We are about to say something crazy….we love weddings, but we care more about your marriage. One of the reasons we love our job so much is because we love marriage. Nick and I have been married for 13 years! And, while our marriage is not perfect (and never will be) and we have made a few mistakes (or thousands), we feel like we have learned so much about marriage. So, today we are sharing our top 10 pieces of marriage advice that we hope will bless and strengthen your marriage.
1) COMMUNICATION AND CONNECTIONThere is a book from the 90’s called “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”. I (Jenn) always thought that was a strange title for a book…then I got married. I’ve definitely thought more than once “It’s like we’re from different planets”. Just the other day, Nick and I were having a conversation and he had to repeat himself several times, because sometimes words are hard.
We believe that learning how to communicate and connect with your partner can make or break a relationship. When a relationship is new you are more likely to be still, to listen, to learn, and understand your partner, which creates stronger connection, and therefore better communication. Unfortunately, sometimes when when other responsibilities start competing for our attention, communication is breached. So when communication ebbs, instead of moving away from one another, you need to lean in and talk it out.
Check out these podcasts for more on communication and connection:
‘Life with Amy & Jordan’ Episode 005: This will Make or Break Your Relationships
‘Rise Together’ Episode 004: How to Plan Out Your Life as a Couple
2) LEARN EACH OTHERS LOVE LANGUAGE
Did you know that everyone has a love language? A love language is the way you express and receive love in a relationship. Discovering each others love language was an eye opening tool in our marriage. What we discovered is that we show and express love in different ways, or have different love languages.
Most people express love in their own love language, but that doesn’t mean that your partner receives it as love. Now that I understand Nick’s love language is touch and words of affirmation, even though they don’t come naturally to me, they are the ways I practice showing him love. Being loved in the way that you understand and appreciate is important! So, it’s in both of your best interests to learn how to speak each other’s love languages.
If you want to take this a step further, learning each others Enneagram type is extremely helpful too!
Here is a link to the Five Love Languages Book
Here is the quiz to find out your Love Language
Check out this Podcast from The Rise Together Podcast with the author Gary Chapman of the Five Love Languages
3) BE OPEN ABOUT YOUR FINANCES
Have you ever wondered how you were going to pay your bills? We have. It’s not a great feeling.
In most marriages you will have one person that is (as Dave Ramsey so lovingly puts it) the nerd and one who is the free spirit. The nerds job is to create a budget. The free spirit’s job is to attend the MONTHLY budget meeting and agree to the spending plan. A budget might seem like a total buzz kill, but it frees you from unnecessary stress, eliminates arguments about money, and fills you with confidence and security.
So what’s our advice? Be open and honest with each other about money. Create a plan for your money and live within your means. ( SO American and SO easy to do, right?)
Check out these resources for all things money!
4) HAVE WEEKLY DATE NIGHTS
We made a big mistake for YEARS in our Marriage! We stopped going on dates regularly. I mean its totally normal for this to happen. You’re spending most of your time together, so why do you need to go on dates?
Because making that weekly time to be together (even when we’re tired), reminds us that we’re living a love story, and we’re not just room mates or business partners. It reminds us that part of love is taking the time to listen to the tiny details of someone else’s life and genuinely care about them.
So, when life pushes and pulls on your marriage (and it will), remember to plan a date where you put the phones aside, hold hands, and spend intentional, connected time together.
5) PRIORITIZE SEX
Yep, we went there.
We just wouldn’t feel right giving Marriage advice without talking about one of the most important aspects of marriage. Heck! This is by far one of the top reasons people get married.
If we’re being totally, radically, terrifyingly honest, this is an area of our marriage we have struggled. We are determined to stop the shame. Whatever culture/movies has told you about sex (automatic desire, instant arousal, spontaneous orgasm), we are here to say its not always that simple, but don’t neglect it, even if it’s been difficult.
Here are the facts, married couples who have sex regularly live longer, have better heart health, enjoy a deeper connection, and can let go of annoyances easier. This is a generalization, but the longer a man goes without sex makes him want it more and the longer a woman goes without sex makes her want it less. That’s a scary thought!
