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Happily Married 20 Years

20 Reasons Why I’ve Been Happily Married for 20 Years

As my husband and I celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary this week I’m reflecting on our marriage, especially as we sadly see many other couples our age splitting up. 

We definitely consider ourselves very happily married but that’s not to say we don’t have to work on it. I constantly remind both of us that we are two separate people with two different upbringings, experiences and personalities, which means we simply aren’t going to see eye-to-eye on everything. And we definitely don’t! 

We’ve had our smooth-sailing periods of feeling loved-up and connected, interspersed with patches of heavy showers, high winds and storms. Then, just like weather patterns, it all clears up and the sun shines again. 

20 Reasons Why I’ve Been Happily Married for 20 Years

1  I have a great relationship with myself first and foremost. By creating my Project Me, I take time to get to know and understand my emotions and behaviours, which puts me in a better position to understand his. Here’s How to Create Your Own Project Me

2 We made a pact when we started a family that we would never become so child-centred that we’d put each other last. We’ve made our marriage a top priority and our (now teenagers) have grown up with two loving parents who are as 100% committed to each other now as the day we exchanged our wedding vows. 

3 We have plenty of ‘We Time’. Going out without the kids, having fun and talking about stuff not related to home life is important to us and keeps us feeling fun, interesting and interested. When we didn’t have a babysitter, I’d organise a candlelit ‘date’ in our living room after the kids were tucked up in bed. I’d slip into something sexier than my sweatpants and we’d eat take-away sushi cross-legged at the coffee table, Japanese style. There were plenty of nights I’d planned a date, but was not in the mood when the time came. I kept my commitment to the plan and never regretted it.

4  We tell each other we love each other every day. And we hug, kiss, hold hands and send each other silly or sexy texts. 

5  We made an honestly promise to each other early on. Even if we’d rather tell a small lie (about how that scratch on the car happened, for example…) we always tell the truth. After 20 years of this, it’s safe to say we trust each other implicitly. 

6  We sleep entwined. He’s my radiator on cold nights. When the weather turns hot we still keep a finger or toe in contact. Only once have I ever gone off to sleep in another room after an argument. We both stick it out – as far apart from each other as we can possibly manage without falling off the edge of bed. Neither one of us gets any decent sleep so we know we have to make up the following day or risk a second sleepless night. 

7  When our sex life went through a literal dry patch after the birth of our kids, we made it a priority to get back on track again. I wrote about this here – Why You’ve Lost Your Sex Drive and How to Get It Back

8  Although we argue a lot, there is no passive-aggression in our relationship and if something is bothering one of us, we say it. We openly communicate about any and everything – sometimes loudly and with passion!

9  Conflict resolution is important to us both. One of us will hold out the olive branch – make a feeble apology or lightly touch the other to signify a desire to return to normal. The other will reluctantly accept. We do our best to stop things from escalating or dragging on as we find it emotionally exhausting to not get along. 

10  I’ve learned to recognise the role my ego plays in becoming defensive or wanting to win my point and I’m able to let go more easily when I’ve been triggered. A Few years back I set a recurring reminder to flash up on my phone on weekend mornings that said TAME YOUR EGO and I practiced ego awareness which really helped to cut back on the number of stupid arguments that never needed to happen. I’m much better at the Art of Letting Go and I don’t allow myself to get so irritated with his annoying behaviours. Read my popular post How to Deal With An Annoying Husband.

11  When we’re having a real humdinger of an argument and neither one of us is backing down, we send an email. An email gives us a chance to articulate our feelings and put forward our side rationally without being interrupted. Then the other can respond and it all dies down easier than when we let it escalate into a shouting match. Read How to End An Argument With An Email

12  Ever since the kids were tiny, he’s always given me the gift of weekend lie-ins and time to ‘beditate’, journal and have the essential ME time I need to be my best self. This is hugely important to me. 

13  We have different parenting styles and I used to worry that we weren’t being more of a ‘United Front’, but one day he told me we were like Ying and Yang and our kids were getting a good balance from each of us. They are amazing teenagers, so he was probably right. 

14  We share a lot of the same important ethics and values. He’s a genuinely good guy. He’s also silly and makes me laugh – a lot.

15  We balance our time spent socialising with friends with plenty of time for just the two of us. We’re best friends and genuinely enjoy each other’s company. 

16  We have fun. As in serious fun! We share a love of House music, dancing, and well-made margaritas. Our kiddie-free long weekend in Ibiza is an 18-year annual tradition thanks to my amazing mother-in-law who takes charge at home so we can jet off and behave like kids ourselves. 

17  Health and fitness are important to us both. We’re far from fanatical about it, but we work out together regularly and inspire and motivate each other to stay in shape and eat well. 

18  At around the 10 year mark I noticed we were getting into some bad habits of nit-picking, stupid criticisms and snide comments. I wrote for the Huffington Post about how we cut back on all of that: How to Treat Your Husband Like Your Best Friend

19  He’s generous, faithful and loyal. He’d never let me down in a big way and I always feel secure and loved. He’s respectful and always let’s me know where he is and if he’s going to be home late.

