Nearly four years ago, I married the man I love in a small ceremony in a Las Vegas chapel. We did not have a traditional wedding. We designed it that way! I did not wear a white dress with a flowing train, and we did not have 500 of our closest friends and family there to witness our formal commitment. We gave each other simple wedding bands to mark the occasion and posted our “thankfulness” for each other on Facebook to announce our nuptials.

Did I mention we were married on Thanksgiving Day? We had a blast that day!

Here are 36.5 lessons we learned during the first 365 days of our marriage — my second and his third.

1. Forgiveness is a virtue

You will be tested. People do some stuff sometimes. Forgive your spouse and move on.

2. Spending time together

Away from kids, work and home — should be regularly observed. Can’t fly to a remote destination? Take a drive to a different part of town. Go for a walk. Be together.

3. Your happiness should not depend on someone else’s happiness

4. There is no better reason to be married than for love

Nurture your connection with things or words that speak to your spouse.

5. Life is much more bearable when you’re having fun

Instead of using words to communicate via text, send memes or GIFs.

6. Arguments will inevitably ensue

It’s OK not to be right all of the time. (We’re still working on this one.)

7. Be open

Being open and communicative as a family is in the best interest of your children and your ex-spouses.

8. Be kind to one another

Have your spouse’s back.

9. Patience is a virtue

He loves you very much and wants to be a good husband. Try not to nag him so much.

10. Try activities your spouse enjoys

You may be surprised how much you like something that you never thought you would. My new loves: camo and archery.

11. Be encouraging

Criticize less and encourage more.

12. Spend time apart

It is good to spend time away from your spouse — with friends or by yourself.

13. Marriage should be intimate and safe

If you can’t trust your spouse, who can you trust?

14. Laugh through the difficult moments

A lot. Like bowl-full-of-jelly laughs. You’ll never regret it.

15. Tell funny stories

Tell the same goofy story over and over and over and over.

16. Best friends

Your spouse should be your closest, truest friend.

17. Stay vulnerable

Be willing to cry. Be willing to share your deepest fears and desires.

18. Don’t be fazed

Sometimes, family and friends will resent your happiness. You will not let that faze you.

19. Financial transparency

Financial transparency is paramount to a marriage, especially if one person is handling the cash flow.

20. Say something nice before going to bed

You will sleep better, I promise.

21. Ask for help

Ask for help when you need it. (We’re still working on this, too.)

22. Boundaries

Boundaries may need to be in place for extended family relationships. This is OK.

23. Stay faithful

Marriage first, kids second.

24. Holding your sweetheart’s hands is not just for teenagers

I don’t know if it’s scientifically proven to enhance relationships, but it sure makes us feel connected.

25. Little wonders keep the electricity going in a marriage

Look for the small things he does to show you he loves you.

26. Keep a journal

Keep a secret journal and write loving messages to each other often.

27. Flirty messages

Write flirty messages to each other on the bathroom mirror after a shower so your spouse sees it the next time she takes a shower.

28. Stress less

Less stress and more sex. Seriously.

29. You are worthy

Never let anyone love you who treats you as if you were ordinary. You are good and worthy of love.

30. “Check in” daily

It doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out conversation.

31. Weirdness

Find someone who appreciates your level of weirdness.

32. Fall in love with each other daily

Romance is not dead.

33. Make sure expectations are clear to both of you

You know, like housecleaning and yard work.

34. Find friends

Find a couple (or a few couples) that you admire and have been married longer than you to mentor you.

35. Look people in the eye

Look the other person in the eye when having a conversation. Are you listening?

36. Respect and cherish your spouse

Be willing to apologize sincerely when you make a mistake.

36.5. Love and be loved

There is no shame in being in a second (or third) marriage. Love and be loved.

What did you learn the first 365 days of your second — or third — marriage? Share with us in the comments below.

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