You hear it all of the time, "marriage takes work" but what does that mean? Today I break down 4 crucial lessons that I have learned over the years I have been married.
1. Communication is everything
Most arguments stem out of a lack of good communication. Assume the best out of your spouse and always give them the benefit of the doubt. Have a weekly set aside time where you two can talk about potential problems or areas of concern, calmly when emotions aren’t running high. As the years go on you will also be able to identify triggers that your spouse has or topics that cause defensiveness. Bring these up and talk through them. Allow your spouse to bring up grievances against you too. Getting to know your spouse as well as you know yourself is essential. Also being able to have these conversations where you can speak freely and you can take constructive criticism while learning and growing together is vital! I didn't realize this when I got married, but marriage is a process of refinement. You live, you fail, there's grace, you learn, you grow....then repeat.
2. Put your spouse above yourself
Well this one is easier said than done. It is hard. No sugar coating it. Putting another person’s needs above your own is tough, BUT it is the secret. It is the secret to a happy marriage! That’s it! There you have it! Ha! But HOW?! For some concrete tips I love this book, it is a 21 day challenge that is all about loving and serving your husband. It has the power to change everything, most importantly your own heart.
3. Laugh together
Life is hard. It will always be hard. If you don’t find the joy and then choose it, you won’t be happy. Find the humor in every day life and just laugh together. Have inside jokes and bring them up often. Have a light heart and find the hilarity in every situation. Make each other laugh because, as they say, laughter is the best form of therapy!
4. Don’t stop dating
Have you ever heard of the “honeymoon period”? It was a real annoying thing that older married people would say to me when I first got married. I was (am) head over heels for my husband and I would get comments like “well you’re still in the honeymoon period”, as if I would stop being crazy about my husband one day. As the years went on I learned more about what that phrase meant, that the “newness” wears off, that you get to learn really irritating parts about your new spouse, and the butterflies aren’t as numerous as they were on the day you were married. Sure... BUT I’m still obsessed with my husband. I think that dating each other over the years has been helpful in keeping the “spark alive”, as they say. Make it a weekly or biweekly thing that you two look forward to! Keep it fresh with new and exciting ideas (for tips check here and here)! This takes effort and sacrifice. When we were newly weds I was a public school teacher and my husband did security at a local hospital. We literally had opposite schedules. I would go to work at 6:30am, while he was still sleeping, he would go to work at 2pm, before I got home. We never saw each other. We started having Friday night dates at a restaurant near his work and we would meet up at 11:30pm, when he got off. Staying up that late was VERY difficult for me (I am an early riser) but we made it happen because it was important to us. Those nights during that season of life are still precious memories!