At the beginning of every year, I write a blog post about marriage since our wedding anniversary is January 2. I’ve been doing it since I started this blog almost 7 years ago!
(Psst. If you like the idea of writing down your memories like I do, you can learn how to start your own blog here.)
Ultimately, writing things down is a good exercise for me to reflect on how things have been going and to vocalize what I want to work on.
I think in our social media obsessed culture, it’s easy to assume that other people’s marriages or lives are perfect.
So, I like to pull the curtain back from time to time to let you know that (1) we are just like you and (2) there is nothing perfect going on at the Alford household (except for maybe Hubs’ hair, which is mighty fine indeed.)
Anyway, below are some ways that – despite our imperfections – we remain married and committed to one another after 7 years of highs and lows.
Hopefully, the tips below can help anyone in any relationship, as I think many of them can apply to everyone.
#1 Know Your Spouse’s Love Language
I’m embarrassed to admit how long it took us to realize this, but once we did, it was like one thousand lightbulbs went off at once. We read the book the The 5 Love Languages, and it was a total game changer.
If you’ve never read the book, the basic premise is that we all receive love in different ways and most of the time, partners don’t have the same ways of giving/showing love.
The idea is to find out how your other half feels the most loved and to do the things that lead to that.
So, to give you an example, Hub’s love language is acts of service. He feels the most loved when people do nice things for him.
So, if I make the bed and there is food on the table when he gets home, he feels like I’m totally obsessed with him. Seriously.
Just recently, I programmed the coffee pot to make coffee when he woke up at 4:30 in the morning, and he just raved on and on about how the house smelled like coffee when he woke up.
The clincher is that for the first few years of our relationship, Hubs always showed me love the way he feels loved. He’d make me food and he’d make the bed and he’d tidy up the living room. He was doing acts of service for me, and not to be rude or anything but it didn’t affect me at all.
I mean I appreciated the nice things Hubs did for me, but it didn’t make me feel loved if that makes sense.
The way I feel loved is through affection. So, the house could be a mess and I could be eating a frozen waffle for breakfast, but if the Hubs hugged me for a solid five minutes in that messy house, I’d be the happiest and most loved girl in the world.
Figuring this out allowed us to stop feeling resented too. Hubs never understood why I didn’t fawn over the meals he made or the acts of service he did, because those were things that he would have loved if someone would have done them for him.
Now he realizes the best way to make me truly happy and to feel loved is to spend a few extra minutes cuddling in the morning or to be the one who initiates holding hands as we’re sitting in the car.
I won’t lie; it’s not exactly easy to constantly think about how to make your spouse feel loved because you have to do things that don’t come naturally to you.
However, once you figure it out and see the results, I think your marriage will be changed as positively as ours was! I’m so glad I read that book!
Live Like You’re On the Same Team
Last night I worked late upstairs in my office. I spent all day working on our taxes yesterday and didn’t even get a chance to write. I needed some help with scanning in documents because #technologyfails and all that, so I asked the hubs for help.
I also needed him to sign a few forms for our taxes and do other #adulting tasks. But the pen to sign the forms wouldn’t work. I couldn’t log into the account I wanted to. All in all, we ended the night tired and angry and frustrated with each other.
All he kept saying was how tired he was after working a 15 hour day. He just wanted to go to sleep. All I kept saying was how much I worked on our taxes that day, how all I wanted to do was just get it done, how I needed his help, his signature, his attention.
We forget all the time that we’re on the same team.
We get into bad habits where each one of us thinks we’re working the hardest and sacrificing the most. We want the other person to realize how much we do, how tired we are, how much we need a break.
The truth is, we both fight for this family team. We both bleed for it, day and night.
These are not easy times for us. Things were way more fun when we were early in our marriage, living in the Caribbean, enjoying a minimalist life, and not having the responsibilities of two children and clients and deadlines and hubs’ patients who come into the ER bleeding and keep him up at night worrying about them.
I don’t have any hard and fast advice on how to live like you’re on the same team, as it’s something I’m still working on myself.
However, I do know that the key to a successful marriage is strong communication and support and having an agreement to work together through things – you know, all the things good teams do.
Remember Why You Fell In Love
The hubs is just an all around nice guy. He can talk to anyone. He’s very caring. He can be fun and silly at times. He’s constantly teasing me and giving me a hard time to make me laugh.
Last night while we were doing the taxes and being stressed, he said he had a strong urge to give me a wet willy but thought better of it. #wisechoice
He has a great sense of adventure (and direction!) He likes to travel and try new things and cook. He never orders the same thing twice in a restaurant. He learns things fast, which makes me a little jealous sometimes but it’s kind of awesome too.
I fell in love with him because he was really thoughtful and genuine. He planned dates that he thought I would like. He was a little shy, a little self-conscious at times, but in a humble-nice guy sort of way.
He has a natural inclination to want to help people, to want to volunteer, to want to give his time. This is what makes him a great doctor and husband today, but 11 years ago when we first started dating, it’s what made me realize I loved him.
I think back to those days of being young and in love and remember what it was like. Our love is so different now. It’s not as carefree or spontaneous as it was a decade ago, but it’s more solid and more real. We have been through a lot of life in the past decade. We’ve moved a lot, and we’ve had to rely on just each other for so long.
When we had our kids, we both underestimated how much they’d change our life together. I’m sure other parents can relate – I miss the way it was before, but I can’t imagine it any other way now.
All in all, this year in our 7th year of marriage, I don’t anticipate any romantic trips or grand gestures. However, I do anticipate making it to year 8! 🙂
This might mean we’re putting our heads down and working through 2017 without much of a break, but I’m confident the more we work together, the better our marriage and our life will be in the future.
How long have you been in your relationship? What makes it great or strong? What are some things you want to work on this year?