Last month marked 5 years of marriage for my husband and I. I only know the marriage that I am in, but I think I am so incredibly blessed to have found such an amazing partner to go through this life with. Life
doesn’t always almost never goes as you planned, so you have to be willing to adjust and adapt. We have been through a lot of ups and downs in the last five years and have made it out on the other side closer and stronger. I thought I would share my top 5 pieces of advice that I think have helped us to get where we are.
# 1. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate – Seriously, talk to each other! It is SO important! And I mean about everything. Good partnerships take good communication. You have to know what the other person is thinking, feeling, and expecting in order to work well together. And that’s what a marriage (or any relationship) is – a partnership.
Life can get hectic and chaotic sometimes. I get it. My husband and I are on the road A LOT. We have a business in Maine and a business in Vermont (and also family in both states) so we know the road back and forth pretty well! Our schedule can be pretty “fly-by-the-seat-of-our pants” if you will, but this is where the communication comes in. When we first got married and were making lots of trips back and forth, we didn’t always communicate about our expectations. I would have in my mind that I wanted to leave by 2pm and Kenny would be thinking 5pm. So when 3 o’clock rolls around I am getting a little antsy to get going and getting more upset every minute that ticks by. We have now figured out to have the conversation about, “this is how I see this trip going…” and etc. Even when we go to family parties, weddings, get-togethers we try to have the conversation about what time each of us would like to stay until or leave by and come to an agreement so we are both on the same page.
But this principle can go for any topic, not just time. How about money, sex, kids, pets, friends, household chores, stress, and everything in between. It is so important to be on the same page as your spouse. We decided early on that I really dislike doing the dishes and Kenny really dislikes vacuuming – I don’t mind vacuuming so I take care of that chore, and he doesn’t mind dishes, so he does that chore. It isn’t a “set in stone” rule, but it’s an in general one.
I feel like so many issues or misunderstandings in marriages can be caused by miscommunication. When you are in a relationship for awhile, you start to assume things. But, trust me, our assumptions aren’t always correct. It is ALWAYS better and easier to just ask and talk about it. Trust me it will save you from a lot of arguments and hurt feelings down the road.
#2 Love Each Other Even When You Don’t Like Each Other – This one can be tough. Sometimes people look at us like we are crazy when we openly say that we don’t always “like” each other. I just think we are being honest and realistic. In any long term partnership, you ARE going to have disagreements. There is not one single person in the world that is going agree with you on every little thing – and THAT’S OKAY. It’s perfectly normal and honestly better to have different opinions about things. That’s how we grow and learn.
It’s how we handle those disagreements that is the important part. Even if you don’t see eye to eye on something and you are SO MAD at your husband or wife in that moment, choose to love them anyway. The act of love is ALWAYS a choice. Sometimes it is more difficult to CHOOSE to love the other person, but if you are in a relationship for the long haul, you have to make that choice.
Trust me, we have had our share of disagreements and arguments. We don’t always agree about how or why or when things should get done, but we figure it out despite of that. Relationships don’t repair themselves. It is a conscious decision to say, “I am in this, let’s figure it out.”
So with that being said don’t forget all those reasons that you DO love that other person, just because of one reason that you are mad. Just remember, even when you don’t like a behavior or a statement they made, that deep down you still love them.
Be patient. Be kind. Be friendly. Don’t boast. Be humble. Treat each other with honor. Put the other person before yourself. Be slow to anger. Forget about the little things that make you mad. Protect each other. Trust each other. Hope in each other. Preserve each other.
Those of you familiar with 1 Corinthians 13 might have noticed I paraphrased God’s definition of love here. But if you can do these things, it will help you to get through some of those tough times.
#3 Don’t Talk Down About Your Spouse To Others – Don’t do it! Seriously, just stop those words from coming out of your mouth. This can be tough sometimes. Like I said, there are going to be things that you don’t agree on or you get annoyed with, but that doesn’t mean you need to get your mom, or your sister, or your best friend, or your hair stylist involved.
It’s one thing to ask someone for advice if you are having a hard time, but it is another thing to talk down about or degrade your spouse. Even if it is comments like, “He’s kind of a slob sometimes.” or “My wife nags me all the time about putting my feet on coffee table.” These types of things put your spouse in a negative light to the person you are talking to.
One of our jobs as a husband or wife is to build the other person up. To make them feel loved and appreciated. So if you are bad-mouthing, complaining, or even jokingly putting your spouse down that is not building them up. You probably wouldn’t want your spouse saying bad things about you to their friends and family, so give them the same respect and don’t do it either.
#4 Learn Each Other’s Love Language – If you haven’t ever heard of “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman I highly recommend that you get the book. This totally changed my view on how we give and receive love.
For those of you not familiar I’ll give you the brief overview. The 5 love languages are all about we each communicate love. We all CAN “speak” all 5, but there are usually 1 or 2 that are more dominant and meaningful to us.
The love languages are Physical Affection, Verbal Affirmation, Quality Time, Gifts, and Acts of Service.
So for example, my two strongest love languages are verbal affirmation and quality time, which means that I like to hear that I am loved or spending time together lets me know that you care about me. It also means that I am more likely to communicate my love for others through words or quality time.
My husband on the other hand is a physical affection and acts of service type of guy. He feels loved from hugs, holding hands, cuddling, etc and when someone does something nice for him. This is also how he most typically communicates his love for others.
Do you see the potential problem here?
If I’m telling my husband that I love him and giving him compliments all the time and he is showing me his love by holding my hand, neither of us are receiving the “type” of love that communicates best to us. When you know each other’s love language, you can start to learn how to best communicate your love for the other person because it may not come naturally to you.
#5 Have Things That You Do Together and Things You Do Separately – I think it is important to have hobbies that are “yours” and hobbies that are “ours”. The Bible says that when we are married, two become one flesh. That may be true, but we still need to have our own personality.
We have a friend that we ski with a lot in the winter. He was dating a lady, but she didn’t ski. So we asked if he was going to teach her and he responded with a very quick no. He said, ‘this is my thing that I like to do. I come and spend time with my friends and just get to completely enjoy that.’ At first I thought that was so strange, but the more I thought about it, it makes total sense.
As I said before, my husband and I work together, but we also have “fun” things that we like to do together. We ski, we bike, we walk the dog, we watch movies, we travel, etc. I think this is so important. It is a way to grow together and spend fun time together. It helps you to bond and learn more about each other as time passes.
But, like I learned from my friend’s comment, it can be important to have things that are just yours. I (obviously) really enjoy writing. That is “mine”. I usually tell Kenny when I am going to write and he gives me the time and space to do so. It is a time that I get all to myself and get filled back up.
Kenny on the other hand loves anything “tractor.” Driving tractors, working on tractors, looking at tractors in magazines, watching shows about tractors, you get the picture. That is his thing and he loves it and it is something that we don’t necessarily have to share.
I’m sure there are a lot more things that I could come up with, but these are the five that I think are most important, at least right now. In another five years I’ll let you know if they still apply!