22 Nov Real Talk – 4 Ways We’ve Strengthened our Marriage this Year
I’ve typed and backspaced a lot already. Despite the fact that I have already planned out what I want to say here (literally for a few months at this point), the actual getting it down on paper (i.e. screen) makes me want to crawl into a hole. I think that’s because so many of us like to have these sparkly shiny images of our family and our marriages. So let me just say it: being married is hard. I realized that when I came home from our honeymoon to begin sharing what I am convinced is the world’s smallest apartment (for which I signed the lease the day before my hubby proposed). I really realized it when we took a job working together at an off the grid camp in Colorado just 5 months into our marriage. And if it wasn’t obvious before, the challenge that is keeping a marriage strong came at me full force when our first babe (and second babe) joined our family. MARRIAGE. IS. HARD.
But… it’s not impossible. And with lots of grace and work, I’ve come to realize that even in the thick of child rearing, new jobs, sleepless nights, and just the craziness of life, there are concrete ways that you can grow together so much!
Here are four concrete ways my husband and I have strengthened our marriage in what has honestly been the busiest year for us yet:
- Life Dinners- I grabbed this one from a blogger I follow (Instagram @riarambles). Essentially, it is a standing dinner date where you celebrate your life, specifically in the last month, together. You can use this as an opportunity to discuss your current goals, what’s working well for you, what you need support on etc. We also exchange very small gifts. This has been the perfect way for us to not only get out and have an adult conversation, but also to support each other throughout the month.
- Back Porch Makeover- I was fortunate to win a gift card to Target a few months ago and I immediately went out and bought a new furniture setup and lights for the back porch. To be honest, I did this selfishly, because I was tired of sitting on a bench we have out there when I’m with my kiddos. I didn’t anticipate how many “back porch dates” it would lead to with my sweet husband. Literally just creating a nice space in our home that wasn’t our bedroom and wasn’t in front of the TV has led to so much time to have quality conversation, quiet drinks together, and just that alone time we have been craving so much.
- Deep Dive into the Enneagram- I am not an expert on the enneagram, but I will say that after I went to a training at my church, I have become obsessed with learning more about my number. In the midst of better getting to know myself, I encouraged my husband to learn more about his number. Now that we both know ours; it has opened up so many facets of our relationship that I never knew existed. Best of all, I have learned to offer up grace in so many areas that used to make me crazy.
- Keeping an Eye on our Calendar- We had been dating less than a year when my husband proposed… that we start a google calendar together. While I definitely suggest doing this if you haven’t already, we’ve taken ours even further. Both of us have noticed that we really struggle when we don’t have chunks of time to ourselves, and this is exacerbated when we have large family gatherings, trips, etc. To combat this, we have been sandwiching big busy events and weekends with really intentional periods of selfcare time for both of us. This makes our stress during out of the ordinary weekends lower and also gives us time to recharge after these high energy events.
My last bit of advice and it’s really for me too, is that it is okay to be vulnerable with others. Now I’m not saying to air your dirty laundry out there for everyone to see. But it’s okay to say, “y’all being married is so much harder than I expected.” And while we should stop pretending that every day of marriage is some lovey-dovey caption with the perfect filtered image, we shouldn’t stop putting in the work when it gets hard because the reward is so beyond worth it!