I wanted to write a little bit about marriage thus far and the challenges and lessons we have encountered as well as the blessings that have happened. Drew and I vowed to be faithful to one another, and one way I can do that everyday is by taking in every adventure and every challenge and learning from it in some way. For me, taking the time to write it down always helps to process it and remember it for the future.
So, I've narrowed it down to 5 lessons we've learned and 3 challenges we've faced.
FIVE LESSONS WE'VE LEARNED ABOUT BEING MARRIED.
1. It's not about random acts of kindness. It's about intentional acts of kindness everyday.
Drew and I learned in the first week of marriage that random acts of kindness are great, but intentional acts of service throughout each day are much more important to our relationship. If Drew came home and noticed that I was really tired, making me a hot cup of tea and giving me a back rub would be an intentional way to show me that he cares for me. Taking the time to listen to your spouse - more importantly to what they aren't saying - and then looking for opportunities to serve them in a related way makes all the difference in the world.
2. Put down your pride. No really... go put it down.
If you thought you knew how to put down your pride before, get ready to learn it in a whole new way once you're married. Loving someone and putting their needs before your own is easy to say, but very difficult to actually do. Especially when you have to do it every single day and your wants and desires are constantly fighting for attention. But, when you truly put down your pride, give of yourself, and do something that maybe wasn't your first choice, you will find it easier to do every time after. And you and your spouse will find that you actually desire pleasing the other more than pleasing yourself.
3. Fight to win the relationship, not the argument.
It's really tempting sometimes to get caught up in the heat of a discussion and begin to loose sight of how to treat each other in a fight. Drew and I have a few practices we use when we begin to disagree on something.
First, we check our motives. In the end, the relationship is the most important thing. We need to check ourselves and our motives to see whether our interest is more invested in winning the argument or caring for our spouse. If you seek to win the argument, you may loose your spouse in the process.
Second, we take turns listening to each other and repeating what the other person said. If I'm talking, Drew listens and then must repeat in his own words what I said. Once it is determined that we are on the same page, Drew has the chance to talk while I listen. Then, I repeat in my own words what he said. We do this until we feel all ground has been covered and we both feel completely heard. Because most arguments come from miscommunication or feeling hurt because you're not being listened to, taking this time to understand and listen to each other usually solves the argument.
Third, if we are really in a bind and can't seem to find a solution, we trade sides in the argument. I take Drew's side and he takes my side. Then, we leave the room and take 10-20 minutes to think about and come up with our best argument for the other side. Once we are ready, we take time to make our points about the other person's side. Usually, just leaving the room and trying to make valid points about the other side resolves it and we don't even have to continue.
4. Continue dating your spouse.
One of the most important things Drew and I did during our pre-married life was to set up a date night every week. Our date night is on Wednesdays and our friends know that Wednesdays are sacred - no other plans, no excuses, no exceptions. We use date nights to spend intentional time with each other and get to know each other more. Sometimes we go out and sometimes we just feel like curling up on the couch but, whatever we do, we spend it together. It's nice knowing that, even if we have a crazy week, at least we have Wednesday to rest and spend together.
Right before we got married, Drew and I were thinking of ways to spice up our date nights and decided to create a date night surprise envelope system for once we were married. We each took 6 pieces of paper and a few gift cards we had received at our couples' shower and secretly wrote down date night ideas. We didn't show each other our ideas so it would be more fun when we opened them. Then, we put them in envelopes, mixed them up, and wrote numbers 1-12 on the outside of the envelopes. I have them hanging from a piece of lace on our bedroom wall. Now, when we want to have a surprise date night, we just roll a dice and open the corresponding envelope. It's a really fun way to add on a new layer to something we've been doing for a while.
5. Keep a teachable spirit.
It is important for Drew and I to realize that just because we are married now doesn't mean we have all the answers. We have so much to learn and asking advice and seeking good counsel from older married couples is an important part of growing and learning together. I also realized that there is so much to work out when you first get married - who will do the dishes, who will take out the trash, who will handle the bills, how to divide up visiting family on holidays...And I realize that it is going to take a while for Drew and I to figure these things out. There will be trial and error. The important thing is that it's okay. It's okay for us to make mistakes and for things to not be smooth and perfect. We are learning to be married together and being open to admitting mistakes and being willing to try things a different way is an important part of that.
THREE CHALLENGES WE DIDN'T EXPECT TO FACE IN MARRIAGE:
1. Learning to sleep in the same bed.
This is a great picture of what our sleeping habits look like:
Okay, maybe not exactly, but Drew and I were totally surprised to find out how difficult it is for us to sleep in the same bed without waking up terribly exhausted. I am so used to sleeping in the middle of the bed and Drew is used to sleeping with one leg pulled up towards his chest. So this creates a constant cycle of me rolling over on him and him kneeing me in the side. Hopefully, soon, we will figure out a solution... or get a bigger bed!
2. Remembering to make decisions together.
It's been difficult to transition into making decisions together. When my mom asks if we want to come visit, I catch myself automatically saying "yes!" before asking Drew. Or when it's time to pay our bills, maybe I forget to communicate with Drew that I'm doing so. Little things like that are now important to remember to include Drew in on. Whereas before, it was just me, myself, and I so I didn't have to worry about including another person in on the decision.
3. Sticking to our budget.
I believe one of the hardest thing for most couples is creating a budget. So this might be new to some people, however, I believe that creating a budget that works for you and is not over your anticipated income is a very important thing for couples to do. Drew and I created our "married life budget" right before we were married and the hardest thing about it has been all the unexpected expenses that have come up - car repairs, the power bill doubles, we eat more than we thought...
The important thing about a budget is having one that fits your needs. For example: I like to drink coffee. Now, unless you are a SUPER disciplined person, if you typically drink coffee or spend money going out to eat, you probably aren't going to go cold turkey on that habit. You may be able (and probably will want or need to) trim down the amount you spend, but going cold turkey is VERY rare. So, in our food budget, I've allotted money for both Drew and I to have for eating out or getting snacks - such as coffee. Now, there is not an unlimited supply in this section of our budget, but there is an adequate amount according to how much excess we have left over from our more important needs (a.k.a. bills and rent).
The thing we've found difficult is living on a really tight budget where our very important needs such as bills and rent leave us with a limited supply of excess money to use for food, gas and ... unexpected car repairs. It's important to think about the future as well as the unexpected when planning out your budget and also to have an emergency fund.
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Well, I hope you've found this helpful and//or interesting! I would love to hear from you if there are things you have learned from being married or thoughts about your first months of marriage!