Today my husband and I have been married for 16 years!
I had to sprinkle in photos of our time away we took last week to celebrate. Grandma was in town and we appreciated sneaking away for a night to our favorite place, Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort.
That’s 5,840 days we have been married. Plus a few Leap Year Days :-)
So while I don’t think I am an authority on marriage, I do think I have some experience to speak from. If you, or my boys were to ask me to try and keep it short what 3 things would I say to always keep in mind?
Here they are: (Please note: I am speaking to people with a generally healthy marriage, if you are in an abusive situation please reach out to someone you know who can help.):
1. Be nice. Sounds like I’m talking to a 3 year old right? Well, I’ve seen enough couples and had my own moments of being a brat to my husband to know that ‘be nice’ is quite appropriate for marriage as well.
2. Don’t expect your spouse to be your ‘everything’. Contrary to almost every love story you see in the movies, your spouse does not ‘complete you’. And they are not meant to be the one and only person to meet all your needs. You are responsible for you. It’s easy to look to our spouse as the reason we are or are not happy but at the end of the day you need to speak up for your own needs/goals/desires (and take responsibility for them).
This is why I believe it’s so crucial to have community around you. I’m not saying that your spouse can’t be your best friend, or your ‘perfect’ as I often say Chris is to me. What I am saying is know when you need more than them. Friends, therapists, coaches, sports, groups, and more are all examples of community that helps support us.
There are some of you who need to hear the opposite of this. If you are giving all your time and energy to people/things outside of your spouse, how to you expect them to feel connected to you? Communicate!
3. There are seasons to your marriage and life, and they change, especially when you have kids. Children change the dynamics of your relationship with your spouse. From differing parenting philosophies to just the demands of kids and work on your time, seasons change, and this affects your relationship. You have to learn to communicate and adapt to the seasons frequently. With the ages of our boys, we have to figure out what each quarter looks like for our family as a whole based on all 5 of our schedules.
4. You will have challenges.
Do you know that I had to learn how to fight with my husband? And my definition of ‘fight’ was his definition of a conversation. LOL! If you know Strengths Finder, I have harmony in my top five strengths. I like peace, and I want everyone to get along. I’ve had to learn in my marriage that sometimes the only way to true peace and harmony is through what seems like ‘drama’ to be but, in reality, is just communicating.
When trouble or conflict arises in your marriage, work it out. Stay mature, humble, and be an adult so you can process. (Also- insert my ‘see a therapist’ spiel!)
Other challenges will come from things outside of your connection. Sickness, financial stress, moving, and other life events will come your way. See how you can come together as a team and always remember you are ultimately on the same team even if you don’t feel like it at the moment.
Remember, you are two different people. This is why I think personality tests like the Enneagram or Strengths Finder are so valuable. It gives you perspective and understanding as to how and/or why your spouse may be handling a situation the way they are.
While this is just the tip of the iceberg, I hope this post has encouraged you to reflect on your own marriage. Chris and I are literally opposite in every personality test you can take. But that makes us so powerful when we can be mature and work together. We’ve had our rough seasons, and I’m sure we will have more of them. Some due to our own issues and some caused by factors outside of our control. But we keep our commitment to our marriage by facing our problems and growing.
So I leave you with these questions to process about your own marriage:
-Are you being nice? Could you be nicer?
-Are you putting too much pressure on your spouse to meet all your needs? Or are you actually giving more of yourself and time to everyone except your spouse?
-What does it look like for you to connect in this season with your spouse? Talk about it.
And finally, no matter how long you have been married, think back to before you had met your spouse. Like really, think about it. How you wondered where you would meet, if you would meet, and how it would feel to find someone you felt was so perfect for you.
Think about some of your first dates. Think about your wedding day and all the dreams of starting this life together.
From that space, have a chat with your spouse tonight about how thankful you are for them. Relationships happen in our thoughts about the other person. You get to choose what you focus on and therefore, what type of relationship you have with your spouse.
Happy Anniversary Cito- I’m so thankful to do this life with you.