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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

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

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