Last week, My husband Jerry and I celebrated two years married. Marriage has been quite the adventure, to say the least. It has had its mountaintops and its valley moments. However, it has been one of the best blessings of my life. I want to get candid about what I have learned in my two short years of being married. I know I haven’t been married long enough to give marriage advice but I’m sure that whether you are single, dating, engaged or married you may be able to take away something from the lessons I have learned.
So here are things I have learned about marriage so far:
1) Your default mode is living out your parents’ marriage but it doesn’t have to be that way
Someone told me that in your first year of marriage your parents sleep with you in your marriage bed. I know it’s a weird concept but I believe it to be true. The way you believe a marriage should work will most likely mirror the marriage of your parents. I learned that the way your parents’ marriage functions does not have to be the same for you. The roles that your parents play can sometimes be adapted by default but we realized it doesn’t have to apply to our marriage structure. Jerry and I have great parents whom we both have high regards towards their marriages but there are things that work for them that didn’t work for us. Continually communicating about what roles and expectations we have for each other is important to us. We then come to an agreement about what works for best for us and our marriage.
2) Plan Intimate Time Together
Jerry and I went from dating and hanging outside all the time to married and home all the time. Going out to spend time together is something Jerry and I are trying to improve. As a newlywed, I thought all was well because we were hanging out all the time together at home or out running errands so there was no need to go out together and spend money. I was wrong! Going outside your living space and spending time together is crucial to a relationship. A change in the scenery can help you to focus more on each other, listen to one another and just have fun. I realize sometimes we get into a routine at home that includes surface level conversations. So going out allows us to get out of a routine and talk about things that are deeper in context.
I’ve learned that in marriage couples can easily become so comfortable with a false sense of intimacy that it slowly leads to the unraveling of communication, trust, and friendship.
3) Setting Boundaries are Crucial
Setting boundaries with your spouse are probably the least glamorous side of marriage. Who wants to talk about what they are not comfortable with their spouse doing? I don’t want to tell someone what to do, I want them to chose it on their own. Well, I’ve learned that men cannot read minds and I have to be very straightforward about the things that don’t settle well with me. My husband and I have spoken about potential interactions with the opposite sex and what we are or aren’t comfortable with. What does he define as crossing the line? What do I find to be disrespectful? That can also apply to what is considered healthy boundaries at work, with family, or at church. Discussing boundaries helps us to eliminate issues that have the potential to disrupt trust in the marriage.
4) Financial planning and Goals are Important
Making a budget was a very hard habit for us to adapt to in the beginning but we really had to buckle down on our finances. Jerry has had a job with an irregular income so we had to live below our means to fund our living expenses. When we didn’t have a plan for our money, we were making very unwise choices and living stressed. We had taken the Dave Ramsey course before we got married and decided to apply the same principles he taught to our finances. This has helped us to have an emergency fund, live below our means, and pay off our first student loan. We have meetings to discuss our finances every month and I see that it not only helps us with money but also in team building, communication, planning and listing essentials.
5) You and spouse are not an island, you need community
After your honeymoon most couples like Jerry and I found ourselves spending all our free time with each other. It makes sense because we just got married and were focusing on our place and settling into our new life together. I realized as the months went by we were always home. We were not visiting family and friends as often as we should have been. A year into our marriage and we felt kind of alienated. Jerry has an inconsistent schedule because he works retail, so we visited family and friends when we could work it out. This year we looked at our priorities and visiting family and friends more often was one of them. We have days planned that we could be available to family and friends and have been committed to that more than last year.
Being connected to family and friends that support your marriage helps your mood, outlook, and perspective. Spending time with positive friends especially those who are married is important too. You need good advice, direction, and encouragement during the foundational seasons of your marriage. Do not alienate your friends and family to then idolize your marriage as the end all be all of all relationships. It will be hard to succeed in marriage alone.
If you are married, what’s one lesson that have you learned in this year of marriage? I would love to know!
The Best Is Yet To Come,