Something, I regularly do is make lists of 10 things. This journaling exercise helps me learn to be more creative and thoughtful. Here’s a very special list.
In celebration of our fifth wedding anniversary, my wife and I compiled a list of 10 tips that have been foundational to our healthy marriage. We’ve only got five years under our belts, so we’re certainly not experts yet… But we feel confident in the steps we’ve taken to hopefully become experts one day.
1. Get professional counseling.
Not a handful of meetings with a pastor. That doesn’t count. Pastors are not counselors. You need professional help. We were in weekly professional counseling for 6 months before the wedding and another 3 months after. It’s impossible to over-estimate the positive effects of this.
2. Talk. It’s REALLY hard to over-communicate. Like impossible.
I am still learning this. For her, talking is a way to emotionally connect. For me, talk has been a way to just tell her stuff. I’m learning to fix this and actually connect with Alexandra. She’s a saint for how patient she is.
3. Get honest about your expectations.
From the beginning (counseling helped here), we figured out the roles we wanted to have. She loves taking care of our home and cooking and just making our home a pleasant place to live. When we have kids, Alexandra wants to stay home. So, one of our main goals has been to get to a point where we can live off of just my income and any money she decides to earn is gravy. BUT these aren’t set in stone. I’ll help with the dishes or clean. I don’t cook because not eating would be better than that.
4. Get on the same page about money.
We have never fought about money. Literally never. We bicker about all kinds of things but not money. We have been intentional about being on the same page with our money. We’ve been on the wrong page, but at least we were both there together.
5. Spend time together.
Any time can be special. We don’t have a date night. We never have and I don’t know if we ever will. Alexandra has been great at teaching me to value any time that we are together. Every minute spent together is important. One of our favorite things to do is grocery shop together. You can decide to make the time special.
6. Be ready to give in. There’s not always a middle ground.
Compromise is not always possible. You will not always get your way. Or even part of your way. Ask yourself this question I’ve had to learn to ask, “is this really worth bringing in all kinds of discord and division into our relationship?” I’ll help you with this one, the answer is pretty much always “No.”
7. Deal with stuff ASAP.
For the first four years of our marriage we lived in 375 sq ft or less. You learn to own your crap fast when you’re always within arm’s reach of your spouse. So when by my incredible insensitivity I brought her to tears or she decided to smash my favorite cookies to pieces while I slept, you have to deal with it right away. There was no doors to slam and nowhere to go and stew in anger. It helped us learn to deal with stuff immediately. We are both eternally grateful for our first little apartment.
8. There’s no rush.
No rush to get married. Or have kids. Or buy a house. Or anything. We got married at 22 and 23 years old so when I’ve said this to people they tend to not take us seriously. We did get married young but we had been dating for four years, including an 15 month engagement. We had four years to figure out the right choice to make. Apart from choosing to believe in Jesus, getting married is the most important decision a person makes.
9. Don’t compare relationships.
Even though some of your friends probably have cooler Instagrams than you, that doesn’t mean anything. They could be miserable together. Looking great on the outside is so easy. Any half-wit can do it. It takes true grit, intention, and discipline to have a solid and intimate relationship with your spouse.
10. Understand that you won’t be married to the same person forever.
Thank goodness for this. Alexandra is not the same woman I first married. She has grown and matured in beautiful and inspiring ways. I know that I have too. I get fed up with the whiny BS excuse “they aren’t the same person I married all those years ago.” Duh. People change. Either for the better or for the worse. Marriage is a choice in almost all cases these days. Definitely here in the USA. Nobody forced anything on you. I’m confident in our marriage because it’s never been based solely love for us. Obviously, we are in love. Like a lot. But love alone doesn’t make for a solid marriage. We’re strong because we made up our minds before God that we wanted to be married. That’s it and that’s all. When your mind is made up about something you make it work.