Last month we celebrated 6 whole years of marriage! It doesn’t even seem possible, but then again, I’m just a few years away from being with Jordan for more of my life than not, so it does kind of feel like we’ve been together forever! A whole lot of learning has taken place over those years, but nothing has taught us more than marriage. It’s hard to know where to start, but I’ll try my best! Because if there’s one thing we ALL have in common, it’s the desire to love and be loved well. It’s what we were created for! Women especially wish for romance – most of us from a pretty young age! We grow up dreaming about our wedding day, inserting ourselves into every love story, and longing for the life we’ve imagined to begin. Marriage has the potential to be a reflection of that perfect love we were made for with the one we’ll be reunited with again someday and it’s SO worthy of wishing for.
I say it all the time because I really believe it: marriage is the BEST! And the excitement of being a new wife and having a sleepover with your best friend every night is one of the funnest life stages! But just because you’ve dreamed of this season forever doesn’t mean it’s easy. Our “honeymoon phase” was actually one of the hardest times in our marriage because HELLO, it’s one of the biggest learning curves you’ll ever experience. And that deserves acknowledgement. So if you find yourself in not-so-marital-bliss wondering, “what am I doing wrong?!” Let me tell you something… as good as it is, marriage is HARD! But like my new favorite kids book says, “most of the good, important stuff in life is!” (We Are The Gardeners). And you know what makes work lighter? Many hands! Or in the case of navigating a new marriage, a support system of wise counsel from those who have gone before you and can relate with the challenges you’re growing through.
So if you find yourself in not-so-marital-bliss wondering, “what am I doing wrong?!” Let me tell you something… as good as it is, marriage is HARD! All good and important things are!
EVERY wife you know was a newly wed once! And if it seems like she sailed through it smoothly with no tough days, it isn’t true. I guarantee you, it will not bother her if you seek out her wifely wisdom. Guarantee! I wish I would’ve felt more confident to reach out to other wives with more experience than me in the first year of marriage. It would’ve made some lonely, frustrating days more fruitful. We’re all just learning as we go, but don’t let what you don’t know steal the joy from what you do: marriage is holy and can be really happy. You chose it on purpose and you knew it wouldn’t all be perfect. You are dedicated to your commitment to God and your husband and It’s SO SO worthy of the work! So seek out the tools to help! You don’t have to figure it all out on your own! If my first piece of advice isn’t clear yet…
Seek out the wisdom of other wives!
Find some in the same stage of life that you trust and can walk through this season with. Find couples who can do this with you and your new husband. Encourage your husband to do the same on his own. For him it might be harder to invite as many people in.. that’s okay! Big or small, it’s the community that’s key. Even more importantly, find one or a few that are beyond you in years and/or experience. We see this advice to women of God in Titus 2, “teach the older women… to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children…”
Put it into practice: Step 1 – Talk about this as a couple and each write down one friend (or couple) you’d like to invite to spend time together, just for the sake of placing intention on community within your marriage. And then extend the invitation! Step 2 – decide on the name of someone you look up to and reach out to them about grabbing coffee together. Let them know in your reach out that you admire them and their marriage and simply want to spend time with someone who will encourage your own growth. You might be intimidated to ask, but they’ll be honored and encouraged that you did! I promise!
You’re gaining a partner, but don’t lose yourself
Just because you’re married now doesn’t mean you have to give up everything you loved and participated in… everything that made you you before! That’s who your person fell in love with! I know it’s easy to get sucked into the love bubble and forget about life before. Don’t get me wrong, priorities do have to shift when you get married. You’re not two separate people, but one in God’s eyes now! However, it is SO healthy to continue setting aside time to invest in your individual friendships and hobbies and health and so on! Sometimes in the newlywed bliss it seems like a bummer to miss out on time together, but you’ve got a life time to go and trust me, when you’re thriving as an individual, it will help your marriage to thrive!
The recipe to a thriving life: Jesus first, marriage second, EVERYTHING else after!
One of the most important ways you can do this is to keep your relationship with God first. Even though it might look differently now or you may need to structure the time more intentionally to make sure you get it, you’re relationship with your husband will only be stronger because of that commitment to prioritize your relationship with God.
Put it into practice: What’s one area you’d like to prioritize your individuality better? Do you need to make a change in your time with God? Reschedule your day so that this isn’t compromised! Do you need to place more focus on your health? Make a realistic goals for the upcoming week to invest in yourself! Haven’t talked to any of your friends since getting married? Get a coffee date on the calendar today!
