We celebrated our 5th anniversary back in April, which felt like the first true “milestone” anniversary we’ve had. It really got me thinking of how we’ve changed as individuals and together as a married couple over the course of this time. I mean heck, we’ve had eyes for each other since we were 13 and 16, so that’s 16 years together total. We were babies when we started dating and now we have two babies of our own!
One of the beautiful things about marriage is that it’s always evolving, so I know I’m always going to be learning new things about our relationship, but here are five things I’ve learned so far…
#1. Sometimes you won’t like each other.
I recently read an article called “13 Reasons Why” by Mark Manson that talks about the realities of marriage. Here’s a little excerpt that I haven’t been able to forget.
“There will be days, or weeks, or maybe even longer, when you aren’t all mushy-gushy in-love. You’re even going to wake up some mornings and think, “Ugh, you’re still here….” That’s normal! And more importantly, sticking it out is totally worth it, because that, too, will change. In a day, or a week, or maybe even longer, you’ll look at that person and a giant wave of love will inundate you, and you’ll love them so much you think your heart can’t possibly hold it all and is going to burst. Because a love that’s alive is also constantly evolving. It expands and contracts and mellows and deepens. It’s not going to be the way it used to be, or the way it will be, and it shouldn’t be.”
I love this.
#2. Date your spouse.
When you first get married, you still kind of feel like you’re dating since it’s so fresh. But then life kicks in—to-do lists, pressures at work, demands of being an adult, and for us, two babies! Then suddenly the whole week goes by and you’ve barely had a moment to sit down and spend quality time together. We try to plan one or two date nights per month (ideally, I’d love to do this once per week!) and then during the week, we pick out one night where we put away all distractions and just watch a show together. It sounds simple, but that togetherness makes a big difference in recharging our batteries.
We also try to give little surprises to each other. This was something we did while dating, even if it was something small, and continuing to do it from time to time keeps that little spark going. Brandon may bring home flowers, leave a love note, or even sometimes surprise me with a nice gift. I’m not as good at this as he is, but I try to do small things like send him a sweet little “I love you” text occasionally to break up the monotony of the day. Sometimes (ok, rarely) it’s a gift. Most recently, I took Brandon shopping as a surprise to pick out a new “nice” outfit, which is the sport coat, dress pants, shirt, and shoes he’s wearing in these photos. (This was his 5 year anniversary gift BTW!) It’s all from Nordstrom. I love knowing I can shop at one store and find so many awesome brands all in one place. Makes shopping for those picky men a lot easier!
#3. Never let the bad feelings build up.
Having differences in opinion is 100% normal, so arguments are going to happen. In fact, they’re necessary and healthy for a relationship so that feelings don’t get brushed under the rug—as long as it’s handled in a very respectful and calm way. In fact, here’s another quote from that article I mentioned:
“The relationship is a living, breathing thing. Much like the body and muscles, it cannot get stronger without stress and challenge. You have to fight. You have to hash things out. Obstacles make the marriage.”
Brandon and I have made a deal to not ever argue in front of the kids, but at the same time, I want our children to see that it’s ok to have obstacles in a relationship and I want them to see the proper way to handle it.
Letting negative emotions build is never a good thing. When I see that Brandon is stressed, angry, sad, or anxious, I ask him if he wants to talk about it to help vent out some of those feelings. And he does the same for me.
But with that said… yes, sometimes you do have to let the little things go. Like those annoying habits your spouse does that drives you crazy. Or the little tiffs you may have over who forgot to close the garage door. You’ve got to let the little stuff not get in the way of the two of you tackling the big stuff together as a couple.
#4. Remember what it is that connected you in the first place and focus on that.
For us, it’s humor. Brandon and I have been best friends since we first started dating and just like any set of best friends, we LOVE to laugh. He’s so inappropriately funny and we have sooo many inside jokes. When he makes me laugh, it makes me feel like we are kids again in high school. For another couple, it might be cooking that takes you back to what connected you in the first place. No matter what that “something” is that makes you feel that bond again, concentrate on that and make it happen.
#5. Be kind.
This was the message our priest talked about during the sermon at our wedding. It’s so simple, right?
Be kind to one another.
I mean, what better way to summarize what I’m assuming to be the secret to successful marriage? Being kind is something that is harder to do than it sounds. Being kind means respect. It means patience. It means treating the other person the way you’d like to be treated. It means stopping the important thing you’re doing to listen to your spouse. It means giving each other grace in times when it’s hard to.
Ok lovebirds, what are your best marriage tips? I’d love to know!
Photography by Good Graces Photo
Thank you to Nordstrom for partnering on this post.