It’s hard for me to believe that 4 years ago today I walked down the aisle in my church to marry my best friend: a man who I met so very randomly on a free dating website due to him just happening to search what kind of women might be in the Chicagoland area because maybe someday he plans to go to grad school there (spoiler alert: he didn’t).
Under no logical circumstances should mister and I have Found each other, and I’m sure if it wasn’t for the internet, this Chicago gal and Florida boy would have never crossed paths, but God clearly had another plan. When I received a message from him in my OKCupid inbox, I decide to write back simply because he took the time to write a legitimate message and show he read my profile rather than just sending a “wanna hook up?” message, which I got far too many of. Little did I know that writing back would be the beginning of my relationship with the man I would marry. It’s crazy how things like that work out, isn’t it?
Even though we’ve only known each other since summer of 2011, it feels like no time and a lifetime all at once. I can barely comprehend life before him and I can’t imagine what life would be without my husband by my side. I guess that’s a sign that things are going pretty well, huh?
In these 4 years of marriage, through crazy adventures, moves, job changes, and challenges there are a few things I’ve learned about marriage and the relationship I have with my husband.
Marriage is NOT easy
Anyone that tells you it is, is lying. Now that’s not to say that marriage is misery (no matter how many jokes and sayings out there trying to make you think otherwise. Marriage is amazing and beautiful and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but you will learn quickly that it isn’t easy. There will be many times you will need to compromise. Finance talk is never an easy thing to get through. Communication, or lack thereof, will be an issue at some point, and the result will be at least one of you being disappointed about unspoken expectations that haven’t been met or something being miscommunicated. You need to expect bumps in the road, expect to disagree, but most importantly expect that with love in your hearts you can talk through and fix any problem.
A Giving Mindset is the Best Approach
Fact: if both of you make it your goal in marriage to put the needs of your spouse before your own, you will rock your marriage. This, of course, is MUCH easier said than done, but I’m telling you, it works. If you focus on doing things that would be in the best interest of your spouse (picking up yet another left out plate without complaint, doing his laundry so he has some free time, doing one of the items on her to do list without being asked, renting a movie that you have no interest in seeing but she does, etc. The list could literally go on forever.) rather than selfishly acting for yourself, you both will spend your time and energy doing loving acts for the other, which is amazing and something that happens in so few marriages. As long as both parties are equally participating in having a giving mindset, everyone is happy, feels loved, and your marriage will flourish.
It’s About Love AND Respect
One of the best books I’ve ever read on marriage (and I have read quite a few, as I find them very informative and full of great ideas) has got to be Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. This book talks about how while women most need to feel loved by their husbands, the husbands greatest need is not love, but respect. This isn’t to say that they don’t need love also, because they most certainly do (just like how wives most certainly need respect), but the point is the thing each gender needs the most is different. If you are married, engaged, or heading that way in your serious relationship, I highly suggest reading this book. It doesn’t matter if you’re newlyweds or have been married 30 years, you will most certainly learn from Love & Respect. I would go into more detail about it, but I won’t do the book nearly as much justice as it deserves. I’ll just tell you that what’s in it is 100% true, and my own marriage has proved it time and time again.
You Need to Date Your Spouse
Erik and I have only been married 4 years and we already feel like we’ve fallen into a rather boring, monotonous routine that has us sometimes wondering where all of the fun and spark went. 4 years in this is probably not the best thing for our lifelong marriage. In the past few months, we have really tried to make it a point to go on a real date on a regular basis. While cuddling up on the couch to catch up on our favorite TV shows can be some great relaxation time, it doesn’t have us talking, bonding, or creating memories together. Back in October, we decided to spontaneously go out one Saturday night to a Halloween event at our local mini golf course, and after that, my husband said “Hey! We should go to that Paint N Party place!” Rather than saying we should go home and catch up on Big Bang Theory, I said okay, and we closed the place out creating Halloween decorations for our home. We laughed, got creative, and had an amazing time! After that date night, we decided that we really needed to get better about going out on random adventures. We felt spontaneous and had fun, which is something that is so easy to lose in the routines of daily life. Now we have money set aside every month that we feel required to spend on adventures out. As an anniversary treat to both of us, we subscribed to 3 months of Date Box, which came highly recommended to us by a friend at church. I can’t wait to see what kind of adventures we have moving forward. Date your spouse! Trust me.
These 4 lessons, as simple and obvious as they might sound, are really important lessons to have learned. I’m excited to see what lessons, memories, and experiences the coming years of our marriage bring.
What lessons have you learned in your marriage? Share them below.