Advice #1: Talk about it
You will come into marriage with sexpectations (expectations about sex). We cannot stress how important it is to talk about those expectations early. Likes, dislikes, frequency, ect. This also creates intimacy and connection, because sex starts in the brain. It might be difficult but what’s on the other side of this conversation is worth it.
Advice #2: Schedule it
That’s right, sometimes you have to put sex on the calendar. It’s not a sexy approach, but sometimes when life happens and you are having trouble finding your sexual grove, scheduling makes it a priority and puts everything at ease.
So here is our encouragement to you: Fight for it. Don’t give up on it. Talk. Get help. Push yourself a little. Be courageous. Don’t let this beautiful thing God made die. Get yourself some feel-good hormones that make Marriage easier (and fun), because why wouldn’t you want a free mini-vacation?
6) FIND YOUR TRIBE
It’s human nature to only put the best of your marriage out there for everyone to see, because being vulnerable is hard and we don’t want to appear weak. Let us tell you that this is a terrible place to be. We PROMISE whatever struggles you go through in marriage, you are not the only ones or the first ones to experience them.
A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. Find a tribe that you feel comfortable sharing life with and can communicate honestly with when things are less than perfect. Tribes lighten the load of life, make you feel connected, and they make all the difference.
7) LEARN YOUR PARTNERS FIGHTING STYLE
In relationships there is bound to be some conflict, especially in a marriage. It’s even considered healthy to have some conflict, but in a healthy marriage it’s all about how you move past the conflict that will strengthen your relationship.
We have learned in our marriage that Nick’s fighting style is quick reconciliation and mine is the processor. The processor typically holds things in, takes longer to get over things, gets overwhelmed easily and needs space. The quick reconciler typically wants to talk it out immediately, says sorry and moves on quickly, feels punished when the other wants to take a break.
Advice for the processor partner:
– Remind your partner that you need a short break from the argument and reassure them that you’ll be back to resolve the issue.
– Let your partner know that you care about them and you are committed to working it out.
– Don’t leave the house, this sends a message that you don’t care.
Advice for the quick reconciliation partner:
– Be patient with your partner, give them room to cool down and process.
– Don’t force them into quick reconciliation. The issue will more than likely get stored away and pop up again later.
– Let them know that you are there when they’re ready to talk.
So, next time you experience conflict pay attention and figure out your fighting style and your partner’s style. This will help you understand each other and take steps in the right direction.
8) COMMIT TO DOING THE HARD WORK
Nick and I have been married for 13 years. We’ve reached the age when we hear more divorce announcements than wedding bells among our peer group.
Marriage is not easy, some days it’s really hard. You have to work on it everyday if you want it to stay healthy. True love doesn’t happen by accident. It’s deliberate, it’s intentional, it’s purposeful and in the end its worth it. Be brave, be vulnerable, and do the hard work.
9) IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU
I love being married to Nick. He’s my person, and every day I’m thankful for the life we’re making together. But being married doesn’t mean my life is more significant than it was before.
We believe that the purpose of marriage is not to make us look good or to make us comfortable. The purpose of marriage for us is to love God and love others better than we could have done it alone. When we make marriage about us, it prevents us from loving the people in our life well. Marriage is for us, but it is not about us.
10) CHERISH EVERYDAY
I (Jenn) constantly feel like I’m somewhere between feeling like there’s all the time in the world and life is to short. Anyone else feel this way?Somedays we go on auto pilot thinking about our normal, day-to-day lives and we forget that death comes far too early for far too many. Life is a celebration and when God comes for me, I want to be filled to the brim, overflowing, wide-open, caught in the very act of life.
So, today instead of feeling miserable about life, choose joy. Love a little deeper. Laugh a little louder. Hold the ones you love a little tighter. Kick today in the face!
It’s true….sometimes you are going to annoy the snot out of each other, but don’t stay annoyed too long because today you have been given a gift.
We truly hope that this blog post helps you in your marriage or as you are planning for your marriage. Please let us know in the comments what piece of advice really resonated with you. Thanks for reading!
Enjoy! Nick & Jenn