what I've learned from five years of marriage.

Alison and Chris from Kate Headley on Vimeo.

Today, {cv} and I are celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary! It feels like yesterday, but at the same time, it feels like a lifetime ago because we have packed so many wonderful things in those years. I share our wedding video every year, mostly because I still love it as much as the day I saw it for the first time. (We are forever indebted to my dear friend, Kate Headley, for capturing this day on film and video. She posted a great #tbt yesterday -- we look like teenagers!) Here are a few things I wish I could tell my 24 year old self walking down the aisle...

1) Always (and I mean always) prioritize each other. {cv} and I started dating nearly ten years ago. In that decade, we have experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows together. {cv} is, far and away, my best friend. Maintaining a friendship requires time and effort. It seems like a no-brainer, but the same should apply to a marriage. While it is easy to get caught in the minutiae of everyday life, we try to take a few minutes to block out the craziness and focus on each other. (We also have embraced care.com -- because going out to dinner was one of our favorite activities before we had {jv}. Finding a few sitters we trust has made all the difference.)

2) Learn to compromise, even when you really don't want to compromise. When you've built a house together, I have an even greater appreciation for this tenet of marriage. I don't believe compromise means submission to your spouse. I believe wholeheartedly that it is taking into account what matters to your partner and putting their needs above your own. When I embraced this perspective, compromise became a much easier pill to swallow.

3) Don't sweat the little things. A marriage is the sum of its parts; don't let life's minor annoyances tally up to create a big issue. I used to hate how {cv} left his shoes under the coffee table every day -- without fail. Now, I look at it a different way: seeing those shoes under the table means he's home and he's not traveling for work. Nagging about the shoes day in and day out is just wasted breath. In my opinion, this isn't an avoidance of the issues. Rather, it is an acceptance that nobody's perfect and you're better off spending your time on things that matter.

4) Stop keeping score. Taking the scorecard out of marriage makes your life together way more fun and so much less cumbersome. Sometimes, life's load falls more heavily on one spouse than another. When I was 39 weeks pregnant, I couldn't pick up the dry cleaning. When I went back to work last month, I was (strangely) excited to be able to do something as simple as that pick-up because it lessened {cv}'s to-do list. 

5) Always be kind. Without sounding too morbid, the best thing I can say is that you don't want to live life with regrets. Five weeks after {jv} was born, one of {cv}'s tires gave out while he was going 70mph on the interstate. Though he walked away without a scratch, every part of me couldn't believe that our life almost changed in an instant. I would have never forgiven myself if I had been less than kind when we'd last spoken that day. Rather than live in fear, we simply keep kindness and love front and center. 

I temper this entire post with this fact: our marriage is far from perfect. I will never qualify as a marriage counselor. We have our scuffles like the best of them. (Many of them admittedly begin when I haven't eaten -- hangriness makes me an unpleasant person.) I share these five things because they have made our days together infinitely better. Our years of long distance forced us to be great communicators. While we didn't love those years apart, we learned so much about each other. There is still a thrill in waking up next to him -- even with those heavy, tired eyes of parenthood -- because we didn't always have that luxury. I am so lucky to have a lifetime of those mornings ahead of me. 

Thank you for the forum for this mushy post -- I hope Kate's video brings you a smile. 
Happy anniversary, {cv}! xoxo {av}

psst: if you're in the mood for more wedding photos, you can see more on: Martha Stewart Weddings + Southern Living!


  1. Such wise advice (as always!) Alison. Loved reading this post :)

  2. LOVE. Great advice lady & congrats! xo

  3. Love these reflections! I totally agree with all of them...though I'm not always the best at living them!

  4. I love your anniversary posts! Hope you had a wonderful time celebrating!! I appreciate the advice, too! :)

  5. beautiful advice and happy anniversary!! xo jillian - cornflake dreams

    ps i really believe that 95% of arguments are intensified because of hanger ;)

  6. We just got married at this place and it was amazing! It was lovely, the staff was great, and it was the perfect size for our wedding. These guys are extremely affordable, and the wedding reception food was so delicious. My guests could not stop talking about it!