My husband, Guy and I met when we were 19 years old, married when we were 21 and had a baby in the same year. To say that marriage has been a whirlwind is an understatement. Now here we are, almost 4 years later with 2 kids and another one due in May. We like to do life in the fast lane apparently! Throughout the last 4 years we have faced many triumphs in our journey together. Likewise, we have experienced just as many (if not more) trials in our marriage. Marriage is rough, it's a battle, choosing each DAY to love your spouse and cherish them is a full time job. But I can honestly say, that after 4 years of marriage and 5 years together, it's a full time job that I am willfully and lovingly committed too and I couldn't be happier.
In the spirit of Valentine's day yesterday, Guy and I thought it fitting to put together a list of ways in which we feel have allowed our marriage to grow and thrive amidst the craziness of life. We had such a fun time putting this list together and it truly challenged us to take a good, hard look at our marriage and reevaluate ways in which we can better serve one another. Hope you enjoy too!
1. Being Honest With One Another
This may sound extremely obvious but promising to remain honest with one another is one of the biggest reasons Guy and I got married in the first place. Sharing intimate details about our past, asking for forgiveness, and respecting one another's vulnerability were all incredibly significant ways we learned how to truly trust AND value one another. It also forced us to lay aside our pride and judgements and love one another through our past mistakes.
2. Share Your Good With Your Bad
Although it's easy to reveal only the "good" things happening in life, it's JUST as important (if not more) to deal with the bad that life often brings. Whether that be struggles, fears, doubts, or a moment of weakness. Sharing in your triumphs and trials forces you to truly walk in the light and do it with someone who is willing to help you carry that burden. Not to say that it is healthy to "make" your spouse carry your burdens but rather, allowing them to love you through them.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Fight It Out
Although conflict can be scary and incredibly draining, it can be insanely helpful in bringing you and your spouse closer together. I can't even tell you how many screaming matches we've had (and continue to have) that have allowed us to get out how we are feeling and push forward. It's sometimes easier to hold everything inside but for me, I'm more likely to explode if I do that. Conflict doesn't have to look like an all out brawl against your husband or wife but rather an intentional discussion on how YOU are feeling. Make sure that when "fighting it out," you are doing so in a healthy way; reevaluate your motives and check your heart constantly.
4. Make Time to Laugh Together
Guy and I do this thing in the car where we sing duets together as loud as we can, while keeping a straight face. Hearing Guy belt it out makes me want to pee my pants. Every. Single. Time. Find ways like this with your spouse where you can be goofy and lighthearted with one another. I promise, a good laugh with your spouse is will cause you to remember exactly why you loved him/her in the first place.
5. Get Involved With A Small Group/Attend Church Together
This is something I talked about in my blog post about balancing motherhood, but can largly apply to this topic as well. Becoming apart of a community has given us friends that we can do life with, as well as, hold us accountable when times get rough. This tip alone has provided more growth for Guy and I than we could have possibly done on our own.
6. Pray Together
Praying together is something we try to do on a daily basis (always at dinner) but then again, just the two of us, at night before we go to bed. Praying together has yielded more answered prayers than I've ever seen before. By choosing to intentionally pray as a united front is powerful and strong and though it can seem weird at first, it's such a beautiful way to sow and reap what your hearts so lovingly desire.
7. Make Goals Together
Share your goals with your spouse so you can keep one another accountable in your dreams but also, make goals together so you have something to look forward to. Whether that be a 1 year goal, 5 year goal, 10 year goal...try it out and see how you both can dream together. It's more fun to dream with your spouse than you can imagine.
8. Challenge Each Other
When you share your goals with one another you are giving your spouse an invitation to hold you accountable, push you, and challenge you when they don't see you pursuing your dream with everything you've got. Although this may be a difficult reality to face, it's more rewarding when you work together to accomplish something.
9. Talk Finances Together
This is my worst! UGH! I seriously HATE talking finances! I don't know what it is but something inside of me makes me want to shrivel up and die the minute I hear the word "budget." Although I hate this subject with a vengeance, I know how important it is to work together on keeping your finances in check and being on the same page when it comes to making and spending your money.
10. Set Boundaries (phone, work, projects, friends, tv/netflix,etc)
This is another topic that I don't do so well on but am trying my hardest to be intentional about. Limiting how much "screen time" I have in front on my children, as well as my husband is something that I HAVE to do since most of my hobbies and business take place behind a screen. If that means agreeing to put your phones away at a certain time each night to spend some REAL "facetime" together or making sure there are NO phones at the dinner table, then do it! Your time together is more important and valuable than the person on Instagram or Facebook.
11. Continue to Date One Another/Stay Intimate
If you have a bunch of little kids running around this one is a lot harder to accomplish but is in fact an incredibly important part of keeping a healthy/functional marriage. Right now Guy and I will go on a date about once a month, which some would say is too few but for us, right now, in this stage of life, is all that we can seem to manage and we are ok with that. It just makes our time out together that much more special. As well as staying intimate with one another, which is a topic for another blog.
12. Be Intentional/Be Present (with your words)
Sometimes it's hard to be intentional with our words but for some, words of affirmation are they're main filler of love. Encouraging and raising up your spouse is just as important as encouraging your children. If you want your marriage to grow and flourish, you have to be willing to set aside your pride and give your man (or women) a compliment every once in while. EVEN if you don't always agree with them. Your support is more life giving to your spouse than anyone else so make it count!
13. Have Grace
Marriage is not a race! When you are constantly expecting perfection from your spouse, you are going to be let down time and time again. Your spouse is human JUST like you, so learn to have grace and love them amidst their hardest times. When they entrust you with information that has been eating away at them, don't crush their trust in you by shaming them after they've just poured their heart out. Choose grace and try to think how you'd want your spouse to react had you been in their shoes.
14. Learn Each Others Love Language
If you've never read "The 5 Love Languages" by Gary Chapman, you NEED to! Each of us gives and receives love in a different way, so in learning how your spouse best receives love, you can more intentionally love them the way they need to be loved. Make sense? Grab a copy of this short read on Amazon and read it with your spouse. There is a quiz at the end telling you what your love language is. This has truly impacted our marriage for the better. And what's crazy...your love language will change as you grow together!