Cheer each other on
Okay, this is one of my favorites because it’s POWERFUL! Not only should we allow each other the space to be our best selves, we should encourage it! Women, if they feel like you respect, admire, and believe in them, your husband feels like he can conquer the world! And in the same way, if you feel loved and valued like you should, you’ll flourish! It’s the basic premise of one of my favorite relationship books called Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs. Like it says in Proverbs 18:21, our words have the power of life and death! (more on that here!) And we all know how much our actions say! So use your power for good! You have the unique opportunity to encourage and empower each other like no one else on this earth will ever have! Don’t take that for granted.
When I first started blogging and having more of an online presence, Jordan hated taking pictures. One day after a lot of conflict on the topic, I explained to him why pictures were important to me, why it mattered, and how it would make me feel supported if his attitude toward them shifted. He didn’t understand where I was coming from before, but you know what he did once I communicated my needs better? He bought me a tripod to help with out photos and started approaching them with a joyful attitude! Sometimes cheering each other on to be our best selves and pursue our callings and dreams requires communication. We’re not mind readers! So help them help you!
Put it into practice: Think about something your spouse is passionate about. Sports? A professional goal or something they love learning more about? Now think of a practical way you can show them you care about that this week! Get them something that would help them enjoy and pursue that interest, set up a time to do a related activity together… Cheer them on in a tangible, involved way this week!
Love a lot with a little
Something most newlyweds have in common is starting small. Especially if you get married young, you’re likely starting with little money and belongings and that is fine! I know so many people who wait to get married because they want all their ducks in a row and I’m not saying that doesn’t hold it’s own wisdom, but there’s a lot to be learned by navigating a joyful life on a tiny budget and learning to trust God’s provision together. Some of my BEST memories with Jordan were in the sweet moments when we had almost nothing. Our life was pretty simple then and we were just so grateful for the way God gave us what we needed. There’s a certain level of creativity that comes with having less resources and that kind of love is so precious. So don’t be held back by loving well because you have little to work with. And as cheesy as it sounds, soak in these days. There will come one when you have a little more to your name and somehow you’ll miss these ones.
Put it into practice: Some of our most memorable dates and gestures are from times when we had the least to spend on each other! What a fun opportunity to get creative in showing your loved one how valuable they are to you! I wrote a whole blog post full creative of ideas to love on each other. Pick one and plan it for your person! A little gesture goes a long ways and don’t forget: even though you’re married now, you’re not done pursuing each other and you’re definitely not done dating!
Don’t let the little stuff become big stuff
How many times have you heard struggling couples reference the little things their partner does on a daily basis as the thing that slowly tears them apart? If you google the top reasons for divorce in the US these things pop up first, “money, constant arguing, lack of intimacy, differing expectations…” You know what will make or break every single one of these things? Communication! No matter who you are, you WILL enter into a new marriage with your own set of expectations because of the way you grew up. There’s just no way you’ll have the exact same experience and expect the same thing in every circumstance. Thats okay! It’s totally normal! We go wrong with this when we forget our personal perspectives and start letting those differences in expectation make them “wrong” and me “right.”
The first married fight I can remember having with Jordan was about laundry. In my household growing up, my dad washed everyone’s laundry and folded it all in piles on the dining room table. It was every family member’s responsibility to take their pile to their rooms to put away. I thought this was a great system! In Jordan’s household, sometimes you did your own loads and took care of it yourself… but when it was done for him, he viewed leaving it on the table as not finishing the job. He didn’t understand why I’d do the work half way and when he asked me why I didn’t put his laundry away for him, it infuriated me! I thought, “here I am doing your laundry and instead of thanking me you complain about how I did it?!” Now I know that in his heart he didn’t remember my family’s system or put together why I’d do it that way and we’d never actually spoken about what we wanted our family’s system to be. After unnecessary anger and hurt, we were able to understand each other’s intentions and get on the same page about the laundry.
