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Marriage Stories

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By Ranae Aspen, writer https://www.facebook.com/ranaeaspenwriter

In a month, I will celebrate 22 years of marriage with my soulmate, Dan. Notice, I did not say “wedded bliss.” While some times have been blissful, others have been hard, really hard. 

It dawned on me while thinking about our upcoming anniversary that there are stages of marriage, just like there are stages of childhood development. Embrace each stage because you go from newlyweds to a seasoned married couple in the blink of an eye. 

Newlyweds, now that is the magic! This is the phase where you can’t stand the thought of being away from your spouse. At the drop of a hat, you are intertwined in blissful love. Bliss, this wistful state of love—where you breathe in love, you walk in love, and it is all-consuming. After a while, though, something happens, whether it is the birth of your newborn or just the routine of life, you realize you are not a newlywed, but you are moving into the business of marriage. 

What is the business of marriage? It’s mortgages, car payments, and in general, daily life. Raising a family is expensive, and if you are now a parent, there are expenses involved with diapers, clothing and activities. Then, as they grow older, there are even more fun expenses. The flow of money can be a source of distress or a source of joy. 

A lot depends on your planning and partnership when life hits you with unexpected expenses. Looking back, if I could do one thing before marriage, it would be to have extensive conversations about money. 

The day-to-day grind can be good, or it can be a source of stress. Life can become routine. You get to a point where it almost feels like the movie “Groundhog Day.” You get up, you go to work, and you come home. You eat dinner (sometimes the same thing you had last week), you talk about the same things, go to bed, and do it all over again. 

Dan promised me one thing before we got married—every year, we would have a vacation. It may not be a glamorous vacation but time away to have different scenery. For a few years, we’ve hiked in the mountains of Colorado. Another year it was an epic trip to the west coast, and sometimes it is a day trip to Lincoln, to tour around the UNL campus where I attended college. 

Getting into a rut can cause issues. I find when that happens, we tend to take each other for granted. I recommend changing things up, even if it’s something out of the ordinary on your weekly menu. Discover a new place to have dinner or when the weather is nice, take it outside. Take time to talk about your hopes and dreams for the future. 

In a way, a marriage is like a child. The early stages require a lot of attention and nurturing. The years pass, and it is more routine. You still need to go back and water the seeds of love—where your story began. Growing in your love with one another is very important. We all evolve as we journey through life, and our relationship needs to evolve as well.

I have leaned on the Bible verse 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.” 

While this is a testimony of God’s love for us, it is a recipe for the love we should have for our spouse. Twenty-two years have allowed for opportunities to be proficient in recognizing what our relationship needs to keep it going. Twenty-two years have produced a family that we have centered our world around. Twenty-two years is a long time, but it also goes by incredibly fast. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next 22 years in our book of love. 

Cheers to my soulmate Dan; I am thankful that we are together and navigating the waters of this thing called life.

You can read more stories about marriage, midlife, and filling your nest on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/idoparttwostories/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/idoparttwo/

*Neighborhood photo by David McBee from Pexels and Mountain photo by http://www.rachelclaire.co/?ref=pexels; other photo credits are unknown

Danielle and Adam—Podcast hosts, partners in marriage, and parents to three

I heard someone say that forgiveness is a journey, not a destination. This put so much in perspective for me. When people ask me if I forgive Adam for everything he has put us through, I feel like I should be able to say yes since I am still with him. But the truth is, there are moments when I look at him, and I don’t forgive him; it all comes spilling back and it’s so overwhelming that I almost can’t cope. But there are more moments when I know I’m right where I should be, and I know that we will be ok. 

Danielle and Adam together for over 20 years

We are working hard consistently to keep doing better and heading in the same direction, together. I truly think we are better as a team than apart. But I don’t think in order to be with one another there needs to be this ultimate release of everything that has happened in the past. It’s part of our story, just like the good times.

I need to stop thinking of forgiveness as a finish line that needs to be crossed. I don’t think in order to proceed ahead I need to completely put the past behind me.

