As a wedding planner, I am often pondering over wedding day timelines, room layouts, color schemes, floral arrangements, catering, and the like. However, one of the things I like to remind myself (and my clients) along the way is to not forget the ultimate goal: marriage. My husband (Don) and I were married 2 years this past September and will have been together 4 years come May. We both dated several different people before we were married and none of those relationships were successful. When we got together, however, something was different. I remember one of the first times we spent time together sharing absolute silence and the comfort I felt as if we had known each other for years. Marriage requires forgiveness, patience, and stamina, but it also should be tons of fun. Today, I am sharing with you 4 ways that he and I are working toward making it last for the long haul.
Life will change. A lot. In the course of our marriage, we have gone through two moves, job changes, starting a business, 4 pet adoptions (yes, I have a problem) and much more. These are make or break situations. One thing you have to learn early on is that adaptability is absolutely vital in marriage. The fact is that as the seasons of life change so will your marriage and you will either grow together or apart. I have found that one of the ways to safeguard against growing apart is adaptability. Change can be hard, and the unknown is often intimidating, but if you promise to always work toward growing together and adapting to the circumstances (as best as possible), then you have already won half the battle.
Forgiveness is a priceless asset in marriage. I hesitate to rank them in order, but if I had to, forgiveness may be at the top of this list. The undeniable fact is that you will both screw up. Probably more than once. And forgiveness allows the other person space to be exactly what they are: human. Ghandi said, "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." If forgiveness is an attribute of a strong person, how much more so will forgiveness make your marriage strong? After all the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I have found that grace and forgiveness (much more so than holding a grudge) are strong catalysts for evoking change. Now, I realize that in situations of infidelity or ongoing abuse that there may be a need to leave for the sake of protection, but I am not speaking of those situations. I am speaking of ordinary, everyday people in ordinary, everyday marriages. Letting go begins as an act of will and eventually becomes a way of life.
Marriage should be tons of fun. Don is my best friend in the entire world and there is no one I enjoy spending time with more. We have similar interests and both have the ability to make the other laugh (you know those good ole face-hurt-belly-laughs). However, we have to change things up sometimes. If we are feeling stagnant or for the lack of a better word, bored, then we realize it is time to try something new. For us this is sometimes as simple as taking a day trip, exploring a part of our city that is unfamiliar to us, or working on an activity together (team-building does AMAZING things for relationships). It is fairly impossible to stay with any one person for any length of time without going through seasons of stagnation, and this is often where people want to find a new partner to fill that need for excitement. Relationships ebb and flow, just like the rest of life. Sometimes you may have to work a bit harder at enjoying each other, but that is by no means a sign that it's time to throw in the towel. It just means that it's time to mix things up. You found that joy in your partner once, who's to say you couldn't find it again?
I cannot stress the importance of this next one enough. As best you can, always honor your spouse in front of others. Before Don and I were married, my aunt Audrey told me to keep our business just between the two of us. She said that once you run your partner through the dirt to others, they will never be able to see them the same way again. I have found this to be invaluable advice. There are very very few people that I would trust to talk about my relationship with. A marriage is between two people and should not be broadcast all over the place (I'm looking at you social media). There are times when you may need to seek outside comfort, advice, or support. But be cautioned against what and with whom you share. People can never unremember what you have told them. My goal is to always lift up my husband before others. Not only does it honor him and our marriage, it builds him up and shows him my loyalty. A united front is much stronger.
Well there you have it. I am by no means an expert and am just starting out on this marriage journey myself. But I feel like the luckiest girl to have married the man that I did (no human has ever loved me greater) and I want to do all that I can to protect that. I hope these tips give you something to think about whether you are dating, getting married, or already hitched.
Photos by: Nicki Metcalf Photography
Dress: Annalise Bridal Boutique