January 16th marked my husband and mine’s five-year anniversary. Yay! We made it! Doesn’t sound like much, I know, but with the grim statistics that always seem to be reported, I am overjoyed at this feat. It has not been without struggles, but we continue to grow stronger together. I told myself that I was not allowed to give marriage advice until we had at least been married five years (and even then, just advice to those who have been married for less than 5 years). Now, I am not a marriage counselor, so this is by no means professional advice. I am continually being humbled and shown what it means to love. I would just like to share what has helped my husband and I through our first five years. Hopefully it can help you in your marriage or provide a renewal. I would love for you to share your advice, especially those who have been married for ten plus years! We are nothing if we are not humble enough to accept advice or constructive criticism.
1. COMPROMISE: You hear it all the time. But for a control freak like myself, it is a hard pill to swallow. But there are things you will not agree on, and you will have to find a compromise.
2. Be direct with what you need. Guys and girls are different. There are multiple books written on the subject, but just listening to marriage complaints among your friends or co workers is enough to make you see that you are different. Men and women talk about different things. Just listen, and you will see. (Of course there are always exceptions). Men are not mind readers and they are not thinking about folding that pile of laundry that has been sitting in your living room for a week, or giving the dog a bath, or how much the floors need to be cleaned. They just aren’t. (We, as women, could probably learn something from them on that note). It does not mean they are purposely trying to infuriate you, they just need you to tell them what you need.
3. Try not to talk about your husband or wife negatively to others. There are times, especially as women, we need to vent It needs to be to a trusted person, whom you know will be honest with you. It is so easy to get caught up in the comparison trap and the bashing talks. But nothing good can come from it. Just walk away.
4. Say thank you! And I appreciate you. And I love you. Say it often. Say it again and again. Say it for any little thing. Thank him for taking the trash out even when he always does it. Thank him for walking the dog. Thank him for letting you sleep or workout while he watches the kid(s). Thank him for going to the grocery story or picking up dinner (even if forgets something or picks up the wrong item). Just remember to say it!
5. Take time for just the two of you. Make a pre planned date. Even if it is just driving around town for an hour. Maybe it’s twice a month, once a month, once a week. Find what works for you.
6. Have a weekly or daily devotional or family time. It does not have to be a drawn out affair. Maybe even just 5 minutes. I can tell a huge difference in my husband and mine’s tension and communication when we don’t do this. It keeps you honest and focused.
7. Your spouse needs to be first priority (aside from God). Not your kids, not your siblings, not your parents or in-laws, but your spouse! I strongly believe to have a strong relationship with all the latter, you need to put your spouse first. I know (especially with children) that it seems counter intuitive. But your kids will be healthier and happier for it. They need to see that you value each other. Where do you think they are going to learn how to be a functional member of society or learn how to love?
As stated previously, I am by no means a marriage counselor or therapist. The above statements are what have worked for my family thus far and my personal opinions. I am just an ordinary woman trying to find the extraordinary in my daily living.
Finally, I am going to share some of my favorite books on marriage and relationships. I would love your book recommendations and marital advice!
Sacred Marriage: by Gary Thomas
Captivating: by John and Stasi Eldredge
Wild at Heart: by John Eldredge
Couples Who Pray: by Rushnell Duart
The Five Love Languages: by Gary Chapman