It’s the hardships that we’ve been through that keep us both wanting to do better, and make us appreciate the present when it’s better than the past, and will make us hope for a future that looks different and fresh from where we’ve been. I think we’re constantly forgiving one another and ourselves over and over.

There will never, in my opinion, be ultimate forgiveness because we will be human until the day we are no longer here, and that means more mistakes and misturns.

Danielle and Adam

I’ve often felt this guilt for harboring some resentment. What’s the official time period for being allowed to hold on to something that’s happened to you? I know, we shouldn’t be constantly scolded for what we’ve done in the past, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be allowed to think about it, right? 

Sometimes I just want to feel whatever I want without there being a right way, a correct amount, and a psychological or spiritual system attached to it. So, I’m not putting a timer on forgiveness. I’ll keep traveling at my own pace for as long as I need. Along the way, I’ll have setbacks, all while working towards feeling more peace, acceptance and growth. 

*Danielle’s story is shared with permission. I Do Part Two encourages you to check out Danielle and Adam every week on their podcast, Marriage and Martinis.

Jennifer Thompson, writer, with her husband

I will never forget something our pastor said to us when we were going through premarital counseling many years ago.

“A marriage isn’t two people each giving 50%,” he said. “It’s two people each giving 100%.”

This hit me. Hard.

I had always thought of relationships as 50/50 propositions. You each give. And you each take. You try to make it as equal as possible. Right?

Wrong.

It is give. And it is take. That is correct.

But it isn’t giving half of yourself.

It’s giving all of yourself. It’s two people giving everything they can to each other. It’s two people trying their best to love each other well, each and every day.

Will it be perfect?

No way.

Marriage is two imperfect people coming together. There is absolutely no such thing as a perfect marriage.

Does the give and take always look equal? No.

There are some seasons when it is more give. And more take. I may need more from my spouse right now than he does from me. And vice a versa.

But it all balances out. It’s a beautiful dance.

You may hear this 100% giving of yourself and think, that sounds nice in theory, but do you know how exhausted I am? After caring for the kids. And my house. And my job. And all of the things. I am lucky to give 5%.

It may feel that way.

But giving 100% doesn’t mean you are giving perfection. It simply means you are trying your best. Just like we tell our kids when they get a lower grade than they wanted on a test. Did you try your best? Did you give it your all? That’s all we ever ask.

Marriage is two imperfect people loving each other. Supporting each other. Listening to each other. Accepting each other. Giving each other grace. Lots. And lots. And lots of grace.

It’s picking up the slack when the other person needs it most. It’s letting go of past mistakes. And not holding grudges.

It’s living in the moment. And addressing concerns as they arise.

It’s owning your mistakes. And saying I’m sorry.

And forgiving. Just as you long to be forgiven.What I give every day isn’t based on what my husband is giving to me. And that is the most beautiful part of the dance. I give 100% because of the love I have for him. And he gives 100% because of the love he has for me.

And back and forth and back and forth it goes.

If in the dark we lose sight of love, hold my hand, and have no fear cause I will be here.”-Steven Curtis Chapman

When we stood at the altar over 27 years ago and my friend Marcy sang those haunting words, I had no idea in my 25-year-old head how true they would ring this many years later.  I didn’t know we were embarking on a journey of Three Marriages (and that’s so far…who knows how many more we have in us).Read more of Esther’s story that inspired our interview: The Tale of Our Three Marriages

All About Esther—

Esther is a wife to one and a mom to four grown children (ages 20-28).  She was born a missionary kid in war-torn Ethiopia, but has become a potato chip-eating, football-loving American, Christian wife and mom who has a fierce passion for marriage and family. She’s a little snarky, a little sappy, a little strong and hopefully more than a little Spirit-led.  She’s been driven to her knees in prayer and to raise her hands in praise.  She’s speaks words of hope and wisdom where the heart meets the home and faith touches the family. You can read more of Esther’s beautiful writings at the following: The Dolly Mama Blog, Instagram: Moms of Bigs, Instagram: The Dolly Mama, Facebook: Moms of Bigs, Facebook: The Dolly Mama

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According to numerous studies, and every article I’ve read, or podcast guest I’ve had that shares their expertise on relationships, a happy marriage is a spousal expression of gratitude.

