This post may contain affiliate links, which means that if you click on a link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission. This is no extra cost to you, but it does enable my addiction to Target. Please see my full disclosure policy for details.
Recently, my husband and I celebrated our 5th anniversary. Or as my husband said it best “Doesn’t it feel like 25 years?”
With those type of jokes, he will be lucky if he makes it to six.
But while we have packed quite a lot of major life events into 5 years, we have known each other for 24 years now – and even after all that time, we are still learning a ton about what it takes to be married.
Marriage is amazing and I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but you do have to work at it daily. We are still figuring things out, but I feel pretty confident that to have a happy married life during your first five years of marriage – you need to learn the following five lessons.
YOU HAVE TO FIGHT FAIR
Fighting is a part of marriage and that is nothing to be ashamed of. The problem comes when you don’t fight fair. If you start fighting fair, you are going to start fighting less because you won’t be cutting wounds as deep as you had been before.
Since my husband and I have started trying to be more intentional about protecting each other when we argue, we are fighting SO MUCH less.
Is a night and day difference from year 1 to year 5 and we are still learning. But pretty much anything is an improvement when you used to end every fight with a competition of who could slam the door the loudest (spoiler alert: no winners are crowned in that game).
If you want to read more about fighting fair, click here!
Eric and I are in a Sunday School class with other married couples, and we have a fun tradition that when a couple celebrates an anniversary, they are asked to share something that they learned together that year. I would say that 9 times out of 10, the most important thing they have learned is to communicate more.
Either we are all extremely bland, or we are on to something with this communication thing.
Likely, it is a mix of both, but I am sticking with the idea that communication is ESSENTIAL to a strong marriage.
Having great communication skills can keep little issues from turning into big problems. I find that often, the fights that we do have could have been avoided if we had better communicated our expectations, or if I had let Eric know that 20 people were coming over to our house more than 1 hour prior to guests arriving.
If you were going to focus on just one skill to improve in your marriage – start with communication.
MANAGE MONEY TOGETHER
When we first got married, budget was not a word that had frequently appeared in my vocabulary. Which did not bode well for Eric and I as we started out married at 23 with entry-level jobs and my expectation of a successful marriage being that we bought each other expensive gifts and took grand anniversary trips.
As a wedding present, my parents had gifted us the Dave Ramsey “Financial Peace University” class so we could learn about finances together. We got a lot of fantastic wedding presents, and most of them were washed away when our house flooded (the first time), but the lessons from that Financial Peace class will stick with us forever.
Statistics show that the majority of couples argue about money, but so far those fights have been very limited for us and I give all the credit to that class forcing us to discuss money from day one. If you are looking for a wedding gift (and all the good gifts from the registry are taken) I highly recommend gifting Financial Peace University to a young couple.
MAKE TIME FOR EACH OTHER
Let me start by saying that this is not always as easy once you have kids. However, I have found that as a working mom, having kids has made this a bit easier to build into our routine.
In our first few years of marriage, I put so many things ahead of my marriage. Work, social life, hobbies – you name it. I took my husband for granted and just knew that he would be home waiting for me whenever I was able to fit him into my schedule. And my husband is so supportive that he was willing to sit back and let me pursue my goals even at his expense.
But kids – kids don’t really care what your goals or aspirations are. At least not when they are young. And maybe not till they are like 22.
So when we had kids, there wasn’t really an option for me to try and be the last one in the office, or to fill every evening having coffee chats with friends. Which meant that after bedtime, Eric and I had dedicated time to spend together. Even spending an hour watching TV together, or sitting outside on the patio is a great way to make time for each other.
We are lucky enough to have parents who live in town and are willing to watch their grandbaby for us once a week. So every Wednesday, we have a date night. Most of the time it is just having dinner at one of the fine local chain restaurants in our little suburb, and that is perfect for us to take an hour where we get to connect and talk about things other than work or kids.
Your kids are important, but it is more important for you to have a healthy and well-connected marriage than focus all of your free time on your kids. Make time for your spouse and your kids will be better for it.
HAVE A WEEKLY BUSINESS MEETING
If you and your husband ever struggle with any of the above items – you need to start having a weekly business meeting. Taking 30 minutes each week to talk about what is on your plates and where you might need some extra support from your spouse will do wonders for your communication.
It is also a time for you two to connect and have real conversations, get on the same page and really encourage each other as partners. I love these business meetings and they certainly do make a difference in our day to day life.
This post breaks down exactly how we run our weekly marriage business meetings and even gives you the agenda we use to be sure we hit all of the highlights! Having these meetings was part of the best marriage advice we have ever received so be sure to make it a part of your marriage routine!
What are some of the best lessons you have learned in marriage? Do you relate to any of the things we have learned? Let me know in the comments below!