listens, really listens, to you when you need to vent? Or maybe it’s the simple way you can spot each other from across a crowded room and, even from a distance, you can see the twinkle in his eyes that tells you he’s going to have a funny story to tell you later on. Or better yet, maybe it’s the contagious belly laughs you hear coming from both of your children as you come down the stairs and see him playing with them on the living room floor.

It’s all of those things. A thousand tiny and big moments that make you think of him and all of your years together. That special part of your heart that’s been carved out just for him because you know that even if something did happen and you did ever split for some reason, that spot would remain vacant because he’s meant that much to you and helped to shape the woman you’ve become.

That’s my advice to you. Even when that silly man drives you nuts, like not cleaning up his cookie crumbs off the counter even though you asked him 100 times already—remember why you chose him. Always remember the way he made you feel on the day you became his wife and he your husband.

Originally published on the author’s blog

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Britt LeBoeuf

Britt is a married mother of two from northern New York. She has an undergraduate degree in Human Services. When she's not chasing down her two young children, she writes for sites such as Her View From Home, Scary Mommy, Filter Free Parents and Sammiches and Psych Meds. Check out her first published book, "Promises of Pineford" on Amazon too. On her blog, These Boys of Mine, she talks about parenting only boys, special needs parenting, mental health advocacy, being a miscarriage survivor and life as a crazy cat lady.