Nine years ago I married the most caring, charming man I had ever met. Today, he still charms me and takes good care of our family every single day. I am one lucky lady. We've had two children together and many adventures. It's always been fun (except for those nasty fights about the dishes.)

Last year I wrote about our engagement and wedding story and shared a bunch of the pro shots from the small ceremony during the day. In the comments my friend Rachel reminded me of these awesome pictures that she took of us in the evening when we were hanging out in the city. That's her husband Rosecrans in the picture of me hailing a cab.

Do you think we could be any happier? I don't think so.

Are we still jumping on the bed though? Not exactly. Mostly, if there is a bed nearby, we are sleeping in it. With our kids.

Marriage is complex. It is a challenge for two people to grow and change and stay on the same page with each other. It is easy to let minor details add up into a massive lump of discontent. But it CAN last forever. It CAN be blissful and lovely and supportive, if each person listens to each other and tries their best to give each other what they really need.

I'm no marriage expert but I have learned that for MY marriage to work, there are a few things that really help us stay happy with each other.

Generosity: How much you give to your spouse naturally changes over time, especially when the kids are soaking up so much of everything. It's important to be generous with each other, which to me means, giving more than you think that person needs. Whatever it is. Patience during a fight. Pats on the bum when you are walking by. Fixing something that is wrong. A nice long hug.

Clear Expectations: In any relationship, you must clearly communicate what you expect from the other person. Defining what our roles are in marriage and parenting is so important. Unmet expectations can be disasterous and the only way to know is to tell your partner what you want and need. As situations change, so do expectations, so make sure you continue checking in with each other. It's also really important to have realistic expectations and to understand what each person is able to bring to the relationship at any given time.

Quiet Time Together: This one mostly applies to people with kids, but it's also important if you have demanding jobs and always have the tv or computer in front of you. We just started doing this, but each night after the kids go to bed, rather than running to the tv or computer like we used to do, we spend 30 minutes just talking to each other. All devices are off and quiet. We sit on the couch, go outside, cuddle in bed. Wherever, but the ONLY expectation is that we are with each other. We don't even have to talk, although we always do. After the time is up, we go off to do our own things, but sometimes we don't, if you know what I mean. (Wink wink.)

Understanding & Compassion: This one can be really hard, especially if we are angry, hurt or fed up, but it is ESSENTIAL. If I take that thing that bugs me, that thing that hurts and I try to understand why it happens and I try to feel compassion for where my husband might be coming from, I am far more likely to be generous and willing to work it out. Often, if we get to the root of an issue, and we address it or understand the fear that might be driving a behavior, it makes it much easier to find a solution. Understanding and compassion encourages each of to be involved and help each other out.

Today I am grateful for all the wonderful things in my life, but especially for my husband and my marriage. Next year will be our tenth anniversary and I hope we can do something really special, just the two of us.