Simple, right?

Not so much.

Gratitude is simply measured as the degree to which individuals felt appreciated and valued by their spouse and acknowledged when they did something nice for their spouse.

So, it really goes back to the power of thank you. By simply showing gratitude, couples can overcome negative communication patterns in their relationships that might be a stressor.

Okay, let’s break this down by simply saying, “It’s throwing your spouse/partner a bone”. Doesn’t that sound romantic?

Maybe they mowed the lawn or did the laundry on a day that you really needed it to be done and you didn’t have to ask. Bingo…right there. Just a simple “thank you.”

I certainly pulled the gratitude card from the box one night years ago.  Before I even dig into this story, I have to tell you that I married my college sweetheart.  It was love at first sight…..or the second kiss….one of those….and we’ve been married for twenty-seven years.

Circa “The 90’s”

I was gearing up for an event that had taken months and months of planning.  And in usual, Amy-fashion, I was the Chairperson of this gala. The performers and entertainment were lined up, the DJ was in place, the emcee had a handle on the financial goal for the event, and we were off.

And for those of you that can relate….we were off and running.  From set up in the morning, until getting the sitter arranged for the kids overnight.  It was a marathon day.

I had my hair done, my nails done, and my eyebrows waxed, which at that point in my life was the trifecta of self-care. Everything seemed to be aligned as the perfect storm for romance, or was it?

The night went off without a hitch. The auction made more money than previous years, the dance floor was filled to capacity even when the DJ went on the break, the lines to the bars were moving, and the checkout process was running smoothly.

Success.

My husband had booked a room at the hotel for the night several months before. This wasn’t my first rodeo running an event, and it wasn’t his first time seeing me try to rock four-inch heels, and by the end of the night, he knew I’d be exhausted. I could almost picture the end of the night, removing the hundred hairpins out of my updo, peeling off my Spanx, followed by the not so graceful plop into bed.

I’m sure when my husband booked the room, he figured he’d be ‘gettin lucky’.  A night away…no kids…

This was the perfect night for romance. No kids to worry about. No deadlines to meet. No committees to run, all the details and logistics stress was over. I could come up for air and relax.

During the evening, I flitted around from table to table to make sure that everyone was taken care of, and all of their needs were met. I made sure that the waitstaff had every detail covered and the dessert would be served just as the live auction kicked off.

I can remember my husband grabbing my arm at one point during the night and saying, “Honey, this is amazing.”

I also can remember in that moment, saying a quick, “Thanks,” and then I was off to take care of someone or something else. It wasn’t a look you in the eyes kind of thank you. It was a mere brush-off—of “Yea, thanks.”

As the evening came to a close, and the tables were cleared, the checkout lines were empty, and the committee members had left for the night. I remember having my heels in hand and walking over to my husband, who was patiently waiting for me, sitting at a table filled with empty wine glasses, wilted flowers, and candles burned to the last bit of wax.

I knew if I sat down, I’d never get up and would fall asleep in the chair, so we left the ballroom and headed upstairs to our room for the night. I can remember walking to the elevator with his arm wrapped around me, holding me up.

We got to our floor, and as we opened the door, it wasn’t that wedding night moment of my husband carrying me over the threshold, but two exhausted people, one with his bow tie untied and shirt unbuttoned, and one frantically taking her pins out of her hair and removing her sparkly earrings that felt like weights tugging at her earlobes.

It was almost as if we were in a race to see who could hit the pillow first.

It was at that moment, that exhausted moment of flopping into bed, that I realized my efforts of pleasing everyone at the event and checking every box, paled in comparison to the love and support my husband had given me through the planning and execution of this gala over the course of that past year.

