Tuesday, December 15, 2015

What we've learned being married.

In May, Chris and I will be celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary, and though our matrimony is still considered, "young," our trials and triumphs have taught us far more than we could've ever anticipated. I shared with you via Facebook a weekly habit of ours where we ask one another the same six questions to open up our lines of communication, and several women have sought out my marital advice since. I have a long past struggling with my self-worth and at times my insecurities on the matter still pop up, so those that sought my advice on something as serious as "marriage" certainly surprised me. It took God, as it always does, to remind me that I have a purpose and although the enemy tried to convince me otherwise, I chose to put together this post and hopefully touch someone's marriage. I found it pivotal to include my groom in on the fun, so Chris and I laid in bed several nights, and typed up a very personal list of things we've learned, and feel are vital in ANY marriage; no matter the age of the couple, or length of relationship. 
 Katherine Hepburn once said, "Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get-only with what you are expecting to give-which is everything". In the spirit of this quote, Chris and I, thought that we would share some of the things that we have learned to give to one another, and also share some of the ways that we keep from allowing our marriage to become mundane.

1. When your spouse asks you what's wrong (because somehow they always know) NEVER say "Nothing". This is probably the most difficult notion I've had to grasp in our relationship. No matter how minuscule or severe the personal issue you may have is, the worst thing you can do is not share it with your spouse. Leaving them in the dark, will only cause resentment and doubt in their minds. Instead, speak honestly and be up-front. If the issue doesn't directly involve your spouse, and you need a moment to collect your thoughts, reassure them of this.

2. If it matters to you, It should matter to them. The lack of support from your spouse when it comes to personal dreams, and passions can be discouraging. We tend to continually seek approval from those closest to us, even if it's unnecessary. Although it's healthy to have independent hobbies in a marriage, taking an active interest in your husband or wife's favorite activities can boost confidence and feelings of self-worth in the relationship. It can even inspire us to find our own hobbies, and in turn we avoid the feeling of jealousy or exclusion towards our spouse.

Move past, the PAST

4. Anger is okay. Name-calling, degradation, and humiliation is not! Your spouse isn't the only target in this situation, but many times we are our own worst enemy. Verbal abuse can make just as deep of an impact as any other form. Words sting, but can also heal. If you have a difficult time speaking without anger, take a moment to pray for guidance and write a letter to your spouse instead. I have personally used this approach whether I was angry or felt I wasn't being heard.

5. There is no room in a marriage for secrets.

6. Pray for each other, and with one another.

7. Don't forget to SHOW your love. A verbal "I Love You," is important, but finding new ways to express your love is much more powerful. It's truly the "little" things that count!

8. Sex is a gift for both of you. It should never feel like a chore on your list or a check in the box. Intimacy is powerful, and will reaffirm a passionate sense of  security. It is a sacred bond that should never be abused or handled carelessly.

9. "Date night" shouldn't be so much about the date itself but the intimate time spent with one another. It doesn't need to be elaborate nor expensive, but more so focused on reconnecting and rekindling. Even if it's the typical dinner/movie date night, disconnect from your phones for the entire date, engage in conversation and make eye contact with your spouse, hold each other's hand during the film and share a giant tub of popcorn! Make subtle changes to your normal date habits that will make your night out or in that much more romantic!

10. Never try to communicate tough issues over text. As much as I dislike talking on the phone, texting only makes a hard conversation harder. We tend to hide behind our phones and computers when faced with difficult topics, but communication needs to be personal.

11. Uplift, uplift, uplift! Never underestimate the power of a compliment, a love letter, a good morning text, or surprising your spouse at work with their favorite lunch. If it makes your bride or groom smile, take note!

We have so many people to thank for being pillars in our marriage, and are extremely blessed to be surrounded by positive examples of what a marriage should be. Our pastor Vince and wife Natalie are two on the top of the list. Thank you for guiding us, holding us accountable, and loving us unconditionally.
I hope this post blesses you and/or your marriage in some way. We are so grateful for the wisdom gained, and will always strive to #beatthe50percent.

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