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My husband and I have now been married for 4 years, and let me tell you, it has been a jam-packed 4 years. We have been so blessed by so many things, but we have had our fair share of trials as well. Even though I would never ask to go through the hardships that we had to face, I wouldn’t change our journey because I have been able to share the lessons we have learned with others, and I believe that has been helpful for some. While we are no means marriage experts, I think we are doing alright. And with that, I wanted to share a bit of what we have learned to stay connected in our marriage.
TALK ABOUT MONEY
One of the best things we did early on in our marriage was get on the same page with money. To be fair, this was not our idea. My parents gifted us with a trip through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University as an engagement present. Looking back, that was probably the best wedding gift we received. Going through that course helped us have all the hard money conversations before we ever said I do. On our first day of marriage, we already had a plan for budgeting, saving and had set financial goals that we both agreed on. Money can be tough, and we have had a few fiascos that could have been insanely stressful financially, but by having those money conversations from the get-go, we avoided damage to our marriage. So start today! If talking about money isn’t something that you do normally (in a calm and loving manner), sit down today and have your first budget meeting. Everydollar.com is a great tool to get you started!
COMMIT TO LEARNING THEIR LOVE LANGUAGE
Have you heard of the 5 love languages by Gary Chapman? I was aware of the idea behind the book before I got married, but didn’t realize the importance until about 9 months in. My husband, Eric, and I couldn’t seem to figure out how to make the other person feel loved. Of course, we were caring for each other and being sweet, but we were both trying to love the other the way we wanted to be loved. And we have different love languages so it just wasn’t connecting. Eric really appreciates physical touch (specifically back scratches) and I am all about words of affirmation (which is a stretch for my sweet guy who thinks a grunt is a clarifying response). But after using the love language test, we were able to figure out why Eric didn’t really get much out of all my sappy compliments and I understood why he was so disappointed when I wouldn’t sit still long enough to give him a back scratch. It has been so helpful to know your spouse’s love language so you can love them well. You won’t be spending money on gifts when all they want is quality time to watch a movie with you. Take the love languages test here.
SCHEDULE A DATE NIGHT
Y’all. Things get busy, am I right? Work + friends + kids = a full schedule. If you are scheduling in all of your other commitments, you will run out of time if you just wait for the moment to feel right to take a date night. So be sure to schedule it! Even if you are just taking a trip to the park or going to dinner, be sure you put it on the calendar. If you wait for a free Friday night to pop up, you are either (a) going to be waiting for months or (b) you will decide to “take it easy” (In the Givens household any free Friday night always becomes a “take it easy” night). But if you schedule it, you get to look forward to date night all week and you will be much more likely to make it happen. And marriages need date nights. Eric and I are committed to one night out (no kids) a month, but I have friends who make it happen every week. We don’t have the babysitting budget for that currently, so we take baby Kinsley with us on lots of activities, but she can’t talk yet so she stays out of our one-on-one conversations.
LEARN TO FIGHT FAIR
I have to be completely honest and say that I am terrible at this. But I got this piece of advice from several couples who are a few years ahead of us, so I figured I should take note! As we have gone through the past 4 years, I have realized how hard it is to discipline yourself to fight fair. Seems like it should be really easy to do with the person that you love most in the world, right? The first couple years of marriage, my need to win or be right was far greater than my desire to protect Eric’s feelings. It wasn’t until I realized that when we got married, we merged lives and hurting him was only hurting myself. I try to remind myself of that every time we start to get into an argument, and I am happy to say that our fights have now become more of terse discussions instead of a fight to the death. This is a difficult lesson to master, but it is critical to a good marriage!
This is by far the most valuable lesson we have learned in our marriage. The Good Lord has rocked our faith in many ways and has put us through trials that could have crushed us and created separation in our marriage. Those tough times taught us the importance of praying together. Prayer ensured that we were facing the hard times together. There is nothing more vulnerable than sharing your heart with God in front of your spouse. Some of my most special moments in my 13-year relationship with Eric (we started dating my freshman year of high school) have been when we were on our knees in prayer. Praying daily with Eric helps us to be connected together in Christ and that is truly the best way to have a successful marriage.
Put a date night on the calendar right now! (Yes, right now. I’ll wait). On your date night, chat about your love languages and come up with a few ideas about how both of you can better love the other. End the night with a prayer where you both pray for each other.
Marriage isn’t easy every day, but I wouldn’t trade the hard days because they have led us to so many good days. There are certainly days that I want to be less than loving to Eric (bless his heart), but most of the time marriage is pretty stinkin great. I am looking forward to spending forever with my sweet guy.
I would love to hear some of your marriage lessons in the comments below!