Happy Valentine’s Day, friends! There’s something about working in the wedding industry and getting to be a part of other people’s love stories that makes me appreciate this day much more than I used to. But if there’s one thing we know to be true it’s that a wedding is not about the celebration itself, but the marriage that follows. Today Caleb is joining me on the blog to share some of the best lessons on marriage we’ve learned so far!
First, let me say that we’ve only been married for five years. That’s not very long in the scheme of things and we know that we are NOT experts on marriage in any way. However, we have been fortunate enough to have people in our lives (our parents, friends, and pastors) who have modeled what a marriage should look like to us and who have passed down their own sage advice.
Compiling lessons shared by others and our own lessons learned over the past five years, here are the top five lessons we’ve learned!
It goes without saying, but we are all imperfect. Everyone messes up. The thing is that when you’re newly engaged or newly married, it can be hard to see that! It’s easy to paint a picture in your mind of what marriage will look like, and very few people picture themselves fighting over things like how to load the dishwasher!
We learned very early on that setting unreachable expectations for each other was only going to lead to resentment and frustration. This was especially true when expectations were not clearly communicated. Last year, we started sitting down with each other regularly to talk about how our relationship was doing. This gave us each a chance to voice any frustrations we were having or to share expectations that might not have been stated before. It didn’t have to be a long conversation, but it made us both feel more understood!
The phrase “settling down” doesn’t really paint the picture of what we’ve found marriage to be. In five years we’ve seen many life changes – jobs, kids, moves, to name just a few! The best thing about each of these milestone moments is that they were new experiences that we got to share together! We share so many of the same memories now that it’s hard to imagine a life without one another.
But adventure in marriage doesn’t always look like having another kid, getting a new pet, or buying a farm. Sometimes it’s taking a vacation as a family, cooking a new meal together, or starting a hobby. This year we’re planting a garden. It’s going to be big. It’s slightly intimidating. But as we sit and plan it, hour after hour, we’ve gotten more and more excited. And when it’s August and we’re feasting on the literal fruit of our labors, it will be so great to look back and see that we did it all together!
This one may seem more like general life advice, but it has had a huge effect on our marriage. As newlyweds we were forced to set a strict budget because Caleb was in grad-school and we were living on a single part-time income. Creating a budget turned what could have been a very stressful start to our marriage into something that we could work on together. We both love a good challenge and we faced this one head on.
Thankfully our finances are better now than they were back then, but we still make a point of creating and sticking to a monthly budget. We know exactly how much money we have to spend each month and it keeps us from having unnecessary arguments. We’ve learned to practice self-control and have experienced the joy of setting a goal and following it through to the end. We do not have a high annual income, but because we have been smart with how we manage our money it has never been a stressor in our marriage.
We can’t tell you how fast five years have flown. It seems like just yesterday that we said “I do” and yet the fact that we are writing this from our farm with two kids sleeping upstairs says otherwise. With all that we’ve experienced in the last five years, there have been times when the busyness of life has become distracting. We’ve sometimes found ourselves overworked, over-committed, and just plain tired. At times like those – when life has felt more like a giant to-do list than a grand adventure – we’ve found that laughter helps.
The thing is that while marriage is not meant to be easy, it is meant to be enjoyed. Don’t let the distractions of every day life keep you from having genuine fun together. Make each other laugh. Have fun. Make note of mistakes, but don’t take yourselves too seriously. There is humor in every situation, so find it!
We’ve been blessed with a pretty happy marriage. But just because we are happy doesn’t mean we are experts at marriage. Far from it! That’s why, as we mentioned above, we are so thankful to have a network of people who support us and who are willing to share their knowledge with us. These are the folks we turn to for advice and for counsel when we don’t know what to do. While we make it a point not to talk to others until we have talked to each other, we value the advice that people more seasoned than us have given.
To all of our SLP Couples, our hope is that you’ll find as much joy in your marriage as you do in your wedding day! Your wedding is just the first of many happy, crazy, busy days that you’ll share together. Invest in each other, keep showing up even when it gets hard, and you’ll find that marriage only gets better and better!