Six Helpful Things We’ve Learned in Six Years of Marriage
Today I am celebrating six years of marriage with my adorably burly husband Matthew. He is the strongest, kindest and most patient husband. Our marriage is not perfect by any means, nor will it ever be, but we have grown (and learned) a lot since we first said “I do”. Here are six helpful things we’ve learned in six years of marriage.
1. Communication is EVERYTHING
I don’t know how many of our flights have started and lasted so long and drawn out because we didn’t communicate well. First of all, men and women communicate very differently. They also understand very differently. It’s just the way we’re made. Secondly, you as an individual receives/ takes things a certain way based on your personality and upbringing/environment. Learn how to communicate with each other in effective and helpful ways. Me screaming at my husband makes me feel like I’m getting my point across really well but it just makes him tune out. He can see that I’m upset, but it turns him off to the conversation at that point. We are still working on communication to this day (and probably always will be) but if you can get a handle on it early on, your marriage will be better and stronger for it. And many, many less fights and misunderstandings along the way.
2. Have a REGULAR date night
We used to have a weekly date night when it was just us. When we had our first, it went down to 2-4 times a month. Now that we have two kids, it’s maybe once a month. We have let our date nights slip. But that is our sacred time to build our relationship and love on each other, without any little people running around. Hold your date nights sacred. If you have to hire a sitter, hire a sitter. If you have to have date nights at home, have them at home (and get rid of all distractions). Your marriage needs date nights.
3. Have your own set of friends
Have your own set of friends and actually hang out with them. There have been many a time where I have not wanted my husband to go out and hang with his friends (his Christian motorcycle club mainly, which is also his ministry) simply because he had somewhere to go and I didn’t. It may sound petty but when you haven’t made it a priority to hang out with your friends, you can start to resent your spouse very quickly when they do have friends to hang out with. Plus, it’s good for you to have outside community besides just your spouse. I believe our identities should not be wrapped up in our spouses, the people around us or what other people think of us, but in the one who created us. It’s hard to see your identity as a child of God when your spouse is your end all, be-all.
4. Give Grace
This one is really hard for me. It’s not as hard, for my husband. He is usually very slow to anger, quick to forgive and offer me grace. I however, am quick to be offended and seek justice for how I think I’ve been wronged/treated. The word I would best use to describe giving grace to your spouse is forbearance. Forbearance is when you have made the decision to forgive someone ahead of time for the ways they will wrong you, before they have even done it. The dictionary describes it as a patient self-control; restraint and tolerance. Your spouse will wrong you and upset you (even if it’s unintentional!) How much better would your marriage be if you practiced giving grace through forbearance? I know mine would radically improve!
5. The “little things” go a long way
The little things definitely go a long way when you’re married. Whether it’s the “good” little things that start to add up and make you love your spouse even more overtime, or it’s “bad” little things that start to add up and make you resent and despise your spouse. This is where you need to be vigilantly watching. These two situations are very different relationships. If your spouse is totally clueless as to what little things they could do to show you their love and appreciation, tell them. Do the things your spouse has told you make them feel loved. If they’re doing something that drives you up the wall, tell them. Don’t do the things you know drives them crazy. No one can read minds here! You have to help each other out, especially if you want a strong lasting marriage.
6. Be Intimate
With two kids, this has definitely been a struggle for us. But men and women have different needs. Do I love to be intimate with my husband, sure! I love him. But do I need to be as intimate, in the same way as he does, probably not. But for the sake of our marriage, it is good to be intimate with him, however often he wants to be intimate. Now of course, this is within reason. There are some nights when it’s just not an option. But using the excuse “I have a headache” or “I’m tired” over and over again, is not healthy for your marriage. It’s actually hurting it. Schedule it in, if you have to! Get creative! Just be intimate for the sake of your marriage.
7. Have your own personal quiet time
I’m sure some of you have probably seen the drawings of the triangle. Husband and wife on opposite sides, God is at the top of the triangle. When each person is growing closer to the Lord individually, they will grow towards God and meet each other at the top, therefore growing closer together on their way up. That is the kind of relationship I want. I want to be an example for other young couples and for them to ask how we have such an amazing strong marriage. And we can just point them right back to the Gospel. Because in the end, marriage is just a tangible reflection of the Gospel.
Bonus: Tell them you love them!
This may seem like an obvious statement when you’re already married but you’d be surprised how often you can forget to say “I love you” to your spouse. I do love my husband! But there are some times when the day just gets away from me and I realize I have gone all day without saying, I love you. Or even giving him a kiss! Do NOT let that happen. Not doing those things overtime really add up and can slowly but surely take away the intimacy in your marriage. You can start to feel like you’re living with a roommate instead of a spouse. We try to always kiss before we leave and say I love you when we’re heading out or hanging up the phone (and other times too!). And you honestly never know when it’s going to be the last time. Not trying to sound morbid or be pessimistic here, but realistic and know that our time on this earth is finite and unpredictable. Live with a grateful heart and every day with intention.
I hope you've found these six things we’ve learned in six years of marriage helpful! This is by no means an exhaustive list of everything we’ve learned in our marriage. I think I’ll save that post for a little later. These are just basics and the biggest things we’ve noticed in our marriage that could be improved or what we do well... Which in all honesty is not much! Marriage is definitely like a marathon (not a sprint) but I believe it is definitely worth it. Here’s to better, stronger marriages for us all!
Have you learned anything life changing from your own marriage or from the experience of others? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.