20  He’s my biggest supporter, he truly believes in me – and me in him. 

 

I’m glad we’ve put our marriage on the same level as our kids – giving equal importance to both. It’s far from selfish to get a babysitter or go away as a couple for some quality ‘we time’. It keeps the connection strong which provides a stable foundation for the whole family. 

Our kids will soon fly the coop and it’ll be just US again. We’re genuinely looking forward to the next chapter of our marriage. 

❤ Happy 20th Anniversary to my wonderful husband. Here’s to the next 20! ❤

In the comments below, share any insights you’ve had from my list – and feel free to add any of your own. Each relationship is unique and what works for one couple isn’t what works for another. We learn and grow by becoming the experts of ourselves and and our own families. 

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  1. Melissa on May 23, 2018 at 6:53 PM

    Happy Anniversary Kelly!
    Although I’m no longer married, I got a lot out of your list and it’s made me think about how I’ll approach things differently in my next relationship. (Because I know I’ll find love again with someone who deserves me!) I love how you made an honestly promise and what you do to handle inevitable conflicts. I’m definitely taking time now to get in better touch with ME and Project Me is really helping me to do that. Thanks for all that you do!

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on May 24, 2018 at 8:08 AM

      Good for you Melissa ~ I love your positive expectation and belief that you’ll find the love you deserve. Of course with that vibrational frequency you’ll attract him into your life. Thanks for your lovely comment. I’m so happy you’re embracing your Project Me. xx

  2. Jo on May 24, 2018 at 8:03 AM

    Wishing you a very happy anniversary! I’m celebrating 10 years this year and what keeps us strong is our shared passion for fitness. We train for charity runs together and love to do boot camps and fitness challenges. Our kids are getting into it now too which is fun to see. I am showing your list to my husband as we could use some of those in our life too. xx

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on May 24, 2018 at 9:49 PM

      Happy 10 years to you and your hubby Jo! How wonderful that the whole family are into fitness. What a gift for your kids, each other and yourself. x

  3. Jamie Thomson on May 24, 2018 at 11:03 AM

    Thanks for sharing. Would be good to hear his top list too. And the kids?

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on May 24, 2018 at 9:50 PM

      Hey that’s a nice idea Jamie. I’ll see if they’re up for the task! 🙂

  4. Leonor Falcon on May 24, 2018 at 10:23 PM

    Happy Anniversary!

    Love your article.

    • Ginger D (Kelly's Mom) on May 24, 2018 at 11:59 PM

      Happy 20th Anniversary to both of you! You have such a good balance. We had a real excitement about the royal wedding of Harry and Meghan, being as she is the American girl or Princess as many were calling her. It made me reflect on being with your boys watching the royal wedding of Will & Kate 7 years ago. But mostly I was thinking about how you as an American girl truly found your Italian Prince Charming and he has indeed made you the Princess of your marriage. Here’s to many more years!!!! Lots of love today and always.

      • Kelly Pietrangeli on May 27, 2018 at 7:51 PM

        Thanks mom!! I also felt the connection to Meghan on her wedding day. I too left my job in Hollywood to move to England and ultimately married my own Prince (charming). I feel very blessed with how it’s all turned out! I was showing the boys photos of our wedding day and laughing at the pics of you giving your speech in Italian (translated by your local pizzaria!) and the Italian table giving you scores! So funny. Sending loads of love back! xoxo

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on May 27, 2018 at 7:47 PM

      Thank you so much Leonor! xoxo

  5. Gabrielle on May 25, 2018 at 4:53 PM

    Happy anniversary, Kelly!
    I love all those 20 reasons why your marriage is so happy.
    True work… that allows you to enjoy today a beautiful relationship with your husband…
    Beautiful ideas to find balance and grace in our own marriages.
    Truly inspirational.
    ????????????
    Much love,
    Gabrielle

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on May 27, 2018 at 7:52 PM

      Awww, thank you so much Gabrielle! So beautiful of you to say. Sending you lots of love back! xx

  6. Yvonne Stahlie on May 25, 2018 at 4:57 PM

    Wow! Great advice and Congratulations! This year Carlos and I will be married 29 years and its gone by in a blink of an eye. I like your number 1 that you have a great relationship with yourself. You need to be happy first before you can make someone else happy. The longest journey we make in our life is from our head to our heart loving, accepting and understanding ourselves. I wish you another 20 amazing years plus!!

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on May 27, 2018 at 7:54 PM

      WOW back at ‘cha Yvonne for nearly THIRTY years! Yes, I made self-love #1 on that list as it truly does start there. Wishing you and Carlos continued love and happiness too. xxx

  7. Julie Marah on May 29, 2018 at 10:55 AM

    Happy Anniversary Kelly and Congratulations on what sounds like 20 brilliant years! I truly admire any couple able to create and sustain a happy, healthy marriage and grow together through the myriad ups and downs of life and kids – it ain’t easy.. take a bow Mama!! Wishing you continued both happiness in the next Chapter!

    I’m now off to share your post on my Facebook page! xx

  8. Kelly Pietrangeli on May 30, 2018 at 12:45 PM

    I saw that you’d shared this on your Facebook page and I feel so honoured Julie. You have been a great contributor to the Love chapter of my book and I’m always grateful for your insights and wisdom. You are the Wife Coach extraordinaire! Keep doing what you’re doing. You are making a difference. xxx

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