Tomorrow is our 6 year wedding anniversary.
A year ago, I wrote this post about how marriage was hard work, and the advice I would give to stay married for 5 years. It was almost like the year-ago me had a sense of what was about to happen.
Life was about to get real. Fast. A few months after I gave tips on how to stay married, Dan and I were going to marriage counseling. Ironic, huh?
If you are wondering, we “graduated” from marriage counseling months ago. Our counselor literally told us he didn’t think there was anything else he could do for us.
There have been lots of bumps along the way, but in general we are in a much better place that last year.
So, now do you want to take marriage advice from us? (<— sarcasm font)
A while ago on a road trip, I asked Dan how he thought I could improve our marriage. I saved what he said on my phone and look at it regularly. Although his tips were specifically for me, I thought they might be applicable to you as well, so I am sharing them.
1. Be sympathetic
A few words of advice- when your husband has his hip replaced, cut him some slack. He is in pain. A lot of it. This also counts when he has a bad day at work, when he is sick, or just when he is down.
A few years ago, Dan’s grandpa died. His mom called to tell me, and couldn’t get a hold of him. Minutes later, he called to tell me that his car had broke down an hour away from home. After I drove an hour to get him, I helped him get the car to a shop and there were many tense moments, as you can imagine. Because I knew his grandpa had died (and he didn’t), I was very sensitive to him and reacted to everything a little differently. This made the experience a lot easier - we actually worked as a team. On the way home I told him the bad news, but I will never forget how much better we worked together when I changed the way I responded. I told myself I should always act like that. Sometimes I remember, sometimes I don’t.
2. Give attention to your husband - he still needs to be pursued
When Dan told me this Ina was about 9 months old and still taking a lot of my attention (which I was happy to give), however I didn’t have much left for Dan. After he told me this I made an effort to pay more attention to him. There are still times he gets less attention from me, like when I busy with work, Ina is sick, or my family is in town, and I can see his disappointment. So, I often get a “start-over” on this one.
3. Limit media
Oh iPhone, you are so awesome and so detrimental at the same time. It is so, so easy to get in the habit of looking at my phone when we are having downtime. In the car. Watching a baseball game. In bed. This of course, leads to less attention for everyone around me. I do it without even thinking about it. I have made a very strong effort to not have my phone around me all the time, which is why I have way less pictures of food, Ina, Dan to show everyday.
4. Eat dinner at the table
Looking at my list, this is an interesting one, because we have always eaten dinner at the table. However, with Ina starting to eat too, Dan and I were rarely eating dinner at the table at the same time. While I get my plate usually feeds Ina, and then I sit down and eat my meal in 2.5 seconds, and finish feeding Ina, and am usually doing the dishes before he is finished eating. It takes a small miracle for us to be putting food in our mouths together, but when it does happen it is nice.
5. Become friends with people at our church together
This is what made us start a small group, and I am oh so thankful that we did. That little group has changed our lives. I sincerely believe that is why our counselor thought there was nothing else he could do for us - because we already have 10 counselors that we see every week. If you are going through a marriage problem, or any life problem, join a small group. You don’t even have to go to church, join a small group, and the rest will work itself out.
6. Pray out loud together
Studies show that less than 1% of couples who pray daily together get divorced. Less than 1% in a country with a 50% divorce rate! Wow. Anytime we have a conflict, one of us (the one who is usually less mad) will cool down the situation by praying, which helps tremendously. Suddenly, when you are talking to God about the same problem, if you are wrong, you see it.
Thanks to Dan for giving me helpful advice, and thanks to you for all of your support!
Here’s to many more years of “advice."
Have a good weekend!