There is no hidden meaning to the title of this post. Yes, I've got homework for you to do! But don't get scared away too fast - because marriage is hard work! And this is just the beginning :)
When my husband and I were going through pre-marital counseling, we were pretty much eye-to-eye on everything.
Who is going to take care of the dishes? What does a "clean home" mean to you? Will someone stay home to care for the kids? What are your views on finances?
Being eye-to-eye on all of the "tough" questions left us feeling confident after each session and it wasn't until one of the very last sessions that our Pastor asked us a question that left me a little stumped. Well, I guess I just really had to think hard about it!
Why do you want to get married?
"Well, because I love him, of course!"
And as those words rolled off of the tip of my tongue, I realized that I had just given a confident, but terrible answer.
I know that you're probably thinking, "No answer is a bad answer." But mine was.
I love my parents and I love my friends. I love my sisters, my grandparents, and even my pets! But does that mean I am going to marry them? Of course not!
Some of you may even have had deep loving relationships with exes, but you didn't marry them either...or maybe you did. So there has to be some other reason for marriage, right?
Are you getting married because your religion says you should?
Are you getting married because your parents have matched you with your spouse?
Are you getting married because that is just how your family has done it for years and years?
Are you getting married because that is what you are "supposed" to do when you fall in love?
Companionship? Babies? Someone to take care of your fiances so you never have to work?
Or because all of your friends are doing it?
People have babies and families and even buy houses together without getting married. People even live long and happy lives, side-by-side with the love of their life and never put a ring on it. I am not saying it is right or wrong, but it is done.
So why are you getting married?
I urge you to sit down with your fiance and discuss why you two are getting married. There are tons of reasons out there that just aren't good enough. Because marriage is hard and love isn't enough.
As many of you know, I've been married for a little over a year and a half now. And there are so many things that I learned in my first year of marriage. If you are anything like my husband and I, then you know that being stubborn and being married don't exactly mesh well. Spoiler Alert: We have had to work very hard at "giving in" and it has brought us far...like really far.
I would never have imagined being able to be even more in love with my husband than I was the day I said I would marry him and on the day I said "I Do."
So for those of you who are almost there, have a couple years left, or are in the process of working on your first, second, or even fifteenth year of marriage, I think we can always learn from one another.
This article isn't going to be about anything specifically, but just a learning experience for all of us! Myself, because I get to talk through some of the issues my husband and I have run into and for you, because you may have experienced, be in the process of experiencing, or may experience some of this in the future. And it is my hope for you to learn from my mistakes!
It is a learning process, and the process never stops!
Give It Your All
No matter what, give your relationship your all - each and every day...and every second. Whether you are watching a movie together on a Monday night or you are out at the bars with friends, put your phone down, live in the moment, and live within your husband, not just side by side.
Never Say the "D" Word
This was actually a rule that I instilled immediately within our marriage. And I failed miserably at it until recently. When times would get real tough and I didn't think we were going to work out (in the heat of the moment), I would throw out that terrible word. And it hurt my husband more than I could have imagined. You will get caught in the moment and think that you two cannot move on, but believe me, it will pass if you work hard.
Don't sweat the small, but fight for the big
I know this much easier said than done and when we are just in love and in the moment, I always think about it and get very confused as to why I can't just "give it up" while we are arguing over the smallest things. But it is hard when you are in the heat of the moment. You just have to commit to letting it go BEFORE it gets too far, and move on with your day together.
A while back I interviewed my grandparents for the blog and asked them what their biggest argument was over and how they resolved it. They've been married for 62 years now and both of their responses were, "There really hasn't been any large argument that we can remember. We forgive and forget." And that is how we should all live.
But if on the other hand, you believe strongly about something, don't just give up and let in. We are all individuals and the point of a relationship is to discuss and resolve. So calmly and collectively express your feelings, look at his/her point of view, understand it, and then decide TOGETHER what the decision will be.
Talk Talk Talk
If you don't express your feelings, then he will never know what you are feeling. And that is something I have a very hard time with! I am sad and I tell him nothing is wrong. I am angry and I tell him "I'm fine."
Take the phrase "I'm fine" or "I'm okay" out of your vocabulary. It shuts him out, makes him feel like you don't care about him, and makes your relationship grow further apart. Telling him will not burden him, but will ultimately have the exact opposite effect.
And no matter what, learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others. I hope to write a book on my first year of marriage, in hopes of bringing out the bad and the good so future couples can learn from our marriage...stay tuned :) We will never be perfect and no marriage will ever be perfect, in that case, but all we can do is live in the moment and help each other through this difficult yet blissful part of our lives.
Live for your spouse and let him or her live for you.
Now since we are all learning from each other, I would love for each of you to teach me an important lesson you have learned in your marriage! Comment below so we can all teach and learn from each other in order to have a "more perfect" world of marriage :)