He was the one I hurriedly brushed off when he grabbed my arm to simply say, “You’re doing great.” There were far too many times over the years that I’d taken my husband for granted. He’s seen me on my best days and certainly my share of not so good days.

There wasn’t any hot and heavy romance that night. I curled up next to him and before we could finish a sentence, we were asleep.

“We should all find a quiet place, a peaceful space, to bury the chaos and rest for a while” – Christy Ann Martine

I’ve never seen Hot Tub Time Machine but I do believe in the magical transportation of a good soak. My favorite time to tub is early in the morning. A summer sunrise, the first bird’s song, children sleeping, and a cup of fresh coffee all point to perfection–now add warm bubbles–bliss.

While the hot tub plays a large part in my self-care routine, it has also rescued my marriage. 

Our hot tub was an Amazon Prime impulse buy. Two days later, a semi-truck dropped it off in our gravel driveway and took off. At least 100 feet away, over rough terrain, was the deck where it was going. What did we do? Rolled it. Yep, we decided to “roll” a square, 500-pound hot tub over rock, gravel, and seemingly endless grass. We were sweating, laughing, and swearing, but in hindsight, the tub was already bringing us together in fresh ways.

Thankfully, the roll didn’t ruin anything and my husband’s brute strength combined with a makeshift pulley got it on the deck where it will stay forever–or until it’s time to sand and stain the deck again. 

Our first time sitting in the tub was a summer evening. The grass was freshly cut, our beverages were strong and sparkly, and I could feel his sense of accomplishment. My husband is a very humble man but there was a rare glimpse of pride. I realized the steam and jets were creating a physical space for relaxed transparency. We seek that intimate space daily. 

By transparent and intimate, I don’t mean the hot tub makes everything easy and we have it all figured out. Far from it.

What I do mean is very basic and practical: it is hard to get real pissy about tight finances, your in-laws, a leaky skylight, when to schedule an oil change, work, college savings, or what to make for dinner when a water jet is literally easing your tension.

Our hardest and most honest conversations are reserved for “the tub.” But, it’s not because of the 104-degree water massage. It’s the intentionality of the space. How many times have you asked your spouse a question that morphed into a heated conversation and then exploded into a fight– because the timing and space the original question required wasn’t available? I do this. He does this.

We are trying to be better because we realize it is easy to get huffy when asked about a late notice while the kids are pulling on your nightgown and patience, the eggs are burning and Paw Patrol is on volume 1,000 in the background. It’s not so easy to be defensive when asked, “Do you need any information from me to look into that bill?” by bare wet shoulders glistening in the twilight. Good space–good timing–good heat. 

I show my first-rate “processor” husband respect and care when I wait to ask the hard questions or start a tricky conversation until we can both be fully present and relaxed. When he is thoughtful, engaged, and encouraging—he shows me, an impulsive Amazon-primer, respect, and care as well. 

The result, for us, is many hours in the hot tub and a more gracious, authentic, and supportive marriage. 

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I don’t know about you, but this pandemic we’re all going through—has been REALLY hard! It’s been a string of disappointments for my kids, sad not being able to visit my parents as my dad battles pneumonia, and at times, very stressful as small business owners. Continually trying to find healthy ways to cope has been the key.

For a while there, I felt like my husband and I were dangling on yo-yos—each hanging on to our own for dear life. When my husband was feeling down, I’d try to gently tug on his yo-yo’s string just enough to propel his spirits back up. Then, he’d have to do the same for me, and the cycle would continue­­—leaving me a little dizzy as life spun out of control.

As the days have slowly past, our emotional highs and lows have leveled off, never again descending to the lowest of lows. Just like the yo-yo, the earth’s gravitational pull eventually won out, grounding us to face the next challenge.

I think we were both grieving our “old lives,” of only a few weeks ago, which seemed to have vanished in an instant. At times, I’ve felt paralyzed to move forward and accomplish even the smallest task.

