Five years ago today I married a sideburn-less Dan.
I should have had the foresight to put hair trimming in my vows. If you are a single lady, consider yourself warned.
Today, I could write a post about how I love him, how we are meant to be, or how the past five years have been wonderful.
All of that is true.
However, today I am going to talk about something a little more difficult, but possibly a little more useful.
Marriage is hard work.
At least for me it is.
If you are blessed with a marriage that isn't hard work, please don't go around telling people that if you find the right person, marriage should be easy. That would be like me telling everyone that calculus should be easy. For some it is, for most, it isn't.
However, just like anything else that requires hard work, the outcome is so worth it.
Here are some tips, (that I have learned the hard way) over the past five years:
1. Go to bed mad
Every time I attend a wedding shower and someone tells the bride-to-be, "never go to bed angry," I cringe. If Dan and I heeded that advice our marriage wouldn't have had a prayer. When we fight at the end of the day and are so tired, sometimes the best thing to do is just go to sleep. This prevents us from saying things out of tired desperation that we would surely regret. Also, things always seem to be a more clear in the morning. Most of the time I wake up ready to consider his point or realize that what I thought was a big deal the night before really is pretty minor. Rarely, I wake up still boiling mad - so I put on my running shoes.
2. Repeat What You Hear
Dan and I once took a marraige class about the difference between boys and girls and how we see, hear, and say things differently. I say one thing, and Dan hears something completely different. I could say something like, "Geeze, Dan, why do you put that spicy seasoning on everything we eat!?!" and he hears, "Dan you never do what I want you to do. You are a bad husband."
Ok, that is slightly exaggerated, but you get the point.
So, when things get tense, we try to repeat back our interpretation of what the other is saying. I cannot tell you how many fights this practice has put out early. It helps to get us on the same page. In the heat of the moment, this is hard to remember, but when we do, it works.
3. Focus on what you can do right in the relationship
It is pretty easy for me to think about everything that Dan needs to improve on or notice what he is doing wrong. What is very difficult is seeing what I am doing wrong. However, when I pay more attention to what I could improve on, how I could make our marriage better, things get better for the both of us. When he sees that I am trying to improve, he in turn does the same. He just can't help it. It is a win-win.
4. The grass isn't greener on the other side. It is greener where it is watered.
This might be a little bit of a repeat of number 3, but I think it is worth repeating. This is true for anything in life. A job, a friendship, a marriage. Whatever "grass" you "water" will be the greenest. There have been times in the past five years when I was spreading my water a little too thin, and Dan wasn't getting near enough. This reflected heavily on our marriage. However, I didn't see it that way, until one of my dear friends pointed it out to me.
Now that I have changed my "water distribution" I don't find myself comparing my marriage with others.
5. Go to Church and / or Talk to God together
I can say without a doubt that church has saved my marriage. It provides a place to show your vulnerabilities, your goals, and your fears. It gives us a roadmap to the great unknown. It has provided us with role models that we so desperately needed. Dan and I also have started to include God in our more difficult conversations. Somehow when God is in the conversation, all the immuturity and the silly who is right / wrong goes out the window. With God in the conversation, you get to the root of the problem very quickly. With God in the conversation, the answer becomes clear.
What do you think? Any advice on how to stay married another five years?
In the grand scheme of things I do realize that my marriage has only overcome a few bumps, and there are bound to be mountains in our future. When I figure out how to get over those I will let you know. <3
We are celebrating our anniversary with a family road-trip to Houston! Twelve hours in the car with a baby should be a great way to test this five year relationship. Ha!
Have a wonderful weekend!