As the first month of 2023 comes to a close, and we enter the month of love, I figured it would be wise to reflect on the biggest change of the past year. Of the many titles I hold, I can now officially add “wife” to the list! How quickly time can pass! It has been a very fulfilling role to have the beginnings of my little family starting to grow. I am so proud to be the wife of my absolute best friend, a true blessing indeed. That’s not to say that every day is a blissful walk into the sunshine…we definitely have moments where we we want to strangle each other, but if there is any consolation, we genuinely work at our marriage every single day. I will preface this post by telling you that we have been living together a little over a year prior to us getting married in October 2022, so I feel like we’ve managed to establish quite a lot in our relationship prior to walking down the aisle. I will state that what worked for us does not necessarily guarantee to work for anyone else, but living together prior to marriage was something we realized definitely worked in our favor. From the many family and friends in my life that have given me countless advice on marriage or relationships, I’ve learned that nobody will truly know your partner better than you will.
Tip #1: Effort is Everything
I’m sure you have heard this one before, but always date each other. Let me start by saying that “dating” isn’t always a wine and dine experience, or jet-setting to a new vacation spot. For me and my husband, it could be as simple as a movie night at home alone, hikes with our dog, a coffee break during our errands, or even a mindless drive with the top down. Try game nights, discovering your local flea markets, picnics in the park…whatever! It’s truly about keeping that spark for each other to some capacity. This isn’t to say that the glamorous side of dating dies, but when you have realistic elements like a mortgage, bills, and monthly budgets to consider, you tend to prioritize your spending by improvising simpler solutions to connect with your partner. Quality time with your partner will only ever help you learn more about each other, it may even surprise you how much fun it can be!
Tip #2: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly
Marriage is one of the most rewarding, challenging, and beautiful experiences of life. It pushes you both to work harder for each other, struggle together, and thrive together. Learn to embrace all that life has to offer because it’s a blessing knowing that someone is going to stick it out with you through it all when a lot of life’s challenges require you doing it alone. You might one day hit road blocks with your partner regarding finances, decisions about how to prioritize responsibilities, or just dealing with typical communication issues as spouses. Times can get really trying, but remember to respect each other always, because nothing and no one is more important than your union. It’s you and your partner against the problem, not you and your partner against each other. I believe that if you keep that context in mind, you can always find a way to get through the darker times.
Tip #3: Time Together, Time Apart
I think this is an important one. We might not all have the same hobbies, or enjoy the same leisure activities. It’s important to not only support your partner’s hobbies, extracurriculars, or just the little quirks that make them different…but it’s also important that you continue to work on yourself and pursue the things you like or want to do. This can also be with your relationships with other people outside of your marriage bubble; your friends, family, or coworkers. It’s very easy to get lost in the marriage and forget who you once were before getting married. You get so immersed with the responsibilities your role requires that it becomes second nature; however, it’s so important to value yourself and the activities that ground you to your happiness. Spending quality time apart from your partner to find joy in your individual activities is just as important as spending time together and embracing those moments. You can’t expect your partner to keep you happy if you can’t keep yourself happy. If you feed your own mind, body, & soul with the things that make you feel more whole, then you will feel like it’s less work to maintain satisfaction within your home.
Tip #4: Set Goals Together
Whether it’s figuring out who does the laundry or takes out trash out on Tuesday’s, or even putting money in a piggy bank, it is so vital to always strive for a common goal. Do you both want to buy a home? Travel? Purchase a new car or a dining room set? You not only need to work to make that happen, but you must continue to remember that any sacrifices you have to make is for the common goal. If you have to pick up on the cleaning when your wife is at work so she has enough energy to cook you dinner, then you just helped take a load off her back. If you tend to be the over-spender in the relationship but have big travel plans in mind together, you might want to take a pause on the beauty appointments and save that coin for the Italian Riviera. Remember that sacrifices are for the greater good of the relationship. It’s not meant to hold over each other’s head or as a tool to show power. You guys are a team, so your contributions are for the team, by the team.
Tip #5: Intimacy, Affection, & Love Language
My husband and I both have different love languages. He is all about physical affection, and I appreciate acts of service and words of affirmation. It’s important for us to show each other the languages that we both know will keep us connected and increase our intimacy. Newsflash? Intimacy isn’t just what happens in the bedroom. In fact, for most couples, majority of it is the work that happens outside of it. For example, my husband loves a good back rub. If he’s having a bad day, I know that the best way to get him to open up and talk about it is with a cup of coffee and a five minute back rub. It does wonders for his mental health and overall mood. In return, I find that I ask less of him, because he is naturally more inclined to reciprocate back in my love languages! I love when I get help cleaning the house, and being told I’m super hot even with a mud mask on…is that too much to ask? We all have our intricate quirks that make us feel closer to our spouse, and if you continue to support, provide the effort, and practice a give-and-take method of affection, you will both be well on your way to a rock-solid foundation.
Remember that everyone is going to have ups and downs, because no marriage is perfect. You might even have rough patches. But those who are mature enough, will seek reconciliation over their ego in the end, because no fight (within reason) is more important than your union. If you choose to look at your marriage and family as the most sacred part of your life, it will naturally mend with softness, kindness, and always showing you care, even when you’re upset.