Once we got over the shock of something so microscopic, from so far away, having such a devastating effect on the whole world—I got mad. I wasn’t just angry, my heart ached for my kids as news of school closures, and eventually all their activities were stripped away like a Band-Aid ripped off too soon.

I wasn’t sure who or what to be mad at, but I quickly realized I couldn’t stay angry forever—it’s too exhausting! Like many of you, somewhere along the way I settled in, accepting our lives are going to look a little different going forward.

Then, there’s the matter of our kids being at home. All three are older now, and should be at work, in college, or attending high school. Not to mention hanging out with their friends, but they’re not—they’re home.

At first, I grieved for them: all our son with autism’s daily outings and activities, our 20-year-old’s Spring term in college, and our daughter’s high school track season—all canceled. But selfishly, all three being home together is what I’ll miss the most when our communities start opening back up again.

One evening early on, we arranged the chairs in the family room in a quasi-circle and started serving dinner on trays. The relaxed atmosphere has lent itself to a plethora of interesting conversations.

We’ve debated the world’s response to the Coronavirus, how different (or as I argue…similar) the antics on college campuses are today compared to thirty years ago, and critiqued the latest TikTok going viral—laughing so hard, if we could bottle it, we’d make millions.

How does the saying go? Sometimes the little things ARE the big things in life.

So when I listened to Dave and Ashley Willis’ Naked Podcast #81, Rekindling Romance, I realized what has helped me cope the mostit’s all the little things

  • The smell of coffee in the morning
  • Waking up to funny memes and inspiring quotes from friends
  • Listening—really listening to each other
  • Prayer and more prayer, for so many near and far
  • Dusting off my Daily Devotional and actually meditating on its message each morning
  • Patience, and lots of it when one of us is frustrated with challenges out of our control
  • My husband hugging me when I have my little pity parties, while not trying to “fix things for me” in the process
  • Laughing until our sides ache
  • Of course, my husband suggested ‘quickies’ always help
  • Picking up take-out, so no one has to cook
  • Talking with friends on actual voice calls, and joining more on-line gatherings than I ever thought possible
  • Keeping up our exercise routines or at least walking around the neighborhood. In fact, my whole neighborhood seems to be out walking in endless circles

And…

  • If I’m being completely transparent­—yoga pants, mindlessly scrolling TikTok, and a quarantini…or two—have also helped immensely.

So I encourage you to listen to Dave and Ashley Willis’ Naked Podcast #81 (linked here) as they have some great suggestions to not only “rekindle your romance,” but helpful coping strategies as well.

As I write this, some states are slowly relaxing their Shelter-at-Home orders and although the kids aren’t leaving the nest anytime soon, I will be sad to see them (hopefully) go back to school in the fall.

Spending so much time with our kids at this stage in their lives has been one of the unexpected blessings of the pandemic.

When the pandemic hit, I may have let the shock of life shutting down around me affect my mood a little too much, but quickly, both my husband and I realized we needed to pivot and adapt if we were going to come out of this stronger.

My husband and I have survived loved ones lost too soon, serious health scares with family and friends, the dot-com’s bubble bursting, 9/11, challenges in our marriage, the 2008 recession, and we will survive this.

            “The virus can invade our bodies, but we get to decide whether we let it invade our minds.”

Thank you for taking the time to read and I’d love it if you’d comment below, or on Facebook, and share your ideas with readers on how you’ve coped with the threat of the virus and having to stay at home longer than anyone thought possible. —Lisa

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3 Minute Read

By Lisa Quigley

I think I had a sort of midlife crisis. No, not like that. I didn’t go out and get a tattoo or have some kind of regretful affair. I still drive the same Toyota I drove back when my children sat in booster seats. I didn’t even really change my hairstyle. It was much more subtle than that.

Whatever it was, it was the best thing that could have happened to me.

