As I browsed the aisle with the Valentine’s Day cards, one card in particular caught my eye. It said, “Our life doesn’t look like everybody else’s. It looks like us. I like us.” It was perfect. My husband and I rarely buy cards for each other ($3.99 for a sparkly piece of card stock? No, thanks), but I couldn’t pass this one up. It so perfectly described our journey together.
The early years of marriage are quite a learning experience, to say the least. You’re taking two people with their own routines, quirks, and habits and tossing them into a new setting to figure out life together.
Here are 9 things I’ve learned in the early years of my marriage:
- Share your faith
- Pray together
- I cannot stress enough the importance of praying together. Jeremy prays with Margaret and me each night, and it is one of the most cherished moments of my day. It is a way to bring closure to the day after all the chaos and it centers me before bed.
- Read the Bible together
- On January 1 Jeremy and I began a plan to read the Bible in a year using The One Year Bible. It’s going really well and it’s so special to share that with him. In the past I’ve started several Bible plans on my own with no success. This year I’m confident I’ll see it through to completion.
- Pray together
- Share your dreams
- Not only share your dreams, but also pursue them together. One of the most motivating factors in my decision to begin blogging and coaching was Jeremy’s confidence in me. He not only encourages me, but also breaks down the logistics with me and helps me plan. To have someone come alongside me and truly believe in me is amazing. He feels the same way about my encouraging and supporting him in his pursuits as a career coach.
- Share your fears
- Be vulnerable with one another. After our daughter was born, Jeremy and I talked about what our fears were regarding children. He mentioned to me that he had feared that he would feel confined and restricted after having kids – as if he would lose all freedom. It was so good to hear this from him, as well as to hear that he does not feel that way like he feared he would. I felt much closer to him after he shared these fears, knowing that he trusted me and felt safe sharing them with me.
- Confidently break the mold
- No one says you have to fulfill your gender’s stereotypical marriage roles. For the longest time I felt like less of a wife because Jeremy does almost all the cooking. He and I had a discussion one evening and concluded that as long as he and I are good with how we share responsibilities, then it is of no consequence who does which tasks.
- Make each other a priority
- Jeremy is my #1. Actually, he’s my #2. God is my #1. Margaret is my #3. Margaret, our son due in June, and any other children we may have, will not take priority over my spouse. Provided that there will be times when the kids are going to take up a lot of my time, there will always be time for my husband.
- Not only is it important for us to keep our relationship strong, but also we are to model for our children what a healthy spousal relationship looks like. Our kids need to see that Mama and Dada love them and that Jeremy and Tricia deeply love each other.
- Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Tip-toeing and making hints only leads to frustration.
- For the first few years of our marriage, I would hint at what I wanted, hoping that Jeremy would catch on and volunteer to do something for me so I wouldn’t have to outright ask. My goodness, how exhausting. I don’t know how we finally processed the issue, but he expressed to me that it would eliminate a lot of wasted time and frustration if I would simply ask for what I wanted or express my own frustrations to him. He told me that doing so wouldn’t make me seem needy or demanding. What a relief! Being direct has improved so many aspects of how we function together.
- Be the best nurse
- I feel so incredibly loved when Jeremy takes care of me when I’m sick. I was vomiting on our anniversary a few years back and Jeremy stayed home from work to take care of Margaret and me. He was so kind and so caring. Fast forward a few months and he had a stomach bug and was in bed all day. I remembered how good it felt for him to care for me when I was sick, so I did my best to do all I could to comfort and care for him.
- We all have things in our past we’re not thrilled about. We wish we could just delete those posts in the news feeds of our lives. But we can’t.
- Take time to discuss things you are having a hard time forgiving in the other person, as well as the things you struggle to forgive in yourself. Sometimes even when we know we have been forgiven, we still can’t forgive ourselves. Sometimes we need a reminder of our forgiveness from others in order to take the steps to forgive ourselves. Nothing will cripple us spiritually and emotionally like a lack of forgiveness in our lives.
- Be your best, instead of looking for the best
- Strive to make yourself the best you can be for your significant other. If you are single, strive to shape yourself instead of looking for someone else to be your perfect fit. Our significant others are the best (and worst) mirrors. They can bring out some of the ugly we try to keep hidden – that provides an opportunity for reflection and growth.
Jeremy and I have our struggles, and we always will, just like any couple. We are constantly learning about each other and learning from each other. We are beautifully messy people and I love our messes. We grow through our trials and are closer because of it.
What are some lessons you have learned in your marriage? Share them in the comment section below.