So, my mister and I just celebrated our ONE year anniversary. Yay!!! We spent our anniversary weekend in Florida. We had an amazing time browsing at the local farmer’s market, admiring the beach, and climbing up a 200 step lighthouse only to find the most gorgeous view of Florida once we reached the top. It was definitely a perfect getaway for us.
Lately, I’ve been asked by others how my first year of marriage was, and it was this question that stimulated some reflection on all aspects of my marriage. I’ve gained perspective regarding my weaknesses, as well as my strengths, and have definitely grown in the process. Although I’m sure we all would add more to this list, I’ve concluded 7 elements to living a fulfilling first year of marriage:
1. Go on Dates – Although I am not writing this list in order of importance, dates are SO important and should be number #1, especially in your first year of marriage. Dates are a time to turn off electronics and be in a non-stress environment to simply reconnect and enjoy one another. My mister and I go on Saturday morning coffee dates to talk about life. This is a very chill, fun date and has become a tradition which we prioritize. Some dates consist of being at home making dinner together or indulging in a Netflix marathon. The point is to be with one another and connect without the daily distractions.
2. Don’t Argue to Win – Ok, one of my quirks is always wanting to be right and for my mister to know it. Can you relate? In the same vein, I became painfully aware that I tend to want to argue to win even though I am not naturally an argumentative person. My husband and I have had to learn to check our intentions as to why we are arguing and to determine the end goal. Is it to prove I’m right and “win”? Do we not feel heard? Do we want to find a common understanding? “Winning” an argument at the cost of your spouse feeling unheard and defeated is a high price to pay for the overall health of a marriage.
3. Flirt – I don’t know why this is, but it’s easy for the flirting to fade away as life happens. The upside to this is that it doesn’t have to be so. It takes a little more effort once marriage happens (especially when the shock of added laundry, dishes, and food prep hits home), BUT being flirtatious is essential, and of course, fun. Make it a part of the day whether it be through sweet texts from work or a gently sweep of the hand while on the road together. Either way, flirting will definitely spice up the marriage! So spice away…
4. Speak life into your marriage. In Proverbs 18:21 (NIV) it says “The tongue has the power of life and death”. Our words carry weight – so much so they have a way of either hurting or encouraging those who hear them, especially in marriage. We all can relate to wanting to live a positive life. One way to accomplish this is to speak positively about our marriage. One thing I take personal is when couples speak negatively about one another or their children in pubic. No, our marriages aren’t perfect, but it’s never a good idea to speak down about it to our spouses or to others. Find the good and speak about it, especially during the difficult times. You will find in doing so will make a world of difference for both you and your spouse.
5. Magnify your spouse’s qualities. Ladies, I’m sure you can relate to this – I love, LOVE to make my husband beam. One way I found to make my mister stand a little taller is when I lavish him with compliments and thank you’s. I tell him things like “I am so happy for you passing your thesis with an A – you are so smart,” or “you are so wise for handling that situation the way you did,” and “I admire your passion for learning new languages.” I also thank him for the small things like going to work each day, putting gas in the car and throwing out the trash. Focus on all his qualities (small and large). It’s easy to focus on all the little aggravating things, but when you look at your spouse for who (s)he is, you can find multiple marvelous qualities to magnify.
6. Forgive. Being married is a great experience, but as amazing as our first year of marriage was, there were still moments of arguments, and in this, there were hurtful words or actions exchanged. Been there? We sure have. There are one of two decisions we always had to make in the aftermath of hurting each another: forgive or not forgive. As we all know, forgiveness is always the better option, but easier said than done. I learned that I truly had to forgive him and move forward, and if not, the consequences of unforgiveness would be much greater in that it would affect all aspects of our relationship. Think about it. Unforgiveness is a high price to pay compared to the outcomes of forgiving each other and moving forward, together.
7. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. This word is legendary and dynamic when I speak to people in my office regarding marital relationships. I have found it to be important to the growth of my marriage when I communicate to him when I am hurting, angry as well as when I am happy….or hungry :). I found when we communicate our feelings regarding topics and actively listen to one another, we tend to have less disagreements or misunderstandings, and of course, our needs may be more readily met at the same time. This takes practice, but the payoff is surely worth the effort.
Overall, our first year of marriage has been a journey with ups, downs, unexpected turns, along with learning how to grow deeper in love with one another. I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything though. It’s our imperfectly perfect journey called marriage.
What are some things you have learned in your marriage?