Last year, on a beautiful evening in June, our daughter graduated from high school. It was a surreal and sweet time. The days leading up to her graduation were filled with anticipation and memorable moments. I watched as she modeled her cap and gown. I took a picture of her leaving for her “last day” of school in precisely the same spot I had taken her picture on the first day of school, some thirteen-grades ago.  

During this time, friends and relatives, from near and far, would send their greetings and wishes. They all seemed to ask the same question. The question that she seemed all too happy to be answering. “So what are your plans from here on out?” I watched as her excitement escalated each time she spoke of all her goals, dreams, and plans that lie before her on a clean slate of the life she was embarking on. We were, and continue to be, so proud of her. 

Strangely, during this time of excitement and nostalgia, waves of anxiousness and grief would wash over me. We would miss our daughter so much, and we would miss the role she has so beautifully played in our family. Our daughter has always been a leader, an encourager, dear friend and wingman to our son, and now she was on the verge of moving on with her own life. 

Graduation proved to be an emotional time, but we’d weathered challenges in our marriage and family before—all which have significantly impacted the course of my life—ultimately giving me strength. So, I knew I had hope.

When our son was only two, he was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum—the diagnosis was both shocking and a relief. Our hunches made sense. We knew what we were working with. We took a deep breath, rolled up our sleeves, and got to work.  

Life was hectic. Our lives revolved around specialists, horse therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and my personal favorite, dog therapy. Then came school and Special Education classes (SPED), more therapy, Individual Education Plans, and painful, sometimes tense, communications with teachers and principals. During these years, we cycled through an erratic, and always an unpredictable pattern of joy and grief that seems to have no timetable.

My wonderful husband was a rock to our family as we navigated the life we’d been given. He is a CPA and works very long hours. Our life, as a family, revolves around Tax Season. Like many other wives of Accountants, I solo parented about one-third of the year.  

During this time and even during the “off-season”, we did a lot of tag-team parenting. My husband would take the kids to do something on a Saturday afternoon to give me “a break.” I would take the kids and go out of town to visit friends for the weekend as ‘Dad’s going to be at work anyway.’ The kids and I would spend several weeks in the summer at a summer camp run by friends.  

As the kids attended the camp, I helped run the camp. During these years, I even took a job in retail. The flexible schedule of working nights and weekends guaranteed there was consistency in therapy and parenting. The kids were doing well. Our son was blooming. All of our work seemed to be paying off. 

The years passed, things began to fall into a pleasant routine. The kids grew. Life began to run smoother. We reached the point in our parenthood, where we could leave the kids home alone for a short time. It was then that my husband and I started a little activity that would become a life-changing ritual. 

We embarked on a new adventure. That’s right, we began taking a walk in the neighborhood most evenings, after dinner. 

After so many years of talking about kids, parenting, therapies, it seemed that life had settled down, and we had the chance to talk about more important things. We talked about us. We talked about politics and football, sometimes we bared our souls to each other. We joked and laughed. We spoke encouraging words to each other. 

Even though our neighborhood runs along a freeway, our walks had the magic of a long trek in the woods or a stroll along a river in some exotic city. These treasured walks also made me realize how much I missed my husband. 

At the risk of sounding corny, I fell in love with my husband again on those walks. I will admit it, how much our relationship had fallen into doing life with each other, but not necessarily together. I remembered just how much I loved being married to my husband. We both agreed that we needed to do what we had done with our son so many years ago. We rolled up our sleeves and got to work—this time on our marriage.

Those walks turned into hikes. I started going to the college sporting events that my husband so enjoys, the ones for so long I told him to go ahead and take one of the kids to, so I could get some things done around the house. After the games, we would continue talking over a meal at an eccentric restaurant in our town. 

We started binge-watching a NetFlix series together (why did it take so long for us to discover HOMELAND?). During this time, something else happened. Even though we were focusing more on us, our son continued to grow and experience life just as we had watched him do when we were so focused on his care and progress.  

