Almost a month ago Jonathan and I celebrated our nine year wedding anniversary. Nine years! I can't believe it's already been that long, or that I'm old enough to have been married that long, ha! If you're wondering, yes, that means we got married when I was 20 years old. A baby!! It feels crazy to me sometimes, but clearly it was a good decision. And it's been really cool to grow up together (and thankfully we have grown together!). So in honor of our ninth year of marriage, today I want to share with you nine things I've learned over these last nine years. But first, look at these babies!
1. Communication is a constant work in progress.
If only that first talk about how you need to work on your communication could be your only talk. Think again. Nine years in and we still somehow manage to consistently miscommunicate. The key is realizing it's happening and doing something to change it. A sweet friend told me recently about how her parents have been married over 30 years and they still find ways they need to communicate better. You just have to communicate about it ;)
2. Lose your expectations.
I was asking Jonathan for his input on this post, and this is the main thing he said. Well, he actually said to communicate what your expectations are, because 99% of arguments are due to the other person not knowing and therefore not meeting your expectations. Which I totally agree with. But sometimes it's important to check your expectations at the door. Stop and think about if your expectations are realistic or fair. If they're not, then lose them! But also be open enough to share them, and hopefully you and your spouse can figure out rather those expectations are legitimate to have or not.
3. The little things need to stay important.
Oh the good ol days when you went all out for Valentine's Day and every little "monthiversary" as we called it. True story: we started dating right before Valentine's Day (2006) and Jonathan made me a HUGE card. Well, he painted it with spray paint...IN HIS DORM...which set off the fire alarm for the entire building. Ahh...young romance. Now I'm not saying you need to go quite to the extreme of having the authorities called, but it's important to remember to do sweet small things for each other. Sometimes that may just mean folding down the bedspread on their side of the bed if you get in first. Or fixing them a cup of coffee in the morning. Stay thoughtful.
4. Own your mistakes.
It can be super easy to just want to point out the other person's flaws. But generally (not always, but a lot of the time) your mistakes are at play too. Be willing to look at yourself just as often as you're looking at your spouse. We are constant works in progress and we have to be willing to own up to things we may need to work on or change about ourselves.
5. Support each other's hobbies and passions.
It's awesome to have lots of things in common that you and your spouse like to do together. But it's also very important to have things that are all your own. When you're married, you are supposed to be your spouse's number one supporter and cheerleader. If there's something they like to do, encourage them. Cheer them on in the things they enjoy and do well. It's important to remember that even though you are "one" in marriage, that you're also individual people with your own individual interests.
6. Don't stop pursuing each other.
This kind of goes hand in hand with remembering to do the little things. Just because you signed those papers to love each other always doesn't mean you stop making an effort to pursue your spouse. Go on dates! Write love notes. Tell your husband what you love about him. Wear the sexy pajamas on occasion. Opt for wine and a card game at the kitchen table instead of Netflix one night. Make an effort!
7. You might not speak the same language.
I'm sure most of you have heard of The 5 Love Languages. Well, it turns out that my top languages are Jonathan's bottom languages, and vise versa. Awesome, right? But I think that can be a true for a lot of couples. You have to work to learn a language that doesn't come natural to you. Learn how you can show your husband some love in his language, not just yours. And learn how to appreciate when he shows you love in his language, even if it's hard for you to understand.
8. Sometimes you get in a rut, but you don't have to stay there.
Just because you hit a rough patch, or even a stagnant patch, doesn't mean you're doomed. It is a normal part of a relationship for things to not be 100% amazing at all times. Hitting a rut doesn't mean you have to stay stuck. Acknowledge it, try to understand the root of it, and work to get out of it together. Change your routine, talk it out, go see a counselor if needed. It's worth it to fight for your marriage if it's a healthy one and you love each other!
9. You're on the same team.
Y'all, the devil hates marriage. Absolutely hates it. Because it's founded on two people loving each other selflessly, and that's exactly what the enemy is NOT about. So he will try to weasel his way in at every twist and turn. So when Jonathan and I are mad at each other or in a fight, or frustrated with each other, I have to remind myself that Jonathan is not the enemy. We are on the same team. We have a common enemy and it's not each other! If we can take our eyes off of trying to nit-pick at each other and point out the others' sin and flaws, then we can get to the real root of our issues and come together to work them out. Changing your perspective makes such a huge difference.
I'm so thankful Jonathan is the one I get to do this life with.
How long have you been married or in a relationship?? What are some of the biggest things you've learned? Marriage isn't always easy, and it's ok to admit that! In fact, I think we would all function a lot better if we could admit that. We find it pretty easy to come together and support each other over our struggles in parenting, so I would love for us all to do the same when it comes to marriage. Leave your thoughts in the comments!