what I’ve learned in 4 years

0093As we roll into midsummer, our refrigerator quickly becomes a bulletin board of invitations for showers, birthday parties, announcements – and yes, weddings. Ah, summer: Happy wedding season!

With the number of weddings coming up, my spouse and I have been asked a few times about marriage advice. I tend to laugh and look dumbfounded because we’ve only been married four years this September. It feels like a lot longer than that (in a good way, of course!).

But although the first four years of being together consists a lot of learning each other’s habits, likes and dislikes, what buttons not to push and how to make his version of a proper peanut butter and jelly sandwich, there is a lot of growth within the relationship.

Before I tell you some of the things that we’ve learned, the most fundamental part of our relationship is that God is at the center. At times, we can argue and feel like we are a thread just being pulled looser and looser. But with keeping God as our foundation, we both know and live every day knowing that our marriage will never break.

My girlfriend reminded me the other day, “A family that prays together stays together.”

So, take it or leave it, but here are some things we’ve learned in the beginning of our journey. If you are getting married this summer, cheers to you!

1. Do not compare yourselves to another couple. Do not compare your spouse to another spouse. This is destruction to any relationship. Keep in mind that for each thing the other spouse does, there are five things he/she doesn’t do like yours.

2. Always make time for just each other. Schedule at least a monthly date without others (including the kids). Alone time is good not only for the two of you, but for your whole family.

3. Communicate. Stop always acting married and be best friends. You both are now one, so you should talk about everything from the easy little details from your day to the harder things.

4. Stop finger-pointing (physically and mentally). When your spouse is upset about something you did, don’t let yourself jump to everything he/she does wrong. Don’t be thinking about everything you are going to say when the other person is talking. Stop and listen. Talk about it and ask for forgiveness. (And then move on to talking about everything he does wrong … kidding!)

5. Be your spouse’s team mate. This means you are always cheering her on, defending her and being there to catch her when she falls (because she will, naturally). Don’t complain to others about your spouse.

6. Work on getting better. Yes, marriage is about being comfortable with each other, but it is still so important to work at a marriage every day. Pray about your marriage every day. Read books, ask if there is anything you can work on and sure, go to counseling (there is nothing wrong with it). Just like you do physically with your body, you have to work to make a marriage healthy.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8

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