Just like many of our friends that we have known for years in the small town where we live, we are all on the doorstep of our empty-nester years. Like many of those same friends, we are talking of taking more trips, a more peaceful schedule, and learning new skills as a couple. 

Unlike many of the couples we have literally grown up with, the rest of our lives will, at least in some part, include our son. We absolutely remain vigilant in our coaching of him and encourage him to pursue his dreams. We expect him to live a full life of his choosing. In that expectation, we also realize that we will need to be a sort of home base, mentor, and guide. Our parenting will need to carry on, at least in the form of a consultant to our son as he grows older.

We look to our future responsibilities as parents in this type of arrangement, with the same passion we began this whole journey on. Thankfully, we are going to continue on this journey together, and that makes me smile.

So, was it a midlife crisis? I’m not entirely sure, but it was certainly a wake-up call.  A sort of alarm that happened to wake me up in time, before someday when we both realized—sadly, a little too late—that besides having raised two children, we had nothing in common. 

It was like a text alert for my soul, reminding me how thankful I am that I married my husband, and how blessed we are to do life together. In the end, it was definitely a gift.

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By Tiffany Kong, founder of DiscoveringWE
with her husband, Joseph Kong

If you could go back in time to give yourself advice before getting married, what would you say? Chances are, there’s probably a lot that you would tell yourself to do or not to do. I grew up in a family where we didn’t talk much about what to expect in marriage. Everybody knew that when you got older, you’re just supposed to find a job, get married, and then have kids. 

A lot easier said than done.

I wish I knew that being married would mean dying to myself every day and putting my spouse first. I wish I knew that being married would be one of the hardest things I experience because I’m tested and tempted each day. I wish I knew being married isn’t about finding the right person but being the right person.

You may not be able to change your thinking from the past, but you have that opportunity to do so now for the future of your marriage and also as you teach your future generations on what this sacred covenant really means.

Whether you need the reminder or are giving advice to a loved one headed for the altar, here are 10 pieces of advice for a happy and healthy marriage.

  1. Work on being a better version of yourself

The key to a better marriage is by being a better you. You are the only person you can control. Become the type of person you want to attract. And while it’s important to find the right person, it’s also just as important to be the right person. You can’t give your best to your future spouse if you aren’t your best.

2. You’re not always right

And it’s okay to be wrong! That’s how you learn and grow. When you want to be right all the time, you’re only allowing yourself to see one possibility instead of seeing all the possibilities together. You don’t win anything being right all the time, it will actually end up doing more damage to your marriage than you think.

3. Master the art of apologizing

Own the mistakes you make and apologize sincerely. We all make mistakes and do stupid things, so take responsibility for your actions and apologize. And sometimes just saying I’m sorry won’t be good enough. Be specific in your apology. Admit your fault, take responsibility for your actions, ask for forgiveness, and then ask what you can do to prevent this from happening again.

4. Learn to actively practice forgiveness

You and your spouse will be apologizing to each other for the rest of your lives. One of the hardest things you’ll need to learn is to become an excellent forgiver.  Stop holding grudges and keeping score. When you learn to forgive more often, you release yourself from constantly feeling chained. Forgiveness opens the door for change and growth.

5. Continue to date each other after marriage

Just because you got them, doesn’t mean they’ll stay. By dating each other and continuing to build emotional intimacy, you are building a strong foundation for your marriage. Going on dates creates the memories that you look back on and remember why you fell in love in the first place. It’s okay to schedule your date nights too, it’s all about being intentional.

6. Learn to manage your money

When you get married, you and your spouse’s finances will be combined. There should be no secrets because you will be sharing your debts, bank accounts, and credit. If you don’t learn to manage your money right now, it’ll only get worse after you get married. Your money habits that you have when you’re single will transfer over to become your money habits in marriage. If you have toxic spending patterns, you need to address that and resolve your own money issues before being responsible for someone else’s. Get smart with your money. 

