How to Have a Successful Marriage (or Die Trying)
Each of us has been married roughly seven years (woo hoo!)- March 31st and June 30th. Getting married feels like just yesterday and a lifetime ago all at once. We say a lifetime not in a negative way so much, but just that we have each been through so much to this point with our spouses and there has been tons of learning. But we can’t believe we have already been married almost seven years! Where does the time go?!
Our church is in the midst of a series on marriage, so it’s fresh on our minds. By the way, you should totally check out the series here. Each sermon is great- super enlightening and helpful. Our Pastor is honest and real and drops a few sex bombs on you throughout the series, so if you’re uncomfortable- GET OVER IT. We grown. But back to it- we thought it might be cool to share some of the things we’ve learned and found useful along this wild, crazy, chaotic journey thus far. And maybe you have some tidbits you can share with us too- yes please. If you’re not married yet- don’t ignore this blog post. Bookmark this ish for your future. You can thank us later.
So first things first, one of the coolest things about marriage is that hopefully your spouse is your best friend. We feel blessed to say that is so true for us- these dudes are awesome. And there is no one else we would rather spend our time with (besides each other, of course). But in all seriousness, it seems to be key in keeping marriage fun and healthy. In the lowest lows (and we all know those are GOING to happen), it helps bring you back to reality to know you’re fuming mad at your bestie. Wooosahhhh.
Now, we said there were several things we’ve learned (sometimes the very hard way) throughout our marriages. In honor of seven years of marriage, here are seven bits of advice we’d like to offer:
Go to bed mad if you need to- this is some of the best marriage advice ever received. This means DO NOT force yourselves to resolve a fight late, late into the evening just to have it over. This can ultimately lead to two very tired people screaming and not thinking clearly or rationally.This is when some of the worst (and dumbest) arguments can happen, simply out of exhaustion and irritability. Whoever said “never go to bed angry” was crazy (or single). It’s okay to table an argument until tomorrow so that each person can have some space and think through the issue at hand in a more appropriate way- just make sure you do, in fact, return to it tomorrow and sort it out. But we would suggest always sleeping in the same bed regardless of your desire to smother the other person with a pillow and, even through your anger, tell them you love them before you head off to dreamland.
Do your best to learn your spouse’s love language and speak it- it really does make all the difference.If you’re wondering what the heck a love language is, check out the quiz here. We recommend taking it now and then taking it again every few years- because let’s be honest- we are constantly changing. Get the book. Yes, it is totally cheesy, but it is 100% true and real.
Date! Let us clarify- not other people. Date each other. Plan an evening in or out and get rid of distractions. Have fun together and get creative: cooking classes, concerts, bowling, wine and cheese tastings, brewery tours (see our post for ideas on the best breweries in Charleston). Or just go out for a walk- it doesn’t have to cost money. The point is that you spend intentional, uninterrupted time together.
Learn to let the little things go; pick your battles. No one is perfect. Your spouse is ABSOLUTELY going to drive you nuts more than once (maybe 3,478+ times) during your marriage. Little differences aren’t worth the argument. But learning what those little things are takes time. During our first year of marriage (and maybe into year two and three), we can safely say there were arguments over things that really weren’t that big of a deal. It’s easy to justify speaking your mind as just being “really open” or “good communication”, but in reality, maybe you should just let it slide. Shut your mouth. You DO NOT need to vocalize everything your spouse does that drives you crazy- they can’t change ALL those things. And let’s face it- you aren’t always rainbows and sunshine either. So what if they don’t load the dishwasher exactly the way you would (or AT ALL) or they get water all over their side of the sinks or they refuse to put their dirty clothes IN the hamper- BUT we digress. That’s little stuff- save your energy for the things that truly matter.
Have sex. Yes. We said it! Just do it and do it as often as you can. (Is this too much?!) We don’t care how vanilla or crazy it is- just get to it. We know life gets in the way and routines are hard to shake, but making time for physical intimacy and closeness is such an important part of a healthy marriage. Not to mention it's pretty fun.
Don’t speak negatively about your spouse to other people (especially your own family) or online. This can be so damaging in a marriage. Your family will hold a grudge long after you’ve let it go because they love you. If you must “vent” to someone about your spouse, let it be to someone who will hold you accountable for your actions and keep it real with you. Thank goodness we have each other. Basically, just be your spouse’s biggest fan. Even when you don’t LIKE them (because it WILL happen), choose to love them with your speech and actions.
Leave and cleave, people. We mean it. God means it. Our advice would be to move away from your families; fully rely on your spouse. You will grow together immensely. However, we realize most people aren’t just going to up and move away from family simply because they got married; we both just happened to HAVE to move away from family after getting married due to jobs. Adulting- it’s for the birds. But it was one of the best things that could’ve happened for our marriages. It forced us to lean on our spouses during situations and experiences where we would have normally leaned on family. So really we just mean, wherever you are, depend on your spouse, not your family, as you sort through new issues. In doing that, you build a bond with your spouse; and you are inadvertently showing them that you respect their thoughts and ideas (mainly because you don’t call your Dad every time the car breaks down). Figure things out together.
We would also suggest that every married couple continue to “do work” on their marriage, whether you feel like there are giant looming issues or not. There are so many awesome book studies out there that could be fun to work through together. Even if you feel like your marriage is in a “good spot” right now, there is ALWAYS something to learn or be reminded of to make things better. We have participated in some great marriage life groups at our church throughout the years. Going through a study with other married couples is really cool too, because it shows you that your relationship isn’t the only imperfect one out there. Whew- thank goodness.
Here are some of the book studies we have enjoyed:
It can feel silly sometimes to work through these types of studies, but it can ultimately be insightful and lots of fun if you’re just willing to try.
We truly believe that marriage and remaining in love are choices. We are firm believers that love in marriage is not just a feeling. Think about all those times you consider slowly poisoning their food (we can’t be the only ones). If our marriages came and went solely based on feelings, they would have ended and started again over and over. No, no- love is choice you make every day. A happy marriage takes LOTS of work. But it is totally worth it.
We would never claim to be experts when it comes to marriage (or really much else), we are just swimming through it ourselves. But these are things we’ve found to be true and so helpful. We want our marriages to last and, most importantly, to be fun and healthy all along the way. We hope there is something here that sparks your interest- maybe you’ll find some of the advice useful or you’ll decide to try one of these studies. Also, we’d LOVE to hear any bits of advice you have- what’s been beneficial in your marriage?