Friday, July 4, 2014

{almost} 5 years of marriage strategies

With weddings to attend this summer and our upcoming five year anniversary, I have wondered what  strategies or traits have we developed that helped us grow a thriving marriage? It certainly wasn't luck or lack of problems...

Sure, there are couples with amazing marriages more seasoned than our own, but there is something unique to each season of marriage and the challenges of this time are still very fresh in our memories. After the butterflies and "all we need is love" mentality ended, we had to get to work. Here are a few marriage strategies we've learned in the first 5 years:
  • Forgiveness is final. Once you have forgiven your spouse, the act is in the past and cannot be used as ammunition in future arguments.
  • Hit the pause button. We learned after far too many long, frustrating nights, that the verse "don't let the sun go down on your anger" should not be used to drive each other to delirium in the wee hours of the morning in a circular argument. Try to resolve disagreements quickly. Endlessly listing every aspect of your spouse's actions and why you were hurt is not helpful. If the disagreement isn't going anywhere, find a place to peacefully stop the conversation, agree on a time to finish the discussion, and say goodnight.
  • Don't say the "d" word. Using words like "divorce" in the midst of a heated argument is corrosive and inflammatory.
  • Seek wise counsel. Find marriage mentors, a trusted couple unrelated to either of you, and/or married peers who will actively support and encourage your marriage. And listen to their advice!
  • Let go of toxic relationships. If there are people in your life who belittle or undermine your spouse or marriage, in the interest of growing a healthy marriage, it may be time to move on from those friendships. *note added* make sure you are not that toxic person... We committed to never tear each other down with others. When we are apart, we still speak kindly and respectfully about each other, even if we've had a disagreement.  Gossiping about your own spouse creates an attitude of  resentment and disrespect toward your spouse in you and in those listening. 
  • Do things together. Find activities that you can enjoy together (things that aren't passive like TV). For us, we have enjoyed working out, cooking, playing games, completing projects together, going to dinner. Making this time to do things together, takes more effort after having kids!
  • Do things separately. Give each other space to have time alone or to pursue your passions. Each person in the relationship needs this time, even if they haven't mentioned it. We've gotten to the point where I will directly ask Brandon, "Do you need 'cave time'"? And he will do the same for me.
  • Invest in same-sex friendships. Every husband needs other male friends, every wife needs other female friends. You CANNOT be everything for each other. We already have a savior, and he is not you or your spouse.
  • Take time out to dream/plan. Whether it's weekly, monthly, or quarterly, make a point of talking about how things are going, what you envision happening in the future, and what you would like to happen. This may involve making lists or action steps.

  • You are a new and unique family. While you both remain a part of your original families and under the "umbrella" of that family, the two of you have your own family or "umbrella" that your parents are not a part of. (The umbrella metaphor is originally from my Grandpa.)
  • Be out with the in-laws. When it comes to navigating each other's families, understand that you come from different backgrounds so the spouse related to the family should take the lead on communication and decision-making since they speak the same language in a sense. Give space and respect to the way your in-laws do/see things even if you disagree.
  • Get involved. Don't just attend church, participate. Serving in ministry will deepen your faith, introduce you to new people, and bond you closer to your spouse.
  • Pray. No, really. I'm not talking about a passive "bless our marriage" prayer. Pray together, pray separately, pray for each other. If there's an issue going on, pray as soon as you can. Before and/or after a heavy conversation, pray. Before making a decision, pray. Intently seeking God for specific requests has deepened our faith and our marriage.
Hopefully this encourages you in your marriage! What are strategies that have worked for you?

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At July 6, 2014 at 6:43 PM , Blogger dana said...

Great strategies!


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