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Marriage Resources and Tips
One thing you must know about me and my marriage is that it is NOT rainbows and butterflies. While, I’m grateful for my husband and the life we have built, it has come with a sea of ups and downs. Our relationship started as a complete whirlwind, meeting, dating for about 8 months before getting engaged and then marrying each other 11 months after that and just 13 months after that, we welcomed our first baby, followed by our second 20 months later. We had a 28 month break before entering our 3rd baby. In between babies, we moved to three different houses, struggled with post partum depression and some big family issues to deal with. Phew! I’m exhausted typing out the last 7 years :-).
All this to say, we’ve had a lot of life to deal with in addition to working on our marriage. So I’m going to share our top resources and tips for staying married.
Number One: Ask for HELP
I usually save the best advice to last, ya know, to keep your interest, but this one is so important, it must be answered first. Do not be afraid to ask for help, suggestions or tips/tricks. I hate using the word “help” because I feel like the connotation is that you are in danger or need rescuing and I think it’s important to reach out, BEFORE you need rescuing. When we were first married, our pastor and his wife who are just a couple years older than us, offered to meet with us weekly, just to hang out and talk “real life” marriage stuff. At the time we got married, most of our friends were either still single or just starting to have their first babies, which made hanging out with our friends difficult. In addition, because we did not know each other well before we were married, we really had very few mutual friends. He had his friends and I had mine. We had not had the opportunity to combine our lives but suddenly, because we had a wedding, we were supposed to know how to do that and frankly, we didn’t. Spending time with our pastor and his wife was a wonderful way to chat about marriage with a Christian perspective and we really dove into the things you can really only talk about with friends like intimacy, connection and conflict. They shared their struggles and we shared ours. It was wonderful to know that we were not alone. I still look back fondly on those days. We would enjoy a glass of wine while hanging out and talking about the “real stuff”.
We also decided to see a professional marriage counselor during our first year of marriage to help us get on the same page and figure out how we could make this the best we could. If you’be been here for a minute, you’ll know that I love professional counseling. I think it is one of the best ways that we can invest in ourselves and reshape our lives into one that’s not just fine but great. So I really had no hesitations when it came to seeing a counselor with my husband. Here, we were given space to discuss the issues that came about each week as we tried to meld our separate lives, into one. So much harder than it looks on TV.
Number Two: Recognize your Role
When I say recognize your role, I don’t mean role in the context of household responsibilities, but rather, who are you and what are you bringing to the table. We all have individual personalities that make us who we are but what are you bringing to the table with that. For me, I was bringing past wounds into our relationship that looked like anger but once I got the root of my “anger” I realized I was really feeling hurt by my husband, but he did not even know he was being hurtful. One of my favorite quotes about what makes a good marriage, is that you draw a circle around yourself, and fix everyone in that circle. Wait, what?!?! I know what you’re thinking, but HE’s the one that’s a jerk, he’s the one that’s never making time for me, he’s the one ______. Could be, but, we cannot control others, even our spouse, so if you want a better marriage, you have to start with a better you. Now that is hard stuff to swallow and I’m STILL working on it and I’m still dealing with that. So, while I know that’s what has to be done, I’m not great at it yet!
Number Three: Have Fun
Have fun! Marriage was designed by God and one thing I know about God, is he wants us to live happy lives here on earth. So find something you love to do and do it. Some couples love games ( I LOATHE games so we don’t do that one) but we love food and cocktails. So for us, we might try a new restaurant or try a new beer or cocktail together. Since having kids, we aren’t able to get out as much and then enter the year 2020, so we have learned to do these things at home. Some of you gave me some great ideas for at home date nights:
- Create a painting
- At home movie theater, rent a movie, buy movie theater popcorn and candy
- Play video games
- Bake off (That actually sounds kind of fun to me!)
- Make a bucket list
- Play college drinking games
- Do a puzzle
- Play truth or dare
And the best planned date nights were :
- Axe throwing
- Gun shooting
- Fancy, new, popular restaurant
- Visit a museum
- Visit a coffee shop and talk
- Go for a hike
- Go line dancing
- Camping weekend
- Night away at AirBnB
Number Four: Make a plan and time for intimacy.
Yep, that’s my actual advice in this blog post (my parents read this blog too). This was something we were told about by very close friends of ours, his parents always had a night that was “their” night. But making time for each other in this busy world is so important. I know my husband loves to know I’m thinking of him during the day and on the flip side, I love knowing he’s thinking and planning out his time with me. Two times a week, we try to make an hour a night with each other, no phones, no TV, just spending time with each other. Sometimes we have sex, sometimes we don’t. But we always feel more connected and heard by the other person. My husband and I laugh thinking about when our kids are old enough to know what’s going on. “Don’t go in mom and dad’s room, it’s Thursday :-)) . Some people seem to think that planning takes the romance away, but I disagree, I feel like it builds anticipation and certainly doesn’t mean you can’t be spontaneous the other nights of the week!
Number Five: Listen and Validate
Listening is SO very hard but it’s very true that when your partner feels heard, he/she will put their “guns” down. When I look back on all our hard times, I can see now how we were missing each other by not listening. By listening, I don’t mean hearing, I mean listening which includes hearing, validating and expressing empathy when your spouse is trying to tell you something. When you’re not being heard/listened to by your spouse, it’s amazing that the simplest thing can throw you right into a bad fight. It might be a bad fight about the fact that you didn’t put the leftovers away, but what’s under that anger is the fact that you didn’t feel heard/cared for by your spouse, “if he cared about me, he’d put the leftovers away”. Have you ever thought that way?!?! I sure have!!!
I hope you find these tips useful. Marriage is hard but when you start connecting on a deeper level, you start to understand why it’s such an amazing gift. You start to see a happier you, happier them and happier household.
Favorite Resources for a Happy Marriage