7. Don’t bring your childhood baggage into the marriage

The reason why we act and think the way we do is largely because of how we were raised. When you face conflict, look for clues that explain why your significant other acts in the way they do. Did something happen to them as a child to make them feel this way? Your marriage is not the same as your parent’s marriage, whether it was good or bad. Your spouse is innocent from all of that. You must start fresh and new with your spouse.

8. Love and respect yourself

How you treat yourself will determine how you allow others, including your spouse, to treat you. When you love and accept yourself, flaws and all, there’s no chance that anyone else would treat you with disrespect. Know who you are and how much you’re worth.

9. Throw everything you think you know about marriage out the window

You’re going to build your marriage with your spouse. You two get to define what that means and how your relationship will look like. It’s good to learn about marriage by reading books, listening to podcasts, and watching informative videos. But be careful not to idolize a relationship, whether it be fictional or real, and create unrealistic expectations for yourself and your marriage.

10. There’s a time for everything

There’s a reason why you’re still in this season. Learn everything you can from it, and do not be so anxious for tomorrow. Tomorrow will take care of itself.

*If you’re not connected to Facebook and you would like to comment, please do so below the Author’s Bio section. Please note, I Do Part Two does NOT have an affiliate marketing relationship with DiscoveringWE

I am having an affair. I should feel very, very guilty … but I don’t. He’s a married father of three. I’m also married with three children. I happen to know his kids very well. In fact, I’ve known his wife my whole life. She is me, I am her. I’m having an affair with my husband.

It’s strangely quiet in our house this week while ALL of our children are gone. Our oldest recently moved south for his first job after college graduation and it’s going well for him. Our second is up in Canada with one of his best buddies visiting his other good friend’s family. Our youngest is at her favorite place in the world, a week-long overnight camp an hour north of us. 

We know all of our kids are safe and happy, soooo we can thoroughly enjoy these few days and nights that we have together. ALL BY OURSELVES. Did I mention that we’re ALONE? Good food, great wine, sweet music, and warm candlelight – we’re loving like we mean it.

We often wonder what we’ll talk about when the kids are completely grown up and not one of them is under our roof. If this week is any indication, it’s them. And we wonder, will we like each other? Yes we do. Yes, we most certainly do.

We’re approaching the thirty-first anniversary of the first time I fell for this guy I’m currently romancing. It was at a party about a month before he was leaving for college. We went on a date or two prior to that, but nothing serious. But THAT night, when he walked confidently through the front door of a friend’s home … I loved the way his shorts fit his waist and the look of his strong, tanned wrists. Truly! I’m not kidding!

We started dating exclusively after that fateful gathering, mostly long-distance because we attended universities in different states, but we married six years later on a snowy February afternoon. 

We keep several shoeboxes of cards and notes to and from one another, sent during the painful stretches we had to be apart, and still add new love letters to the collection now, even though we’ve been together and sharing the same address for over two and a half decades. 

Both my parents and my husband’s, had long-standing, rich marriages and without us even realizing it, modeled to he and I what a healthy, satisfying day to day relationship could look like. That’s a legacy that we prayerfully plan to hand down to future generations, starting with the dear souls that we’ve been raising, and pray that they each, often, have a married “affair” of their own. 

I sometimes daydream about them and about our daughter and sons’ futures and who they might marry, then realize that God already has every minute of their days mapped out. Whenever I look at those three, my heart fills with joy and understanding. God knew from the very beginning of time that my love and I were going to belong together and that those precious ones were going to belong to us. He will work out the details, big and small, for them also.

I’m mindful that the tenderness and affection we have in our marriage can be rare and I’m grateful. I know that every day is a gift from God and I’m thankful. Our girl and our boys have grown at the speed of light and all of our lives are constantly changing. I could worry about tomorrow, but why? I’ll enjoy today and let tomorrow take care of itself.

And tonight, right now, I’ll light the votives, pour two glasses of cabernet, play our favorite album and place dinner on the table…my beloved is almost home.

“My beloved is mine and I am his… ” Song of Songs 2:16

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