After being married for 5 ½ years (together for 8 ½) I wanted to offer up a few tips for keeping the relationship strong. We’re no experts in the world of marriage and by no means are we perfect, but I feel like we’ve found a groove to where I can honestly say we are happily married and I could actually give some marriage advice. Relationships aren’t a one size fits all thing; we are all unique, but I still think some of these could be transferred into any relationship.
WE ARE KIND; WHEN WE’RE NOT, WE SAY SORRY
So this one is really tested when you become a parent. Sleep deprivation combined with the frustration of toddler meltdowns, crying babies and constant messes will turn kindness flat on its face. But what saves us is that we recognize when we snap at one another and apologize almost immediately. The second a bratty remark leaves my lips, I do my best to always apologize and admit that I’m just frustrated with the situation, not him. He does the same. It’s so very important not to be stubborn – be quick to offer up an apology when you’re being an a-hole.
WE OVER COMMUNICATE
When we had pre-marital meetings with our Pastor before we got married, he talked to us about the number one cause of divorce according to his many years of marriage counseling, which is poor communication. Whether it’s poor communication about money, the kids, needs, whatever. To combat this, the most impactful thing we’ve done is had little relationship check-ins. We try to do them every week (that often doesn’t happen) but we do them often enough and just sort of ask each other how we’re doing: “Is there anything that’s been bugging you? Is there anything you’ve been meaning to discuss with me but haven’t had the chance?” This is when you MUST be honest because bottling up stuff is damaging in the long run.
WE PRAY TOGETHER
Obviously this doesn’t apply to all relationships, but for us this is a big thing. Going to church and worshiping together, praying together and for each other brings a level of intimacy that nothing else can. It deepens the level of trust and love that we already have.
WE GO ON DATES
This is the no brainer one that everyone knows, but it can be super challenging after you have kids. It is so very important to take time alone together.
WE LAUGH AT OUR KIDS
Kids can be super annoying and sometimes all we can do is laugh at how insane our baby is acting, or how silly our toddler’s tantrum is. Making fun of our kids brings us closer together and pulls our heads out of the frustration of parenthood. To be clear, we don’t do it in front of them; trying not to damage their self esteem haha.
WE TAKE TIME APART
Scheduling time with friends is super important in keeping our relationship strong. Time away with just the girls can be so rejuvenating and I’m sure guys feel the same way.
WE TELL EACH OTHER OUR NEEDS
Your needs can be absolutely anything; whether you or your partner need more physical intimacy, more verbal intimacy or something simple like needing occasional flowers, a chore done, help with the kids, encouraging words, more hugs, time away from the kids – whatever it is. In my less mature years, I used to think “he should know I need this” or “I wish I didn’t have to tell him to do xyz.” Through experience, I’ve learned that is a stupid way to think, so now I just tell Ryan when I feel like I have a need that isn’t being met. Your needs matter and it’s your spouse’s job to meet them as much as possible; but it’s your job to meet his/hers to the best of your ability also.
WE ARE AWARE OF EACH OTHER’S LOVE LANGUAGE
Take this quiz and find out, share the results with your spouse, show your love accordingly.