The laundry was just a little thing that taught us a huge lesson: so much of the first year is about learning the small, everyday things that make up who your spouse is and why they do things the way they do them. You’ve got to call out the differences and, together, pick and choose what you want to bring into your new family system. It’s an opportunity to review how you’ve each done things, what you loved about your family ways as well as things you’d actually like to improve. Decide with intention how we will do things in our home. I know that in the rawness of new marriage, little things seem so big. Differences seem like they’ll never not be huge and fights feel like a sign that marriage might not be all you hoped. Keep perspective. New and different is hard, but it won’t always be new and different. Give yourselves grace and embrace the fun of getting to choose and own a new way of life that will characterize your family for years to come! Intimacy, finances, household responsibility… These things only shift from struggle to strength when we approach them as a team!
Put it into practice: Go out for a coffee date together and write your own family mission statement together. What do you want to be about as a couple? What do you value?… Let this be a conversation starter about the things you loved in your home growing up and the ways you’d like to do things differently moving forward. Maybe even make an assignment list of the basic household chores so that, at the very least, you are on the same page with expectations about how your home will run as a new family!
Build healthy habits for resolving conflict
One of my favorite questions I got in the relationship Q&A poll I did in my instagram stories (you can follow along with me here!) was whether conflict was challenging for us in the early years of marriage. And to that I answered – it still is! Honestly, sometimes it’s harder because the conflicting topics are no longer laundry, they’re about raising a human being! But it’s also easier because time has taught us and we’ve committed to creating healthy habits of communication and conflict resolution. More importantly, we’re committed to continually recreating these healthy habits as seasons change and require different of us! This means talking out what’s working and what’s not. When conflict arises, does it end with you feeling stronger as a couple or hurt and further apart? Talk out these things when you’re not in the heat of the conflict and commit to working on the things that aren’t contributing to healthy communication. When circumstances change and new things arise, address it again. Resting on what’s worked in the past wont get you very far! So have conflict resolution chats regularly. It can’t be about being right. Neither of you are right if you can’t have a discussion without hurting each other. It has to be about coming to a resolution that brings you closer together.
Put it into practice: Come up with a disagreement game plan. Maybe you or your husband do best with some cool down time. Maybe you need to put some parameters in place such as things you agree not to do or say out of anger in the middle of an argument… Just like we all enter marriage with personal expectations, we all come with learned approaches to conflict. It’s up to you and your spouse to decide what you’ll leave behind and what will lead to resolution.
Pray for each other
This is my last tip, but it’s the most important! God can do a whole lot more with whispers than you can do in all your worry and work. In your marriage, in the life of your husband… in your heart. If there’s one thing I hope you start doing differently in your marriage today because of this article, I hope it’s that you start praying over your husband daily. And if you’re reading this blog post unmarried and in the hopes of having a husband someday, start praying over him now! What a way to bless him before he even knows you’re his! It is THE most powerful way you can support him and you WILL start to see a change if you invite God to be the center of your marriage.
Put it into practice: if you don’t know where to start, I’ve got a whole blog post on how to pray for your husband! You can read it here and even print out the prayers to post them somewhere you’ll be reminded every day!
There’s an abundance of resources out there to help you be successful
Heres some that have helped us:
Find your people! It was tip #1 and I’m finishing by repeating myself! 🙂 Find some couples you look up to and would love to be like and spend time around them! We’re better together!
Premarital counseling! If you didn’t do this before getting married, or maybe you did, but you could use some extra support – look into christian counseling! It is SUCH a powerful tool that can be so beneficial for couples! We personally were guided through the Prepare & Enrich series before our wedding.
Doing personality assessments together (find out more about that here!)
The Love Languages (find out more here!)
In the past Jordan has loved Uncommon Marriage and the Love Dare devotional app.
I know I’ve talked your ear off about marriage now, but can I just give you one bonus tip? Get to church together! I know, I KNOW how hard it can be in different seasons of life. Especially in a time of so much change. Maybe you’re still students, maybe you’re out of town often, maybe you’re balancing new parenthood in the newlywed season… I know there are real challenges and it can feel like a sacrifice to set aside Sunday morning and get yourselves there, but you’ve GOT to! It sets the tone for your whole week to worship together and be poured into side by side for a few moments. There’s no community that will bless and support your family more. So do it even when it’s tough and start making it a foundational discipline of your family. Your marriage will be blessed by it, your kids will be blessed by it, God will be blessed by it! And isn’t that what marriage is about?!
Thanks for reading! Will you do me a favor and share this to your social media if it encouraged you? Send it to a newlywed friend, an almost newlywed… who am I kidding… we’ve always got room for improvement in marriage! 😉 So share share share with the buttons below! It would bless me a ton!