Today Chris and I celebrate nine years of marriage. After almost eleven years together, three cities, two demanding careers and three kids, I’d like to think that we’ve learned a thing or two about marriage along the way. The road hasn’t always been smooth, but we’ve laughed a lot more than we’ve cried and we’re still crazy about each other, so we must be doing something right!
I wanted to write about marriage because I think a lot of the marriage advice we hear is not really helpful. Things like “keep a date night” or “never go to bed angry” or “don’t walk out during an argument.”
This marriage advice post is not about that type of advice. I’m talking about real, tangible things Chris and I do that has worked for our marriage.
Let me be clear that we are nowhere near perfect. Prior to our relationship, we had each been through failed marriages. So we’ve experienced what it feels like to be broken, betrayed, distant from God, shameful and unworthy. Because of that, we have a greater appreciation for each other and a healthy perspective on what’s really important.
Ok, so here’s my practical marriage advice. 🙂
PRACTICAL MARRIAGE ADVICE
Stop The Bitching
Arguing, fighting & bickering are learned behaviors. Do you know someone who grew up in a house where there was arguing all the time, so when they got married, even if everything was fine, they picked fights with their spouse subconsciously? They learned it. They feel uneasy if there isn’t a little adversity. Bitching about our problems is our biggest addiction. It’s much easier to fight about something because we feel heard, we feel important, we feel validated. Nope. Not in our house. Chris and I don’t want a marriage where we bicker over everything. We want a home that’s nurturing, kind and encouraging.
Know His Love Language
My love language is Acts of Service and Chris’s is Physical Touch. Knowing these are crucial in how you communicate, how you give AND receive love, how you feel seen, understood and heard. Honestly, it is the foundation of our relationship. We try really hard to keep these a priority. (If you aren’t familiar with the 5 Love Languages, click HERE or see the chart at the end of the post)
Be intentional about encouraging. Not only in marriage but life in general. It’s so easy to forget how important we are, the difference we are making, at work, home, school, church… and how much our influence matters. Tell everyone how proud you are of them. We all need a healthy dose of encouragement every day to grow.
Ask them about their day. Not interested? Ask anyway. Too Busy? Listen anyway. Everyday you will, without a doubt, be overwhelmed with bills, and kids and dogs and keeping up with your job and keeping up with the laundry and it’s easy to get to a place where you don’t even remember what you have in common. Make time for each other daily, even if it’s as simple as being invested in a conversation. Put the phone down and look at them. Relive their experiences with them. This is huge in staying connected to each other.
Kids are the Best and They’re Also the Worst
I love my kids more than anything on this earth. That being said, nothing has ever been harder on our marriage than raising kids. You’re exhausted, and overwhelmed and you tend to take out your frustrations on each other. It’s the toughest road we’ve walked, but there really isn’t anyone else I’d want to be in this fox hole with but Chris. Having a baby will put your marriage through the ringer, so some serious marriage advice? Make sure you’re ready.
Wine is Your Friend
Ok, wine is my friend it doesn’t necessarily have to be yours. But you should have something… a workout, reading, prayer, mediation, etc. that you can use to destress. Marriage and family is stressful y’all. It’s awesome and fun and great but there are also times when you’re going to want to lock yourself in a room because you’re so frustrated. Take a deep breath and go to your happy place (mine is at the bottom of a glass of a champagne) until you calm down.
It’s Not My Job to Make Him Happy
I am a people pleaser and this manifests itself worst when it comes to my marriage. For years my moods were dictated by Chris’s moods. If he was happy I was happy. If he was tired or cranky or having a bad day I would freak out and try to fix it. Now I know that it’s not my job to make him happy. If he’s having a bad day, he’ll get over it soon. We can’t force our feelings on someone else. Don’t put that much pressure on yourself.
Let It Go
It’s natural to feel lonely and unimportant sometimes, especially if your partner has a demanding career. It’s also natural to have deep feelings about personal things such as kids, faith, family, etc. When a situation arises that upsets you, how you handle it is completely UP TO YOU. For me, I don’t allow negative thoughts to manifest in my heart and mind near as much as I used to. I’ve learned to let a lot go and move on. I simply do not let it effect my day.
You Choose To Have a Happy Marriage
Every morning you get a choice. You get to choose your perspective. You get to choose how you’ll approach the day. You get to choose happiness. Every morning I want to wake up and choose to be a kind mother. I want to choose to be a good friend. By choosing to have a happy marriage you’re more forgiving, more kind, more willing to laugh which will help get through the hard stuff.
Have Some Freakin’ Fun
Go have some FUN together! Get a sitter and go see a comedy show, watch a funny movie, host a game night. Travel, see new things, turn up the music, dance. Adulting is hard. Go let off some steam, get crazy, laugh, whatever. It’s so simple and effective.
What are some marriage advice you live by? Let me know in the comments below!
Believe me, I don’t always have the answers when it comes to relationships. But I do know that whether you’ve been married eleven years, or fifty, or a week and a half, you get to choose how healthy (or unhealthy) your marriage is going to be.
It all begins and ends with gratitude.
Our wedding in Jamaica, just the two of us, August 18, 2008.
Our biggest blessings… our biggest challenges…. our biggest responsibility. We love these crazy kids.
LOVE this chart. It’s from the book I’ve linked above in my post.